Reflections on Silver
I've replied to a lot of posts here at Freedom but never started one of my own till now. Honestly it was because in the beginning I wasn't all that confident in my ability to carry through with my quit. Like so many smokers I'd tried and failed miserably in the past before I came to Freedom. It was the fear of another failure and the possible embarrassment of having my name removed from the rolls here that kept me so low key. I admit now that I was foolish. As each day has gone by my knowledge of the nature of the addiction has grown, my resolve has been strengthened by the people here plus my health, attitude and overall well being are vastly improved. Lastly, the most important thing for me, is that the desire to smoke has diminished to the point that I know now, I'll never return to the slavery of smoking.
With that in mind it been six months now and time to post a few thoughts. The time has gone by incredibly fast. When I look at the quit counter on my PC I see that the number of cigarettes I haven't smoked would be taller than the Sears Tower if stacked end to end (@ 3 cigarettes/foot). If you could see me now I've got a grin on my face like the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. I still have some smoking triggers to overcome. I had no idea, when I started this journey, just how many triggers a person could develop over a forty plus year addiction to nicotine. (The jury is still out on how much damage I did to my body over that same span.) Now that I think about it, there was very little I did on any given day without planning it around my next nicotine fix.
Wake up - cough - light up - cough - cough.
Wait for the shuttle before work - smoke one or two.
Oh darn, a long conference call coming up - smoke at least two.
Get off the shuttle coming home - dig out the cigarettes.
Get off of a plane - look for a place to smoke.
Leave the doctor's office - puff away.
Discharged from hospital after heart attack - buy smokes (true, sigh!).
Drink - smoke, eat - smoke, smoke - smoke (just in case).
Walk out of a store - light up.
Take a break from the yard work and the heat - smoke.
Take a break from shoveling snow and the cold - light up.
Before bed - check to make sure I've got cigarettes for tomorrow then - smoke.
The nicotine fix planning became so automatic over the years I never even took notice that I was doing it every waking moment. So I haven't encountered all those built up triggers yet and don't want to be blindsided by any. Happily, it's been much easier than I ever imagined confronting and banishing each of those smoking triggers with a simple smile, with a long slow deep breath and the knowledge that I don't need to do that anymore. I know that by acknowledging the Law of Addiction and following the simple rule of Never Take Another Puff (NTAP) that some day those triggers and occasional urges will eventually fade into oblivion, like Alice's cat, leaving just a smile.
I played football (soccer) for years and after running in the first practice every spring I'd sound like an escapee from an iron lung. I would usually try to start that season's quit with the latest and greatest pharmacological silver bullet, but the only thing that ever really worked was cold turkey. Then I'd be off cigarettes while I was playing, have some drinks with my teammates after the last game, bum a smoke, hack, cough, choke, get light headed and be back up to two packs a day after a week. That's when I still harbored the illusion that I could be an "occasional social" smoker. Ha! One of the things that helps strengthen my quit is the memory of how I felt when I'd relapse. I felt horrible, sickly, depressed and very, very angry with myself. You will read the same thing in the Freedom member posts when someone has a "smoking dream" and they just think they've relapsed. In my case it was real. I just wanted to scream.
Six months is the longest I've ever gone without nicotine since I started smoking. I know now that I'm an addict and I'll always be an addict, but I also know that I can be an addict who doesn't smoke. In fact, I am an addict that doesn't even want to smoke. This is so cool. I can live with that, literally. I've got my breath back. I've got a clean bright smile and a spring in my step. I've got my self respect back.
I truly appreciate the outpouring of support from the members of this forum, both new and old. Thank you all. A special thanks to Joel, Zep and the site managers. If you're reading this as a visitor to the site and considering quitting then the lessons you'll find here are the truth (though sometimes blunt), they can help you if you read them and take them to heart. It depends on the person, and it may not be easy, but quitting is definitely doable for anyone. Take it from all the former smokers, dippers and chewers here who know. These lessons have been forged in real world nicotine cessation situations and these web sites have evolved over the years to reflect those truths. They've separated what really works from what doesn't. If you've quit and already started your journey to freedom, then believe what so many have written here, that it gets easier and sooner than you think. Sorry if I got long winded. It's getting easier for me every day and because of that I'm just one happy camper (or Cheshire cat, my apologies to Lewis Carol).
NTAP, live long and prosper, \\///
Your quit brother,
Pat (Free now six months, 6 hours, 26 minutes and 41 seconds. 5468 cigarettes not smoked, saving $1,093.36. Life saved: 2 weeks, 4 days, 23 hours, 40 minutes)
PS: A special thanks to MQS Zoe who is silver too.