Quit, Relapse, Quit again--all in 10 days

Discussion created by terry12 on Jan 10, 2009
Latest reply on Jan 11, 2009 by laurie-schaible
This comment is hard to write, but I must. A couple of weeks ago, I set my quit date for January 7. I had been preparing well for this event. A few days before my quit date, I spontaneously quit. It was going well. I had good momentum. I had over 100 hours without so much as a puff. I felt good. This period was the best I ever had when starting a quit. Actually, I considered in my mind that it wasn’t really a quit, only a good long separation in preparation of the quit. But whatever I considered it to be, things changed.

On January 7, my quit day, I choked. I relapsed. My quit day became a relapse trap. And there was not even a big trigger or emotional event. I had ridden my bicycle to a nearby shopping center to get some things. While rummaging through my backpack, I found half a cigarette. It surprised me. I thought I had thrown all remnants out last week. My reptile/lizard brain, primitive but quick and powerful, put me in automaton mode faster than I could stop and take a deep breath. Watching myself almost in horror, I lit the thing, had three or four puffs, put it out, and slowly came back to consciousness. The molehill had once again become a mountain.

I sat down. Tears even came to my eyes. I knew there were no legitimate excuses. I knew that there was no valid reason ever to have another puff. And yet I did. I thought of my friends on Become an Ex and the many wonderful and helpful people and comments I had found there. I thought of my grandchildren and children. I thought of my own pitiful self having stumbled so rapidly. Waves of guilt and feelings of stupidity and shame rolled over me. It was pretty damned pitiful. I knew for sure I had not killed my desire for a cigarette.

Then I remembered something very important: Life is lived one day at a time. No matter how much we might try to live in the future or in the past, it is really always today in which we live. And of course, that day was not over yet. I still had the rest of it to live. And I still had the decisions to make about how I would live it. Would it be in abject defeat and sorrow, throwing in the towel? Or could I think of some better way to consider things and thus pick myself up, dust myself off, and make myself a better person? On reflection, the former did not sound appealing. The latter had more promise.

I thought of Edith and her recent discussion about compassion, and about the Yes You Can group, and about Giulia and her wonderfully right-on comments to me and to many others, and about Michael and Nancy and so many others who have already helped me get my head on straight. Well, even if my head still is wobbly and on crooked, it is still attached and I can use it in a more productive way.

I even thought of an event way back in my past. It was in 1964, having a cup of coffee with a friend. I offered him a cigarette. He declined, saying something to the effect that even though he had smoked a little bit, he had decided that he should stop it because he thought there was too good a chance of becoming addicted. I agreed with him in large measure. But I smoked one anyway. I remember very clearly a feeling of pride in myself that I would not succumb to nicotine addiction. That was 44 years ago! My friend was right and I was wrong. I’m still addicted. I reflected a bit about pride and its role in other dysfunctional decisions I’ve made in my life. I won’t go through the catalog of those right now. But I did see it as a factor in my behavior on my quit day. It is said that pride goes before a fall. How much pride and self-congratulation had I built up in those six days of abstinence before that day? Apparently, quite a bit. I sure did fall.

The rest of that day, I went over my motivations some more, and my triggers and my methods to keep things in balance and sane and my determination that it be different. Someone said that insanity is doing things the same way and hoping for different results. I had to do things in a different way. And one difference was not to beat myself up too much. Thinking positively, having that half a cigarette in a period of a week was better than I had done for a long time. Good. With a little help from my friends, I can do it.

So I did my shopping, got on my bike, and started riding back home. On the way, I lost focus and balance and fell off my bike! What a quick metaphorical karmic reminder!

I had not a puff the rest of the day. That was Wednesday. I had not a puff on Thursday. I had not a puff on Friday. Now I once again have more than 72 hours without a puff. I need the help of my friends and family and other humans. That seems to be the way that the higher power works for us, and through us. Thank you all.