So I smoked my last cigarette five days and eight hours ago. I have gone from getting from one hour to the next (first three days or so) to getting from one day to the next.. I think I have a pretty good idea of why I am here. I am here because I do not trust my logic and my instincts to guide me through my cessation in the same way that I trust them to guide me in nearly every other situation I have encountered in life. I am here because, now that I am not suffering from physical withdrawl (or at least I am close to not) I know that giving in to a craving is not going to scratch the itch that my brain tells me it will scratch. In fact, that itch doesn't exist anymore, or at least is well on the way to not existing. Ironically, were I to attempt to scratch it, I would instead be engaging in "itch creation"
The most helpful analogy I have come up with for my own thinking is a fairly revolting one involving athlete's foot fungus. Since this is my own cessation log, I am going to explain it. Apologies in advance if it grosses anyone out.
Athlete's foot itches a lot, and once contracted can only be erradicated using a topical anti-fungal cream or spray repeatedly for a set period of time. Once treated, it disappears, and with it, the resultant itch. Now while one is afflicted, it DOES feel good to scratch the itch. THis is especially true at the end of a long day of being in socks and shoes. However, this would never stop a rational person from treating the underlying condition and killing the fungus. Once it is gone, scratching doesn't feel good anymore. There is no physiological itch!
Now no rational person would ever purposely contract athlete's foot fungus again, then actively cultivate the fungus over days or weeks, just because they enjoy scratching it at the end of the day! Of course our brains have the benefit of being able to rely on our logic here, becuase there is no addiction skewing our logic.
So is smoking different? Sure. The difference lies in nicotine's highly addictive nature, versus the merely pleasureable sensation of scratching an itchy foot. Still I benefit when I think of the analogy because, once I have erradicated my physical addiction to nicotine, my brain starts to play tricks on me. My withdrawl has ceased to exist. But my brain still tries to convince me to satisfy the withdrawl. In reality, I know that the itch is gone. Reintroducing nicotine into my physiologically cured body would be ressurecting the physical dependence--NOT satisfying it! I would, as I stated earlier, be engaging in itch creation and cultivation! This I will not be tricked into doing.
I am constantly afraid of the road ahead being too rough because of the pain that a difficult cessation process might cause me, and I find myself equally afraid of finding the road to not be so rough, lest my having an easier time abstaining than I anticipated lull me into complacency or false confidence.
I am here to find a balance between vigilance and confidence. I am also here to try to find a way to not be so angry at myself for 18 years of blindness regarding the nature of nicotine addiction. I am 36, and I have smoked cigarettes for my entire adult life. From where I sit, just five days removed from being a slave to my addiction, it is hard not to be furious with myself for being so stupid for so long. I am here to channel that rage into resolve---resolve not only to not reintroduce nicotine into my system today, but also to not ever become overconfidetent regarding my ability to do so again tomorrow. This is what gives me MY best shot at never taking another puff.