Yes, Yes I Quit Smoking
Never Too Late
The Seed of all Evil
Smoking is like the seed of all evil, the pariah of all social life. When I smoked I was defensive about this blaming of cigarettes for all problems. When a co-worker broke her toe, I said, "How did that happen, she doesn't smoke." When a relative lost his job, I again said, "But he doesn't smoke." When my team lost the World Series, I said, "Somebody had a cigarette." If everyone would just quit smoking the earth's problems would be solved.
When I began to smoke in 1969, everyone smoked everywhere. I smoked in my hospital room when my baby daughter was born. Then in the seventies the bad press began. Smoking did this evil and smoking did that evil. Smokers began to feel the pressure and the squeeze. First I could no longer smoke at my desk at work. Then I could no longer smoke in my work building. I could no longer have a smoke with my coffee in a restaurant. Give me a break.
One favorite cigarette was always at half-time of my daughters basketball game. At first I smoked in a group right outside of the door to the gym. We re-hashed every play. Then I could not smoke within twenty feet of the door. I moved further away. By the time my daughter played her last game as a senior, I had to walk to my car to have a cigarette, and I had to smoke alone. Was the smoke worth it? Well, yes it was.
In the 1990's, my fellow smokers began to quit. Social gatherings became a bit painful when no one else lit up. Ash trays disappeared. If the occasion was important, I began to plan ahead as to how long I had to stay. I narrowed my social circle to the few remaining smoking friends. I liked to smoke. Smoking was something to look forward to.
Timing and Planning
The Beginning of the End
Health issues are generally the reason that rational people provide to avoid smoking or smoke. Not me. When my children developed allergies, sore throats, ear infections I did what had to be done. I took them to the doctor, and I bought antibiotic. I did not consider to stop smoking.
My spouse was diagnosed with diabetes. He quit smoking. I compromised. I quit smoking in the house. Somewhere in the 2000's my smoking area had narrowed to a table outside. In a blizzard, I could move to the garage. That was at home. At work, the smoking area was so far from the front door, I only had time to smoke at lunch. Often I was the only smoker in the area. What had once been a social event with friends had become a lonely habit. I recall distinctly the first time my boss's boss walked by and saw me smoking. He looked away. I was self-conscious and ashamed. I had not changed. The world changed around me. Life was not fair.
Then came the grandchildren. No smoking anywhere around those beautiful children. No smoking in the car they rode in. No smoking. No smoking. No smoking. I did become a more disciplined smoker because I enjoyed my grandchildren, and I wanted to be around them. Other than my family, I became socially isolated. I would rather stay home where I could go outside and have my coffee and a smoke. No one in my family smoked. They tolerated me. I had no friends who smoked. Smoking could not be worth the social isolation and embarrassment. Yes, yes smoking was worth it.
The Day Comes
Yes, I have quit smoking. I will not smoke again. I miss smoking. I would like to have a cigarette right now, but I am not. I honestly believed I would quit smoking when I died. So what after forty-six years motivated this life altering change?
This is the truth. I woke up one morning. Took my coffee cup with me to my smoking area, lit up as I had many thousands of times. This time as I felt the hit on my brain, I knew without a doubt that I had to quit. I was not sick. My family was reconciled to my habit. I had no friends. I was retired so work was no longer an issue. Now I quit.
I set a date. This was important to me to have a date and time. I mentally prepared for what would be the most challenging times. Those cravings will leap out and catch me. I can't smoke, so I must prepare. One example is cooking dinner. I start dinner then step onto the patio and have a half smoke. I know that I do this and have done this every evening for many years. I am going to want to do this the day I quit and the days following to infinity.
Avoidance works. I knew how irresistible would be that smoke. I would cave for that smoke. So for the first week I did not cook dinner. My husband can cook. He did so for a few days. We went to the park and ate subs. My daughter invited us over. So I faced that challenge after I had not had a cigarette for a week. I had enough time into the quit that I could resist. I can't smoke.
I talked occasionally with my ex-smoker sister-in-law. Yes, she was the last to desert me at family gatherings.Her experience was a more emotional roller-coaster than my experience. Sharing the experience helps.
I used gum as an aid for the first two months. I smoked for forty-six years. I was afraid of the headache I knew would come. So to begin I traded one form of nicotine for another. I knew cold turkey was not happening. The directions inside the package states that the consumer must want to quit. I did not want to quit. I still do not want to quit. The message in my head was that I had to quit. I have on one hand regretted quitting ever since. However, for me, the gum worked. The gum was easy to count. The gum was easy to quit.
I will not smoke because I can not smoke. The message inside my head on that morning was that I had to quit. Quit. So, I have.
Is it time yet?
Will you know when it is time for you to quit?
No Cold Turkey
Has there been an upside? Yes. I was able to check non-smoker on my Medicare health test. I did not have to walk a mile to find a place to smoke while attending my granddaughters track meet. I was able to take a flight across country without trying to sleep through the flight so I could land and have a smoke. My grandchildren are proud of me. My husband is proud of me. I no longer hang out by myself by the garbage cans while waiting for my dinner order.
I assume I am healthier. What I notice is focus or lack of focus. I still do not know for sure if nicotine helped me to focus or if nicotine breaks focus. I do know that for me, quitting shattered my focus. I am slowly regaining my concentration. At my age which is sixty-six, concentration requires some effort regardless. My hope is that I will soon find my concentration to be better than ever. I am told that with effort I will be better than ever.
I do find some extra cash in my grocery budget. That is pleasant.
Want to or not, know you must quit.
Set the date and time as an unbreakable appointment
Use an aid for the nicotine while unlearning the habit. Then stop the aid.
Talk about the experience with an ex-smoker. Laugh at yourself.
Maintain a support line
Yes, yes I have quit smoking. I was the last holdout. I expect the world to smile at me. I expect the nagging to stop. I expect the world to be a better place.