How I deal with the cravings.

I'd like to update you people on my progress in quitting cigarettes.  So far, it's been almost 3 weeks since my last ever smoke, that is, if you don't count the ones I thought I had in the very vivid dreams I've been having ever since.

Every night I have extremely vivid and strange dreams.  At some point, I give up quitting, consciously mind you, and have a cigarette.  It's like I can taste them.  I open up the pack, pull one out, light it, have a few puffs and say "So much for quitting".   It feels so real, when I wake up, I have a guilty gut feeling that makes me think I actually did smoke.  I have to remind myself for a split second that it was a dream before I start thinking about how long it's actually been.

This whole process is nothing like I thought it would be.  I still have cravings all the time, but for some reason they just don't get to me like I thought they should.   It's like I have some other new level of conscious that automatically dulls the sharpness of the cravings.  They're there, I notice them, but they don't bother me.   It's like a switch went off.... from going from giving into most cravings, to not giving in at all... it's strange to say the least.  I don't understand how my thought process changed so suddenly.  It's like someone pulled the plug, and now there's a disconnection between craving a cigarette and actually having one.   The hardest thing about craving is supposed to be not giving in... when really I don't find it difficult at all.  It's almost like I was hypnotized.

The habit is still there. Sometimes I look to where I would usually keep my smokes... hell I've reached for them while not looking.    Sometimes I'll get up and grab a lighter, and do nothing with it...  it feels just the same as when you walk into a room, not remembering what you went in for. 
I still feel like a smoker.  It hasn't clicked in my mind yet that I quit.   If someone were to randomly ask me if I smoke, I would probably say yes, and then have to correct myself.

There's also something they don't tell you before you quit.   Smoking will always be a part of me.  It's something I'm going to keep with me for the rest of my life.  A guy at the fab shop I practice welding at told me that he quit more than 30 years ago, and he still has cravings.  When he smells someone smoking, it still smells good to him.   It's a life long thing.   I always knew smoking was bad for me, but if I honestly thought that it would stay with me forever, even if I did quit, I really wouldn't of started out of curiosity some 9 years ago, in the first place.

For those of you who have never smoked before, nicotine cravings are similar to feeling really hungry and watching the food network on TV at the same time.   Quitting smoking has increased my appetite.   I'm at a healthier weight now too, at 118lbs, (opposed to 110lbs of skin and bone).  I feel much healthier too.   I don't cough nearly as much, especially in the mornings.  Before, it always felt like I was just starting to catch a cold or something... not now.  I can smell and taste food much better.   But I don't usually notice much of that too much unless I think about it.   Oddly enough, I still feel pretty normal.  Like I said, sometimes I forget I quit.

For those who want to quit (I know you guys are smoking right now... without me), I'll tell you how I did it, and maybe that will help you.

Think about quitting for a while.   If every cigarettes makes you disappointed in yourself, it sounds like you're almost ready.

Create a rehab getaway.  A vacation away from not only smoking, but access to cigarettes, and other smokers.   My bf and I had to isolate ourselves in the woods, where there aren't any roads, let alone stores. We didn't bring any smokes with us, we didn't spend time around smokers... there was just no way to smoke, even if we decided to give up quitting.   The first few days during detox are the hardest.   I had trouble focusing, speaking, sleeping, etc.  But what really helped us get through each craving was knowing that there was no escape... we had no choice but to go without. We just tried to make it as easy as possible by not talking about it with each other, and doing things we wouldn't normally do (especially those things that usually go hand in hand with smoking... like having a coffee or sitting at the computer).  It definitely helped that we were in our favourite place in the world... the only place where the two of us can fully relax, and actually not worry about the everyday stresses of life.

When we got back, it was hard.   Our apartment still smelled like smoking.  We had to shampoo our carpets, do all of our laundry (whether it was dirty or not),scrub our walls, and we frebreezed the shit out of everything else.  What really kept us going, especially when things got stressful, or we started doing things that used to go hand in hand with smoking, is not wanting to see the effort we already put in go to waste.  We had already gone through the toughest part... giving up would mean that we would have to go through all of it again (without the help of rehab) the next time we tried to quit.   We didn't buy any smokes, and we started telling our loved ones about what we were trying to do.  That way, if we gave up quitting, we would have people to answer to.   My dad is still really happy about it.  I've never heard him so proud or happy with me in my whole life.  He used to bug me about it everyday along with my education, and now he doesn't lecture me about either.  He'll probably think it was his advice as a former smoker, that convinced me to quit... and I'll let him have that. 

Once I start working again, I'm going to get back into singing professionally again.  I've already regained a lot of breath control, and I've found it much easier to find the key I'm going for as well.  I still need lessons, and more practice, but even without them I can hear and feel the difference.   The boyfriend has signed up for soccer for the first time in over 15 years.  He used to be extremely athletic before he started smoking pot, and joined the band, so he's really excited to get that part of his youth back. 

Smoking will always be apart of our lives, but it won't be the hindrance it's been all these years.  Now, all I have to do is get used to calling myself a former smoker.

Uploaded 10/07/2011
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