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.