(NOTE: THIS IS THE ENTIRE DIALOGUE FROM THE ORIGINAL EX SITE ON THE NING PLATFORM.)
Random Thoughts Nov. 13, 2008
Is this site helping me or hurting me? Am I too connected to my junkie self? Sometimes I wonder.
I’m out raking leaves yesterday, and my neighbor drives by toward his abode and as usual stops. And he says, “Hi,” and I say “Hi,” and I say, “How are ya?” And he says, “Ok.” And he says, “How come every time I see you you’ve got a load of leaves on your back?” (I use a king sized sheet to haul them in.) And I say, “Because I’m rehearsing for playing Santa Claus! No, because it’s that time of year and I don’t wanna wait for the rain because then they become impossibly heavy....”
And as I’m talking I’m looking in his truck and he’s smoking. And sense memory kicked in. (He used to stop by while I was in the garden and we’d sit with cigarettes and chat. And a couple of times he invited me up to take a look at his house after he first moved in, and he’d offer me a cigarette, which I’d happily take.) I see he’s got a separate ashtray sitting there. His truck must not have come with one? And the smoke is filling the cab and he’s exhaling and it all smells great, like everything I want.
I never wanted to stop smoking. I never had any particularly bad side effects. And I just plain liked it. It didn’t solve my problems and I never needed it for stress. I just liked the taste of it. Especially after meals or booze. And first thing in the morning - five in a row as I drank my cup of coffee. That was breakfast.
The scent of that cigarette was overwhelming to me. It smelled SO GOOD. And that’s the way my quit goes. It’s not necessarily the way yours goes. Not the same as those who have acquired what I wish I could - the disgust for the smell. Just ain’t true for me.
So maybe what I have to offer is for those of my ilk - who would love to have second hand fresh smoke blown in their faces. I don’t know - it’s odd. There are times when stale cigarette smoke smells disgusting to me. Like on someone’s breath at the end of a day of smoking. Or a bar at closing time. But most of the time a freshly lit cigarette smells divine.
So, continuing on this long stream of consciousness (hey it may get someone through not just one but several three minute cravings!): Did I then dump my leaves and go get in my car and buy a pack? No. Did I even consider it? No. Did I think how much I would enjoy a puff? Yes. But that didn’t mean I had to fulfill that desire.
So how did I keep my quit? After over 2 years 8 months with a very strong visceral wanting? I just went on raking leaves. I guess that’s the best way I can say it. And after a leaf load or two, it was out of my head entirely. Until now where I am recalling it.
So obviously that moment had a great impact. Because I can still smell that wonderful smell. But I’m not giving up all that I’ve worked so hard for. There are many things that we work for that we have no control over that we lose. But our quits are totally under our own control. (Aren’t they?) Well, with a little help from above and from a lot of friends on a support group.
What kept me from going to the store is what I want to know. And I want to know it for you, Polly, and you, Cliff, and you..... and you... and you...
I just paid it no never mind. Sounds stupid, but it’s true. I just paid that craving no never mind. We all want things we cannot have. In this case we must deny ourselves the thing we CAN have but have chosen not to, because we know better. This for me has become a cannot have.
But I suddenly got a clue as to the mindset that gets you to the store to buy a pack. Because there WAS no mindset during that time. There was simply instinct and brain memory and desire and utter lack of control and discipline in that instant.
As an actress I have studied sense memory. It can enable you to feel an emotion from the past. So I really "get" that part of the addiction. I’ve occasionally used sense memory to re-connect to strong emotions in my life in order to replay them for a character I’m portraying. There are many things that can trigger sense memory. Perhaps one of the strongest is scent. You’ll smell the perfume your mother wore and she comes alive again. Music is another strong one - a song will bring back incredible memories. I don’t know (since I never smoked to alleviate stress), but I would guess that those of you who reach for a cigarette during stressful times - stress becomes a sense memory for you.
So, rambling out loud and trying to figure out why I didn’t relapse and why others do...
I had the sense memory, but I ignored it. I just went on raking the leaves. But I understand now how there is no cognitive recognition of any temperance device. No check. Because when I smelled that smell I was totally overwhelmed. There was no thought of running in and getting on the computer and signing into Ex and all of you. None whatsoever.
When we want it badly enough, we just go get it. Is that it? When that WANT supersedes the desire to quit, are we then lost? Or do we indeed have control?
