I was in my early
teens when we first met. My friend and I would usually get together
after school with some other buddies and do what teenage boys
do.... hang around. We got along well because he was really
good at arranging things and I was good at ... other stuff.
It wasn't long before he was taking care of most of the where
to be and how to be and when and what and why.
By the time I finished
high school, my friend had become my partner..... We were quite
a team. He was sort of the Radar O'Rielly of partners. Really
good at his job, made sure I always had whatever was needed,
all contingencies were covered. Most were dealt with without
me even knowing. When I went out, he'd make sure I had keys,
cash, cigarettes, and lighter. When I felt down or dragged out
and needed a boost, he had the pick-me-up. When I was feeling
really good, he had the cherry to just top it off. He calmed
my anger and consoled my sorrow. He was faithful, constant,
and dead on the mark with his management. With his hands on
the wheel, we maneuvered around and through everything. I never
knew just how he got his job done or where he got his info.
Yet, he seemed to know what was coming before it happened. His
job was done so well that, in time, I came to regard him as
I did my shadow.... simply, there.
I don't know at
what point I started to feel that he was more in control than
I. Sometimes I'd wonder if maybe he wasn't just a bit too quick
to take care of my needs. A bit too quick with a response. Sure
the response was the correct one, but it seemed that he was
almost anticipating my wants. Maybe he knew me better than I
knew myself? He'd certainly been tending my needs more conscientiously
and for a lot longer than I had. I began to want to believe
that I didn't need his management anymore, that I could take
care of myself. So one day I decided that our partnership had
run it's course, that I was going to take over looking after
me, that he was 'relieved'. I guess I didn't think I owed him
anything in return for his years of service. Nor did it occur
to me to ask what or how he felt about the changes I wanted
to implement. I simply started one morning to take over.
He didn't understand
when I began to clumsily attempt to do what had always been
his job. He just stared at me as though I was being particularly
pointless and nonsensical, and then patiently let me carry on.
Part way through the first morning I was feeling really angry
because I wasn't yet used to taking care of myself and it seemed
the world was ganging up on me. Seemingly out of nowhere, as
was his usual custom, my expartner appeared and suggested a
cure for my nerves and frustration. I yelled at him that he
was subverting my efforts and to go away. He walked off, but
he was right in his own way. His advice had always been perfect.
It still rang of truth. It wasn't my truth anymore, but it was
very much still his. Later, when I got a bit hungry and a tad
fatigued, he appeared once more to tell me how to deal with
hunger and fatigue. I exploded at him for telling me such lies.
They were lies weren't they? I called him evil and sneaky, I
called him 'Demon'. I cursed him for confusing and tempting
me. I told him to leave, that he wasn't wanted, or needed, that
he no longer had a place in my business. Each time he'd back
off, just out of arms reach, and as he watched me foundering
on the rocks of my day, every once in a while he'd offer the
'life line' I'd always so willingly accepted.
It's been a while
now since I 'fired' my partner. I manage to get through my days
and nights though I never did figure out just how my old friend
and expartner had steered me so smoothly through life. To this
day, he doesn't understand why I turned on him and rejected
his management. Even though he's quiet most of the time, I know
he's still there .... quietly watching me go about my day, watching
me as I try to find how to deal with my needs. And sometimes
if I'm a bit too slow, or a bit too confused, or a bit too uncomfortable
he'll see me trying to cope and he'll silently step up beside
me and quietly whisper his truths ...... and I feel a twisting
inside, like a muscle that's suddenly knotted and will only
say that about 4 out of 5 quitters will relapse. I don't offer
that as gospel or even numbers that are terribly accurate. My
point is simply that too many quitters just do not manage to
stay quit. Most of us have only to look to our own experience
to see that we failed several times before we succeeded. Some
of us are still in the 'failing' stage of learning to quit.
While slips and relapses in the early stages may be nicotine
related, by the time we're several months quit and/or a few
weeks nicotine free, a relapse is far more likely about behavior
and demonstrates, for many yet again, that quitting is much
less about nicotine chemical addiction and much more about our
responses to stress, about how we perceive the events in our
lives, and about how we've consistently responded to them. I'd
like to suggest that the way to finally get a solid handle on
quitting and STAYING QUIT is by addressing that behavior and
learning how to change it.
is not brain washing. Rather, it's learning how and why we do
what we do within specific settings, and then examining simple
methods for changing those patterns. There are several effective
and proven methods for modifying behavior. While there is one
method that worked for me and is worked for others, I do NOT
suggest that it's *the* answer for everyone. Whether it was
cold turkey or patches or Zyban or your local witch doctor,
the first step in quitting was to find a method to get off of
the chemical addiction merry-go-round. You've searched for,
and will probably try, several different nicotine reduction
methods before you hit on one that works for you. At the same
time, you might want to start investigating different behavior
modification methods. Look at methods that will teach you to
eliminate the habit, to alter the behavior that was your response
to life's stresses, to sever the connection between a cigarette
and the many moments of your life. Do some investigation and
find one that appeals to you ... otherwise, you may forever
have a partner whispering in your ear.
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