Well, I have done it, I am a quitter.
As of today, I have been free of the nicotine monster for 1 year! It has not been easy and I’m surprised my husband is still alive. That poor guy, I decided to quit smoking AND to cut off caffeine completely, on the same day. Bless his heart.
I started smoking when I was 14 (yeah yeah yeah, I wanted to be”cool”, stupid excuse) It started pretty slowly, it is not like people are jumping in a line to purchase a pack of cigarettes for a kid. I had just gotten my first job and I was only 14, I had no bills so I was able to keep my $6.75/hr wage to myself and spend as I please; it would go to clothes (the more expensive ones with way less fabric than my parents would ever buy me) issues of Cosmopolitan Magazine (I had no idea what half the stuff meant but I would read it just because I could) and cigarettes.
I remember my very first cigarette. I went to a small private (Christian) school and there was a group of boy cousins who also attended. (It was like an old school, one-room school house. We were all between 9-12 grade but we shared a classroom). All the cousins smoked and 2 of them were super cute (that’s where the trouble begins). Being that my mom was a teacher there, I didn’t really get picked on, but they defiantly made little comments to me here and there. We would all go outside during our break times and they would go in a corner and smoke their cigarettes, I would usually just wander around looking busy. One particular day, they asked if I wanted “a smoke” (as they had hundreds of times before) and this particular time I said “sure”. Their faces were stunned (like, woah, no way is she actually going to do this) But as soon as one (the cutest of all) handed me a cigarette, the bell rang (of course, I was just about to show him I wasn’t such a goody good) and it was time to go inside, so I just stuck it in my pocket and we went on our way. The next break, they wandered to a nearby gas station (right on the end of the block) and since I had a few minutes alone, I figured I would give this smoking thing a try. So I took it out of my pocket and the damn thing was broke in half! I couldn’t let them know I broke it (because apparently they would care?), so I ran inside and grabbed a piece of scotch tape and taped it back together. (I didn’t know what to do!) I went back outside and could see them rounding the corner of the gas station heading back towards the school. So I hunkered down and tried to light the cigarette (mind you the damn hung was being held together by scotch tape.) The smoke was going out the edges of the tape and not the filter part. I tried holding it a few ways and I finally found a way that worked (if I held it just right in the middle of the tape) I was able to get one long drag out, I got it down and only coughed once, then another drag down (I remember thinking, “this isn’t so bad”) they were now close enough I could hear them talking “Oh my god, is she actually smoking?” ” No way. If her mom sees her, she will kill her.” ” Do you think she will tell her I gave it to her?” ” Fuck man. If she does you will be in so much trouble.” ” Yeah. I bet she would try to suspend you.”
Then I realized, Fuck….I have to go back inside and my mom will kill me! I threw it on the ground, kicked some snow over it and ran back inside, straight to the bathroom. I washed my hands and my face afraid of the smell. Then I sat at my desk and started to work right away, I could feel their stares. A few minutes later my mom came by my desk and told me that I could take my English test after the next break, so if I had any last minute studying to do, I should get it done. I simply said “OK” and her eyeballs got HUGE! She was turning her head to walk away (and I swear it was like an owl neck, a complete 360) she got so close to my face and said so loudly “Were you S-m-o-k-i-n-g?” My heart dropped. And all the boy cousins were staring at me with their eyes wide open. I said “Of course not” as under my breath as I could (you know, to hide the stench) she asked me again “Were you smoking?” and I said “NO“. She looked around the room, and the boys jolted back in desks and got to work, while she was mean mugging them, I turned around and began studying, I caught a glimpse of her evil eye as I was turning (I thought hell was seriously about to freeze over) she didn’t ask again that day, but I’m positive it was because she was already planning my exorcism.