For all of you relapsers (who've waded all the way to the bottom of this) - I’d like you to weigh in. Is this a conscious decision? To stay quit? Or one we are incapable of having control over when that sense memory washes over us?
What keeps a quitter quit? And I don't wanna hear the same old - no option stuff, because as Polly said to me at one point somewhere, the no option became an option.
Jan. 15th '09 addendum to this. Once again I'm out raking leaves. And once again my smoking neighbor comes by in his truck. We get to gabbing and he spends the ENTIRE time trying to find something to light his cigarette. (The truck doesn't have a lighter or ash tray). First his shirt pocket, then his right pants pocket. Then his left. Then he searches on the passenger seat. Then looks on the floor, back seat, checks all pockets again. It was hilarious and pathetic to me. I remember doing the same thing back when I was a smoker, going NUTS trying to find a pack of matches that I KNEW I had in my car SOMEWHERE. Another Uta Hagen acting class lesson - replicating what happens when you lose something and try to find it. I told him if he just gave the damn things up he wouldn't need a match. He agreed, grinning, and kept searching. What's more frustrating - not being able to find a cigarette, or the match? One without the other and you can't relapse. HA!
RESPONSES TO THAT ORIGINAL POST ARE AS FOLLOWS:
Jules Permalink Reply by Jules on November 13, 2008 at 11:27am
I am doing good on my quit so far and will have 30 days tomorrow. But. I vividly remember what happened to me 6 years ago. I had been a non-smoker for 1 year and 9 months. I had finally stopped smoking in my dreams. I rarely thought of them anymore. Once in a while I would have a passing thought that was kind of like a crave without the body response. It was the Christmas season and I had been out at my Dad and Step-mom's house. They smoked inside back then (before they had grandchildren because it was okay to ruin the adult children's lungs with second hand smoke) and I had been breathing it in all day long. I worked a second job at the time as a bartender so this was not my first experience inhaling other people's smokes. I don't know what triggered me that day but I suddenly wanted a smoke very much. I tried to distract myself. I went for a long drive. I became obssesed with smoking. I began to feel a rising sense of anxiety. I finally bought a pack and parked in a church parking lot. I prayed for over an hour in my car, with the pack of smokes unopened in my lap. I began to have a panic attack and started to cry. It was at that point that I lit a smoke. I only had one that day because it made me light headed and sick to my stomach. The next day I had 3 or 4 and then it was off to the races. Took me 6 years to try again. The difference this time...support groups like this one. I did not have that before so suffered inside my own head for a full day before relapsing. Now I have a place to get out of my head and I am very grateful. I have had bad craves in the last 29 days and say "I want a freakin cigarette" but I don't really consider doing it, I am just talking. So, support is the key for me.
Thanks for starting this discussion Giulia. Sorry to be so long winded.
Giulia Permalink Reply by Giulia on November 13, 2008 at 11:51am
Thanks for your input, Jules. It's Exactly the kind response I was looking for. We become obsessed. Even an hour of praying didn't keep you safe. And it took six years to get back at it. Maybe if you'd thrown the pack away that day and not had the 3 or 4 the next day.....? We'll never know, will we?
I agree, a support group helps in so many ways.
Jules Permalink Reply by Jules on November 13, 2008 at 12:00pm
In response to throwing away the pack and not having the 3 or 4 the next day... once I had the one I felt like a huge failure. I beat the hell out of myself. Since I had no one to talk to about it I just kept on smoking. All my friends were never smokers so did not get the addict issue. And, like you Giulia, I did not have negative side effects then and liked smoking, etc. But the biggest part was feeling like a complete screw up and having the "what the hell, I failed" attitude.
Adrienne Permalink Reply by Adrienne on March 13, 2009 at 7:46am
For me, relapse = react. When I consciously choose, I do not smoke, I do not relapse. When I mindlessly react out of pattern and habit, I do what I had always done (smoke). I think the biggest thing I've learned in the last 14 smoke free days is to remain present in the moment no matter how swept up the old me would have become in the chaos of it all.
