In the past couple days, there was more than one post by members who admitted to doing some serious thinking about smoking. Folks on their way to or just past gold. I, for one, am glad that they shared. This forum is enriched by our honest sharing of our experiences of quitting.
When I was newly quit, I read posts by old time members who talked about never wanting to smoke. They spoke of total comfort. I assumed this meant they never had even a nanosecond of thought about cigarettes. That, of course, led me to believe that I was retarded in my progress. Because even as my quit time continued to pile up, there were these….thoughts. In the early months of quitting, they plagued me and I was pretty sure they would never go away.
The truth is they have not gone away completely. However, they have diminished to the point that they concern me not at all anymore. I've written before about the fact that as my quit matured the thoughts became harmless little things. A little whoosh through the brain. Completely painless.
The thoughts would only have power if I latched onto them. If I grabbed that thought as it was flying by and captured it and began to stroke it and worry about it and magnify it and reproduce it and clutch it to me….then it would cease to be powerless. It would grow in size and strength and take up more and more space in my brain. I might begin to feel less grateful for my freedom and more like I was deprived of something. Then perhaps some feelings of resentment might arise. Maybe I might even begin to entertain the thought that this one puff leads to relapse business is a bunch of malarkey. I imagine that more than one of you is nodding your head in recognition as you read this. We've all been there---this is junkie thinking. This is one of the long-term results of drug addiction.
Personally, I counteract any tendency to sink into that cycle by taking care of my quit. I do that by reading here at the forum. Reading someone's first post full of fear and confusion and new hope reminds me of where I started. Posting congratulations for an accomplishment reminds me of my own successes. Participating in a parade fills me with a sense of wonder at how well we are all doing with out quits.
There is no denying that those recent posts are scary. They remind us of the deadly power of this addiction. We don't just quit and then lah-di-dah our way through the rest of our lives. Initially, we need to work hard at our quits. Then comes a time when we realize the work is not as hard. We are able to ease up, we think less about it. But, we never get to forget that we are addicts in recovery. Nobody graduates from addiction.
Perhaps some people think that you quit smoking and now it's over. End of story. Close the book. File this away as an unfortunate incident of the past. You don't need to think about it anymore. Well, we do need to think about it - not obsessively, not continually - but it needs our attention. We need to remember how desperate we felt to quit. We need to remember how awful withdrawal might have been. We need to remember how we began to gradually feel better and could concentrate on something besides not smoking. We need to remember how we began to understand that years of smoking had stunted our emotional responses. We need to remember cutting ourselves off from other people in order to smoke. We need to remember that we quit smoking because we valued our lives and ourselves enough to take a frightening step into the unknown territory of recovery.
It's fine by me to get a little scared once in a while. Keeps me grateful for my quit. Reminds me of what a precious gift I am giving myself every day.
So, don't lose heart! Don't get discouraged!
This is hard work, but it does get easier. All you have to do is keep reading here and you see that. Post after post after post reinforces the message that this is doable and desirable. There is real comfort on this journey and it is yours for the taking as long as you never take another puff.
(There I go stealing Joel's lines again!)
Parker - 15 months of freedom & healing and obviously very long-winded today