Things have changed a lot in my life since I last participated in the Ex Community on a regular basis. I found face-to-face support in friends who have stopped smoking. I got into my first romantic relationship in years and we broke up. I have moved to a new office at work to get away from my ex-girlfriend. I have decided to start graduate school this fall and recently changed my mind about doing that. I started smoking again for maybe a couple of weeks and now am smoke-free again.
Some things have not changed. This is why I am back. I continued in my pattern over the past three years of smoking, putting intense effort into quitting, losing the desire to smoke over the course of a few weeks, stopping the effort I put in to staying smoke-free, then relapsing a few months later. I am very good at stopping smoking. I am not good at maintaining my recovery from nicotine. Another thing has not changed. I always suffer physically and financially when I go back to smoking. It is always stressful. I always regret my decision. My latest relapse ended because I had to check myself into the ER for chest pain. After running some tests, they found that nothing was wrong with my heart. I have been through this before. It is all related to smoking. I am not posting about my trip to the hospital because I am ashamed or beating myself up. I am doing it to remind myself that it is real. I am grateful that the relapse lasted for a couple of weeks, and I am grateful that this event gave me the motivation to stop smoking again.
I am grateful that I am taking action to prevent another relapse. It scares me that my disease tells me, "Nothing is wrong. You can smoke again." It is scary to me that my mind tells me to go back to the source of my stress and guaranteed health problems. I feel hopeful because I am following the recommendations of my doctor by not smoking and using the patch to help with cravings. I am also taking the suggestion of my therapist to wait five minutes if I have a craving, to set a timer on my phone if I need to. I am remembering the things that worked in the past and I am doing them.
I am posting here because I need to pay attention to my cravings and take action to prevent a relapse. Not wanting to deal with the cravings is why I relapsed. Not being willing to take action is why I relapsed. I am slowing down today and doing something to address my nicotine addiction. After posting this, I will tell the people in my face-to-face support group that I have quit smoking. I will reach out for help. I was too proud to ask for help before. See, my ex-girlfriend was the person I turned to for support last time. I put all my eggs in one basket. Even though help was available from other people, I chose not to use it. Recovery begins for me when I swallow my pride and start reaching out for help.
Another contributing factor for my relapse was putting my job above everything else. I rationalized that I didn't have time to do what I needed to do for my recovery. I needed to be there for the patients. I rationalized that I needed to smoke to stay up all night and write papers for graduate school. This reservation, left unaddressed, led me to smoke. My relapse on nicotine has made me re-evaluate my priorities. If I can't do graduate school without smoking, I don't need to go to graduate school. If I am going to be effective at my job, I need to force myself to take time for myself. The number one priority must be my recovery--learning to handle stress without smoking, learning to meet all my responsibilities without smoking. Otherwise, I create more stress by adding smoking to the list of things I have to do, the list of things I have to spend money on. I add shame and self-loathing for smoking to the stress I already feel. I add anxiety about health problems and money problems caused by smoking to the stress I already feel. I add keeping my smoking a secret to the shame and stress I already feel.
I am not having very many cravings today, and the cravings are not strong, but I am taking every craving seriously because I am afraid I will go back to smoking. My number one priority today is not to smoke.
Sorry for the long post, but I need to process what happened for myself. Posting here helps me process the cravings I am having and the crazy thinking that leads me to smoke. Thanks for reading. Thanks Becomeanex for giving me a place to treat my nicotine addiction. I welcome any feedback.