originally posted on june 15, 2002 (in response to a post on one of the bulletin boards at the american lung association's freedom from smoking website), this tale talks about how digging deep and dealing with the underlying reasons why you engaged in such a self-destructive behavior as smoking in the first place are essential to your recovery.


2009 February 14

"Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time..."
   - Lennon/McCartney, All You Need Is Love

in my experience, the people who have succeeded in maintaining their quits long-term are the ones who have confronted and dealt with the underlying issues that made them want to self-destruct.

smoking is a socially acceptable way to commit suicide.

it's becoming less socially acceptable, yes, but still, when we see someone (or a group of people) smoking, we barely notice it. imagine seeing someone standing outside an office building shooting heroin; now that would be shocking. not only because it's illegal (and as long as the tobacco cartel is one of the richest — and most generous — lobbies in washington, smoking will never be illegal in this country), but because it's such an obviously self-destructive behavior.

at its root, smoking is a self-destructive behavior, but we've been acculturated to it (largely by the propaganda of the same tobacco cartel that lines politician's pockets on both sides of the aisle), and we tend to overlook that part, even though nearly half a million americans destroy themselves this way every year...

when i was preparing to stop feeding my addiction to nicotine, and during the early days of my quit (and i'm with Nancy on this one; our quits are still very young), i did a lot of "digging", and i advised a lot of other people to "dig deep" as well; i knew that smoking was a self-destructive behavior, and i intuited that uncovering the cause(s) of that urge to self-destruct would be essential to maintaining this quit (after numerous attempts to quit over a thirty-plus-year smoking history).

i'll be celebrating my seventh lunaversary in just a few days, and i've seen lots of people come and go (at this site and others) in that time; some of them, despite the fact that they had stopped feeding their addictions, continued to be in denial about the underlying issues that were causing them to want to self-destruct. of those, some have come back and announced their renewed attempt to quit.

some haven't.

in my experience, the people who have succeeded in maintaining their quits for any appreciable length of time are the ones who confronted those underlying issues and dealt with them early on. many of them (including myself) continue to look for signs that those old issues are reappearing (or that new ones are appearing to take their place) and deal with them on an ongoing basis.

the fact that you're still here and still questioning yourself this way after three months indicates a level of awareness on your part that will serve you well in maintaining your quit. it's only through continually questioning where we are and how we're doing that we can keep ourselves from deadly complacency. as thomas jefferson said, "the price of freedom is eternal vigilance".

and, as john lennon wrote in the song i quoted above, you can learn how to be you, in time; and fighting a deadly addiction (and winning, as you are) is a great way to do that...

keep questioning, susan. keep digging. and keep choosing life!

kevin - day 209

9 responses leave one →
  1. 2005 January 7
    Mary D. permalink

    Kevin - This was exactly what I needed to read TODAY - my 207th smoke-free day. I have learned so much about myself in this process, growing and becoming an even better me! - THANK YOU!!

  2. 2005 January 23
    fightn4life permalink

    I understand where you are coming from. I have been digging deep finding reasons I too have followed a self destructive path by smoking. I am learning so much about myself everyday. As you said I understand there is no quick fix,this is a process. Thanks for your insight. I am still learning to live as a nonsmoker. I have no desire to smoke, I only want to understand what is going on with this quit process. Thanks for opening yet another door.

    459 days

  3. 2006 May 17
    Marie permalink

    Hi! I wish they would outlaw cigaretts. If I knew that I couldn't go out and buy a pack, maybe I could learn to focus on something such as God and His power instead of a cigarette. I really don't know why I started smoking unless it was to help me stay slim. The only reason I want to smoke today is because I am sooooooooooo tense, (from the addiction) and I crave, crave, crave. I have been quit 7 months. I started Zyban the 5th month. My doctor put me back on it this week. "The Tales" and all this site is very helpful. I had read the modules and used the message boards on ffs and had started reviewing them when the quit seemed to get harder, but I can no longer access the sight. I'm glad Susan can. It really helps to listen to another addict who really knows where I'm coming from...

  4. 2009 February 14

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

  5. 2013 September 27
    Taren permalink

    It's getting to be the end of the day, but before I go to bed I'm reading this wonderful post to improve
    my chances of getting quit and staying free.

  6. 2013 October 2
    clara permalink

    I'm really enjoying your blog and look forward to any new posts.

  7. 2013 October 8
    Carole permalink

    I don't make a lot of blog comments, but I've been searching for an answer this same question, and this just makes so much sense to me that I had to say something.

    There are so many people out there who pretend to want to help people who are trying to give smoking, but they talk a lot without saying anything helpful, and they don't really seem to know what they're talking about. It's clear that they've never tried to quit smoking themselves. All they're interested in is selling you something.

    You seem to be in the middle of quitting yourself, and you've clearly spent a lot of time thinking about these issues and what separates the successful quitters from the ones who fail, and what you say makes total sense.

    And you don't appear to be trying to sell anything, either! 😉

  8. 2013 October 17
    Vanessa permalink

    Thank you for this! I know that their are issues, and I'm trying to deal with them before they mess up this quit like they did before.

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