Carole :) Permalink Reply by Carole :) on March 13, 2009 at 1:56pm
"...remain present in the moment..." Well said. :)
Doreen Permalink Reply by Doreen on November 14, 2008 at 4:42am
Wow, Giulia. Talk about a deep subject. What keeps me quit? I've been smoke free for around 2½ years. Shortness of breath and fear made me quit. The fear of remembering the day my father died from complications of esophagael cancer (caused by smoking). Walking into the ICU room and seeing him laying flat out on the bed, a tube sticking out of his mouth connected to nothing. His pillow thrown on the floor. The scream of Nooooooo that came from the very pit of my soul. I will never forget that day.
Nor will I forget 2½ years later in another ICU room. My mother connected to a respirator, watching her gag and her eyes rolling in the back of her head when they'd back off on the sedation and say "See? She's awake now." Then when the doctor came in and started talking about moving her to a nursing home because he didn't know if or when she'd ever come off the respirator. Having to enforce her living will. Knowing she would never want to live out her life on life support. Sitting there next to her for the last 3+ hours of her life. Watching her slip away. Foaming at the mouth and nose. Angry knowing she could have stayed with us longer if she had only quit smoking. Angry that it seemed that she loved those damned cigarettes more than she loved us. Angry that now both of my parents were dead as a result of smoking related illnesses.
Then I decided to quit smoking myself. Never wanting my children or grandchildren to ever have to go through what I did. Knowing that I could have still been alive if I'd only quit smoking. So, I quit. Cold turkey. It was hell. And it made me madder every time there was a crave. I was not going to let that damned nicodemon win with me. I never liked the smell of second hand smoke. I hated it when we'd be out to dinner and someone would light up before I'd finished with my meal. I hated the rude ones that would blow their smoke all over the place and it would get on me. I hated cleaning the ashtrays - the way my clothes and hair smelled - the way some people smelled like a walking ashtray. I hated it all.
But, I craved it anyway. Sometimes the crave would be so overwhelming I would question whether I had really quit or was it just my imagination and there were cigarettes around here somewhere. Then I'd come to my senses and remember that I no longer smoke. I AM A NON-SMOKER! The nicodemon had no more control over me!
Oh sure, every once in a while a crave will pass by. But, its fleeting. It doesn't last but a second. And I can breathe. I don't have to clean ashtrays. I don't stink like one either. When I do get short of breath, I am thankful that its not because of smoking. When my RA flares up, it is a reminder that maybe if I'd never smoked I wouldn't have this illness. There's proof that smoking is linked to Rheumatoid Arthritis. I did this to myself. But I won't go back. Never. I won't be a slave to anything anymore. The nicodemon is out of my life for GOOD. And the reminders of the past will keep me quit.
Giulia Permalink Reply by Giulia on November 14, 2008 at 8:59am
That's a very sad but powerful reason for keeping a quit, Doreen....the reminders of the past. It never ceases to amaze me how much we can hate the addiction and yet still crave a cigarette at the same time. Thanks for your honesty.
Diana Permalink Reply by Diana on November 14, 2008 at 1:39pm
Wow. I (almost always) THINK I love the smell of the cigarettes. You know, I smoked before I was born, in the womb. I was raised with cigarettes streaming all through the house in all the ash trays. I remember both parent's smelling of smoke and I guess, because they were my parents, the associations can feel comforting at times.(sense memory! yeah, that's it) I personally picked up my first cigarette at 5. My babysitter taught me to enhale......(Nice) I have smoked my whole 43 + years....I havent really known life without cigarettes....BUT I am LEARNING... I have DECIDED to. I had multiple strokes 11 years ago with the birth of my last child and I contiued to smoke after I mostly recovered.... OK? Humm. Can you say ADDICTION? Both my parents have smoking related illnesses that are making them suffer & killing them slowly.. (my father still smokes after so many illnesses and warnings... it's unreal to watch) My mother-in-law is fighting small cell lung cancer. (She most likely won't win the battle) My sister in-law got into a fatal head-on reaching for her cigarettes...(she still chooses to smoke.) I have kids who don't deserve going thru a repeat of my experiences with cigarettes. It goes on and on. But I still THINK I like the smell of cigarettes and have thoughts about them maybe making me feel better.... Right........ It is getting me pissed off as I write this. Sorry if I sound like a *****. I am not. Just MAD at the ADDICTION. It is very MEAN.
