How I quit smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day
For some 28 years, I had been hooked to smoking like a furnace, and smelled like one too. Back then, in university, it was real cool to smoke. Almost everyone did, and those who didn't were 'not in'.
I started with a stick, smoked after dinner on my parents' 2nd floor balcony, where the wind could blow the smoke away. Inhaling hurt my head, the smoke hurt my nose and throat. But I continued to smoke and increased frequency. In 5 years, when I started to work, I was smoking a pack of Marlboro reds a day. For a year or so during & after my first pregnancy, I did stop smoking "for the sake of my daughter". I continued to smoke for the next 23 years, and built up to 2 packs a day, having short clean periods when I had colds. I'd try to extend these "dry"spells, but I always ended taking up the habit again.
In a way, I was outwardly proud of my smoking, as if it was a life achievement. Yet deep inside, I wanted to kick it off my system. I was starting to weaken. My dad hated my smell as I tended to him on his deathbed. The scent stuck to all my clothes. Some of my officemates would stick pictures of blackened lungs on the corkboard beside my desk, or in my drawer. And my daughters were getting paranoid they'd get cancer in their teens from inhaling second hand smoke. I know I tried my best to quit, but my will just seemed to be totally uncooperative. I'd go 'clean' for a few weeks, only to start again. Those episodes started to become a boring series of failed attempts.
Accepting the problem and asking for help
Strange things do happen. About 20 years since I lit that first stick of cigarette in my parents' home, I started to seriously look for ways to stop smoking. I started to dance again, and eventually teach dance, hoping the necessity to keep fit would inspire me to keep off the smokes. Yet, I always reverted back to a habit that I was starting to really detest.
Then in 1998, I surfed the net, looking for other people who had kicked the habit, to learn how they did it, and if I could perhaps copy their experience. I left several pages open at a time, and clicked on a vaguely familiar name - Eckankar. I knew I'd seen it before, and it felt as if I had known it for ages. I was intrigued by words that seemed to rise from the screen, engrossing words that seemed to mirror beliefs I didn't realize I had till then. I stuck on the point that God sends messages to each one of us through the Holy Spirit in the form of words that we read, or conversations with others, or some other form. I felt a peculiar lightness and knowingness as I read and openly accepted Eckankar's basic philosophy, so much so that I felt the urge to resume my research on spirituality which I had started almost a decade earlier. Eventually, I requested Eckankar for a free intro book.
I continued to check out another site, and as I stretched out for a break, I realized that I had not smoked a cigarette for more than an hour. My last one, I estimated, was right before I clicked on the Eckankar website. Right there and then, I resolved to quit smoking (again, for the nth time)., This time however, I consciously called on my God to help me do it. I practically verbalized my plea: Please dear God, I really want to quit this terrible bad habit, which I've been trying to for so many years. Maybe with your help, I can finally do it. No, I believe that with your help I can finally do it. Surely I haven't been able to stop smoking on my own. But I know you can actually help me. Please God, help me quit smoking now. Thank you for your help in advance. I repeated my plea in various words over the next minutes. And for the first time, I knew I'd be able to finally quit smoking.
The Turning Point
As I telepathically talked with God, I cleaned out my ashtray of cigarette butts into the wastebasket. Knowing I had to put in my share of the work as I asked for God's help, I threw in the ashtray too. I hesitated a second before I took the rest of the unlit cigarettes, broke and mashed each one and threw them in with the ashes and crumpled packs. Next I went through my drawers to collect all my lighters, matches, and rest of the remaining 6 packs of cigarettes. I opened each one, still talking with God, asking for support and strength, promising that I will try to do my part, broke each cigarette, and threw them in with the rest. I now ended. with a basket full of mashed unlit cigarettes. Temptation was starting to set in. I got the urge to reach into the basket for a fairly intact stick. I stood up, took the basket, walked down the 4 flights of stairs from my loft to the ground floor of our condominium building, and emptied my basket into the huge trash bin.
I gave the basket a last hard knock to make sure every single cigarette was in the bin. Then I heaved a big sigh, and could feel myself patting myself on the back. "Great girl, you did it." But soon as took the first step up the stairs, I felt remorse, and questioned myself why I did such a stupid thing. Then this other part of me started shooing the remorse away. I talked to God in my mind again, as I struggled up the stairs. When I reached the door, I knew for sure that I had passed my first test. I wondered though how many more tests I'd have to hurdle.
Thanks for the reminders
The next day, I told my husband about my action the night before, hoping he and my daughters would help me in case I am tested to light a stick. i also informed my friends about my decision. I soon noticed that smokers now refrain from smoking in my presence, or at least stood up and walked to the far end of the table, not that I ever asked them to do so. Who really knows why they acted/reacted the way they did. It just seemed as if I had a "no smoking" sign on my forehead.
Turned out that I did not have any more major smoking tests/temptations, or perhaps I did not see the tests as hard ones. I continue to hang on the fact that I had asked my God for help as I admitted my limitation and surrendered the outcome of my efforts to Him. In return I just had to live up to my own promise.
In the 10 years since I admitted my inability to quit my cigarette addiction, I remember having been tested no less than 4 times, all in my dreams, in various occasions when a friend or an acquaintance would offer me a cigarette. The first test came some months after I actually quit. I took the proffered stick, put it in my mouth, lit a match but did not light the cigarette. I had remembered my promise to God just in time. On the second test, about a year later, I stuck the cigarette in my mouth, but never lit it. The third test came on the fourth year, and the final one was on the 7th or so year. In both dreams, I sat among smokers, not a bit tempted nor bothered.
Today, our home is totally smoke-free. My husband quit 5 years ago. I feel my lungs have opened and cleared up. I have joined and enjoy singing with our alumnae chorale singing and dancing for charity. My husband has taken to biking regularly. Our noses are much more sensitive now to a variety of wonderful scents and odors. I am aware that my clothes smell much better now, and surely I do too.
We maintain our original circle of friends, but we have also many new friends who don't smoke. Perhaps we have attracted people with similar tastes and preferences into our lives. But that's what we do everyday; we attract those we share similiarities with into our space. Now that's for another story.
A Clearer Road Ahead
I've also since joined Eckankar, and have allowed the Holy Spirit to take full control of my life. I realize now that God does listen to sincere fervent prayers. I now know too that when I decided to take the first step back home, God made sure that my smokey hazy blinders were taken off, helping me see the stony, stormy path ahead.