Open-minded

Conscience and consciousness grow
Pride and ego shrink
The heart opens for a new experience
I pause in the moment
Asking for clarity
Strike me humble opposite the Greatness
Trust becomes Faith and carries me
Thank you

~S.D.

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Great Open Door

I have worshipped idols, people, feelings, material wealth, and self.
I gave them all power and control over my thoughts and my actions.
My dependence and reliance upon these finite resources fuel my powerlessness and unmanageability.
When I give myself, entirely and absolutely, to these distractions I wane energy, attention and importance from a Higher Power.

Conversely, when I turn my thoughts and actions to serving the Greater Good, I tap into an unexpected internal resource.
I discover access to Limitless Power.
I no longer exert force to propel myself, I am carried by a Power greater than myself to the Next Right Thing.
My life is no longer my own.
I am guided, directed, safe and protected.
I am focused and free standing before the Great Open Door.

~S.D.

#youcanstoptoo 3

5 Months and Counting
#youcanstoptoo

My friend gave me Allen Carr’s book “Easy Way to Stop Smoking.” I was a little put out when I realized that I would actually have to read the book for it to have an effect. I had hoped just having a copy of the book on my shelf would be enough to keep me from smoking.

It was a great read and really drove home the truth about being a nicotine addict. It contains a lot of the same elements as a 12 step program, the biggest one for me being one smoker helping another. I felt as if Allen Carr really knew me and really understood my struggle. The book itself didn’t magically make me stop but it did help lay the ground work.

I stopped drugs and alcohol for the last 9 years through 12 step recovery but I couldn’t seem to apply the program as effectively with cigarettes. I decided I would need to use any and all tools I had at my disposal if I was going to stop cigarettes and nicotine.

I began toying with the idea of step 1 with regards to smoking. This was identification of my problem and admission that I would need help to stop and stay stopped. I conceded to my innermost self that smoking and nicotine addiction was stronger than me. I had never been able to able to fix the problem with sheer will power. When left to my own devices, I always ended up with a cigarette back in my mouth.

Cigarettes had me beat. Once I have one cigarette I completely lose the ability to control my desire to smoke. One cigarette always meant one more. I could have all the reasons to stop, but I easily would push them a side and give in to the next nicotine fix. When I am smoking cigarettes, my desire for nicotine becomes more powerful than my ability to control it. Once I accepted this fact and surrendered to that idea, then I was able to move towards finding a solution.

Solution is the 2nd step in recovery. I can’t solve the problem of nicotine addiction on my own, but I know there are others who have succeed in putting down cigarettes, never to pick them up again. It is possible to stop. I am not alone. This became a comforting revelation. I started talking to anyone and everyone who had stopped. Support groups and encouraging words were essential. Even my friends who smoke wouldn’t offer me one once I made the declaration to stop. They continue to support me even when they aren’t ready to stop for themselves. I am the type of person who needs a team in his corner. Knowing I had support and that stopping could be achieved was evidence enough that a solution was possible.

The 3rd step of recovery is making a decision to follow through with some sort of program of action. This was my willingness to go to any lengths for recovery from nicotine dependence. I knew I had a problem. I knew a solution existed. So I made the decision that I was going to stop. Now, the only question was how to make that idea a reality?

For me, stopping was a drawn out process and it took many attempts. I have combined as many methods of stopping as I could think of to stay stopped. I have implemented: deep breathing, meditation, hypnosis, Nicanon, honesty, going to bed early, gum, the patch, toothpicks, altering my routines, journaling, fake cigarettes, changing brands, natural cigarettes, rollies, lollipops, baby carrots, tapering, vaping, not buying packs, isolation, hiding, studying the effects of lung disease, talking trash, crying, willpower, wellbutrin, not carrying my wallet, books, prayer, podcasts, YouTube videos, Facebook groups, the buddy system and huffing black pepper essential oil. If a former smoker suggested it I would try it.