I have KNOWLEDGE now. (I didnt know what I didnt know.) I have DECIDED to ACCEPT the ADDICTION I have. I may not like it but I accept and RESPECT it. It's my choice at this point.... (64 days-Cold Turkey this time..;)) I know in my heart now that I dont have to smoke. I am so GRATEFUL for that freedom. I also know I cannot do this on my own. I need the help of my GOD. He speaks thru my day, thru this site, thru YOU. I have to be OPEN, WILLING and HONEST. The ADDICTION won't get better. WE will. IF we dont take nicotine into our body.......... we have a chance.
I went on a tad too much but I hope it helped someone....I get a little emotional still... I think that is a good thing tho.
Jules Permalink Reply by Jules on November 14, 2008 at 1:43pm
Thanks Diana. I am one person who needed to hear that today. Congrats on your 64 days!
Giulia Permalink Reply by Giulia on November 14, 2008 at 1:45pm
Oh yeah, Diana, oh yeah. But you didn't go on a tad too much at all. The emotions just show how powerful the addiction is. You're right, the addiction won't get better but WE WILL.
Thank you so much for your post. And congrats on your 64 beautifully free days.
Debbie Permalink Reply by Debbie on February 5, 2009 at 9:22pm
Thanks Diana I had a tough day today, and I needed to read what you wrote. Thanks so much
Amy Permalink Reply by Amy on February 15, 2009 at 1:08pm
Diana, how can I thank you! I always wondered if someone else felt they became a smoker "in the womb". You are an inspiration to me and your words are EXACTLY what I needed to hear. I have to admit I like cigarettes, but I don't want to be a repeat of my dad dying of another stroke after one left him paralyzed for 2 years. I want to be able to run up the three flights of stairs to my apartment. Keep me in your thoughts, please. It's hard, but I know I will be better without them.
Kerry Permalink Reply by Kerry on December 4, 2008 at 11:59am
Hi Doreen, I lost my mother too when I was 29 to Lung Cancer, and yet I kept smoking. It was the worst day of my life. Now I have COPD and have had 3 operations on my sinuses that did not help. I have quit 8 times in 2 months and today will be my last quit. God Bless you.
Giulia Permalink Reply by Giulia on December 4, 2008 at 10:17pm
Kayla, listen to yourself. That's one quit a week. Is this just another week like the other eight? Come ON, woman. Not to be harsh, but to be real here, you sound like the woman who cries wolf. Why should I believe you, THIS time? What are you DOING? Bottom line here: you want to breathe better? Then stop smoking. Three operations on your sinuses did not solve your problem. So give not smoking a chance. Geez. Give yourself a month free. Just a month. Thirty whole days where you don't smoke. After that, give yourself permission to do so. BUT: and here's the proviso - you can only smoke then if you haven't seen any improvement in your sinuses and breathing. If you notice no difference whatsoever - then you can smoke. My guess is twofold: 1) you'll notice an improvement and 2) you'll discover you can be master instead of slave and won't want to go back to day one.
I wanna see you as a quitter who keeps quit. Not one who keeps relapsing. Try it. 30 Days. I dare you!
ctm Permalink Reply by ctm on November 15, 2008 at 6:15pm
I had a 6 week quit once and wanted to smoke a couple just for kicks. At the time, I had no idea of the Law of Addiction which is stated below (from whyquit.com):
The law of physiological addiction states that administration of a drug to an addict will cause reestablishment of the dependence on that substance.
After those few smokes, it took me 15 years to gather the strength, resolve, determination or whatever you want to call it to attempt another serious quit. Just think, FIFTEEN EXTRA YEARS of sucking on those filthy disgusting sticks of disease and death because I thought I could have a couple and then quit again.
A few months ago, I had some pain and peculiar feelings in my chest and went to the doctor to have it checked out. I got through the EKG and treadmill test and nothing was wrong. During a physical exam, my doctor listened to my breathing and told me that I did NOT have emphysema. He also told me “we have put people on the oxygen bottle as young as 50”.
At 47 years of age, you don’t have to slap me in the face twice to get me to listen. I have never had any serious fear of having a heart attack, a stroke or getting cancer. The thought of slowly suffocating to death with emphysema scares the @#$% out of me.
I’m like Giulia in some ways. I never wanted to stop, was never naive enough to think it solved my problems, still like the smell of fresh smoke and blah, blah, blah. Chain smoking with a glass of chardonnay on the weekends and the cigarettes with coffee in the morning... I used to think, “Ahhhhhhh, these are to die for”.
