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Going on 2 Years Since I Quit Smoking…

On August 2nd, 2013 I quit smoking.  I hadn’t planned on quitting at the time.  I had always figured I would quit after I lost some weight and started dating again.  I had quit once when I was dating a girl back in the ’90’s.  She didn’t like the smell and didn’t like kissing me if I had smoked. Since I like kissing more than smoking, I quit.  I did smoke a few times when she wasn’t around but if I was in a serious relationship I always figured I’d quit for good. Of course the moment we broke up I started smoking.  Well, that’s not completely true.  It was shortly after I had spent an unspeakable amount of time curled up in the fetal position, crying on the shower floor.  But, when I eventually my true love, she would help me and I would want to quit for her.

Also, I kept not losing loosing weight and everyone I knew that had quit smoking gained a lot of weight.  So, I used that as an excuse.  I would start working out and lose the weight first.  Well, that never really happened.  I just kept gaining wight.  So what made me quit? It’s hard to say.

I knew that it was bad for me.  Around that time I was finally able to afford health insurance.  I had discovered that I was pretty much on the path for a heart attack.  My blood pressure was off the charts.  Literally.  I found out I had Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and to top it all off I was suffering from severe sleep apnea.  My doctor had told me that between my high blood pressure and lack of restful sleep over the past decade or more he was surprised I hadn’t just snapped!

It was a lot to handle all at once and there was a certain amount of denial of it all.  It didn’t last too long, a day or two maybe as adjusted to the fact that my eating habits had to change.  I smoked a lot those first few days to cope.  I just wasn’t ready to quit.  I loved smoking.  Sure I hated to smell like that but I worked from home, I almost never left the house and smokers can’t really smell their own stink.  I knew I needed to quit but I just wasn’t ready.

a lot of anti-smoking commercials on TV at the time and those thing did nothing but piss me off and make me smoke more.  There were plenty of times I considered quitting and then one of those dumb fucking commercials came on and I would go outside and smoke

There were also a lot of anti-smoking commercials on TV at the time and those thing did nothing but piss me off and make me smoke more.  There were plenty of times I considered quitting and then one of those dumb fucking commercials came on and I would go outside and smoke one as my personal “fuck you” to those “truth” campaigns that used negativity and shamming thinking that would actually make someone want to quit.  Those idiots.   All they want to do is shame those that don’t think like they do.

There were a few “quit smoking” commercials that did make me feel like quitting.  They were positive commercials, they didn’t try to scare me into it.  They didn’t try to shame me, they just suggested that I could do it and if I needed help they could help me.  I am talking about those “Celebrate” commercials with the tiny band.  Some random person gets asked out on a smoke break and passes on it.  He looks down and the tiny band is playing.  Loved that!  It actually made me want to quit.  Another one I liked was for some 800 number.  An animated guy character wants to quit but can’t.  He thinks he’s a failure but the narrator convinces him to call for counseling or something.  Whatever it was, it motivated me as well.

On August 1st 2013 I was at the store.  I passed some of that nicorette gum.  I had bought one of those eCigs.  It wasn’t too bad.  I used it a little.  My thinking in that moment was that if I can just cut back a little, I will have an extra hundred bucks for my trip to Laughlin in a three weeks that I had been planning.  I purchased the gum, went home and planned on having some the next morning.

The morning of August 2nd, I popped that gum in my mouth and I thought, “Why don’t see how long I can go without smoking today?”  I still hadn’t planned on quitting.  It was difficult but I made it about 4 hours and it was starting to get to me.  So I had some more gum instead of smoking.  I made it all day.  I thought, well, let’s see if I can make it another day.  The first few weeks were agony.  Smoking was all I thought about.  I found a few trick that helped.  Like I would take Red Vines, bite off both ends, take 4 or 5 of them out to my smoke break spot and and take drags off of them as if they were cigarettes. It actually seemed to appease my brain a little.

I had only taken the gum twice.  I knew that it’s not really the nicotine that is the problem with quitting.  As I understand it, the addictive properties of it only stay in your system for about 48 hours.  The sooner I got it out of my system the better it would be. What is hard about quitting is breaking the habit.  When you smoke, it’s the habit that get’s you.  My life evolved around my smoke breaks.  I had a smoke break every one to two hours accept for when I slept.  Going outside to take those fake smoke breaks with my Red Vines saved my life.  I only did that for maybe a week or so.  And, over that time I did it less and less.

So, this August 2nd it has will have been 2 years and I haven’t cheated once.  I have been through all the situations that I would make me smoke.  Stress, sitting at the blackjack tables, playing slots, going out to bars and social events, being awake.  I have not had a single cigarette.  I have had dozens of dreams that I smoked and I always wake up suddenly like it was a nightmare.  For a few moments I am so disappointed in myself that I smoked until I realize it was just a dream.

I still think about from time to time.  I loved it so much it.  Smoking had always been there for me.  It was like a friend to me.  Friends, family, they aren’t always there for you but that cigarette never let’s you down.