I was able to hide it (for the most part) for 2 years. My mom would ask occasionally but I always blamed someone else. “Oh no, So and So were smoking.” “No I wasn’t but it was windy and blowing all over.” My dad never asked but then I found out that was because he had also been hiding the fact that he smoked from her, for almost 15 years (he was probably more relieved he could take it easy for a while!) Then I turned 16 and they pretty much knew I smoked, but I never did it in front of them. She would make snarky comments here and there but she never actually saw me do it, she just smelt the aftermath. (Oh, the smell)
Fast forward and I found out I was pregnant with my son, I had no problem quitting. I’m a firm believer that you SHOULD NOT smoke when you are pregnant, if you have kids you SHOULD NOT smoke in your house, nor should you smoke in your car. If you want to go outside and poison yourself, go ahead, but in no way, shape or form, should you ever expose it to your children (at least I had that going for me, right?) When he was 5 months old we went camping with a group of friends, I had my first drink since giving birth and lo and behold, I had my first cigarette in over a year. I was hooked again. 4 months later, I found out I was pregnant with my daughter and I had no problem quitting again. (It was a crazy cycle). I made it until she was 4 months old before I had my next first cigarette. I have no good excuse for why.
I continued to smoke for the next 5 years. I wasn’t a huge smoker, usually a half pack a day, but on some days, I would have an entire pack. It was a vicious cycle, wake up, smoke, eat, smoke, do anything, smoke, over and over, every day. I’m amazed thinking back, how much of my life it actually took up. Even at a half-pack a day, figure 10 minutes per cigarette, 100 minutes smoking every day. I wouldn’t let my kids near me when I was smoking, I would send them to the other side of the yard to play. I even did an in home daycare for a while, and I didn’t want the other kids to know, so I would hide out on the side of the house and hover. It took over my life. I couldn’t do anything without thinking about smoking. I would have to remove myself from gatherings to go hide. I would step outside for a “phone call“. It was ridiculous.
Over the years, my kids would ask why I smoked and how come I couldn’t “just stop.” They wanted to know why they couldn’t be by me when I had a “stinky stick.”
Then one day I woke up and I felt pretty good. I got my morning coffee and got the kids started on their school work. Around 10 o’clock, I’m not sure what brought it on but I started to have a massive panic attack (at least that what I assume it was) my husband was out of town and I thought I was dying. My heart started racing and the inside of my chest felt cold, then my whole body felt cold. I was shaky and I just wanted to lay down. I ended up on the couch for almost 6 hours. I was so scared because I didn’t know what was happening. I called my mom and she came to help with the kids and I ended up taking a short nap. When I woke up, I felt better but I was all sorts of shaken up about the experience.
As silly as some may think, I feel like that was my warning sign. I need to take better care of myself. So many people ask me “How did you do it?” “What made you want to quit?” My answer is simple: If you truly want to quit, you have to do it for yourself. As much as I want to say I quit because of my kids (while of course it is partly because of them) I did it for me.
If quitting anything is something you’re considering, if you aren’t doing it for yourself; to better yourself, to change yourself or to prove to yourself you can, I’m sorry to say, it’s probably not going to work. You need that extra boost of will power that you can’t get from anyone else. You need to be the one saying “YES! You can do this!“ You are your biggest support system.
Like I stated earlier, I quit drinking caffeine and quit smoking cold turkey on the same day. The toll that withdrawal has on your body is insanely taxing. I thought “Hey I quit, the hard part is done.” ABSOLUTELY NOT. I don’t fully know what side effects were from what; I had an awful headhace for almost a week straight. I woke up nautious every day. The things that I coughed up were so horrendous (imagine black-ish mucus mixed with chunky fruit snacks) I was constantly tired and irritable. My anxiety was (and still has been) insanely high. I know it sounds like terribly bad things (don’t get me wrong the first month was awful) But I can’t even begin to explain how much it has been worth it.
My husband still smokes a pack a day. And that made it so much harder to quit. I love him dearly but I honestly don’t think he will ever quit. If he ever makes that decision, I will be there to support him but I know first hand, I can’t push him to quit. If he doesn’t want to do it himself, there is no point in me nagging him, it will just create unneeded tension.
So to anyone who is thinking about quitting, not just smoking but anything. I promise you, it’s not an easy path. But I can also promise you, it’s one of the best things you can do. Not just for yourself but for those who you love. Not just for your health, but for your state of mind. Not just because you want to, but because you CAN do it.
You are in control of your body. You are in control of your mind. Believe in yourself and if all else fails, ask for a little help from above ❤