I Quit Smoking, You Can Too!!!
On January 1st, 2012, I will be celebrating three "smoke-free" years. While it took only one small puff to get me hooked, it was years before my addiction finally turned into aversion. Although my journey to freedom took more effort and determination than can be gained from merely reading an article, I believe the story of my success can help those trying to kick the habit. If you're ready to say goodbye to cigarettes, I'm here for you! You have the power to take back control of your life...
For almost 20 years, cigarettes ruled my life. I loved them. Cigarettes made me feel better when I was sad and eased my temper when I was mad. They went excellent with cocktails, helped settle my stomach after meals, and were the perfect companions on my drive to work. Smoking was, somehow, a positive pastime. I believed it kept me from gaining weight, made me more alert, and brought happiness to my lunch breaks. I even thought smoking looked attractive (despite the posters of lung cancer and yellow teeth plastered through my memories of middle school.) For years, I told people that I "wasn't a quitter" and that I was "going to die anyway," so why not enjoy? I dedicated little pieces of my existence specifically to the habit, and I defended my right to smoke like a lioness protecting her cub. I was a true smoker.
Love is Blind
Looking back, I don't think I ever realized how terrible my quality of life was. Besides the damage to my health, smoking was ruining my life. My pack-a-day habit was costing me over $1,800 a year, and the chain-smoking during drinking sessions only made my throat ache (along with my head) the next morning. My breath, clothes, car, and possessions reeked of stale tobacco even when I didn't have one lit. When I was upset or angry, I would smoke twice as much (even more if I was depressed) which made me hack and cough like a coal miner. Worst of all, I never really got to enjoy anything without smoke in my lungs. I couldn't read a book, go to the beach, have a glass of wine, or even play a hand of poker without the urge to light up. My relationship with cigarettes was extremely abusive and detrimental, yet I strengthened the addiction by making excuses for why smoking was so vital to my lifestyle.
When you're an addict, your addiction takes precedence over everything else. Your priorities are skewed and your perception is clouded, but you'll defend your right to free will like some tight-wad corporate lawyer. The only way to truly break free is to let go. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually--- just let go.
Much like a heartbroken lover in a bad relationship, you must move on. For most people, this break-up may take several tries, as wounded lovers sometimes reunite and rekindle (only to find they were never really compatible in the first place). Unfortunately, you will also have to cope with seeing your ex against the lips of another. Yet, as the days go by, you will learn to love your freedom more and more. You will learn to appreciate fresh air and relish in the joy of moonlit night without smoke. One day, you will see the truth. And like that famous green flash on a special sunset, you will embrace a miracle.
Opportunities for a miracle come by more often than you'd think. Although it's hard to capture them when you don't know what to look for, it's completely impossible if you blind yourself to the possibilities. My miracle came on New Year's Eve of 2008.
In the midst of our routine firework bonanza, my group of friends made a unified resolution- we were all going to quit smoking at the stroke of midnight. Six extremely addicted smokers would finally kick the habit in honor of the new year.
In the end, three of us are still smoke-free today (my husband & I, and our friend Rae). While our fellow resolution-makers did quit smoking for sporadic periods of time (some more than others), we were the half that embraced the miracle of a life without cigarettes. Thankfully, we were the half that successfully let go.
Strength and Support
I can honestly say I couldn't have done it without the support of my loved ones. Fear of disappointment can be a strong motivator! B (my husband) was a wonderful role model. Not having much of an addictive personality to begin with, B let go without even flinching. He was my rock- a constant reminder that no addiction was as strong the human mind. I must admit, there were days when I wished he would crack just so I'd have an excuse to smoke. Luckily, he never did.
We replaced our usual smoking routines with daily walks and other fun activities, and we praised each other in daily doses. B gave me the strength I needed when I felt compelled to give up. Mental readiness, spiritual strength, and a ton of genuine support was our recipe for success.
Sadly, it was much harder for Rae. Her husband broke the resolution about an hour after it had started and continued to smoke during her recovery process. Although she suffered a relapse, Rae came back with more determination than ever. I sent her daily texts and awarded her weekly and monthly prizes (i.e., lunch) as an incentive for her to keep going. In spite of her husband's continued cigarette use, Rae remains happily smoke-free. Another miracle embraced!
Starting a New Life
The smoker's lifestyle is a hard routine to break. Killing an addiction to cigarettes is a physically and mentally draining process. In fact, because of the withdrawal period and the high potential for relapse, quitting smoking is often compared to kicking a heroin addiction. My method? Cold turkey!
