Today, dear readers, marks six months since I embarked on my most successful attempt to quit smoking since I started just about 15 years ago. I’m proud of myself and the people close to me are too but I won’t pretend it has been an easy or pleasant experience. It was very hard and I learned a lot about myself in the process. Here are my feelings on being smoke-free so far:
Every was right, cigarettes smell horrible. I never noticed very much before. I mean I knew I smelled bad right after I smoked but I didn’t think I did all day. When I first quit, when my sense of smell began to return to normal, the smell of cigarettes triggered cravings. Slowly the smell began to revolt me. I get why people do everything they can to keep smokers far away and out of smelling range.
There can be a social life outside of “The Smoking Area”. It might sound weird but my biggest road block to quitting was my fear of being alone. The smoking area of any workplace is where all the fun happens. It’s where people let loose and say all the things they can’t inside in front of the boring nonsmokers. It was hard giving that up but I actually enjoy the quiet time away from the loud mouths now.
I have so much more free time! When I quit I knew I needed to find something to do with all the time I used to fill up with cigarettes. Boredom is a chance for the addiction to wear you down so you have to avoid it at all costs. I started learning Spanish and putting more time into writing. More to be proud of :)
I can buy so many things now! I can now justify almost any purchase to myself and my girlfriend by simply saying “Well, I did quit smoking, so not only do I deserve this but I can probably afford it too.” I try to be careful so I don’t end up substituting a shopping addiction for the smoking but it is nice to have things to show for my money now.
My anxiety over the adverse health effects of smoking is at an all-time high. When I did smoke I didn’t worry about cancer much. My mind always pushed my worries away. My addiction made me think it wasn’t going to happen to me. Since I’ve cut my dependence on nicotine I realize I will probably pay a price for 15 years of smoking eventually and it scares the shit out of me.
Human emotions are not easy to work through. Before, when I got angry, sad, frustrated, lonely, or felt any unpleasant emotion, I could just have a cigarette (or two) and everything would be better. Now I have to actually deal with my feelings and find a way to work through them. I have to say of al the struggles I have gotten through since I quit this is what I am most proud of. I can face my feelings now without nicotine.
Nicotine affects you physically, and quitting can have unexpected results. My body was used to a regular dose of nicotine and other chemicals almost every day for most of my adult life. When I cut that supply my body felt it. I was very tired for the first week or two. I developed a cough and a runny nose. The returning circulation left my hands and feet feeling tingly and numb for days. Most of that has passed by now and I feel much better now than I used to.
Anyone can quit. I am fighting the urge to become one of those ex-smokers who lectures people who have chosen not to quit at this time. I hear smokers saying “I just can’t quit right now.” or “I have tried before and it’s too hard.” I get it. I probably tried at least six or nine times before this one. The only thing that was different this time was I knew all the reasons I thought I couldn’t do it was adjust my addiction lying to me. Evey step of the way I told myself I could do this and I did. That was it.
I don’t regret quitting at all. I did for a long stretch of the past six months, though, I’m not going to lie. I missed it a lot. I didn’t like all the changes I had to make. I didn’t like feeling grouchy and uncomfortable. I didn’t like not have my friend and security blanket. I didn’t like not having a way to escape things that were making me uncomfortable. Now though, now I know it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I have a long way to go still. I am still tempted every so often. If I become too emotionally distressed or if I am outside enjoying some nice weather, the thought that a cigarette would be really good occurs to me. In those moments, I remember the feeling a good cigarette gave me. Instant relaxation. I am able to push the craving away easily but I think it will be a long while before those thoughts stop coming to me at all.
I did this and you can too.