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Closet Fascination

A blog about a journey, smoking, not smoking, vaping and everything in between

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self-control

Letting go of Control

At first I was going to entitle this post ‘Planned Indulgence’ but that implies that I am actively controlling my smoking, which I am not. What I really have experienced since quitting vaping is a complete mindset shift around smoking. I’ve smoked a few times since I’ve last blogged about it. Before Christmas, I shared two cigarettes on two different days at lunch at work with my co-worker. On New Year’s eve, I smoked one on my own given to me by my brother-in-law’s girlfriend. Most recently, I shared cigarettes with her, maybe a total of 6 times over three days (I lost count because I’m not keeping track). I really enjoyed smoking over the past three days, but not enough to run out and get my own pack and commit to doing it regularly.

Three days, was just enough to become tolerant enough again to enjoy it. It was also enough to start feeling slight physical cravings again. Nothing like the pain of withdrawal when I quit vaping cold turkey, but enough to remind me of the price of regular use. Enough to remind me what I don’t like about regular use. I get how people get sucked back into regular use pretty quickly after relapsing when they have quit. The draw of making that uncomfortable feeling go away so easily is attractive.

Chatting with my co-worker who smokes occasionally too, she says she wants to quit entirely one day. I’m not sure I’ll ever feel that way about smoking. But my mindset shift is this: cigarettes are not off limits, if I want to smoke, I can. 95% of the time, I don’t want to anymore. Maybe, one day, that percentage will shift to 100% of the time. As I listen to my body and become more attuned to it, I have a feeling that the answer will start being no more often. For me, the allure of smoking comes from making it forbidden. I also find the loss of control from addiction attractive in a weird way. It is like my mind has fetishized a binge-restrict cycle, so the only way to stop the cycle is to give up the control or the illusion of control. Because I have changed my mindset and don’t view smoking as something super forbidden any more, I don’t find it as arousing to smoke anymore.

I’ve been listening to a lot of a podcast called Food Psych- By Christy Harrison. My issues with food come down to this same idea of control and I’ve been working on giving up control recently. Because when some foods are deemed bad or forbidden and you restrict your eating of said foods or force yourself to eat in a particular way, you set up a restrict-binge cycle where the next time you access to said food, you overeat or binge on it. I gained some weight since I stopped the food tracking insanity. I wasn’t in a good place with it. I was obsessive. I felt anxiety about eating foods that weren’t on my plan or that would have me go over my carb grams for the day. I’m done with dieting and going back and forth between restricting and overeating. I’m working on changing my mindset, listening to my body. No foods are off limits. At this conference I go to, I normally end up overeating. For the first time, I didn’t feel like I didn’t this year, minus one meal where I totally ate too much dessert. Normally, this would cause me to restrict the next day, but no more. I enjoyed the dessert. I enjoyed smoking. I’m not going to beat myself up over what probably amounts to a few hundred extra calories or few cigarettes over the past three days.

But I’ve noticed that the same psychological craving that would make smoking irresistible is what drives me to overeat or not be able to stop eating despite being full. I have control issues and learning to let go is the only way I will find peace with food. So far I’ve noticed that I feel less pressure to finish my plate (or a cigarette) when I’m feeling done with it. In binge-restrict mindset, you finish your food (or cigarette) because you aren’t sure when you’ll have some next. I normally clean my plate regardless of how much I am enjoying my food. I’ve started leaving stuff if I am not enjoying it as much.

I’m working on loving me for who I am right now. The shape I am in right now. The choices that I make right now. The paradox of yielding my control to gain control still blows my mind, but it appears to be working.

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To Boldly go? Not yet…

Plenty of contradiction going on in my brain right now. As much as I hoped the peace would last, it did not. Essentially I am almost right back where I started, but I understand myself a lot better now. What do I truly desire? I think I actually truly desire to be a smoker as illogical as that is. Even though the process of becoming one would involve sickness (as it already has) and coming out to all of my friends (many of whom would probably suggest the many ways I can quit). No one would understand.  I know what I don’t want. I do not want to keep smoking in the closet. There is too much stress involved and frankly the stress ruins the experience.

I just recently saw the new Star Trek movie which I highly recommend. I’m no Trekkie although I think it is just because I never really sat down and watched episodes in succession. Whether or not I am a Trekkie really isn’t the point. The movie got me thinking about logic though- particularly because of Spock’s struggle in the movie between his logical Vulcan side and his emotional human side. In the movie, Spock feels like he has to pick a side and feels conflicted as to what side he should pick. Logically- it makes sense, pick his Vulcan side. But his emotional attachment to his mother, means that as logical as Spock can be, he retains a bit of his humanness and is unable to forsake his heritage. I guess I identified with that since that seems to be what I always come back to. The logical choice of not smoking, and the illogical but infinitely more attractive option of giving in. At least it seems more attractive on days like today where the thought of a cigarette sends makes me salivate like one of Pavlov’s Dogs. 

Cravings like this are fairly unpredictable. I’ve had them before and to be quite honest I’m not sure how I did not give in today. I mean I had cigarettes on me, a lighter. I’ve only ever resisted this type of craving in the absence of cigarettes. I mean I was sitting in the library trying to study, practically shaking. I guess that is why I am afraid of addiction because in some ways I almost feel like I am already there. I guess I’m still not willing to relinquish my last shards of self-control. Today, for once, I was not trying to prove I have self-control although that might be how it seems. You know what motivated me not to smoke? Social reasons. I still care entirely too much about what people think and about getting caught by people I know.  Sigh… I read this interesting blog about cravings.  I’m not sure I underestimate mine. I think one day I’m going to crack. In some ways, I hope I do soon.

Giving in and Feeling Good…

I wasn’t going to smoke today. Mainly because it was really cold out but as the day wore on and the temperature got warmer I couldn’t put the thought out of my head. So I figured- what the hell. I’m not going to get any work done sitting here thinking about it.

I only smoked about 3/4 of the cigarette- I still have fears of overdoing it and I enjoy the pleasant buzz but no longer “high” that allows me to concentrate better. I’m positive I’m not imagining that effect. What is more is as the effects become more subtle- I notice the other, more sensual effect smoking has on me that much more. That is an interesting development to say the least and not an effect that I anticipated.

I have a feeling I will be forced into making some choices very soon… sigh. For now I will enjoy and use this moment of blissful concentration.

The Sound of Silence

I’ve been busy, busy and thus there have been a lack of updates. I’ve only smoked one cigarette since the last one and that will be two weeks ago as of today. Feels like just yesterday. I actually caught the cold that is going around and have had little desire to light up. This has been both odd for me as of late and was also a blessing because I was able to concentrate on my work for a bit without daydreaming about having a cigarette. I still think about it, albeit less than I had been.

I decided to set a date for the next time I would smoke and it is coming up pretty fast. About two weeks from now. I decided to do something a little more risky that day and let myself smoke more than once if I want to that day. Although I will be sure to space them out as to not make myself sick. I tend to get carried away because I want to be able to smoke like someone that does it all the time, but I have not the nicotine tolerance to do so. I’m looking forward to my one day of completely letting go of my sense of control. There is something strangely attractive about the idea of it.

I have not really been reflecting much on these things as of late because my powers of introspection have been directed toward my course work. I think that one thing I have going for me as a teacher is I’m already entirely too self-reflective for my own good. But perhaps this skill will come to benefit my students as I will constantly be thinking of way I can improve on what I am doing. On that note, I will sign out for now and get back to my school work. It never seems to end.

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