I Quit

I STARTED SMOKING when I was eleven years old.

I would sneak a cigarette from my mother and then smoke it in the bathroom while I was taking my bath, blowing the smoke out of the window.

It wasn’t long before I was an addict. Over the years my craving for cigarettes evolved to be so obsessive that I was chain smoking several packs a day. One day I smoked five packs of cigarettes!

I TRIED quitting smoking several times.

One time I actually went six months without a cigarette. There was always so stupid excuse that I would fall back on to “justify” taking a puff off of another cigarette. Minutes later, I’d have another. Then another. Then I was back to my old ways. I had started smoking as a kid in 1961 and by 2007 I could barely breath.

I HAD TO quit smoking.

I had to. I knew that. I knew that cigarettes were that cause of my health waning miserably. I use to have perfect, gorgeous teeth and cigarettes were ruining my gums. I use to be physically fit, but my chest burned and my stomach hurt. My breath reeked!

But I was weak. I knew that I was. No one knew better than me how weak-willed I actually was. And then one night I saw a number on a t.v. commercial to call the New York Smokers Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487). I wrote down the number.

I called the helpline. I immediately reached a nurse who knew all about nicotine addiction. The nurse was kind enough to take the time to explain the science of nicotine addiction to me. That helped tremendously to wrap my head around the facts of it, rather than the excuses for it. She explained that once I was are addicted to nicotine (or had I been to anything for that matter) my brain changed. That change is permanent. There can be no taking a puff along the way because that puff would set off the chain reaction to going to smoking a cigarette then to buy a pack and I’d rapidly be back in my old rut. Exactly as I knew it had happened before…on every occasion that I attempted…and failed…to quit smoking.

The good news was, if I could stay away from nicotine for three consecutive weeks, by then it would be out of my system. “Drink water with lemon juice. And do NOT give up! I could send you patches if you want to try them.” I did.

When the patches came I decided to slap one on and I struggled through the day. When I went to put on a fresh one I had a weird sensation that I did not like at all. I pulled it off! Right then and there I decided that I didn’t want to have to kick smoking with a patch and then have to quit the patch too! I committed myself to doing it the old fashioned way. I was going to kick nicotine cold turkey! Or so I had hoped. I wasn’t so sure about it yet, but I was willing to give it another try.

I lived alone. I was unemployed. I could hole up in the apartment. I decided not to even leave to get my mail. I also avoided even opening my door because I knew there was a girl up the hall from me who would give me a cigarette if I asked but, I didn’t want to ask. I didn’t want to go to the grocery store because I knew there was an ashtray at the entrance and I could snitch the long barely smoked cigarettes and re-roll the tobacco…as I had done too many times before, since when I fell on hard times. This was it. I was going to quit smoking, or die trying. Or so I told myself.

I started quitting smoking on February 8, 2007. I also started crying…a lot. So I began the regiment of taking a long shower, drying off, then climbing back into bed to go to sleep. I slept a lot. When I was up,  I drank lemony water and lemony tea. I ate what soup I had in my cupboard and hot bouillon. I could feel and smell the waxy residue that was pushing through to the surface of my skin. It was gross. I took more showers. I slept more. When I wasn’t showering or sleeping I was most certainly feeling sorry for myself…CRAVING a cigarette…and bawling my eyes out. It was a difficult three weeks to say the least. But day by day, it was transpiring. And though it didn’t seem to me to be getting any easier, I noticed less and less of that waxy gook on my skin. I didn’t cry quite as much or as often. I still slept a lot to escape the situation.

At the end of the three weeks I got a call from my sister. Our cousin and her family were coming to visit from out of town. We rarely got to see them, so I definitely didn’t want to miss them. But they smoked. This would be my first test of being around a lot of second hand smoke. I was nervous about it.

We went to a restaurant. And surely, they all smoked. And I was stunned how I was more afraid of wanting one then actually wanting one. I didn’t want a cigarette! I felt jubilant.

All was going on extremely well for a month. I didn’t think of cigarettes. I didn’t want one.

And then the shit hit the fan! In the second month being without a cigarette was pure hell. All I did was think about cigarettes, wanting cigarettes, remembering smoking.  All that I was trying to not do, I was doing…except I was not smoking! I never took a single puff. By the third month it was all over. Even though the taste of them in my mouth was the last to leave me for a long, long time, I didn’t think about cigarettes again.

There is nothing I fear more in the entire world than taking a puff of a cigarette. I don’t want to go back into the dreadful rut. I can, in all honesty, say that I was in total bondage to them. Nicotine controlled me.  I don’t want to smoke again, so I refuse to. I may have failed dreadfully at so many other things, but I don’t want to fail at this. I don’t ever want to smoke again.

If you’re interested in freeing yourself from the bondage of nicotine addiction, even if you are not living in New York State, check out the following link. You’ll be glad that you did.

 http://www.nysmokefree.com/

I wish you well in this endeavor. Peace.

 

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