Quit Smoking Journal

The first page of the Quit Journal, with my Quit date.

journal page 1

Page 2 and 3 – I included receipts for smokes.

page 2 and 3
Page 4 and 5 – Flip back the ‘Why’ and you read all the reasons I stopped smoking.

Page 4 and 5

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200 Days!

I quit smoking 200 days and $3000 ago, according to my Quit Smoking app.

For me, it was time. For any smoker, it has to be in THEIR time- there is nothing you, as a non-smoker, can say or do to motivate a smoker to quit. Quitting is bloody tough and it takes courage.

For me, planning was the key to the entire process. I knew I was going to give up so I planned the date and wrote it on the calendar and in my diary. My partner was going away for a month and I planned to  use that time on my own to give up, without the risk of arguments or tantrums.

I set the date and made some lists – Reasons why I wanted to give up, How smoking made me feel, Things I would buy with an extra thousand dollars and then I put the lists away in  a note-book. I didn’t read them again until Q-Day.

I kept the date in my mind, told everybody I was giving up on that date – some said “That’s awesome” and some said “We’ll see” but I knew I meant it.

I downloaded and set up a couple of Quit Smoking apps on my phone – I suggest you get a couple, because you may like one more than the other. I deleted all but my favourite after a week. The apps certainly help motivate you. Mine sent me a message every morning telling me how awesome I am.

On Q-Day I had about 5 smokes left and I gave up some time in the morning. I read through my lists again and kept busy. I started a scrapbook journal and spent the next few days decorating the pages. I took several showers, rubbing my arms and legs vigorously in an attempt to release the toxins. On the third day, I had a massage which was a help and a great reward.

I made myself accountable – I told everyone I knew, on Facebook and in real life. I created a Facebook Page called “Roz Can Do It” and people posted comments of support there for me. I wanted to feel that if I went out and bought a packed of smokes, someone would recognise me and ask me what the hell I was doing.

It worked. People were stopping me in the street asking me how it was going. (I live in a fairly small town). I felt that if I cheated, I would be cheating everyone, not just myself.

There are some tips you can put into practice:
*Move your chair etc from your regular smoking spot
*Drink bucket loads of water to flush out the toxins
*Don’t worry if you get the shakes or cry a lot, it will pass
*Fill a coffee jar with cigarette butts and a bit of water. When you feel a craving, stick your face in the jar and take a good sniff.
*Keep busy – make lists of things to do around the house if you need to.
*Try and avoid smokers for the first week at least. Take time of work if you can afford to.

My strategy seems to have worked – I am 200 days smoke-free and feeling great.

I have been snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef since quitting, something I would never have been able to do had I been smoking. It’s very important to reward yourself – save some of the money and treat yourself.

You deserve it!

P1000790
At Mackay Reef, March 2013.

The difference between a Con and an Abuser

Someone asked me today what the difference is. This is something I have wanted to write for a while and is my personal opinion only, based on my experiences with both types of people.

All cons are sociopaths, but not all sociopaths are cons.

Whilst every sociopath is the same in a lot of ways and ends up devastating your life if you are with him long enough, there is a difference between being abused and being conned. All sociopaths lack empathy and sense of consequence and all have a grandiose sense of self. They are all manipulative and controlling. Not all of them are clever enough to be cons though.

Mr Mean was mostly honest about who he was. He used his real name, I met his family, I spent time with them and saw where he lived. He was honest about where he worked and other than a few embellishments, most of his history was genuine. He twisted stories to make himself the victim, but over-all, his background was real.

He was narcissistic and verbally, as well as mentally, abusive- he did not put on an act, he was who he was. He withheld the truth a lot, but did not lie on a daily basis.

He was controlling and manipulative – he displayed 14 of the 15 characteristics of a verbal abuser, as defined by Patricia Evans in her book “The Verbally Abusive Relationship.” He was a mean, nasty man and hurt me over and over again but at least I knew the name of the man who was hurting me.

I am sure most of you have read the earlier posts on this blog about Mr Mean, so you are familiar with the story. When he left me, I was angry, in pain and isolated. It took me a long time to get over him but I got over him eventually. I recognised the abuse for what it was, once I educated myself and I ended the relationship. I did not blame myself, I knew that he was the one with the problems.

When he left, I knew where he was and who he was. I am not minimising the effect he had on my life at all, he left a trail of destruction, but I do not feel that he conned me. Sure, he lied to get himself out of trouble but I do not believe I was conned.

