Ebb Tide

This just in:  Thanks to everyone that reached out to me yesterday, and continue to do so today.

The grief is receding.  I can feel it less although it is still there.  I think the real difference is that I now have more of a choice.  It’s as if I have found a volume knob where I can dial it back or turn it us as I wish.  What surprises me is that I still turn it all the way up from time to time.

My mom has joined my daughter.  They are quite a pair.  So, they are both in good hands…each other’s.  Thus…I move on to other things.

Today, I want to write about how I quite a huge tobacco habit.

For 13 years, I used a can a day of chewing tobacco.  This is the stuff you put into your lip and then spend the next half an hour spitting it back out.  I know…very cool…right?

For about 10 years, every time I went to the dentist, I was told, “You have a precancerous lip and need to stop right away.”

That wasn’t enough.

I tried smoking a pipe.  Then I tried Nicorette gum.  Nothing seemed to work.

I loved the tobacco but it was controlling too much of my life.  I would be holding important meetings when the urge would strike.  I’d say, “Let’s take a break” and then I’d run off somewhere and take a “dip”.  This is just a small sample of the type of interference tobacco caused in my life.

Here is how I quit.

I was working with coal miners in Australia back in 1991.  I noticed that they would chain smoke right up to the point where they would be taken under ground.  They would be underground for several hours.  You can’t smoke down there because the air is usually flammable.  You can’t even take down things that make sparks.

I asked several of them, “Is it hard to not smoke for several hours while you work down here?”

Surprisingly, the answer was always, “No.  We never even think about it.  It is absolutely not going to happen down here so we don’t feel the compulsion.”

To me this was “acceptance.”  Much like I don’t fret about not being able to fly by flapping my arms.  I know it won’t happen so I accept it fully, and move on.

So…I took my last can of Copenhagen (chewing tobacco) and dumped it down the toilet.  Back in 1991, there was no way to replace this loss in the Australian outback.

I had just completely cut myself off from the ability to chew tobacco.

I went through about 7 days of physical withdrawal but that had never been the real issue.  Of the 1,000 times I had quit before, it was always the mental withdrawal that brought me back to tobacco.

Having cut myself off completely with no option to replenish for several weeks…the mental withdrawal was virtually non-existent.

By the time I got back to the States…I was tobacco free and have never once gone back.

After 27 years, I can still feel the craving come over me if I want to feel it.  However, I read once that tobacco cravings only really last for about 10 seconds.  If you can distract yourself for 10 seconds, the craving will go away.  It may come back but again…for only 10 seconds.

This “10-second” thing is big.  There was a time that when I got a craving, my assumption was that it would last forever or until I could get some tobacco.  That attitude made “surrendering to the addition” justifiable.

That’s it.  If I was a tobacco person right now and wanted to quit….I would have my friends load me up with camping gear and then drop me off somewhere for a week.  Somewhere that was isolated enough that I couldn’t get tobacco anywhere.  That would force the “acceptance” and thus eliminate that pesky “mental withdrawal.”

Now….as part of my ongoing grief therapy….

A short gratitude list…

I am grateful for…

  1. Netflix
  2. Skype
  3. My mom and daughter’s relationship
  4. The healthcare in MA that is helping my son with his addiction
  5. Websites like Reddit.com and Thegreatcourses.com
  6. The perfectly crisp and sweet apple
  7. Packaged salads at Safeway
  8. Any degree of self-awareness
  9. A cold room and warm bed
  10. The people in my life
  11. Cat videos

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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