I don’t think that way anymore. Cigarettes are NOT worth dying for. I live a pretty healthy lifestyle in most ways and I’m getting too old to be playing Russian roulette with cigarettes.
I am only going to get so many chances to quit and this is probably THE last chance for me. My previous best quit was done without any knowledge of nicotine addiction or support. This time, I feel that I understand the enemy and have the help of friends to make this happen.
Giulia Permalink Reply by Giulia on November 15, 2008 at 6:34pm
Hello Partner in Crime. Same wave length. And thanks for the "Law of Addiction." That one's a keeper. Had never seen it before. The only thing left out of it is the Law of Psychological Addiction. I think we'll have to just write our own on that one.
ctm Permalink Reply by ctm on November 15, 2008 at 6:40pm
You are soooooo right about the Law of Psychological Addiction.
Diana Permalink Reply by Diana on November 15, 2008 at 6:59pm
Thank you all!
Jules Permalink Reply by Jules on November 15, 2008 at 8:14pm
Ditto on the thanks. It made me think of what is said about alcoholics...you can stop drinking for months or years but as soon as you start you are exactly where you left off if not worse. Scary to think about. Understanding what happens helps a lot. Reading other people's words helps me too. I really liked smoking. I enjoyed mornings so much with my book, coffee and smokes that I would get up an hour earlier then I needed to so I could enjoy that every day. I like the smell of a freshly lit smoke. As Chuck says, blah, blah, blah. I don't want to die and as much as I liked it every pain, shortness of breath or crappy feeling and I was sure I had lung cancer or heart disease. I think it is a funny pun you made Chuck where you said, "these are to die for".
Anna Permalink Reply by Anna on February 1, 2009 at 4:30pm
I think this also, that I may have cancer. I get up in the morning and head to the kitchen to fix my brew of Folgers Colombian medium roast coffee. I wait patiently for it to be done, seems like an hour I wait for my cup of coffee at times.
Almost everyone in my family smokes, it's horrible if you want to quit. I quit once a few years back for nine days then my sister shows up from out of nowhere, I had not seen her for many years. She needed a place to live and of course I welcomed her. It was in the winter and I remember telling her, I don't want you to catch a cold but you will have to smoke outside. To make a long story shorter, I relapsed and started smoking again. This time when I quit no one will be allowed to move in with me that smokes or smoke in my home, period.
I know we can't avoid smokers everywhere but I feel my chances to stay clean are greater with not allowing it in my home. Maybe I'm weak. I did quit for about 5 years then picked them back up when I started dating a guy who smoked.
So it is true, one will surely lead to more, at least for me. If I do slip, I hope to get back up and try again.
Giulia Permalink Reply by Giulia on February 2, 2009 at 2:32pm
We all have our weakness when it comes to smoking. At least you know that allowing someone to smoke in your home is a major trigger for you. You are very wise to keep all smokers OUT of your house then. Perhaps it would be good to find another way to combat the urges when around smokers. Because there WILL probably come a time when you're gonna be around someone who smokes, I fear. And when you do, you'll have to employ one of your quit shields. So it's important to come up with a variety of protective devices. As some have said, get yourself a "quit kit." And don't date guys who smoke!
hwc Permalink Reply by hwc on November 21, 2008 at 8:28pm
What keeps a quitter quit? Well, for me:
a) Education. Understanding the nature of nicotine addiction allowed me to quit and allows me to stay quit. Following the advice of long-term successful quitters.
b) From the moment I made the decision to quit for good on the third day of not smoking, I have never allowed myself to entertain the idea of smoking. I threw a switch that day. I had proven that I could stop by not smoking for two days and decided not to waste what could well be my only opportunity to quit.
c) I truly believe that smoking doesn't offer one single positive benefit, therefore I've never really felt like I was "giving up" something worthwhile.
ctm Permalink Reply by ctm on November 21, 2008 at 8:48pm
Point a) I'm right there with you. Without education, I wouldn't have had a chance.
Point b) I wish I could have been that committed on day 3. WOW you ROCK!!!
Point c) Right there with you again.
hwc Permalink Reply by hwc on November 22, 2008 at 12:24am
Don't get me wrong on Point B. I'm not saying that I didn't want to smoke. I'm not saying there weren't times when I just stood there with electricity shooting thru me from a crave for a cigarette. I had my moments.
