Claiming my independence


Pay no attention to the title. It is just some fancy play on yesterday being July 4th. To a point though, maybe there is some credence to that title.

It was one year ago that I had quit using smokeless tobacco. It went pretty well. Until it didn’t. I fell off the quit train before the end of the year.

That didn’t stop my desire to quit smokeless tobacco. However, it did provide a blow to my …….. I am leaving that blank because I just can’t think of the word. I am not even sure there is a word for it.

Anyway, I took the opportunity to once again use the 4th of July as my starting point. I have not had a dip all day. That might be the reason why I can’t think of the right word in the last paragraph. I am already experiencing that mind-bending fog.

When I say fog, that is just a metaphor for the feeling you get. It is as though your mind is not present. You can do routine work but anything that actually requires mental processing is a challenge. Couple that with a strange anxious tingling throughout the body. That is my current state.

It is not a pleasant feeling. It is just extremely hard to relay the feeling to someone who has never been addicted to nicotine. If I had to, here it goes:

You know that feeling when you ride over a hill while in the backseat of a car? That feeling like your stomach is in your chest. Imagine a constant state of feeling like that. But here is the kicker- you know the cure to stop that feeling. It is to have that next hit of nicotine. Once you do, you are back to yourself. Until the next hill arrives.

It is a constant battle to have that next hit of nicotine before hitting the next hill’s crest. There is only one thing that can make those future hills come less regularly and less dramatically. That is abstinence – refraining from taking that next hit of nicotine.

This one issue in my life, quitting smokeless tobacco, is a microcosm to what I have become to believe is really at issue here. That is perspective.

I have been living in the past – in habit. I have been living in the future – by hoping for things out of my control. I am here, but not really present. I have let habit run my life. I have let habit make the decisions for me. Today, that stops.

Diving further into the issue is the simplest of things. Something that I never really considered when I would think about the person I want to be and the goals I want to accomplish. That is free will – the choice to make the tiniest of decisions that later effect future decisions.

It is as though I had given up this fundamental right to choose and handed it to a foreign substance. I am now more focused on right here, right now, and the decisions I can make that will influence my future.

Here is the thing. It doesn’t just apply to quitting tobacco. It applies across the board. I know I need to get on a better sleep schedule. I can make that choice to go to bed at respectable hour. I know I should lose weight. I can make that choice one meal at a time. The list goes on and on.

So yeah, back to the title. Today. I am claiming my independence. I am claiming independence from habit. Understand this includes good habits as well as bad. I am analyzing everything it is that makes up my day.

If a habit is deemed good, I will let it continue on. If it is deemed detrimental, I will strive to break that habit for something better. It really is a change in mindset.

Some habits will be of higher focus than others at times. For instance, I have decided not to stop writing this article to get up and get that can of dip I threw into the trashcan last night at least 10 times. That is at least 10 times that the thought has crossed my mind. I am still here, writing…. and I am winning.

Remember that feeling of anxious tingling I described earlier? Because I feel in control and I have a sense of winning, I essentially have taught myself to enjoy that tingling to a degree. That feeling that I have dreaded has now become a feeling of success and I know it is just temporary.

This post has taken much longer than expected to write but I thought it important to let my thoughts be known as I hit this period in my transformation. No matter how incoherent some of it may be – that’s the fog at work.

With all that said, happy belated Independence Day to you!