I have lived 185 days without a cigarette. This is a huge win, but it’s also a huge struggle. I still battle the “just one!” thoughts constantly. Even as my fine lines become finer, my laughter that turns into coughing is less frequent, and even as I can smell my hands without shuddering. . . it’s a struggle. I don’t want to be a smoker, but I still wish I could have a smoke occasionally. When the weather is brisk and I have a warm drink, when I find myself with 7 spare minutes to zone out, when I walk through a parking lot and catch a whiff of someone smoking, I stop and think “I wish I could just smoke ONE now, but not be a SMOKER”. Let’s get real though, I just listed 3 moments, and I could keep going on and on. I used to do this a lot after I stopped drinking. I’d have a fleeting urge for a drink, “just one!” and then the wheels would start turning in my head. What does moderation look like, could I do it?
Here’s the short answer: Nope. Not for drinking, and definitely not for smoking.
Here’s the long answer, the “why not” response: Because if I could moderate, I would still be smoking one cigarette every week or less. I would have a very short list of “just one” scenarios that seem like heaven in the rear-view. But. . . I can rattle off great smoking moments for like ten minutes. First thing in the morning, with coffee, while driving, the first break after your morning stretch of work, before lunch, after lunch, the first break after your afternoon stretch of work, after work, drive home, before pick-up, the first break after starting dinner, after sex, after dinner. . . and so on and so on and so on.
I think quitting smoking is harder than quitting drinking because there is no impairment and it’s over in 5-8 minutes. All that remains of your habit appears to be surface level. We know it’s NOT, we know it’s poison, but you can suspend all that for the 5-8 minutes while you just smoke your cigarette. It’s not until you really consider the culmination of side effects that your brain can start to build a case against smoking. It’s the fine lines, plus the cough, plus the stinky hands, plus the clothes that smell like smoke, plus being aware of smelling like a smoker, plus the messy ashtray, plus having to clean the messy ashtray, plus the whole cancer thing, plus hating being a slave to a cigarette, plus having that gnawing inside of you when you can’t smoke, plus the fact that you are paying for every one of those things that you hate because of 5-8 minutes of inhaling toxic air. . . it’s ALL of those things that have to finally become big enough to quit. To a non-smoker, it must be absolutely crazy that anyone would smoke. And yet, 6 months later, I still find myself having to remember alllll of those “here’s why not” reasons when I am tempted to have “just one”. I will pay for smoking for the rest of my life with those urges, which are harder to fight than drinking urges. The deadly game you play with smoking takes a lot longer to play out than drinking.
I also gained a (very) solid 25 pounds after quitting drinking AND smoking. I gained a bit after quitting drinking, but then packed on about 15 pounds in the past 6 months. I’m finally doing something about it, but it has been tough. I guess I just needed something else to quit in 2018 so it didn’t feel left out? Easy on the FOMO, 2018. Being chunky sucks less than being a drunk or a chimney, so I am taking it in stride and will keep building myself into the me I want to be. Take that, lifelong bad habits that want to kill me!
2 thoughts on “On Quitting Smoking. . .”
I just posted about how hard it was to quit smoking. I was more than addicted. I was obsessed!
Easy read and I totally feel you!!! Congrats on quitting I still haven’t made it 6 months.