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Fighting Demons in Mariposa: “It’s not you. It’s me.”

A Journey Within

From Sentinel Dome

From Sentinel Dome in Yosemite National Park.  A good place to contemplate.

One might imagine that by staying in one place, my life has become mundane and predictable.

Not even close.

I thank the universe for the insights and strength I’ve gained during experiences on the Camino de Santiago, like this one and this.  And for more tests of grit and humor like this one in Nepal, this one in South Korea, and this one in Germany.  These experiences, while difficult at the time, have been the well from which I’ve drawn strength.

This adventure in relationship has taken me to places I did not know existed and for which there is no guidebook – uncharted territory for my soul.  It’s much harder to write about these inward journeys, especially as they are unfolding and before I can make out the walls and shapes that make up these dark caverns.

So, sorry about my time away.

It’s not you. It’s me.

Relationships, which have always been difficult for me (are they easy for anyone?), are easier on the road – with no expectation of “forever”, one is free to enjoy momentary romance in all it’s shallow and delicious glory.  Like cotton candy, it’s all sweet with no substance.  Satisfaction is fleeting and one is left feeling sick while holding a paper cone that moments before held such enticing spun sugar.

Long-term solo travel keeps one distracted with itineraries, planning, moving and exploring.  Dark corners of the psyche can be forgotten momentarily while more pressing survival concerns are attended to.

In Mariposa, things have changed.  This relationship demands my attention and stretches me beyond my limits of comfort regularly.  It feels like God has thrown one cream pie in my face after another, laughing all the while.  Can she take it?!  What’s she made of?

I’ll show you God.

Compromises and negotiations are daily fare.  How much bending is too much bending?  How much am I willing to give up?  How much am I gaining?  Am I attending to my dreams?  Is this my dream?  These are all questions that come up.  Answers are forthcoming.

The Greatest Battle

For those of you that don’t know me personally, I’ve held a secret in shame.  I’ve been a slave.  The freedom that you’ve seen has been an illusion.

I’ve been hopelessly and seriously addicted to cigarettes for the last 28 years.  And this is no child’s play addiction – this is the type of addicted that wants to smoke in the middle of the night, that can not imagine walking, talking, writing, celebrating, mourning, eating, playing, or working without a cigarette in hand.  It’s been a misery to maintain.

This demon entered my life when I was a teenager, forging out my own identity as a creative and free spirit.  How ironic that this very addiction has left me now, at age 44, breathless, dependent, anxious, and aging rapidly.

I tried so many times to quit, only to be defeated in two to three days.

I have overcome so much but not this.

But now this.

With the support of Bear, I have kicked tobacco.  Using a blend of non-addictive herbs to smoke when I feel desperate, and nicotine gum occasionally, I have reached Day 21 of the process.  It’s the biggest challenge I have ever faced. Each breath I take gets me one step closer to freedom.  True freedom.

I’ve wrestled with demons during sleepless nights.  Rage like I have never known has enveloped me in a dark cloud for days at a time.  Moods have changed as quickly as desert sands.  Spiny, seemingly intractable  tentacles of this demon have been ripped from my cells excruciatingly.  Painful emotions have swept through my body stinging me in prickly effervescent waves.

There isn’t a thing that I used to do without smoking being a part.  Writing in particular, was never done without a full pack of cigarettes by my side.  I have struggled to write because of this process.  So you see…

It’s not you. It’s me.

This post is another step in my journey away from the demon.  I am walking into the light and for now it is blinding and painful and scary.  But, I’m walking anyway.  One step at a time.

What demon is secretly holding you back from your best life?

 

15 Comments

  1. Very cool , I just found this blog! look forward to reading more and following your journey.. I smoked for close to 20 years and used the electronic cigs to quit , I’ve been smoke free for over a year now , I know you will get there. Thanks for sharing your life with us!

    • Thanks for reading Trav. Thanks for the encouragement. I have an e-cigarette for when I’m really freaking out. It does help.

  2. You’re an extremely gifted writer.

    Sending you lots of strength through all of your struggles, but each
    struggle helps us to grow and are actually lessons and blessings in disguise.ing

    You may want to consider trying a session or two of Reiki. It often helps
    smokers to kick the habit, not to mention balance the energies of those
    relationship issues by helping sooth the soul.

    Thank you again for another wonderful blog! 🙂

    • Thank you Ann for reading and for your encouraging comments. I did have one session of Reiki while in the Merced River, provided by Sharon Whitefawn. It was healing with the added dimension of cleansing provided by the water. Very cool stuff.

      • Reiki in a river? That is so cool! I have never heard of that, but I could see how the water’s flow could add to the energy balancing. Thank you for sharing your experience. 🙂

  3. You are on the right track…keep going. Everyone who knows you is very impressed with your tenacity and will to conquer this!! xoxo

  4. good for you, laura! i’ve been there, i know how hard it is. there was a time in my life when i couldn’t even conceive of not smoking. the thought alone depressed me and made me anxious. the nicotine habit is gone in 2-3 weeks. its the mental part that’s hard, but every week gets a little bit easier. i ate sunflower seeds for a good 6 months just to replace that feeling of having to put something in my mouth all the time. (and i still eat them 😉 its really hard to wrap your head around the fact that you’ll never smoke again, but that’s what you have to do. and that gets easier with time. good luck!

    • Thanks so much for the encouragement and the tip Scooter!

  5. Dear Laura,
    So brave, so beautiful, so brilliant. Congratulations on winning some of the battles. I hope you keep on winning.

    This post is one of the most honest, heart rending pieces I’ve ever read and it’s also an outstanding literary segment in my opinion.

    Muy buen camino
    Ultreia – faith, strength and the will to keep on.

    • Cecelia – THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.

  6. Great writing…my grandfather in his deathbed beg my father to quit smoking and to never allow his grandkids to smoke. The scars from his departure are still there…even today…I hate smoking and feel bad for people addicted to nicotine. Good luck and hope you can quit smoking.

    • Thank you for a good reminder and your kind wishes. I appreciate you reading.

  7. I’m proud of you, lady. My journey quitting smoking was much like many of my days on the Camino – bedbugs, swollen feet, pouring rain and nary a town in sight, shaking my fist at the sky and swearing that fate will not get the best of me. That rage and frustration will help you win this fight. As will thankfulness. And joy. Keep them all close to your heart and continue to step forward. There’s always a town eventually. So much love to you

    • Your message hit me straight through the heart. Thanks Greta for the encouragement. Much love back to you.

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