Posted by: HAT | April 25, 2014

How I Quit Smoking

A picture of puffy flower stickers

These are puffy, and I think pretty, but the ones I used were brighter and mostly of animals, birds and fish

It strikes me that this is actually a story about freedom, which is sort of interesting.

I started smoking when I was 15. I wanted to be thinner. So much for that.

At various times, for various reasons, I thought about quitting. I “tried to quit” many times. I will not go into the part about what happens when you tell people you quit, and then start again, but don’t tell the people you told you quit that you started again. It is not pleasant.

In 1993 I took a class on quitting smoking. I did all the stuff they told me (set a date, switched brands to a lower nicotine one, changed hands, I don’t even remember everything now), and I quit for nine months. I put a sticker – one of the beautiful, puffy ones – on my calendar each day that I didn’t smoke a cigarette. A woman I worked with told me later that whenever she sees those puffy stickers – they’re not as common these days, it seems to me – she thinks of me. People at work were proud of me, and I was proud of myself.

We moved to Indiana. I started smoking again. [I don’t actually blame the state of Indiana. Honest.] But I did stay switched to a brand with less nicotine.

Once again, I will not go into the part about what happens when you tell people you quit, and then start again, but don’t tell the people you told you quit that you started again. It only gets worse.

I read a book. [The Easy Way to Stop Smoking, by Allen Carr] I really liked it and I was sure it could work for me – it made sense. I quit. I started again. I thought about quitting a lot – like, daily.

In the fall of 2002 our church was in a budget crunch. I wanted to increase my pledge, and I didn’t have many options. I pledged my cigarette money to church. I thought: Now, I need to succeed, at all costs. I really didn’t want to renege on that pledge. I was the moderator of the Stewardship Committee at the time.

I set the day before my daughter’s 4th birthday as my quit day, so I would always remember it. I set a goal of getting through a full 12 months without a cigarette. I used the techniques in the book.

I haven’t smoked a cigarette since.

I do not miss it.

On the increasingly rare occasions that the thought crosses my mind “this would be a time for a cigarette,” I remind myself that I don’t want to have to quit again, so I don’t want to start again. Ever.

Occasionally, now, I will notice how I am NOT doing something I used to do all the time when I smoked: standing outside in -10 degree weather smoking a cigarette, for instance; or wishing I wasn’t visiting someone in the hospital since I can’t smoke without going all the way downstairs and outside to the parking lot; or getting antsy sitting in a meeting – and I feel really happy. Or someone will walk by, smelling like a cigarette, and I’ll think “that used to be me,” and I’ll thank God I’m through with that.

But most days, I don’t even think about it at all.


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