I'm just saying that I never seriously entertained the notion of actually lapsing and smoking. I was DONE with smoking. I knew that going two days without smoking for the first time in 38 years was probably my one and only shot. I knew that I had to seize the opportunity. I wanted absolutely nothing to do with getting caught in a quit - relapse - quit -relapse cycle. If I was going to quit, I was goign to quit. If I wasn't, then I was going to just smoke until it killed me.
It wasn't that scary or intimidating. Every day I watched Joel's video's and read what to expect. So, when I couldn't sleep on Day 3 and Day 4, I knew that if I just hung in there, it would get better.
I really think quitting on a spur of the moment impulsive decision helped me a lot. There was never any opportunity to pscyhe myself out. I was like a duck. I just jumped in and started paddling like hell. Before I even really knew what hit me, I had made it through the first week. That's really the crux of the climb. If you can get through the first week, it's just one foot in front of the other all the way to the summit.
Kathy Permalink Reply by Kathy on November 24, 2008 at 9:10am
hwc has hit it right on the head.
SAVOR all he has written.
Cravings only last 3-5 mins. Find something to occupy your time, then.
And practice, practice, practice.
You'll be surprised - and SO PROUD of yourself each time you get past a craving.
YOU are in control, and YOU can say, "Na-na-na-na-na" to those cravings.
And remember that, in life, This Too Shall Pass.
Giulia Permalink Reply by Giulia on December 10, 2008 at 9:33am
I wish you could market it to, Michael. For only desire pulls the trigger. How right you are.
ckoalaco Permalink Reply by ckoalaco on December 10, 2008 at 9:46am
That's what a never smoker friend of mine asked me too. She asked how I was able to quit this time - what made it so different that it actually stuck finally? I told her that it was my mindset. I just didn't want to be a smoker anymore badly enough to light one back up. My desire to be free finally overtook my desire to smoke. I looked at my smoking... and just smoking in general, in a totally different way then I ever had before.
this friend asked what did i do to get there? I told her I dunno... if i knew that I'd be rich because I'd hold the long-sought after secret that could give all smokers this freedom. lol. When ya'll figure it out, I want in on the secret.
barbara Permalink Reply by barbara on December 15, 2008 at 8:40am
YOU KNOW, FOR ME IT IS JUST THAT I AM SO STUBBORN THAT I WILL NOT LET ANY THING TURN ME AWAY FROM BEING SMOKE FREE. THAT DOES NOT MEAN TO SAY THAT I AM NOT TEMPTED OR THINK ABOUT IT, BUT I JUST THINK ABOUT WHAT POLLY ALWAY,S SAID, SMOKING IS NOT AN OPTION, AND WHAT MAKES ME EVEN MORE DETERMINED IS HER RELAPS. THAT SHOWED ME THAT WE WILL ALWAY,S GAURD THIS QUIT, EVEN WHEN WE GET TEN YEARS DOWN THE ROAD. PEACE!
Giulia Permalink Reply by Giulia on December 15, 2008 at 8:56am
Yes, Polly's lesson is OUR lesson.
Carole :) Permalink Reply by Carole :) on December 15, 2008 at 6:19pm
What keeps me quit? Honestly, there are days I ask myself that same question because recently the idea of sitting on my back porch to light up and escape the emotional pain of the loss of my adopted mom is a luxurious one. I've toyed with it and yet I don't ever follow through.
The only logical answer I have come with, trying to answer myself in those moments, is that I honest to God do NOT want to start the whole quit process over again. The thought of quitting again is the biggest turn off to me. I'm smart enough now to know that there is no such thing as one. I'm smart enough now to know that going back on my decision to stay quit would also send me back to a place that I've grown so much from, spiritually and emotionally. All that work destroyed by going back to destroying my body again with nicotine. I just can't do it.
That's not to say I don't think about going back. It's not to say that I still don't have this ridiculous idea that smoking actually is appealing on some level, because in my addict head, it always will be appealing on some unexplainable level. I've had to learn to accept that about my addiction. I face the fact that I had a long love affair with smoking and being a using nicotine addict. I still think of the "reward system" it set me up with which served me well for many years...bust my ass getting things done, then sit and relax with a few cigs, then up and busting my ass to get things done again. Work hard, reward, work hard, reward.