New Year's day without smoking was a breeze for me. After hours upon hours of popping fireworks and inhaling the toxic fumes, I didn't want to be anywhere near a cigarette. My lungs burned hellfire, and I was glad not to be smoking! However, the days that followed were difficult (to say the least).
Even though my body was finally getting fresh air, I started hacking up disgusting chunks of phlegm. I became irritable, argumentative, and whiny. All the while, my cravings got progressively worse. Still, I managed to fight through each tough moment. Trying to find ways to occupy my mind and my hands, I began to write more. I also replaced smoking with exercise during the day and hot tea at night. After about three months of hard work, I found myself being able to make it through the day without thinking about how much I wanted a cigarette. Once I hit that mentality, I was home-free!
By the time I hit the year mark, even a small hint of cigarette smoke disgusted me. Whenever I would encounter the familiar stench of cigarette, my face would scrunch up as if I had detected a fart. I found it truly amazing that something I had desired so badly was now the object of my hatred.
Although I can tolerate being around a smoker, I definitely don't enjoy the experience. In many ways, it is like being around that ex-lover you're glad you escaped. You don't want to be rude, so you ignore the urge to tell them to get lost. No reminiscing about your days and nights together, no seductive smiles---just a numb lump of crap where your passion used to be. And, instead of wondering what went wrong, you shout a mantra in your head ...
What the F*#K was I thinking?!?!
Although it took a while, I finally saw the truth. Once upon a time, I thought cigarettes helped calm me down when I was aggravated. But now I realize it was really just the thinking I did while smoking that put me back on a positive track. Since quitting, I've actually lost weight instead of blowing up like a balloon. Unlike my former smoke-addicted self, I actually look forward to being active. My skin has improved, my teeth are healthier, and I don't have the nightly coughing fits anymore. My sense of smell (and taste) has tremendously improved, and I've noticed that I don't drink as much anymore. Sure, I still must endure the stress of life, but I've found that my coping skills are much better without the need for nicotine. Not to mention, quitting smoking has helped me deal with the financial burdens of a rough economy.
The cost of cigarettes in Hawaii has risen by over $3.00 per pack since I quit! The money I saved by quitting has helped with the bills while pay cuts and furloughs continue to ravage my paycheck. Had I still been smoking, I might not have had the opportunity to write this. I just might have chosen cigarettes over the internet. Of course, I'd still be short. Glad I don't have to worry about that anymore!
It's Your Sunset...
While it is true that everyone has a different struggle with cigarette addiction, anyone can quit. You are the master of your own hopes, dreams, fears, boundaries, and biases. Only you know what motivates you to obtain excellence. Harness the power of your passion and use it as a tool to sever your bond with cigarettes. It's time to say goodbye to a rotten lover. Your sunset awaits.
Embrace the miracle...
Websites to Help You Quit
- CDC - How to Quit Smoking - Smoking & Tobacco Use
Links to government and other resources with helpful information and strategies on how to quit tobacco use.
Smokefree.gov can help you or someone you care about quit smoking. The information and professional assistance available on this Web site can help to support your needs as you quit smoking. Created by the Tobacco Control Research Branch of the Nation
- » 10 Tips for Quitting Smoking :zenhabits
10 helpful tips for quitting smoking
- Guide to Quitting Smoking
This guide can help you quit smoking. Printable version available for download.
- Slideshow: 13 Best Quit-Smoking Tips Ever
Quitting smoking is not easy. WebMD offers some practical tips to help you break your nicotine addiction and kick the cigarette habit for good.
Hubs to Help You Quit
- How to stop smoking effectively
How to stop smoking effectively. Read the various methods to stop smoking. Smoking is bad for health.
- Quitting Smoking - Tips to Stop Smoking
Quitting smoking is one of the biggest challenges to human willpower. Like any other addiction, the quitting of it will cause actual physical and mental reactions in the body. For anyone quitting smoking, tips to stop smoking are always welcome. ...
- How To Quit Smoking: 5 Easy Tips
My last article covered 10 reasons you should stop smoking. They were somewhat unconventional, but let’s face it, most of us indulge in a healthy degree of vanity. I listed those reasons in hopes it might appeal on a level that matters to smokers...
- How to Quit Smoking When You Really Want To Stop
This is a lighthearted sincere post about a significant and perhaps serious problem for smokers who 'can't quit'. This remedy may be the one that will resolve your dilemma, and will cost you almost nothing, will not sign you up for anything (except..