lkb recently asked me what quit maintenance was. And it really gave me pause to think. What exactly IS quit maintenance?
Well, If you own a car you maintain it by checking the tire pressure and the oil and have regular oil changes. Oil is the life blood of your car. You inspect and add fluid to the windshield washer reservoir, check the power steering and brake fluids. Sometimes, but rarely these days, we need to add water to our cooling system reservoir. Sometimes we get a little lax in all of those areas. And sometimes we pay for it BIG TIME.
If you own a home there are various items you should maintain. You should spray out your HVAC outdoor unit at least twice a year and change your indoor filters as often as you can afford to (they’re so bloody expensive!). You should vacuum the coils (if you have any) of your fridge and change the filter and clean out your dryer lint filter and your washer filter. You should drain a bucketful of hot water from your hot water tank periodically and the same if you have a cold water tank. These are high-end items and the wise one will take care and maintain them.
Of course if you live in an apartment - there ain’t no maintenance. The only maintenance you might have in that case is to let your battery operated items (electric toothbrush, plug-in flashlight, computer, camera, cell phone) expend down to zero and then recharge them. You should blow out the innards of your computer from all the dust accumulation on a regular basis (if you can figure out how to get the cover off. I just did.) That is your blissful limited maintenance.
Your quit is a high-end item too. So what is quit smoking maintenance?
I think maintenance has to do with keeping in touch with the reality of our addiction, long after the cravings have passed. It is an ever present "mindfulness" about our quits. A recognition of our addictive personalities, our weaknesses, and a mental background acknowledgment of the fragility of our freedom. It’s an ongoing awareness of what can trigger us and what we’ll do about those triggers when they occur. Having a plan to remain smoke free in an emotional crisis situation and enacting that plan. It’s preparedness.
Quit maintenance takes discipline. Just like quitting did. We maintain mindfulness by touching base periodically with a quit site like this. Reading the difficulties of the newbies reminds us from where we came. Seeing the failures of those who have relapsed from many a beautiful smoke-free day makes us shudder and reinforces the NOPE mantra in our heads. It’s reading the serial quitter blogs who come back again and again to try to make their quits stick. It’s perusing those blogs of the newly diagnosed COPD who still can’t quit and those who have had surgeries to relieve smoking related illnesses. It’s understanding the depth of the addiction and cherishing the freedom that we have won by hard, HARD work.
Quit maintenance is jumping onto a blog and offering the support wisdom of our smoke-free days at whatever level we’ve achieved. By supporting others we emblazon our own quits into our psyches. Hearing our words in print (so to speak), reinforces them in ourselves. And maintenance is returning periodically to write a blog of our own.
Maintenance is preservation. It’s also knowing when it’s time to get away from a site like this because it has kept us in constant cigarette-thinking mode. That took me a while to learn. Sometimes daily contact is NOT the best idea after a while. Sometimes we need to just FORGET about cigarettes and smoking and triggers and.... And you can only do that if there is no input for it. Being constantly in touch with a support community of people who are in the throes of it all can keep you too close to it. If that makes any sense. We need a break from that after a while. If you haven’t absented yourself from the site, trust yourself enough to do so and see what that’s like. I highly recommend it. Not in the early stages of a quit, but when you know you’re safe. You’ll perceive when that is, just trust your instincts on this.
So, briefly, Quit Maintenance is preparedness.
It’s taking a refresher course. Fine tuning the warning bells. Keeping in touch with the reality of our addiction. Reinforcing the NOPE mantra in our heads by:
1. Acknowledging the fragility of our addiction and being aware of our triggers
2. Having a plan in mind for those times the triggers present themselves and engaging that plan when they do
3. Staying in touch with our addiction by coming back onto this quit site to read, reinforce and offer the wisdom of our own experience with quitting
4 Reminding ourselves of the reasons why we quit.
What are you doing to maintain YOUR quit?