Stories & experiences

Percy Verence

Wow - what a trigger

Posted in Quit experiences 07 Aug 2021

Yesterday, I discovered my worst smoking trigger...and unfortunately it's a friend of mine.

I hadn't spoken to her for a couple of weeks and our phone calls are rarely shorter than an hour. She's a tobacco smoker - Mrs "I'll just put you on loud speaker while I roll another ciggie, honey" - and my mental association with her phone calls is lighting endless cigarettes and padding out to the kitchen with the phone tucked under my chin to make more coffee to wash down MORE cigarettes as I commiserate with the avalanche of negative emotional baggage pouring out of the receiver.

I got off the phone in record time but every nerve in my body was jangling. I dived into my bed and gathered my Allen Carr books around me like the heroine in a Dracula movie clutching her garlic and crucifix. I put my headphones on and tried to drown out the memory of our conversation with the voice of Paul McKenna but her words had hit their mark.

"Oh, you're giving up again, are you? Well, you know I quit for years, don't you? Went back to it by choice...smoking is my only vice and I enjoy it..."

I chewed peppermints...massaged my feet...stuffed a Vick's nasal spray in my nostrils and snorted up the fresh eucalyptus as if my life depended on it. I got up and brushed my teeth...leapt on my rowing machine and rowed with such gusto that I bounced the thing halfway down the hall.

None of this was my friend's fault, by the way. This just happens to be a relationship that has entirely revolved around smoking and the mere sound of her voice was enough of a Pavlovian trigger to make my body scream for nicotine. Her 'I love smoking' mantra would have been music to my ears a few weeks ago.

I went back to bed and this time I settled down and relaxed listening to a hypnosis session with Michael Sealey. (I highly recommend this one to stay focused - just go on to YouTube and search for Stop Smoking Self Hypnosis - Michael Sealey.) All the tension seeped away. In this hypnosis, he asks you to visualise two roads - one is bathed in sunshine and the other is dark and foreboding. These represent your future either as a smoker or non-smoker. He makes you look three years ahead...five years ahead...ten years ahead. Believe me, nothing is more compelling to strengthen your will as visualising what cigarettes have done to you in ten years time.

Mentally, I committed to the sunshine-filled road and felt calm and in control again. I realised that my friend was not going to be on this road with me - and accepted it. As the old saying goes - birds of a feather flock together - and we are no longer birds of a feather.

So - be careful, my fellow newbie quitters. I hadn't imagined that the most powerful trigger could be a person. Be prepared for that - and prepared to make the decision that if this person can't support the 'new you', you'll let that friendship go. x

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  • Red-67 August 07, 2021 | 7:22
    Remember, it is still early. Your nicotine addiction is still alive. You don't have to give up the friendship. If she is really a friend, she will agree to just not say anything, and stay off the subject. I too smoked because I wanted to, and enjoyed it, until I opened my eyes to the truth, and understood why. It is best not to try to help a smoker, who is not ready to want to quit. We can feel sorry for them, and be proud that we are no longer that addict. Right ?? :) Remember,, you are not being deprived,, You do NOT WANT to smoke.. :)
  • Percy Verence August 07, 2021 | 8:17

    You could be right, Red.

    I'm certainly not strong enough to be around smokers yet. No, I don't WANT to smoke but the withdrawal pang was so powerful, I could easily have lit up a cigarette if there'd been one in the house.
  • NOPE-2021 August 07, 2021 | 9:01
    You are so dedicated Percy. I too have an event next week after work to meet up with an old friend (smoker). I think I will just need to be strong and have celery sticks on hand. However, she too has been trying to quit the last year or so but unsuccessfully. I will introduce her to this site. Hopefully she might become "ready" to actually quit. I will never resort to dropping her as a friend because of my own weakness.

    I know I am a newbie but I hope my journey can be somewhat of an encouragement to someone else... In the same manner that you have encouraged me, along with some other non-smokers in this forum.

    I know exactly what you were feeling and I hope I can do as well. You did it and you can do it again! You might be the one to plant a seed in your friends mind that might persuade her in the right direction (the ONLY direction!!!). Soon you will have "bragging rights" to tell her how great you feel and how she can do it too. You will be a great example. You ARE a great example!!!

    You are doing SO, SO GOOD!!! Keep up the awesome work!!!
  • Percy Verence August 07, 2021 | 9:19
    @Nope: Good luck with your event next week. You're further along with this journey than me and probably stronger. As Red so rightly said to me, my nicotine addiction is "still alive" and I think such a killer craving made me panic!

    Thank you for the encouragement - it honestly means the world.

    How are things with you? Hope you'll jot a few lines about how you're doing soon - looking forward to hearing how you're getting on. x
  • NOPE-2021 August 07, 2021 | 9:36
    Thanks Percy. I think YOU are further along than I. Today is only day 5 for me, although I had 3 weeks prior to these 5 days cheating :-( I decided to "reset the clock" and quit the right way (the ONLY way). Guess I can say I cut down before finally saying "This is IT!!" You are doing it Percy and I think I can do this. I am following in your footsteps!!
  • Happiness August 07, 2021 | 10:31
    Isn't it nice to have such camaraderie. We can understand each other fears and concerns. We also feel accountable and more in tune with the idea. We get stronger in belief, in body and in mind.

    Don't toss the friendship, but keep the distance until you are comfortable with it. After all, you know you best. Soon you will have the conviction and belief in yourself to stay the course without feeling the tug o war. We cannot expect them to understand you as we do You cannot force someone to see your point of view, you can only tell them what IS possible. You can tell your friend your dilemma and hopefully she will respect you for it.

    I am glad that the mindset is sinking in and that it makes this quit feel different. This time you are not marking time, but building your future.
  • Leeann , Central Coast August 07, 2021 | 13:39
    Wow Percy I am super proud of you, you owned the trigger, but at no point did you crumble or entain crumbling. You are succeeding Percy necause you DO NOT SMOKE anymore. I loved reading your story, what a talented writer you are. I loved the two paths, lots of us are here with you basking in the nice sunny path, we dont want to turn back down the dark and foreboding one, we've been on that wrong path already. Are you aware Percy you are the heroine of your journey? You are starring extroadinarily in it to, so you keep on going and shining, and please continue sharing, you truly just made my day🙌☺
  • Jessfreeof, Northern NSW August 07, 2021 | 22:40
    Well spotted Percy 🙌
  • Happiness August 08, 2021 | 1:01
    Yes, please keep those stories coming. You have talent, humour and insight that will keep all coming back for more! Laughter helps raise the dopamine as does learning and many other things.
  • Percy Verence August 08, 2021 | 1:42
    @Nope and @Leeann: It's so great to have you guys for company in 'Quitters Kindergarten'. Your successes make me feel so happy and proud of how we're turning our lives around! Thank you, both. @Jess: Look at us three chasing you up the ladder of success :)

    @Happiness: Smoking is sooo ridiculous that I think it does us good to laugh and share these stories with a knowing eye-roll. It's not enough to be quitters - let's be joyful quitters :)
  • Jessfreeof, Northern NSW August 08, 2021 | 7:31
    I love love love "Quitters Kindergarten"❤️
  • Happiness August 09, 2021 | 21:48
    You've got it Percy, Let's be JOYFUL QUITTERS . Quitting isn't really all that hard....It's finding the Joyful part. I love it when you can make us laugh at ourselves and make our day. I am sure we all look forward to your delightful stories and comments. Thank you.

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