I swear! I’m totally a nice person. That growl I just made was my cigarette deprivation talking, not me! — Me, a smoke filled year ago
I’m nicer now that I stopped smoking cigarettes and e-cigs. I’m at least more even-tempered and have less anxiety.
I would growl when my nicotine gratification was delayed, like stuck in line at a market. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms (no cigarettes all day) were distinctly different from the growls. They manifested themselves quietly with cold sweats, shaky hands, loss of concentration, and feeling light in the head.
Thankfully, the growls and withdrawal symptoms are temporary.
Here I am conquering a trail near Stinson Beach, CA. The redwood trees smell so good! Photo by Robyn Graham
Not Immune to Visual Triggers
I’m going to spend the next paragraphs talking about smoking, but I’m NOT going to post any pictures of them. Why? Because those would be too much of a trigger.
Seeing someone enjoy a smoke or even seeing a ‘cancer-stick’ makes me want one. Visual triggers are too dangerous for me and possibly for anyone who might read this.
So, instead of posting relevant stock photos of cigarette butts being significantly ashed out, I will post pictures of landscapes, an active healthy lunged person, and other images that show how a non-smoker enjoys life.
A Living Addiction
The most important thing I learned about smoking is that nicotine is enormously addictive. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s addicting, we all know it is and I’ve always known. But feeling the addiction, living it, is so different! And I didn’t realize or believe I was under its control until 9 years into it.
My perception changed from them being a product of leisure to one of incarceration. I had to smoke. It was necessary to function properly. I didn’t really have a say in the matter either besides whether to pay cash or credit, or which color lighter to use.
I have a pretty backyard. I come out here to enjoy the view, and that’s it. I just go outside and look and listen to the beautiful sights and sounds around me. That is enough of an excuse to go outside, right? Photo by Robyn Graham
Here’s an analogy of how strong a living addiction is: Marlboro Reds were my compass. When I was out, every path and action lead to the closest convenience store. On my 10 minute breaks at work, I’d head to the smoking curb rain or shine. How repetitive and boring, how confining!
I still crave a smoke sometimes, even after almost a year. I think I’m in the reminiscing phase now. I think fondly of how much I enjoyed the nasty little things. I have to remind myself that it’s the nicotine talking.
It’s probably not the end, but I’m wiser now
I like how I talk as if I’m totally done with it. I will probably relapse. But that’s ok. I’ve made my peace and decided it’s not the end of the world. I don’t need to feel shame.
Shame is bad, because if I’m ashamed then I think I’m hopeless and messed up so bad that there is no point in starting over so I smoke more. It becomes an endless circle of smoke, feel shame, smoke more, feel more shame etc. If and when I do relapse, I will just need to quit again and it shouldn’t be more than that. No shame. Nicotine is one hell of a chemical.
This is my car, with a dog named Oreo in it. She is much better company than a cigarette. Photo by Robyn Graham
Will I annoy my smoking friends?
How should I act around my friends that smoke? Do I push my new ideology on them. Do I turn my nose up at the stinky smoke? Tell them to watch where they smash their butts, and smartly remind them that each puff they take is increasing their dependence on nicotine?
I asked my smoking friends at a party recently. One guy said “No, but you probably should!” I appreciate his honesty. I remember being very annoyed when my previous smoking friends would look at me appalled that I still smoked, however, it was their disgust that added to the mountain of disapproval that eventually lead to me stopping.
I think the best thing to do is tread lightly when offering my thoughts on other peoples addictions. No one is going to outright quit because I say to stop. They are going to stop when they want to stop, but maybe I can give them some good reasons to.