I also still think of the quiet moments it gave me to just chill somewhere when the days were full and I had so little time to myself, smoking forced me to go somewhere and just contemplate or simply release the stress of the day. But, like any relationship that comes to an end, I have to always remember why it had to end and why I cannot ever go back as much as I would like to sometimes. Crazy, but true.
Then there is my son, of course. I've fantasized trying to smoke again and the idea of hiding it from him just kills me now. The guilt would be too much. I want to be a better example for him. I would feel dirty and such a liar if I started knowing that he would have a drug addict for a mom again. I refuse to teach him how to be a nicotine addict, nor can I go to great lengths to hide it from him either. It's just not worth it.
Older, sure. Wiser, definitely. Still an addict? You bet. That honesty keeps it real enough for me to protect myself and not do something stupid so I have to quit all over again. No thank you.
Giulia Permalink Reply by Giulia on December 15, 2008 at 9:16pm
Great post as usual Carole.
barbara Permalink Reply by barbara on December 20, 2008 at 10:43am
what keeps me quit is this--there is no way i want to go through this quitting again
i would loose all self respect for myself that quitting has given me
i would loose the respect of my husband, my kid,s, my friends, not their love, but a little respect for not being able to handle the hard stuff
RJ Permalink Reply by RJ on January 7, 2009 at 5:47pm
Man what a question, and lots of answers.
Reflecting back to my failed pause of 32 months I think it was lack of education that allowed me to choose to smoke again.
I was well past any normal craves, and for months on end I would not even think about smoking, as a matter of fact I thought of myself as a full ex-smoker. Deep down I knew and even had told my mother at about a year and a half that I knew if I smoked again it would probably last till I was dead.
Then at about 30 months mark I hit a bad patch, I got stressed and thought "man a cigarette would be good" a few days later I thought "one or two wont hurt" within that day I bought a pack, and lit up, the first puff was nasty, my lungs stung, and I thought "what the hell am I doing?" I then forced myself to continue and inhale, I smoked it down about half way and stubbed it out and tossed the pack in the trash, within a few seconds the nicotine hit, and the receptors started firing my head started swimming, and that old familiar AAHH kicked in.
Within an hour I did not resist the urge when it came up again, and the junkie thinking was screaming, go ahead, a few a day you can handle it, blaa blaa blaa, within a week I bought a carton, then another then another, 4 yrs later I finally got up the nerve to try again when my wife told me she was quitting.
What keeps me quit is this- the education on nicotine addiction, the simple acceptance that I am a junkie who cannot smoke "just one" and the simple fact - I will put a bullet in my head before I smoke again.
Education+determination=success RJ... Free at Last.
Kerry Permalink Reply by Kerry on January 7, 2009 at 6:18pm
Giulia Permalink Reply by Giulia on January 7, 2009 at 8:02pm
Good one, RJ.
Jasmine Permalink Reply by Jasmine on January 31, 2009 at 7:31am
Amen! You got that right!
Jasmine Permalink Reply by Jasmine on January 31, 2009 at 7:29am
Thanks for sharing! I will try to remember that when my time comes.
Giulia Permalink Reply by Giulia on February 2, 2009 at 9:22am
Thanks for the post Jeffrey. Indeed, we must not forget the fears nor the tears that got us here.
Jules Permalink Reply by Jules on February 2, 2009 at 9:29am
Too true. It is too easy to forget extreme pain when we are no longer in that place.
jonescarp Permalink Reply by jonescarp on February 17, 2009 at 9:10pm
nor the beers
Lisa Permalink Reply by Lisa on February 17, 2009 at 8:58pm
I have to tell you guys...you inspire me. I'm on day 12 of my quit and I'm scared to death that if I ever pick up another cigarette, I'll smoke until it kills me and I lose everything that is important to me. I smoked years ago and quit for 5 years. It took me 19 more years to succeed in getting free again.
Anyway, I just read every post in this forum and am quietly strengthening my resolve that I will never put another cigarette in my mouth - no matter what it takes. I realize I'm a newbie and don't have much to stand on but wanted to tell you all that I admire you.
Keep writing, someone is reading and holding on for dear life to every word you say.
Giulia Permalink Reply by Giulia on February 17, 2009 at 9:09pm
I'm glad you're scared to death to smoke another cigarette. If we all had that fear there'd be no need for this Relapse Traps group. Don't put yourself down. Twelve days is a tremendous amount of time in this process. Your resolve is what you're standing on and that sturdy base is getting stronger with every puff you don't take. Commitment and perseverance is what makes long term quitters out of people just like you. And your life IS very dear so keep holding on.
