I had an important revelation this morning and felt the need to post. So here goes:
I am a stroke survivor. My stroke, at 50, was not related to smoking, however, like most near death experiences, it made me take a step back and re-evaluate what is really important in life. I learned to stop and smell the roses. To look at our beautiful and amazing world with new eyes. For a while, my front porch was my only real outlet to to the outside world.
I loved sitting on my front porch. It wasn't much. Just a concrete slab with a couple of chairs on it. Regardless, it allowed me the opportunity to sit outside and watch the birds and butterflies. See the flowers bloom and watch the ever changing shape of the clouds. I enjoyed meeting all the neighbors and their pets as they took their daily walks. The dogs seemed to realize I needed a friend and would often yank their leash to come to me. I made many friends out there and it became a habit for the dogs and their humans to come visit me. I even drew the curiosity of a hawk. I've never been sure, as I was honestly to frightened to move, if he was friendly or simply sizing me up for a possible meal Anyway, he spent a couple of months getting closer and closer to me. It became quite normal for him to land a couple of feet away and eat grubs. One day he even flew in with a huge snake (YIKES) to munch on. Maybe he was trying to share his feast with me. Who knows? I didn't stick around to find out!
Anyway, as you can tell, my porch was very important to me. It was my life line. it was my Oasis.
Unfortunately, my porch was also my smoking area. So with a sad heart, I gave up my porch when I made the decision to stop smoking. I knew the importance of giving up that smoking trigger. But "knowing" the importance didn't make it any easier. I would look out the window at my beloved porch and mourn. I watched as the dogs and people would look for me and it surprised me at how many of these strangers ended up coming to the door just to check and make sure I was all right. I tried to return to my porch a couple of months after my quit...no luck, the trigger was immediate! I continued trying week after week. Then the weeks turned to months. Even after 6 months, sitting on my porch would trigger strong smoke urges. At one point, I wrote a blog on EX that stated, "It has caused me great sadness and at one point, not long ago, I decided that I wanted to sit outside and watch nature more than I wanted to be a non-smoker." Of course --- my EX friends and Elders jumped in to rescue me from temptation and I managed to continued on the non-smoking path rather than make my return as the a porch dweller that I so longed to be.
Looking back, I honestly can't remember when all that changed. I know it took a while (FOREVER in my world) and it happened so slowly that I didn't realize it was happening. BOOM! One day it hit me! Not only was I was out there, I had been going out there for a while without a thought of smoking! I was no longer experiencing the smoking urges. The realization brought me great joy and pride that I had over-come what I thought was insurmountable.
My message to you -- We all have triggers. The important thing is to recognize our triggers and walk away from them, no matter how hard, until it's safe. Just as it happened with me, one day you too will wake up and realize you have made it through. You stuck to your commitment and you conquered the urge. You will realize that you are safe to have that cup of coffee that you once associated with a cigarette. You will be able to ride in the car without having a smoking urge. You will be able to sit though an entire movie without taking a smoke break or spend uninterrupted hours playing with your children. If you're struggling, just know that one day it will pass. Stick to it!
As far as my concrete slab oasis and the joy it brought me. Oh man! Like me, it's come a long way baby and my joy has not waned! What was once a concrete slab with a couple of chairs on it ---- is now a beautiful screened haven. It has a nice sitting area (WHITE with no ash smears or smell:) lots of plants (the vertical planter will have herbs in them by the end of the week) and ceiling fans to keep me cool in the Florida heat. I'm protected from the mosquito's and the wild cats that once marked my open oasis. I no longer have the nasty smell of nicotine embedded in my lovely cushions. Today, I think of myself as the porch. I started out a little pitiful but I stuck to my commitment, conquered the demon....and blossomed.