March 4th, 2013 – my first full day without a cigarette in as many years as I can remember. I can remember those first 3 or 4 weeks pretty clearly; I won’t lie, they weren’t easy. At times they were hell. And yet, somehow here I am a year later: happier, healthier, and I haven’t had a single ‘relapse’ cigarette. Not even a drag.
This isn’t a reformed smoker rant – I hate those people, too – it’s something that I truly hope just helps ONE person go through this crappy quitting thing. That would make me happy.
Before I tell you how I made it, I think first I’ll share with you who I was. I was the ultimate smoker. I’m sure every smoker says that, but I truly was. I believed I would die smoking. Quitting was way too hard – I had tried countless times – I enjoyed smoking so much, I had convinced myself dying from some crappy smoking-related illness was worth it. I had even started mentally preparing for it… I couldn’t convince myself I was “young” any more, but I could convince myself that I had had a pretty wonderful life, and it could end tomorrow and I’d be satisfied. I smoked a pack a day at my worst, and most of a pack any other day of the year. I smoked with coffee in the morning, and sometimes while I was making the first coffee. I smoked while I walked to the train station, and while I walked from central to work. I smoked another quick one before I started. I called morning tea “smoko” because that made it okay. I smoked several at lunch, and anything after knock-off was fair game. I smoked when I was busy, and I smoked to kill boredom. I smoked to kill hunger, and later when I’d eaten, I’d smoke because I was too full. I smoked just before bed (but never IN bed) but occasionally got up through the night to have one. Some of that is shameful – but this is the honest me, and I know it’s plenty of other smokers, too.
I don’t even know what triggered my very sudden ‘attempt’ at quitting a year ago. I had already tried so many times… the ‘cutting down’ method (that never works) – patches, purging — blah blah blah. I did the right things, but I never once thought the right things. Then, in March 2013, with no great planning, preparation or fanfare, I said a few things to myself.
I am sick of paying for cigarettes. I am sick of putting money in the pockets of rich men who keep making this shit for me. I am sick of scratching around for a few spare dollars when things are tight, only to spend them on smokes. I am sick of feeling so utterly desperate for something that I know will kill me. I am so utterly tired of remembering how fit and healthy I used to be, yet knowing in my heart I’d struggle to sprint 100 meters. I love smoking – but I’m just so utterly sick of needing it, wanting it, knowing I’ll die for it. I’ve had enough.
There were no grand plans or schemes this time. No promises, no goals, no pressure. I was done and that was that. That doesn’t mean it was easy; it was hell. The cravings came… but they went, too. They came hard and fast, but they went away, too. They left me sweating and swearing and raving and desperate – then suddenly they were gone. Ebbs and flows – those first three or four weeks weren’t easy, but that’s all it was. 28 days, and my body was free. Now I had to get that shit out of my head.
Well, I can honestly say 365 days later: I’m still not 100% there. Every 4 or 5 weeks I get a bit of a pang. I’ll walk past someone smoking in the street and my nostrils flare & my fingers twitch . And the loveliest thing about that is – I don’t want one. I still love the idea of smoking and I still don’t hate the smell of it (people are telling me I will – and I still don’t believe them!) – but I don’t physically want one, and there’s no way in hell I’d put one in my mouth. Like an alcoholic – I’ll be a smoker until the day I die – I just won’t smoke.
A year later and a few days shy of my thirty-seventh birthday – I am so damn proud of this achievement; because I alone know how hard the battle was for me. Now I’m running every morning, and I’m out in the ocean at least a few times a week. I’ve saved every dollar I would have spent smoking in a separate account, and let me tell you, it is absolutely vile how quickly that money adds up. I went to London and back on that money. I met the love of my life, and now she lives with me here in Australia, and with a little luck, I’ll live to have her beside me when I’m 102.
Quitting is shit – it’s among the hardest things I’ve ever had to do – but it’s not impossible.
If it helps, visit/call QuitNow in Australia 13 78 48 – personally, I ended up discovering that I had to do it by myself, for myself. All the support & encouragement in the world didn’t help until I realised how much I wanted it out of me for myself. All I want to say to you (or someone you know) is – it is possible, you can do it – I know this, because I made it.
So: go on, try again to get that shit out of your life. I’d say “don’t give up” – but I really want you to.
If you want to talk about it with me, or ask me for tips or how you can help a friend – leave a comment and I’d love to know I’ve reached someone, somewhere!