I am Brian, and I am going to attempt to give you a succinct frame of reference for how I got here at another attempt to quit smoking cigarettes. I'm still trying to understand how best to navigate through all the communication going on here, but I'm finding the sense of engaged community very helpful, so I want to put myself out there to let you understand me as I work to comprehend controlling my own impulses. Okay...so...
I am 46 years old. I began smoking when I was 17 years old. At that time I had developed from being a pudgy kid, often called some variation of "fat", to tapping into a fierce sense of discipline that transformed me into the skinny ideal that I'd always thought inaccessible. I became obsessed with surviving on as little food as possible, and I quickly found cigarettes to be a worthy catalyst and soothing companion. I must have weighed myself several times a day, and at my peak (or valley, as the case may be), I was 150 pounds at 6'1.
As I moved into my 20s, I smoked as a "normal" smoker, starting in the morning and smoking throughout the day, and don't remember feeling any guilt or regret, and certainly didn't see the progressive consequence of my action. In regard to my relationship with food, I gradually started to eat better and more often, and was very fortunate to work in a vitamin store for a year or so, learning about health and mental fitness, and thereabouts was when I first quit.
It was so easy. As I was watching a news report about emphysema that included some very haunting images of an afflicted man, I was compelled to quit simply by nausea. I stopped, and was proud of the accomplishment, and knew that I had begun a new phase of life...
But somehow, maybe a year or so down the road, I started again, probably led by loneliness or boredom, but I was smoking clove cigarettes and justifying my fall from grace because cloves aren't really cigarettes (ha ha. bullshit...they're worse....and I eventually went back to the regular cigarettes anyway). Here was where the push & pull began, and I fell into the alluring behavior pattern of being secretive with my smoking, and the social aspect fell away as I became preoccupied with the tempest of guilt and weakness. I became a "night smoker", engaging as needed with the world throughout the day, and running home at the end to being alone in smoke.
This was the pattern I followed throughout most of my thirties, sometimes going through a day or two without smoking, but eventually finding that sacred quiet spot to cut myself off from the world and just smoke out my worries (which of course, I only fed). Through it all, I was somehow blessed to be attentive to healthy eating and regular exercise. I worked out nearly every day, often biking to the gym. It just didn't add up.
My first really serious quit attempt was in 2009, at age 38. I very gradually finished reading Allen Carr's "Easy Way To Quit Smoking", planned my date, and just dove in, all pistons firing. The first couple of nights, I remember throwing myself in bed to just go the hell to sleep and avoid the night smoking cravings. Each day got better, and after a couple of weeks, I discovered Bikram yoga---a 90 minute yoga sequence performed in 100+ degree heated room---and I was healed from the thought of smoking, seeing my body and mental vitality transform before my eyes (the yoga is also done in front of a mirror). I could smell the ammonia toxins streaming from my pores in each class, and my new obsession became healing myself. I was a vessel of inspiration, and loved my new life. About six months into this phase of life, I was in a minor bicycle accident, flipping over my bike and landing on my ribs. I went to the ER, where I received a chest x-ray. The first thing that the doctor said to me was "Wow. Your lungs are beautiful." Think about that: I had smoked for 21 years. After six months of regular intense yoga, I was fortunate to be given such a compliment. I was a blessed, blessed man. (my injury was only a rib contusion...very painful, but thankfully I healed) Surely I'd found enough inspiration to never smoke again, but it wasn't to be...
Several months later after being at a concert and having a few beers, I found myself alone deep into the night, and I thought "Why not? A few will feel nice, and you won't fall into the trap. No one will see." Though the habit didn't come back all at once, it did surely take root again, and while I did maintain my yoga, I had extensive periods of laziness, not applying myself, and not progressing. Comfort in purgatory. Some weeks I do a class or two or three, some weeks not. So in all this time until now I've struggled, stopped, and started. Each time, the progress is noticeable, and I'm happier and more engaged with myself and the world, but I still fall back. I realize that it's like a comfort with being in a state of discomfort...Like I don't want to be accountable to my lack of progress in anything that makes me happy, so I come back to smoking, even though we're a clear mismatch. I've done a couple of rounds in a support group (eight week session), which is where I learned about the EX community, and I really enjoyed hearing from others as well as being a means of support for others. I want to understand this so that I can move on to what's next in life, and stop ruminating. I have so much to be grateful about, and am feeling a reverberating impulse to start honoring the better version of myself that I envision.
Thanks for reading, and sorry for any disjointed rambling. I will gradually get more eloquent, but my priority tonight is to put myself out here so you know who I am.