written on the occasion of my being ten months free of cigarettes and originally posted on september 19, 2002; this tale reaffirms the power of repeated conscious choice as the addict's only truly effective weapon against addiction.

ten month ramble

2009 February 18

on day ten, i posted the following:

nobody can tell you when it’ll get easier for you, so i won’t even try. what i can tell you is how to make sure that it will get easier for you eventually: choose life. every day. because as long as you keep choosing not to smoke, just for today, it'll be easier to make that choice again tomorrow.

i've been wondering, "isn't this supposed to be getting easier?"

i expected the first few days to be hard (although i wasn't expecting them to be as hard as they turned out to be...), but then i expected it to get progressively easier as time went by, and that has *not* turned out to be the case at all. now i don't know what to expect, and it's getting a little discouraging (actually, it's getting *very* discouraging...).

for the past couple of days, i've been feeling this low-level, subconscious sense of unease and longing that just won't quit. i actually miss the painfully intense, almost irresistible urges i felt early last week; at least they had a finite duration - like a summer thunderstorm, they battered my resolve, but i could hang on and ride them out because i knew they'd be over with pretty quickly.

what i'm going through now is more like those interminable fall rains we sometimes get in the northeast; cold, soaking rains that seem to go on for days without end, where the skies never get lighter than a depressing gun-metal gray and you begin to wonder if the sun will ever come out again and you feel winter coming on - god, i wish it was spring...

what a happy man i was on day ten!

;-)

i felt discouraged on day ten because i didn't have a realistic view of the quitting process; like many others before and since, i read the phrase, "after 72 hours, the nicotine will be totally flushed from your body...", and thought, "great! after three days, it'll start to get better! i can put up with a little discomfort for three days..."

as i later discovered, there's no "one-size-fits-all" answer to quitting smoking; you have to be willing to do whatever it takes for you to win back your freedom. in one of my posts ("the terrible threes"), i talked about why i think there's a higher incidence of relapse at time intervals involving threes (three days, three weeks, three months, etc...), but that doesn't mean that any individual has to relapse at three days or three weeks or three months; i didn't. neither did a lot of other quitters i know (or know of).

one of the things i've come to realize over the last ten months is that quitting smoking is as unique to each quitter as a set of fingerprints. yes, there are a lot of commonalities, but no two quits are exactly alike.

how could they be?

there are too many variables: what brand you smoked, when you smoked them, what you did while smoking them, why you smoked them, how you smoked them, who you smoked them with, when you started, how many times you quit, how many times you relapsed - the list goes on and on - it's inconceivable that any two people could've had exactly the same experiences with smoking.

so it's also inconceivable that any two people could have exactly the same experiences with quitting.

nobody can tell you when it'll get easier for you, so i won't even try. what i can do is tell you how to make sure that it will get easier for you eventually: choose life. every day. as long as you promise yourself every morning that you will not smoke today, no matter what, and as long as you go to bed every night having kept that promise to yourself, it'll get easier.

promise.

as addicts, we only have two choices: to feed the addiction or not to feed the addiction. if we choose not to feed the addiction, we reinforce our freedom, and every time we make that choice, it makes it easier to make it again. on the other hand, if we choose to smoke, we reinforce our addiction, and it makes it that much harder to choose not to feed it in the future.

choose wisely.

choose life!

kevin - grateful to be in my 305th day of freedom!

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3 responses leave one →
  1. 2005 March 12
    Margaret permalink

    Thank you, Kevin. I may be at 11 months, but this Ramble was perfect for me. I think you saved my Quit.

  2. 2005 April 25
    Imagen permalink

    Kevin, you are awesome. Thank you for sharing this with me. I am in such a daze at this point its hard for me to look at things and see them as I saw them before. Last week I would have flipped through your journal and memorized every word. This week, a week of being smoke free, I cant even begin to know where to start. My brain will come back from vacation soon, I hope.

    Anyway, thanks for this. Adding it to my favorites now, so the next time I freak out, I can pull it up and read away.

    Im.

  3. 2009 February 18

    note: the comments above were left on the original tale at the date and time indicated.

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