It is usual for people to make a 6 months “speech” of a sort, at least that’s what they did on the quittrain, but I am not there anymore, so who would listen to my speech? I am not a really a talented writer –in case you haven’t noticed- but I like to “tell” stories.
So let me tell you a story on my 6 months quit-anniversary and since it’s a special anniversary, how about a true story?
I came home from a long business trip and was greeted by my dog in a way only a dog can greet you. Cougar was a big dog with a big heart and he was all over me. He was dancing around with joy and spent the rest of the day glued to my hip. The feeling was mutual, it felt good to be back home and I was happy to see everybody. I needed to unwind a little bit, so the next day after lunch I grabbed my car keys and drove with Cougar a little bit out of town. I passed our familiar walkways and aimed for a forest that was further away. We both enjoyed the ride, it was a nice autumn day; a little bit overcast, but the right weather for a long walk.
Collecting wild mushrooms is a national pastime where I am from and until this day I can’t walk in a forest without getting sidetracked. I never stay on the walkways for long, it only takes a few minutes and I climb over shrubs and bushes and start looking behind trees for the treasures I hope to find. I never felt scared with Cougar on my side and a dark forest with lots of trees looked always inviting to me…still does.
We must have walked for a couple of hours when the wind picked up and it got really dark and I felt the first raindrops. There was an open field with a feeding barn close by and Cougar and I run over there and took cover.
I did not listen to the news in the morning and didn’t know the weather forecast. “Oh WTH it might rain a little bit, it won’t be too bad, let’s just wait until the rain stops”. It was raining ‘cats and dogs’ and it didn’t look like it would stop soon. It got colder by the minute and I looked at my watch; it was almost 3 pm. We must have walked for about 2 hours when it started raining and even though we didn’t walk in a straight line, I expected it would take us between 1-2 hours to get back to the car. We had to leave soon, or it would be too dark to find our way. Should we leave our cover or stay?
I looked at Cougar, “let’s go boy” and stepped away from the cover. It rained hard and we were soaking wet in a few minutes until we walked back into the trees. It was hard to walk, the ground was muddy and there were tree roots everywhere. I stumbled a few times and felt lost. Where were we? Nothing looked inviting anymore, instead it looked dark and unfriendly. The rain picked up and the wind felt ice-cold and shifted directions all the time. Far away I could hear rumbling and I questioned my decision. Should we turn around and try to find the feeding barn again, wouldn’t we be safer there? Maybe we should go on and try to find the car before sunset?
I decided we would go on, fighting the weather. Cougar was on my side, soaking wet and not too happy with the situation either. He was fully alert and looked left and right and once again I was grateful for his protective instincts, he made me feel safe. I kept my eyes on the ground; away from the rain trying to see where I was going. It didn’t look like we came this way, were we lost? I knew we were going in the right direction, but just a little bit off could mean we would leave the forest 2-3 miles away from the car. What if we can’t make it to the car in time? What if it got dark when we were still in the forest? All kind of thoughts came to my mind and made me feel unsure.
Even though it was cold and I was soaking wet, I started to sweat bullets. I took the jacket off and wrapped it around my hips. I looked at my watch it was 5:30 pm, now it would be really dark soon. We should have left the forest by now…how much longer?
I felt tired and worn out. Cougar started to walk in front of me, like he knew I couldn’t see very well and I concentrated on following him.
We were lucky and made it to the road within the next 30 minutes, it took another 20 minutes until we found the car and we drove home; soaking wet and freezing…but happy! This happened over 20 years ago.
Now you wonder why I told you this story don’t you?
Lately I thought about this day often! The moment I stopped smoking felt like the moment I stepped away from the barn. First I was sure about it, then after a few days I got bad cravings and started to question my decision.
Wouldn’t it be easier to turn around or just give up?
Some of us go back to smoking, because it is easier and it feels safe. Some, like me, continue walking. We get thrown around a little bit and hit ‘some bad weather’. It’s not easy and we don’t know if we go in the right direction, but we continue doing it anyway, because we want to get out of the woods.
180 days later I can proudly say “I am out of the woods” and I am glad I never turned back around!