The Don't Be Afraid Parade
When setting out on this temporary journey of re-adjustment, our dreams and desires come head to head with an amazing array of fears. They are acquired fears born inside the limbic mind, the brain's priorities teacher. Having been tricked into thinking that arriving nicotine was acetylcholine, able to activiate acetylcholine receptors, the limbic mind came to see nicotine use as a species survival event, every bit as real and important as eating.
Once tricked, when we anticipated eating food or using nicotine our brain dopamine reward pathways teased us with a dopamine "aaah" sensation, and when we obeyed the tease, the awarded "aaah" was even bigger. But if we went too long without eating or using nicotine the limbic mind's insulas would generate urges commanding us to bring nourishment or nicotine into the body. These urges would eventually grow into full blown anxiety laden craves if we failed to comply, as if the limbic mind saw not doing so as an attempt to starve ourselves to death.
As if limbic mind anxieties were not a sufficient source of fear, the brain dopamine pathways used high definition memories to constantly pound home this false survival instinct association. Sadly, the very pathways that keep our species alive and thriving now quickly buried all remaining memory of the beauty of living nicotine free lives, of a pre-addiction mind that never once knew nicotine associated anxieties. It left us falsely believing that nicotine use defined who we were, gave us our edge, helped us cope, and that life without it would be horrible.
One of the most amazing aspects of recovery is a self awakening to the realization that while we must have food to survive, that life without nicotine is actually better not worse. What was your biggest fear when quitting and at what point did you realize that you lived a lie, that your fear was groundless?
My biggest fear was that upon quitting there would be massive, massive holes in my life. Smoking three packs a day, I'd associated so many aspects of life to smoking nicotine, that I was totally convinced that most of those activities would no longer be worth doing if I succeeded. Yet still, even in the face of such profound fears, something inside drove me to want to be free. What was your biggest fear? Did it materialize or proven false?
I'm home, free, me and I refuse to go back. Just one rule to staying on this side of the bars and keeping my now arrested dependency on the other, no nicotine today ... never take another puff, dip or chew!
Breathe deep, hug hard, live long,
John (Gold x8)