Jules Permalink Reply by Jules on February 18, 2009 at 1:21pm
Yesterday I had a stressful incident with my cat. She bit someone over the weekend and that person decided to call animal control even though the cat is healthy. I had to surrender her to a vets office for 10 days at the cost of $300.00. It was all very difficult and I was and am very mad at my "friend". But... I did NOT ONCE think of smoking for the stress. That is a first for me. NOT ONCE! So I am here to tell you it can be done. Each time up until now that I have gotten to the place where I was seriously thinking of relapsing I came on this site and blogged about it and reached out for help. It is that or find myself where Mike is today, back to day one. Ask for help before smoking as that is what we are all doing here.
Giulia Permalink Reply by Giulia on February 18, 2009 at 1:51pm
I was in process of writing this: Aw Mike, I'm so sorry to hear this. Makes me feel like I'm not doing my job on here right. This group is supposed to keep people from relapsing. And it ain't workin! Very frustrating. But then, this addiction is a bear.
And you, Jules, wrote what you just did. And that's it: you have to ask for help BEFORE you relapse. When you think you can't make it, RUN to the nearest computer and get on and shout HERE I AM, PLEASE COME HELP ME SAVE MY QUIT. And somebody will be here. It's like that cold prevention drug, Airborne. You take it when you first feel the symptoms coming on. Sometimes it takes a while to become savvy to the symptoms and we wait too long to swallow it and get the cold. DON'T WAIT until it's too late to keep your quit. Take the Airborne Cyber Help tablet when symptoms are first upon you.
Keep on learning.....
Bub Permalink Reply by Bub on March 12, 2009 at 1:47pm
Nice sharing Guila! I have tried whole heartedly several times to quit the longest being 10 days I think. That was cold turkey... was sitting waiting for a bus cleaning out a bag I used daily and found an old cigarette. I was upset being I was just leaving my young children to go with their father. And found matches and lit the darned thing. It was stale yucky and felt so good so I thought. Now I think quite differently so I'm still not an ex with a big amount of time but I have been smoking since I was 10 (now 51) Just two years ago I was saying I'd never quit so I've come a long way. I have COPD and a microadenoma on my pituatary gland and a spot on my breast that needs monitering. The last two started just late last year. I am hoping I don't need any other convincing to give these things up for good!! I go through phases about writing on here. I was off most of the end of last year and now I'm back. I'm beginning to learn my way around. Thank Goodness. I want to say God Bless every one of you that has maintained their quit as you call it. From someone that wants to be one of you is holding onto your helpful hints to become one of you. Be Well. Bub
Carole :) Permalink Reply by Carole :) on March 12, 2009 at 2:12pm
You ARE one of us. Just gotta tap into what already exists to get 'r done. We were not born with nicotine-addict stamped to our heads, right? None of us are special that quit and stay quit. We can all do this. Make your decision, know what to expect, have a plan for cravings and thoughts to smoke, you already know there is no good reason or excuse to light up again. Just junkie thinking that we can get through with support from our friends. Next time? Write before you light. :) We're here for ya.
keptpromise reply April 26, 2011
Well, I just finished reading this whole "What Keeps a Quitter Quit?" Forum, and I must say....there is some very powerful stuff wriiten here!! RJ's quote, "Education + Determination = Success" speaks for me! If I would have had the education part, I would have never smoked that one cigarette at Happy Hour after a strong 15 year quit!! I did not know the "Law of Addiction" then. Today I am 110 days quit (after smoking for 8 years after that "Happy Hour" cigarette). Now I know I will STAY quit, as I know have the proper education. I surely wish I would have known then,what I know now, as I would still be quit to this day!! I didn't even have a crave to smoke that cigarette, just thought it would be "interesting" after so long (and one too many beers).
Giulia reply April 27, 2011
Alcohol is the most potent relapse trap I know of. It weakens all defenses and alters our normal sane thinking process. The warning bells are not heeded because they are not even perceived as such. I don't know, I think most times it's experience that teaches us the best lessons. We can read something to the ends of time and still not "get it." until it happens to us.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Law of Addiction (http://whyquit.com/joel/Joel_04_02_law_of_addiction.html) - click on it. You ARE "on probabation" when you quit.