He did not make me mistrust people – I saw him for what he was – an abusive, angry, controlling, manipulative jerk. I knew I would be better off without him and there was a sense of relief once he was gone.

Andrew Harper is a con.

He entered my life with a fake name, a fake history and a fake life. 98% of what he said was a lie- in fact, he lied about things he didn’t even need to lie about.

He fabricated a history with a dead fiance, a family who had rejected him, women who were stalking him – all to make me feel so sorry for him, and I did. He lied about being a psychologist so that I would open up and share things with him that he could then use to control me. He lied about a military background, he lied about businesses he owned and his financial situation.

Based on those lies, I left my job to work on the Papercrafts Roadshow with him. He faked phone calls, he faked documents- he knew exactly what he was doing and his goal was to walk away with the cash from the Roadshow- and he did. His reasoning was that the deposited the money (my money) into his trust account to save me needing to declare the tax on the income. He told me to give him the bills and they would be paid. He hid the mail from me so I didn’t know the bills weren’t being paid. All this after he had assured me that he did not want my money, all he wanted was to see me succeed and reach my full potential.

He was a person who was playing a role, as if he was a character in a TV show. I fell in love with his character, but I never knew who he really was. I don’t believe I ever actually met Andrew John Harper.

He knew exactly what I wanted from a relationship and he gave that to me. He did not call me names, did not yell at me, never lost his temper- in fact, he was so lovely to me that I failed to see the abuse until he was long gone. I did not realise how controlling he was but he isolated me and manipulated me to a point where I felt that I could not survive without him.

I did not know he was leaving me. The morning that he left, he kissed me and hugged me and told me he loved me. He told me he would be back in a couple of days. I did not see him again, until 7 months later when we were on opposite sides of the dock in court.

For six months after he abandoned me, I did not know who he was, where he was, what he was doing or what he had done. The sense of betrayal was excruciating, at times almost unbearable. I considered ending my life because I believe that without him, I was nothing. I had made huge life decisions based on things he told me and the effect he had on my life will last forever. I blamed myself, I felt stupid and naive and completely gullible. I was not sure I would ever be able to trust myself again.

I question everything people tell me now, if something doesn’t quite add up I no longer give anyone the benefit of the doubt, I would rather save myself the potential pain. Andrew changed me in ways that I would never have imagined. I did not dream that I was being abused – in fact, after Mr Mean I thought he was my saviour and I felt valued and protected.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and all I can do now is to educate myself further and help other victims through the ConnedinAus Facebook group and the Conned in Australia blog.

One thing I do know for sure is that I would rather be alone for the rest of my life than allow another sociopath into my life.

Moving On….

I firmly believe that nothing new can come into your life, until you make room for it. When we get complacent and settle down, things seem to slow down. Well, I had ground to a complete halt. Something really drastic had to happen.

Through an almost unbelievable set of circumstances, I was offered a job with the newspaper in Mt Isa. It has meant sorting through my entire life and deciding what to keep, and what to give away. It is tough but so cathartic. I have a huge sense of leaving the past behind and moving forward. The act of cleaning out the house is a physical manifestation of what is happening inside me.

I am making room on the inside for new experiences, new challenges and new adventures.

I realised last week that I have been holding onto things, not because I actually need them or like them, but because they cost me something and because of that, have a certain perceived value.

I got a very clear analogy of my relationships with Mr Mean and AJH. I hung onto the relationships long after I knew there was something desperately wrong, because each relationship cost me in a different way and as such, I saw it as something valuable and worth fighting for. So I stayed because I had invested so much of myself into it. As a result, I lost a lot of money and a lot of me was almost destroyed.

Now I have the opportunity to start again. I realise that not many people get a chance like this, and I am extremely grateful.

Now it makes complete sense…almost….

I have been reading Lovefraud for a while now, and it is an incredibly helpful website. Today I read this:

A love bond is created by pleasure, and during the seduction phase of the relationship, the sociopath generates extreme pleasure for the target. However, addiction research has discovered that although pleasure is required to form a bond, pleasure is not required to maintain it. Even when a relationship starts to get rocky, normal people still feel bonded. Again, this is Nature’s way of keeping people together. If parents split up at the first sign of trouble, the survival of children would be in doubt.

Sooner or later, of course, relationships with sociopaths get rocky. Perhaps the sociopath engages in cheating, stealing or abuse. The sociopath’s actions create fear and anxiety in the target. But instead of driving the target away from the sociopath, anxiety and fear actually strengthen the psychological love bond.

