Top of the morning to all the newbies, goldies, and everybody in between. As usual I'm thrilled to be sharing another nicotine-free day with all of you.
I'd like to write in this morning as a way of pausing on the trail and looking forward and back and thinking a little bit about what's behind and what's ahead. I think it's good and helpful to compare notes on this weird, wonderful journey....
At two months plus a week I feel radically different than I did at two weeks, or at two days:
At two days of quit I was completely overwhelmed with emotion and wonder at the strange amazing thing I was doing. I saw, touched, tasted everything as for the first time. But under that bright sheen of wonder and fear and amazement was a thick and continuous river of desire for a cigarette. It was there every waking moment, and waking moments were many as I was only sleeping a few hours a night.
At two weeks I was over the physical withdrawal, but the wonder and fear--and the desire--were still coming strong and fast. There was a big difference though: instead of a never ceasing river of desire for nicotine there were starting to be holes. Big islands of time when I wouldn't want to smoke at all. Mind you, I was still thinking about smoking a great deal. But living life without punctuation every event, emotion, and lull with a cigarette was starting to seem natural and normal.
At one month I hit a batch of serious craves. I was low, I was slow, I was miserable, and I was feeling like taking a cigarette would make it go away. Take heed now anyone reading this but especially people who are maybe at such a point right now: I wish, so much, that I could convey to you what happened when I toughed out that batch of cravings. It seemed insurmountable, but with the help of the Board, the Library, and most importantly the one day at a time philosophy (PRICELESS WISDOM) I endured it. And afterwards, the most amazing thing: a sense of deep, fathomless tranquillity overtook me. It lasted, literally, for days. Having beaten the tough triggers I experienced what I think now must have been my first taste of true comfort. I wish you could see this through my eyes. I would cheerfully have endured cravings 20 times as intense, if I had known what calm was waiting on the other side. Take this to heart please. You can do whatever you want, but take this to heart.
At two months things are looking seriously different. The novelty has worn off, but every day is as precious as those strange initial days when I and the world were new together. When my mind forgets that I just bring it back to the thought, gently, like a wayward animal. My days now are characterized by vast stretches of time when I don't even think of a cigarette. I have gone from craving continuously to craving frequently to a situation where I don't crave at all for days, then hit a small batch of obstacles, then don't crave again for days. When I hit one of these rough patches the feeling is different: it's more cerebral. I can feel the junkie thoughts ascending from the brutal, visceral reptile-brain level, through the emotional level, up to the detached intellectual level. And so long as I don't take a cigarette they will stay there forever: in the land of abstraction and passing thoughts. Something there one moment and gone the next. But the vividness remains.
I am not out of the woods yet. I have a big problem with romanticizing the drug. Now as John says this is different than triggers, which you generally go through once and then you are reconditioned and it's one less hurdle, forever. This is a deep and nasty trick that your conscious mind gets up to, that I still struggle with a fair amount. That is: there will be these sudden vortices of thought and emotion, where I just WANT IT SO MUCH. To take a cigarette seems the sweetest, most wonderful, most poignant and deep pleasure that could ever be. I think back to all the good times that cigarettes and I have had together and I feel nostalgic, and covetous. And sad.
What can I say about this (besides recognizing it as bald unadulterated junkie thinking, and understanding that the good times would have been just as good without the cigarettes?)? I mean, it's tough. When I enter such a spell I read for hours in the library, and I may still feel just as intensely nostalgic after an hour of reading as I did to start out with. Such a thoughts sinks its claws into you and stays for a spell. What can I say about it? Only this: that it ain't nothing compared with what I was going through two months ago, or even a month ago.
My addict brain wants me to believe that these romantic yearnings are just as bad as the day I stopped smoking. It wants to blow these episodes out of proportion.
Well, I'm not having any of it: my life as an ex-smoker is getting easier every day, and, most importantly, everything I have endured since I quit is 4987345934875 times better than what life would be like if I were smokin' still. Make that an even 4987345934900.
Well. If you are still reading this then my kudos to you as a master of patience. I'm so happy to be doing this. I am growing so much and learning so much. For the first time in my adult life I am embracing both real responsibility and real wildly rampant childish lust for existence. I wanted to stand on my tip-toes and try, in my sincere and clumsy way, to let people know who are not so far along on this road as I am, that it's just getting better and better. Take heart!!!
Start each day by deciding that just for today you won't take a cigarette!!! End each day by warmly congratulating yourself on a job well done.
My best wishes to all,
75 days, 1500 or so cigarettes not smoked. Wow.