written in my ninth month of freedom from smoking (and originally posted on august 24, 2002), this tale encourages the reader to find a way to maintain the vigilance necessary to protect their freedom, and to practice that vigilance consistently.


2009 February 17

i think it was thomas jefferson who said, "the price of freedom is eternal vigilance" - yesterday, i had an experience that brought home the wisdom of that saying to me once more.

i remind myself every day that i’m an addict, and that i can’t control that addiction. and i choose not to feed that addiction; just for today.

it's been over nine months now since i smoked my last cigarette, and every day of that nine months plus, i've practiced vigilance by acknowledging my addiction to nicotine, and reminding myself that i cannot afford to feed that addiction even one time.

yesterday was the 278th time that i sat down at my desk with my morning coffee and wrote out my affirmations in my quit journal:

I am a nicotine addict.
I cannot afford to feed that addiction.
Not even one time.

- so -

Today, I choose LIFE!
Today, I choose HEALTH!
Today, I choose STRENGTH!
Today, I choose SELF-CONTROL!
Today, I choose FREEDOM!
Today, I choose NOT to smoke!

there have been times when i thought, as i wrote those words out again, "why am i still doing this? i haven't smoked for X amount of time; do i really need to keep doing this?" — at times like that, i remember the quote that starts this post, and the answer comes back, "how much is freedom worth to you? what if this is the one thing that's been keeping you from smoking all this time, and you stop doing it because you don't want to "waste" those few minutes of your morning any more?" — so i continue to write.

yesterday i had one of the strongest cravings i've had since i quit smoking last november, and i think i know why: i work at a college, and preparing for semester start-up for the fall semester is by far the most stressful time of the year for us (classes start monday). last fall, i had my cigarettes to fall back on (and did i ever; i could easily go from a one-pack-a-day smoker to a two-pack-a-day smoker during this time); this fall i don't.

it actually took me most of the day to even recognize the feeling i was having for what it was; it's been so long since i had a really strong craving for a cigarette that i couldn't quite identify that uneasy edginess that i was experiencing until almost the end of the day. then i finally realized what it was: a monster crave! and i realized that i was now faced with a choice.

i chose not to smoke.

i know, from numerous previous relapses, that there can come a time in your quit when it's been so long since you even thought about smoking that you forget what it was like to be a slave to your addiction. that you forget what you went through to get yourself free. and it's in that moment that you can make the worst choice you could ever make; to have "just one". not out of stupidity. not out of any self-destructive urge.

out of complacency.

yesterday could have been one of those times for me; similar situations have been the ruin of too many long-standing quits in my life. but it wasn't. once i identified what that feeling actually was, the choice was easy. i think that's because i remind myself every day that i'm an addict, and that i can't control that addiction, and i choose not to feed that addiction. just for today.

i highly recommend that you find a way — if you haven't already — to remind yourself of where you've come from, of where you are, and of where you want to be, and practice it every day.

what's your freedom worth to you?

kevin - grateful to be in my 279th day of freedom!

2 responses leave one →
  1. 2003 February 5
    Jennifer permalink

    What a great message! I quit smoking 2 1/2 days ago, so this is truly inspirational to me. Thank you for writing it. I have felt something was missing from my quit plan, and so I am starting my journal today where I will write that I am an addict and reaffirm what I am doing and why each day. Thanks for helping so many people!

  2. 2009 February 17

    note: the comment above was left on the original tale at the date and time indicated.

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