Monday, June 02, 2008

Never

Today is smoke-free day 351, and I am thankful to wake up without coughing. I used to wake up coughing every morning. I want to remember that because I don't want to forget. The thing is that I am capable of forgetting. I'm capable of feeling fragile even as I approach a year quit in a couple of weeks on June 18, 2008. Experience with my previous quits has shown me that I'm capable of going well over a year and returning to smoking. We've all known people who have quit for a substantial amount of time, say 10 years or more, who have gone back when some major event happened, right? It happened to beloved ABC news anchor Peter Jennings who was quit for 20 years when 9/11 happened, and he gave in and smoked (and then sadly died of lung cancer within another few years). I get it that he smoked. I understand that. It doesn't make entirely good sense, and it's not the only viable option for coping, but as someone who was a smoker for 20+ years, it's almost scary how very easy it is for me to understand. I've done similar in the past for less dramatic reasons.

That could be me.

I do continue to believe firmly that we are each different people who take our own paths to get to the point of being successfully quit non-smokers who used to smoke, and it's fine with me if saying "never" works for others because perhaps that's just the word some brains need to hear. For me? Never flat out freaks me the hell out.

For two reasons.

One: Never is a very long time, and there are still moments when smoking appeals to me, but I can put it off for a day or so without too much pain (this is an improvement from the early stages when about an hour two was the biggest sized bite I could swallow).

Two: If I get never in my head, I'm afraid I'll forget that for me (ain't saying nothing about none of y'all) this has to be a day by day thing, one day at a time. I'm afraid that I'll forget to wake up remembering each day why I'm glad I quit.

A couple weeks back, a couple weeks to the date, actually, I said that I'm not done talking about this yet. I'm not. Maybe tomorrow I'll surprise myself and suddenly be ready, but I doubt it. As long as I don't smoke, I'm cool either way, but I suspect that "never" is unlikely to turn up in my vocabulary as it relates to the possibility of me ever smoking again. I've seen it happen to the best of us in my real life, in my blog life, to people on TV, and I see no reason that it couldn't possibly happen to me. I am special, but I'm not that special (shhhh, don't tell, ruins the mystique).

I can commit to this one day, today, June 2, 2008 - this day I will not smoke. And when I go to sleep tonight not coughing (which used to break Tom's heart) and then wake up tomorrow morning also not coughing, I can renew my commitment at that time if I wish.

Maybe it's just semantics and a mind game, but it works for me, and the days still string themselves together one day at a time. I'm just grateful that I never have to say never.

15 comments:

  1. In my teenage year I suffered and dealt with an eating disorder I had to look at it one day at a time battle and to this day I still fight with it. I can't say it gets 100% better but there will be time when you will have god week streaks and than months.There is something in the back of your head that always wants to go back but fight it and remember where you are. Thanks for sharing that!

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  2. So true, Shannon that the easier streaks do last much longer. Thank *you* for sharing your thoughts, too!

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  3. You are very wise to be so aware of how easy it is to slip back into old addictions. Just knowing that should help you stay on the right path. You are doing such an amazing job!

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  4. Maggie,
    Congratulations on almost making it to the year mark. I agree with you about not wanting to forget where I started. I mean, I was the person who NEVER ran out of cigarettes....I was simply too addicted.

    Since I was a hard core smoker, I have had to be a hard core quitter. Hard core but realistic. I am a person who can only commit to one day at a time. The idea of NEVER is just too much for me! I like to think that I choose to be a non-smoker from one day to the next and fortunatly, I have put a few days together. Just because I have some time away from cigarettes doesn't mean I don't get the urge now and again. Just when I start thinking about it my inner voice (the one who doesn't really care if I live or die) will pipe in and tell, "go ahead and smoke...it will only be one! You deserve it, go on...it will be ok!" I have to always remember that one will lead to two and so forth!
    Peace,
    Diva

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  5. Thank you, Kathryn. I appreciate your kind words.

    Mz Diva, you make an excellent point about being a hard core quitter. I love that.

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  6. I'm with you on the one day at a time thing.
    It's kinda corny but there's got to be a reason that most successful addiction recovery programs use that mantra.

    Trying to imagine a whole year or the rest of your life without smoking can be overwhelming, and make you want to smoke.
    I know I can make it through the rest of the day though, that's an easier bite to chew.

    I hope your Monday is over quickly :)

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  7. I've been taking it one day at a time and not smoking for 22 years now...keep up the good work and hang in there! :) And the price of gas gets me all riled up too, thanks for participating in my little poll

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  8. Snake Doctor, so glad so see that you are going for it on this same worthwhile journey.

    Irishcoda, that's an inspiration. I really appreciate hearing that!

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  9. I 100% agree with Shannon - I also suffered an eating disorder in high school. Years of therapy later, sometimes remembering that one day at a time mantra is the hardest thing...however, one day at a time leads to a week...then a month...then a year, as you are about to see. Then you see the accomplishment you are making, and the incredible strength in you that it takes to make it. Good for you!

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  10. Thank you, Annie. It's amazing how the concept applies to so many situations. Glad we are all getting where we are headed.

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  11. I'm so proud of you Maggie. You really have been such an inspiration to all of us.

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  12. i have to play mindgames with myself too in order to motivate myself. Usually it has to do with running and wanting to stop and give up in the middle or weightloss (same thing). But whatever gets us to that goal!

    you know, i have been a non-smoker all of my life. i had a ciggy or two in college but really it was just while a bunch of us were drinking and i don't even think i had ever finished my own cigarette, just had a couple puffs of someone elses. But after September 11, when I was living in NYC and working at one of the 24 hour news channels up there, I took it up. I smoked for a few weeks along with everyone else, it was like the only thing that broke up an 18 hour work shift. I felt like a rookie up there standing alongside all those veteran smokers -- I felt like they could see through my fake-smoker self. Anyway, I didn't continue the habit. It dropped off when the 18 hour shifts ended about a month later. It should never be something someone turns to in times of crisis, but I can so see how it happens so easily.

    I just want to say congrats to you on your daily commitment. Just keep going day by day. You've done such a good job so far, you should be proud!

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  13. Tasina, I've had lots of bloggy help :)

    Christie, yep, the concept works all over, especially for stuff that takes some work. I'm glad you didn't get sucked into smoking too far, but during that time, it's easy to see why a lot of people would. Good luck with your goals! You are making progress, too, and that's awesome.

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  14. Wow, I did not know that about Peter Jennings. How cruel fate is that he would still get lung cancer after having quit for 20 years. Quite the wake up call.

    For me,,,I just tell myself if I can make it to 60 yrs I will give myself permission to start again. hoping by that time that I won't want to.

    If I think just in terms of today, i would be too tempted to say to heck with it, if it's only for today may as well have one. so that is where I am different. the only way it works for me is to think in terms of long term.

    Gosh, I hope I can stay quit long term. Another day, another day of you helping me get through this. Thank you again Maggie.

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  15. Jude, I don't know if Peter Jennings returning to smoking is what did it or if it was old damage. Either way, it's scary.

    I think long term as the goal but only a day at a time :) Whatever works for you is what's best for you!

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