I'm not going to lie - the last few days have been very, very hard. I've always felt like "Hell Week" and "Heck Week" are transposed for me - the first week is easier, buoyed up by excitement at quitting. The second week is when it starts to hit me that this is going to take work and that it involved changing, well, everything.
I went to the physical therapist this morning, continuing to chase down why I'm having chronic pain issues. The therapist pointed out that I'm a driven, data-oriented person and that it appears that what is actually bothering me is a hypersensitive central nervous system. That doesn't mean the pain's not "real" - of course it is - but it does mean that there's no actual damage to the muscles. I'm cleared to go back to weight lifting, so as soon as I came home, I sent a membership request to the gym that's right across the street from my condo. Hey, it's less per month than I spent on cigarettes!
The thing is, though, this made me think a lot about how we talk about smoking as a way to avoid emotions, but it's also been a way, and symptom, of me avoiding my body. I prefer to live entirely in my head. I'm a "go go go" kind of person (a Type A personality, and Enneagram 5, if you're into those sorts of things). And smoking was a way to force myself to "relax." Obviously the smoking itself wasn't relaxing, but the addiction drove me to get up and move around regularly, and to stop focusing on being "productive." It was also a distraction from fully living inside my body, and realizing how smoking was making me feel (irritated, heartburn, short of breath, agitated, etc).
The challenge for me now is to figure out how to fully be present in my body and emotions, without the crutch of nicotine putting a chemical pall over everything. I'm really balking at that a lot, and I'm having a hard time being gentle with myself. I just don't know how to relax, and all the standard advice like meditation and yoga just does not work for my personality. It seems like high-energy, quantitative strategies might work better: things like weight lifting and dancing, which I've always loved.
But it's frankly terrifying to think that in my 40's, I'm finally trying to figure out what living with and in my body really means. I was ready for the emotional issues (well, as ready as I could be), but this. I just don't know how to deal with this. I'm going to go back to picking up heavy things and putting them down again, but otherwise ... I just don't know. My body and I haven't been on speaking terms for a long, long time.