As I leave the 90 day mark since my quit behind me and move onward toward the century mark, I feel a kaleidoscope of feelings and realizations. First of all let me say to those just starting out on the road to freedom that I can now say from experience, the journey does get easier. The urges really do come less frequently and less intensely then at first though they still pop up from time to time.
But thinking back to a little over three months ago, I remember the days leading up to my quit date. The literal fear of quitting that permeated throughout my being as the quit day came ever closer to becoming a reality. I remember all of the reading I did leading up to that day, realizing that knowledge is power. That understanding my addiction would be a key that would soon unlock the door to my success. And I remember the last day of my active addiction when I woke with no fear in my heart. This was when I knew that my preparations all paid off. I knew right then that my mind had somehow made peace with what I was about to do. My mind, body and soul were in agreement that this would be the day that I smoked my last cigarette.
And I remember that last cigarette. I even had a little speech prepared for the moment when I put that thing out and began my journey as a nonsmoker. But in the end, there was no speech. There was no saying goodbye to an old friend. I think this was because my preparations told me that I really wasn’t losing a friend but instead was gaining my life back! I realized that a friend would never try to kill me. A friend would never try to enslave me. A friend would never take my money and waste it on so trivial a thing as cigarettes.
And so I went to bed, ready to face the internal conflict that the addict within had in store for me. I woke feeling refreshed and ready to do battle with myself. I knew that the first day, the one where there is really nothing to build on would be my hardest. There was indeed some difficulty but nothing near what I had anticipated. And once I had that first day under my belt and had something to build on, there was no turning back for me.
For those who don’t know me, I will say that I used the patch for the first two months of my quit. Could I have quit without it? I really don’t know. Perhaps. But I feel it’s very important to stick to the quit plan that we create. For me it felt like I had a good foundation to build on and as such I stuck to the elements of that foundation.
As the days passed, I created a character within myself that I call my internal addict. By creating this character, I was more easily able to understand what he was up to. I was able to formulate in my mind why he was doing these things and I was able to converse with myself in a fashion that might not have been so easy had I not created this character to simulate my actual addiction. In this way I understood my addiction for what it was. An addiction. A part of me that didn’t want to let go of my past. A piece of me that wanted to smoke and would send those urges out to my body. The ones that cause us so much discomfort at first.
Soon I got through that first month and now had months to build on. Since I live at the base of several of Colorado’s fourteen thousand foot mountains, I created Mt. Freedom in my minds eye. This was a way to see my progress as I continued on. It was a means of identifying rough spots in my quit and visualizing the constant uphill battle that we all must face at first. It showed me that even though I’d just been surprised by an unexpected urge or that even though I faced a day of surprise when my internal addict screamed at me, I could still turn around and see how far I’d come. I could still see the summit of this amazing mountain as a summit much closer then it was before. In some strange way, this gave me comfort. This put things a little more into perspective.
And so, using the tools that I started with and the ones that I have created for myself along the way, I find myself at a point in my quit where I feel fairly confident in the fact that I am a nonsmoker. I feel confident that I can beat back all the elements that my internal addict tries to throw at me. I can feel a confidence within me that can only come with experience.
Still, I know I must keep a close eye on that internal addict as I progress. I will not be blindsided by the urges that can come out of nowhere down the road. These are the ones that surprise us. The ones that take away our confidence in our quits if we’re not careful. But all in all, I’d have to say that the road to freedom is indeed becoming a reality for me.
I think the main point here is that it doesn’t matter what you have to do to achieve freedom. It doesn’t really matter how you go about it. What really matters is that in the end you can get past those first hard days and then those confusing months after that. We must walk our path one step at a time. It’s just a price that we must pay for freedom. We got ourselves into this mess and only we can get ourselves out of it. But whatever price we must pay for our freedom, to me it’s a price that’s well worth paying!
Now onward to the next month and the summit of Mt. Freedom!