My ass was kicked by smoking and I was ready to be done. I was willing to try anything to stop and my desire has always been to stay stopped for good. When I failed, I tried again. I began to see that the only people who stop are the people who try. What I have learned in the last 4 months is that the cycle begins with the 1st cigarette. One might as well equal one thousand. My job is to put as much time as possible between me and my last smoke. So far keeping this in the forefront of my mind has been the most essential tool it the tool box.

I don’t ever want to stop again. It is much harder to stop than it is to stay stopped.

~S.D.

Hole to Whole

I have felt weighed, measured and left wanting.
I imagined a hole in my soul, a void that could never be filled, no matter what I forced into it.
I thought I was empty, but in reality, I just had never learned how to let the Universe into my being.
I am learning to exhale insecurity, fear and doubt.
I attempt to breathe in confidence, faith and reassurance.
I am exactly what I am supposed to be in this moment.
I possess everything I need to be centered, balanced and grounded.
I am complete.
I am whole.
I am enough.
Grateful for a New Design for Living and A New Way of Life.

~S.D.

#youcanstoptoo 2

#youcanstoptoo

Part 2

I have tried quiting cigarettes countless times and always picked up again. I was quick with the justifications- afterall I wasn’t drinking alcohol or doing illegal drugs, shouldn’t I be allowed the comfort of a cigarette?

The most time I have ever had, before this run, was 60 days last year and that was with the help of ecigarettes. Tapering nicotine levels and vaping worked great until a lithium ion battery exploded in my pocket and left me with 3rd degree burns and a disfiguring scar on my leg. I haven’t vaped since and bought a pack of cigarettes the day it happened. Since then it was a pack a day (although I was actually smoking a pack and a half, I just didn’t cop to it).

I have made it through what I have been told was the toughest part of stopping, only to find a trivial excuse to light up again and again. Physically there may be a toughest time, but mentally the obsession can sneak up quick, strong and without warning. The vicious cycle was always the same- once I started, I couldn’t stop and I craved cigarettes even when I wasn’t smoking them. Eventually, could no longer tell any of my friends, family or fellow smokers of my plans to quit out of embarrassment of my continued failures. I felt self conscious and weak. I stopped fighting and just accepted that I would die a smoker. I wore the badge with false pride and spoke of cigarettes as symbol of independence, individuality and freedom. I buried my desire to quit and professed a lie I knew wasn’t true. The truth was I was beaten by nicotine and smoking was my crutch, my dirty little secret, my release, and my last guilty pleasure. I was terrified to stop. The fear of quitting kept me from even trying.

I began to think- how does one get to a place where they “hit bottom” with cigarettes? Nothing short of lung cancer seems sufficient to really get a smoker’s attention; and for many smokers even cancer is not a viable deterrent. Plus, once one has lung cancer its already too late. I remember, more than once, my father forgetting to turn off his oxygen machine and lighting his face on fire while he smoked through the last days of emphysema. He taught me that us smokers often smoke until the bitter end.

It stood to reason the answer for stopping might lay in raising one’s “smoking bottom,” if hitting bottom is what it takes to stop. I started to look at what was acceptable and unacceptable behavior for me. I asked myself if could I live up to those ideals while smoking. Could I be the human I wanted to be and smoke?

I didn’t need to make a pros and cons list to know that smoking was rapidly losing its appeal. It had become a chore. It was mindless and routine. It put me places where I didn’t want to be. It separated me from my family and others. It was expensive. It was dirty. It was harder and harder to breathe. My teeth and gums were suffering. I could honestly come up with at least a hundred valid reasons why I had to stop. The pros side of the list was short and when I honestly dissected the excuses to smoke, they were just lies I had repeated so many times I took them for granted to be true. I believed smoking was giving me something I didn’t have; and that smoking made, whatever it is I lack, less significant and glaring.