So what do the targets do? They turn to the sociopaths for relief. The sociopaths may apologize profusely and promise to change their hurtful ways, reassuring the targets. The targets, feeling bonded to the sociopaths, want to believe the reassurances, so they do. Then the two people have sex, which reinforces the bond again.

From the target’s point of view, the relationship becomes a vicious circle of bonding, anxiety, fear, relief, sex and further bonding. The longer it goes on, the harder it is for the target to escape.

The result: For the target, the love bond becomes an addiction.

Scary stuff, although it explains a lot for me.  Thank you Love Fraud!

For a long time I could not understand why the break-up with Andrew was harder to deal with than any other break-up. Even after I knew and really faced the truth about him, there were things about him I missed.

Of course, that is exactly how he planned it.

The Garden

Every life is a garden, and you are the gardener.

Each garden is different- some are beautifully landscaped, planned and prepared with care, with thought going into each stage. Some seem to happen by accident with almost no planning, no thought and no preparation.

These gardens will always grow, something will always manage to live in almost impossible conditions…..but will they thrive?

There there are the plants, the people that fill our lives.

Each plant has its own place in the garden, some are beautiful trees and bushes that continually flourish and flower regularly, some never stop flowering. These are the steady, strong friendships we carry throughout our lives, year after year. Those family members and friends who strengthen us each day, without whom we could absolutely not survive. The bring life, hope and courage to our lives.

Be grateful for these plants in your garden, they are the anchor plants around which the rest of your garden grows.

There are plants that flower every so often, releasing their fragrance intermittently, those people who seem to move in and out of our lives, they pop in, we lose touch, we find them again and again they are gone. An email here, an sms there, they are always friends, even though we don’t contact them regularly but you always know that they will be there one day.

There are no guilt feelings, just joy at making contact every so often. When you see that flower blooming in your garden you know the blooms will not last, but you are sure they will be back soon.

Then there are the flowers that bloom quickly, and just as quickly fade away to nothing, never to return but the memory and the photographs remain.

These are the holiday romances, the school friends you lost touch with, the family members who passed when you were a young child, the friends you have for a certain period of your life but then lose contact with.

They enhance your life while they are there and when they are gone you remember them fondly. They each add something to your life, and when they are no longer around you feel grateful that you had the experience because you learnt something about yourself, and the world around you. And they brought you joy, even for a short period of time.

And then there are the weeds.

The plants that do not belong in your garden. Some can look pretty, some don’t look like weeds at all, but slowly over time they move in and start to choke your very existence.

These are the control freaks, the ones that want that want to tell you how to run your garden, the negative ones who drain you of all energy, the demanding, critical horrible people that just seem to make you miserable and sap the very life out of you.

In the beginning they may seem harmless, attractive even, but over time they just seem to create more damage and destruction as they take root in your life. If not dealt with, they will destroy everything you hold dear in your precious garden of life. These weeds need to be destroyed at the roots, so that they can leave and never return. They need to be cut off at the very core, so that they cannot infect you or your garden ever again, so you can return to enjoying everything you have created around you.

The key as a responsible gardener is to know which plant is which.

More about the church….

I thought last night about a couple of other situations with church leaders.

I was working for a couple who were home-group leaders, and ran a business. It was bizarre, we would have a prayer meeting every morning before work, and within 2 hours he would be screaming and swearing at customers on the phone. There were a few other issues that I had with them, including the way I was treated at work, and I went to the church for help.

At the very least, I expected to have a joint councelling session with them so that we could try and sort things out. Nothing was done, ever. I assume it was because they were tithing thousands of dollars a month and I was not.

If I missed a Wednesday night home group, Friday night prayer meeting, Saturday morning prayer meeting at 5am!!!!, Sunday morning service and Sunday evening service, I was accused of “Back-sliding” the next day at work. It felt like  was working for them AND the church. I just got sick of it, especially since my abusive husband had run our marriage into the ground, all the while pretending to the church that we were a perfect little family. It made me sick.

The last straw came when my best friend got into some trouble. I refused to ditch her as everyone else had done. It’s when we are our lowest that we need our friends the most, and I was there for her.

I was called in for a session with one of the leaders, who showed me some Bible versus that apparantly made it impossible for me to continue being her friend if I was a Christian. I told him and his wife in no uncertain terms that I would NEVER dump a friend in trouble, ever.

He told me that if I continued to be friends with her, I would be going to hell with her. I said to him:

“I would rather be in hell with my friends than in heaven with you bunch of hypocrites.”

I realised then that the relationship between me and the church was over.

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