Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Disclaimer: I haven’t actually quit so my title isn’t exactly accurate. A better title would have been, “I’m going to quit.” It just doesn’t have the same ring to it. So, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m going to quit.
Not counting a few unremarkable, short-term quits and one three-month quit, I’ve been smoking for over 26 years. That’s a long time and a lot of money - not to mention what it’s done to me health-wise.
So, I’m quitting.
January 17, 2007.
No more smoking.
The thought of quitting smoking used to make me so sad. Seriously. I know it sounds ridiculous that the thought of stopping something so expensive and damaging and stinky and offensive to others would make a person sad but it did. I hated the thought of giving them up.
I enjoyed cigarettes. I did. I really did. I loved the way they tasted. I loved the way they smelled. I loved pulling that toxic smoke deep into my lungs only to exhale it in a smoky cloud around me. I tried to be considerate of non-smokers and was, mostly, successful. I smoked in my car and in my house. I used cigarettes to wake up and I used them to relax. Stressed? A cigarette just seemed to help. After a meal or with a drink was a wonderful time for a cigarette. Smoking while playing pool just seemed natural. I didn’t mind if someone smoked while I was eating. Aside from while I was sleeping or showering or having sex, any time seemed like a wonderful time for a cigarette.
During all of my adult life, cigarettes had been there for me – like a trusted friend. They were there for the good times and the bad - especially the bad. Cigarettes didn’t mind if it was the same old drama. Cigarettes didn’t care if it was 3 a.m. They were there when I was bored. They were there when I was nervous. They were always there.
So, the thought of giving them up made me very sad. I didn’t even want to think about it. I’d get panicky at the very thought of never smoking again. It made me want to go smoke. Then, the sadness went away for a while.
Sure, there were things about smoking I didn’t like. Standing outside in the cold to smoke sucked. Standing outside in the heat to smoke sucked. Riding anywhere with a non-smoker sucked. Getting out of the airport to smoke and then back in through security for connecting flights sucked. I hated having to do that evaluation on the way home: Do I have enough cigarettes to last until morning? Is my lighter running out? My car reeked of cigarette smoke. I’ve burned clothes and carpet. I hated when my granddaughter would reach out for me to hold her and I’d have to say, “Wait until Grannie puts out her cigarette.”
None of that seemed to matter. I still enjoyed smoking. I wanted to smoke. Even knowing the love of my life HATED it, DESPISED it, LOATHED it, DETESTED it…(where’s my thesaurus?)… I still wanted to do it. My son’s best friend lost his mother, Sandy, to lung cancer recently. She and I went to high school together. I still didn’t quit. I knew I needed to quit and I half-heartedly planned to quit but it made me sad. I was addicted, mentally and physically, and the mental addiction was what had me running to the store to buy more cigarettes.
I had to decide that I didn’t WANT to smoke anymore. I had to get to a point where I didn’t enjoy it. I had to have a plan so I could succeed.
I reached that point. I didn’t want to keep smoking. I’d tried and succeeded (for three months) once. I’d tried and failed numerous times. I knew what worked and what didn’t.
I picked a date: January 17, 2007
Why that day? I’m not a New Year’s Day resolutions kind of person. I knew I wouldn’t have time to get to my doctor before the end of the year. I wanted to quit on a Wednesday because I play pool, in bars, on Tuesday nights. I wanted a full week of not smoking behind me before I faced big temptation.
I went to my doctor on January 4 and got a prescription for Zyban and started taking it. I know it helps. I know it makes cigarettes taste awful. I need the cigarettes to taste awful as I quit. I also got a prescription for a Nicotrol inhaler. If I get a really bad craving, I can get a “hit” of nicotine without all the other bad stuff in cigarettes.
I’m ready. I don’t want to smoke anymore. I’m tired of getting bronchitis every year. I want to de-stench my car and my house and my clothes. I want to stay inside when it’s cold. I want to sit and talk after a meal instead of rushing out so I can grab a smoke. I want the love of my life to LIKE how I smell. I want to pick up my grandchildren as soon as the reach out to me. I don't want my kids or parents sitting in a funeral home as people walk by and say how sorry they are.
I have Zyban. I have the inhaler. I have carrots. I have celery. I have gum. I have water. Thanks to a wicked smaht lady I know who recently quit, I also have tic-tacs. She says they help. Most of all, I have resolve and determination. I’m thinking like a non-smoker. I don’t love my cigarettes anymore and I’m looking forward to laying them down forever.