Extinguishing Triggers

When I quit smoking for the first time I was absolutely astonished by the process. I learned a lot about addiction and why people smoke, and was able to kick that ugly habit to the curb for five years. Of course, when my life got hard after five years I began smoking again, every once in awhile, until I gradually became just as addicted as I was in the first place.  And oh boy, was it ever hard to quit the second time. It took me two years, a bazillion tries, and finally becoming pregnant to give it up. And then I started again after the baby was born! Once again it was a little at a time, with long quits for weeks in between, but by early summer last year I was smoking every day and hating it. I quit again in July and haven’t looked back. I am SO happy that I do not have to deal with that addiction anymore. It totally contributed to my overall feeling of being OUT OF CONTROL.

There are a lot of similarities in the addictions to cigarettes and alcohol that I have observed so far in the quitting process. With smoking, I learned that the more times I met a trigger head-on the faster my brain would rewire itself. Not smoking would become the new normal in the same situation…where at one time not smoking would have been unheard of. It is the same with drinking! Once you encounter those tough situations a few times it becomes normal not to drink. The witching hour comes to mind. Or on a Friday evening. Those were my biggest triggers when I first became sober.

Now my triggers for drinking are sneakier. Holidays! Come! Out! Of! The! Blue! Since holidays only happen a few times per year it takes time to extinguish those triggers and make being sober the new normal. No wonder it is hard at first! Plus add all of the pressure from society and the world and family and the Internet to have FUN FUN FUN and CELEBRATE. No wonder it is hard for many of us not to drink!

I felt some cravings this Thanksgiving. I felt flat. Bored. I wanted alcohol to liven up my day.

Then I realized…I NEED TO LIVEN UP MY DAY! It is my responsibility to make it more fun. Alcohol would have numbed and masked reality, but it wouldn’t have changed any important parts of the day. In the end, it just would have made me drunk and full of regrets. I isolated myself this year because I was scared of what might happen if I didn’t, and because it is my first year sober and I wanted to meet my triggers head-on in a safe environment. I had a nice time with my little family, but it was a tad boring (sorry husband, if you are reading this) because I didn’t leave my comfort zone.

Next year, it is my responsibility to create the holiday that I want. To make it more exciting without booze. I am up for the challenge.

I learned things this year. I learned that A) the upcoming holidays are not going to be super easy, but they will be okay as long as I stay sober. They will pass. B) I have a lot of support and am doing exactly what I need to do. If I need to stay home this year it is perfectly fine. C) It might take a few years for holidays to become easy sober because they don’t happen very often and they are more charged with emotion than normal days. They WILL get easier one day. D) I love being sober and I love not smoking anymore. I feel free a lot of the time, and it is really wonderful.

I loved reading all of the holiday posts from sober bloggers. Thanks for all the tips, strategies and personal anecdotes. That info helped a lot and will continue to help over the next month. xxxx

**I used the website whyquit.com to help quit smoking. It has a lot of good info.

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12 thoughts on “Extinguishing Triggers

  1. Good for you! I remember quitting smoking and it was absolute HELL. Once I had a couple drinks in me, straight to the cigarettes I would go. Much easier when you don’t have the drink triggering your need for the smoke. Congratulations!

  2. I love this positive post and your great attitude. You’re totally right… sometimes holidays are just quiet simple affairs and pass with little fanfare .. sometimes they’re rocking great fun! And sometimes they’re a bit stinky and upsetting. I’ve had all of the above since I’ve been sober. But it’s never always about the fact I’m not drinking alcohol.. it’s a bunch of other stuff as well. I sort of don’t care.. as long as I don’t drink I’ll take the crunchy with the smooth.. (if you know what I mean).. Sending love from NZ xxx

  3. Wow! You say: “Then I realized…I NEED TO LIVEN UP MY DAY! It is my responsibility to make it more fun. Alcohol would have numbed and masked reality, but it wouldn’t have changed any important parts of the day.”

    That is SOOOO true, and part of me really doesn’t want it to be. That part wants to have the Magic Source of Fun, that happens without any effort from me other than opening my mouth and pouring wine into it. But then that other part kicks in and says: Why settle for faux reality a la alcohol when you can get real reality just by refraining from wine? That is the part of me that prides itself on meeting life face-on, that doesn’t like lies in any form. How is it, then, that I have spent so many years lying to myself about how alcohol IS a lie, how alcohol lies to me about my world and how I fit into it?

    Definitely time for a new approach. What fires together, wires together.

    CarrieK at Day #33

    • I think it is much easier to realize that you need to make changes when you are sober because you are not falsely happy and high from drinking. It is sneaky, though, isn’t it? I didn’t realize I was being lied to either. Who needs a faux reality? xxx

  4. There is so much truth in this post! I’ve often thought that adopting a new lifestyle (i.e., not drinking) is all about developing new habits, and that takes time and repetition. Anyway, love the post. Hope you are happilyrecovering from the holiday!

  5. You are so right about the fact that WE make the HOLIDAYS – not the booze. Thanks for this post – I love reading all the tips and tricks from fellow bloggers on this – including YOURS 🙂

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