This community is open to all who are recovering from nicotine addiction.
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Today will be 8 years for me. I would have never believed it possible but here I am. I thought this year I would re-post my 5-year anniversary. I think many of the feelings fade (which is a good thing) but this post was heart-felt and encompassed all feelings along the way which would be very relatable for newbies. All of the ups and downs were so worth it!
Today I have hit the milestone of 5 years and I have earned my wings!
I decided to quit at probably one of the most unlikely moments in my life. I lost my Dad in 2013 (my “person” here in this life). There were many changes that took place after that… emotionally, physically (moved three times), etc. Some things were so traumatizing that I’m abbreviating this portion. Ultimately, I lived with my Mom until she passed at the age of 90 in 2017. In 2015, I temporarily rented an apartment on a month-to-month basis, until Mom could sell her house and we could purchase another one together. One an emotional level, it was the lowest and scariest period of time in my life.
Living in this apartment (I chose the top floor – hoping not to disturb anyone with my smoke), I would go out on the balcony to have a cigarette. First, I was fighting off pigeons, followed by bees, then the neighbor below spraying something that was doing even more damage to my lungs, to cover the smell of smoke every time I went out. I was sensing a message from the universe. ;-) I practiced yoga at home and found I was starting to experience constant shortness of breath. In addition, I had developed the unmistakable smokers cough. I always vowed I would stop if that ever became an issue. It was clear, after 30 years of smoking on and off, mostly on, that it was taking a toll on me. In addition, I was so tired of the stigma surrounding it. I was in a constant, heightened state of anxiety trying to plan my next cigarette and worrying about what potential confrontation may take place because of it. It was in that apartment, on May 8, 2015, that I put out the last cigarette I would ever smoke before I went to bed. Everything was so upside down in my life, it didn’t seem like I could feel any worse.
I found this forum a couple weeks into my quit. It was a lifesaver. I was so naïve and always felt my special relationship with the cigarette was my own, unique experience. The veil was quickly lifted when I started reading the amazing articles provided on this site. I was just a run-of-the-mill, hardcore, drug addict. There was nothing special about it. The addict craves the drug. The minute that cigarette is put out, your body starts going through withdrawal and you begin the full-time preoccupation of planning when and where you will have that next cigarette. This takes place from the moment your eyes open until the moment your head hits the pillow. This changed my perspective.
I quit cold turkey. I don’t recommend it for everyone. At a certain point in time, I wondered why I thought it was a good idea. I’ve suffered from anxiety from the time I was a child, before I understood what it was. My anxiety escalated to an acute level. I was doing yoga literally morning and night and it barely put a dent in these heightened feelings. Most things made me rage and I cried daily for the first four months. Time felt like it barely crawled by with cravings hitting constantly and mercilessly. I remember Mod Andrea repeatedly telling me I had to be patient. Full disclosure… I wanted to throw my laptop at the wall when she said that, but it turned out to be true. ? I went through a bit of an identity crisis along the way. I remember feeling like an imposter calling myself a non-smoker because I felt my inner smoker hiding just beneath the surface. Right after quitting I felt like I was gasping for air and incessantly yawning. It took a while, but that fortunately dissipated. I remember feeling like the physical and mental roller coaster would never end. I was exhausted from the fight. At six months I felt substantial relief. Instead of constant thoughts about smoking, it was becoming more of an adjustment psychologically to the new normal. I mourned the loss of my ritual. It frequently felt like there was a huge void in my life. We fill up so much time with this addiction, surrendering most of our thoughts to it. In some cases, this preoccupation allows us to remain emotionally disconnected from things about ourselves, and our lives, that may be difficult to contemplate. I had a few of those “things” that I eventually looked at and worked through. ? It took roughly 12-14 months for me to feel truly like myself again, and at last, like an authentic non-smoker! The second year included only minor cravings that revolved around major stressors. There was still that instinct to look to a cigarette for relief, but it was fleeting. There is nothing greater than the freedom I feel today, having overcome this insidious addiction.
I have met incredible people on this forum, dedicated to helping all of those who reach out, from my wonderful Mod, Andrea, to the 2015 Freedom Marchers who adopted me when my group faded away. A major thank you goes out to my quit buddy, Marge, who greatly contributed to my success by posting links to articles, virtually daily at one point, to help me keep my eye on the prize. Thank you Steve, for being so kind-hearted, concerned, and always remembering my anniversary. Debbie, thanks so much for your dedication to coaching all of the newbies (which included me) with your vast trove of knowledge. I also have to do a shout out to Oscar. Although we rarely communicated directly, you are a gifted writer. I spent a great deal of time reading your posts. A special debt of gratitude goes out to all in this forumily. I credit this site with my success.
To the newbies… Stay close to the forum. Read everything you can find on the site. Milestone posts will give you the motivation to stay the course. Others will educate you on your quit. Post, post, post. The people here understand the grip of this addiction so you’re in great company. The decision to quit must be your own. If you are doing it for someone else, I don’t believe success is as easily achieved. Don’t get freaked out if you’re eating like a machine. It is better than smoking and it levels out later. It takes time and patience, which was hard for me to surrender to, but it is a fact.What was
Congratulations on 8 big years of freedom. You are still a terrific quit buddy and a friend.
I remember when we just could not wait to reach one year smoke free, Then, we looked forward to the 2-year mark. Down the road, we got our wings.
I am so proud of you and honored to be part of this journey with you.