(This is in Best of EX, but i thought it should go here as well since it's about Relapse Prevention.)
Mike n @lanta and I just had a recent exchange in which he said he had a craving out of the blue which blindsided him last night and it lasted quite a while. He asked if this also has happened to me at this stage of the game. He’s coming up on an 11 year quit, I’m at 9 ½ years. You know what my reply was? “YEEEEEEEES!” For I had an in-your-gutface doozy of a craving yesterday too. I had to pull out all my early quit tools to get through it. And interestingly, for both of us, there was no specific trigger that set our cravings in motion. But they were Day One in intensity for me, and I’m guessing for him too. He didn’t want to blog about it for fear of scaring newbies. Since I think a dose of reality is always a good thing and I’m the “Tell it like it is” kid - I’m telling it like it was. Because you need to understand the nature of this journey and BE PREPARED.
I have a file of “Blogs in the Making” on my computer. This is one that I wrote back in September of 2013. I think it’s appropriate to pull it up now and finish it.
What do you expect to happen when you quit? Do you expect instant results? Do you think because you’ve heard that the nicotine is out of your body after three days that you won’t experience cravings any more? Is there a time line you have in mind when the cravings should be totally gone? If you think that - think again.
In my journey I thought that once I reached a certain “place,” a certain point, I’d suddenly be free of cravings forever. That I’d somehow cross a special Quit Craving Line where all cravings ceased. But like the International Date Line or the earth’s time zones - there’s no out of body experience. You don’t notice a thing when you cross from Eastern to Central to Pacific Time. Nor do you feel a thing when your cross the Continental Divide. There is no fixed date in Quitland when all cravings are gone forever. Nor is there an amount of time of being quit when you will never experience a craving again. (MOO - my opinion only).
Talk to any long-term quitter and they will tell you to always watch your back. Why? Because from experience they know that sometime, somehow, somewhere, when you least expect it the Candid Camera of cravings will come upon you. And you’d better be prepared.
ARE you - prepared? Have you looked at all the possible trigger scenarios? If not - do so. Have an emergency plan in place? Do you have a preparedness kit for that natural disaster of a craving which will knock your socks off and leave your reeling thinking “how can this be... after all this time???”
Part of that Emergency Kit should contain an email address, or phone number of someone you can SOS who will protect you with the torch of positive reinforcement. You don’t even actually need an email address. The EX Blogs is an email address all by itself. And within that heart-pool of wisdom there are many upon whom you can rely to shake your craving mind back to sanity. Create a Quitdress book with links to the pages of those strong supporters with whom you identify. PM them when in crisis mode. That’s what they’re there for!
This is not meant to scare you newbies. (But it IS meant to scare you oldbies!). Cravings like what Mike and I just experienced aren’t an every-day occurrence. That’s why they’re such a shock to us. Our normal days are not filled with hankerings for cigarettes whatsoever. So don’t you worry. We aren’t lying when we say it’s gets easier and that there will come a day when you won’t think about smoking at all. BUT there may also come a day, a long way down the line, when you do.
So be prepared. Stay safe. Stay connected. And don’t be stooooopid!