Honesty and continued attempts at quitting would become the basis for my desire to finally stop. Realistically, this desire has taken years to grow to a point where I was willing to actually do something about my nicotine dependence and addiction. Desire begat willingness that give rise to action.

What has worked for me, so far, has been a hodgepodge of 12 step recovery tools, rational self-help resources, books, videos, podcasts, new age practices, folk medicine, meditation, spirituality, self awareness, affirmations, dietary changes, nicotine replacement and support from my friends (even ones who currently smoke). One approach was never sufficient dor me to stop so I have been using practically anything that anyone suggests within reason. The shift has left me willing to use whatever tools I have at my disposal to overcome nicotine addiction.

I truly believe I have smoked my last cigarette. Help me stay on this new path. 123 days and counting.

~S.D.

#youcanstoptoo

#youcanstoptoo 1

#youcanstoptoo

I am by no means an expert on stopping anything. Truth be told, I am an expert in floundering, faltering and failing. I am an expert on being addicted.

Yet, I was told, the only people who are successful in stopping addictive behaviors, are people who try…well that’s me! I am good at trying…I’m stubborn and persistent.

I am an addict. I will use pretty much anything to avoid dealing with life on life’s terms. I have abused whatever I could get my hands on. I currently have 9 years of sobriety and clean time. Most recently my 20 year affair with cigarettes has left me feeling like a hypocrite justifying a seemingly less destructive addiction to nicotine.

I have been a loyal and faithful servant of smoking, putting the pack before all I love and care about. I have tried to leave countless times, but I am always sucked back into, what I know to be, the most insidious and subtly destructive dysfunctional relationship I have ever participated in.

I have described smoking as a love/hate relationship; but despite the many times I have professed my love for smoking, I really believe that this “love” was just a lie. I chose to believe that I loved cigarettes as a justification for a disgusting habit that I am ashamed of. If I “loved” smoking, then perhaps I could diminish my shame enough to choke down just one more cigarette. I chose to believe a lie so I could live with my actions.

I am sure this will come off preachy to most, especially active smokers, but please know I don’t judge you. I judge myself and I am my own worst critic. I am not fighting smokers. I am not trying to reform anyone. I don’t want to change what anyone else does. I do not care if you smoke or not. If smoking works for you then there’s no problem to fix. If you want to stop and can’t, then I am confident there is a way.

My goal is to not smoke today and let those who want to stop, know that it is possible and it can be done. It has been my experience that there is NOTHING that will make me not want a cigarette. But fortunately there are things that will take the edge off. The reality is there is a certain amount of uncomfortabilty associated with stopping anything, particularly nicotine. If you missed January 1st and a new year’s resolution, it doesn’t matter. The reality is you can stop right now.

I have been smoke-free since September 1st, 2017 and nicotine-free since October 1st, the same year, join me on this healing journey.

~S.D.

Fresh Start

It started with the loss of my integrity, not living up to who I wanted to be. This was not how I wanted to be seen.
I watched, feeling like a spectator, as the obvious material things began to disappear- the house, the appartment, the car, and countless jobs. Then the relationships vanished- friends, the woman, my family and my children. With it all, I blinked and I found my freedom lost.
Broken and mangled, I surrendered, accepting what I had become. I knee that I didn’t have the resources to fix the problem I had created. I was done, but I was unable to stop.
I gave what was left of me to the Universe to care for, and began an unfamiliar path, on a journey with no known destination. I just trusted that maybe life could be different.
Day by day, things changed. Ever so slowly, the material things began to return, closely followed by the relationships I thought too damaged to be restored.The only difference this time was that all of it would never be mine again.
Nothing in this world belongs to me anymore. The car I drive, the home I live in, even the children I helped usher into this world- all of it is a part of something greater than me.
I am only allowed to enjoy these benefits of my existence, as long as I choose to grow towards a Power Greater than me.
I know that in the flash of an instant it can all be lost again, unless I stay close to the Source of it all.

Thank You for one more year…one more day…one more moment.

In Your service,

~S.D.