I still think about from time to time.  I loved it so much it.  Smoking had always been there for me.  It was like a friend to me.  Friends, family, they aren’t always there for you but that cigarette never let’s you down.  The great thing about it now is that I see people smoking in their cars and I smile.  I am so glad my car doesn’t smell like that anymore.  I don’t smell like that anymore.  The smell is so gross and everyone once and while I pass someone who reeks of it.  It makes me happy that I’m not that person anymore.

It’s also nice that I can take a deep breath and actually fill my lungs with air.  I couldn’t do that when I smoked.  No matter how deep of a breath I took I could never get that full capacity feeling.  Now, I can take a long deep breath and it feels great.  I am so glad I quit.  The funny part is that I wasn’t at first.  One of the hardest parts about not smoking was that I really liked it, as I mentioned.  I hadn’t quit for my health.  I didn’t quit because it made me stink.  I just quit because I wanted to save some money and that I knew it would be good for me.  But, that whole good for me part, wasn’t a big motivator at the time.

When it comes right down down to it, I think the real reason I stayed quit was because it became like a challenge or a dare to me.  Can I make it one more day.  One more week.  But, those first few months I so wanted to smoke.  Sometimes I would make it several hours and not think about it.   The next day, the thought of smoking consumed me every minute.  It was so strange.

Another thing to consider is that I really thought a lot about why I was smoking.  What made me want to smoke when I knew it was bad for me.  I knew that it made me smell.  I knew it could cause erectile dysfunction and to be honest I think it did a little?  Regardless, knowing why I smoked, helped me.  I had thought about this for years before I actually quit and never really had a good answer, the best answer I ever come up with was that I just liked smoking.

Then it dawned on me, that was it.  There wasn’t a deep physiological reason.  I just enjoyed it.  Smoking had become like a friend to me.  In some strange way it understood me.  It was there for me.  Sure it had it’s downsides but those cigarettes were never not there for me.  They calmed me, they always made me feel better.  Realizing that greatly increased the probability of success because once you know why you do something you can deal with it.  Those cigarettes weren’t real people.  They didn’t care back.  I think this is true for a lot of people.  Smoking in someways is crutch for us.  You can get rid of that trust in smoking.  Give that trust to a person.  Give it to something real that can talk back to you.  Give it to someone that cares for you.

I understand now why people have a hard time quitting.  I think it’s because they don’t fully understand what is happening to them mentally and physically.  No one seems to explain it properly and between the habit and the addiction, if you don’t understand what your mind and body are going through, it’s almost impossible to quit.

If you’re reading this and you’re smoker.  If you want to quit, you can.  I didn’t want to quit and I quit.  You can too.  But, if you do, don’t do it because you feel shame.  Fuck those companies that are trying to shame you.  They are scumbags, that like “truth” group, I should file suit against them.  So many times I had thought of quitting but then I’d see one of their stupid shamming ads and I would get so pissed off and offended I’d start smoking again.  So find the positive things and focus on them.  No needs the negativity.

Here’s my best advice:

  • Stay positive.
  • Understand that there are 2 parts to quitting.  One is the actual addiction.  Two is the habit.  You have got to understand that they are two very different things.  One is a chemical addiction.  It’s your bodies craving to a drug it’s no longer getting.  The habit is a more of a mental thing.  It’s the hardest part to deal with.  The chemical addiction only lasts a few days, the habit lasts for at least a month.  The best way to break a habit is to replace it with something else.  But, in my opinion don’t replace it with a singular thing.  When you feel the urge to smoke, take that “Smoke Break” but don’t smoke.  Do some push ups, chew some gum, get up and walk around.  Do it for about the same amount of time that would you normally take a smoke break.  Change it up each time.  But, take those 5 minute “smoke breaks” when you need them.  It really helps.  Soon, you won’t need them at all.
  • Talk to some friends or a friend. Confide in them.  Ask them if you can call them from time to time for support.  I didn’t do that.  But, there were a great many times I had wished there was someone I could talk to to.  I think it would have helped.  There were some people in my life that I could have and did talk to but there was some surprisingly dark thoughts and I didn’t feel comfortable sharing those.  So find someone that is going to love you even when you want to rip their head of for no good reason.
  • Don’t join a program like AA unless you feel that you have no choice.  These programs aren’t run by professionals usually.  They are run by former addicts that somehow managed to move past it without ever dealing with or understanding the underlying reasoning for their addiction.  This means, they are at risk of failing again.  You are not powerless, there is no “higher power” and don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. You are the power to quit.  Talk to real people, professionals and friends.  No imaginary friend is going to help you.  But, if you simply must go that route then find a teddy bear or the like and talk to it.  The benefit it that, is it’s real, you can hug it, touch and talk it to it.  Sure it’s not going to talk back but neither is an imaginary friend.  And, if your imaginary friend does talk back to you, seek help immediately.