19 Years of freedom!
Depending upon how we count it, Mrs. Troutnut and I will celebrate 19 years of freedom, either tonight or tomorrow morning. The year was 2001. There were only 28 days in that Leap Year February. I smoked until 10pm that night and tried to consume all of my sickarettes. But I was left with 3/4th of a pack when I went to bed. Mrs. Troutnut would count March 1st as her first day without sickarettes. I insisted my last smoke was on 2/28/2001 and so my quit started that night at 10. Luckily for me, she humors me on this. But either way, we have a combined 38 years quit sometime today or tomorrow.
Finding myself on March 1st, 2001 awakened, and with 15 sickarettes left, I was smart enough to know I would never make it if I kept them around. I had failed many, many quits with the “just one” lie. And eventually even stubborn Norwegian’s like me figure that one out. So I drove them to my blue ribbon trout river. And tossed them from a high cliff. But as luck would have it, they landed on the only iceberg coming down the river. High and dry! And I nearly cried as I watched them fade into the distance. I have previously engaged in “dumpster diving” to retrieve ones I had tossed in half-hearted quits. This time that would be impossible.
And previously I had hidden Sickarettes everywhere. So I could sneak off, like a guilty child, and have yet another “just one” while I fooled myself into thinking I was quit. But something was different for us this time. We had finally drawn a line in the sand. And that line was at one puff. Not even one sickarette. But at one puff. Because I knew from my previous struggles with alcohol, that administration of the drug of choice to an addict, in any form, in any amount, would cause instant and complete re-addiction in me. And I really needed to make this quit work.
Yes. It was a struggle. I was a heavy smoker. Up to 3.5 packs a day over 33 years of smoking. While I was drinking, I didn’t stand a chance. But having quit drinking 11/21/1998 I felt I had a good chance this time. I applied the same principals my AA sponsor had taught me in dealing with alcohol. I decided I would rather suffer through some known and predictable and rather mild consequences now to prevent a lot of unknown and rather severe consequences later.
What a fabulous adventure it has been! I can no longer identify with the middle aged man who made that quit work. I have no idea why he smoked so much for so long. Or why he drank. I gained a lot of clues in my 12 step work. But I have since put all that away having completed my amends and having gained a new and better life. I am today the man I always wanted to be when I was smoking and drinking. But I could never have gotten there with those poisonous substances in my body and brain.
If you are new to this, one of my greatest tools was ODAAT. One Day At A Time. I would never had made either of my quits had I tried to do them forever. So I told my brain a little white lie. “It’s just today” I would say. “Tomorrow we can smoke and/or drink if we want to, but never today.” And tomorrow never comes because it’s always today.
The secret to the quit is now easy and well known, at least to me.
If we don’t take that FIRST PUFF, One day at a time, it is physically impossible to fail!
If we don’t take that FIRST PUFF, just for today, we are absolutely, positively, 100% guaranteed to go to bed as WINNERS tonight.
I LOVE going to bed a WINNER, even after 19 years. I hope you will go to bed a WINNER tonight too!
Your friend in Montana