Happy Non-Smoking To Me

Happy Anniversary to me.  Five years ago today, I quit smoking for good.  Finally.

Now, I realize that it’s a shady habit these days and you probably shouldn’t admit to ever doing it, but I still know people who are struggling with quitting and I want to offer encouragement and joy.   I loved cigarettes, and loved smoking.  It’s a quiet, constant companion when you’re doing something like writing for a living, which means you are locked in your own little room with a keyboard and a screen for 6 or 10 or 16 hours a day (depending on the deadlines).  It kept my weight down, until I started the cycle of quitting, then starting, quitting, starting, quittingstarting (repeat 10 times for period of 1 day to 1 year).

But it is an awful habit, too.  It stinks. It’s antisocial.  It’s not like you can do it sometimes and then not do it other times, like drinking wine or running or something like that, varying your habit according to the company you keep, because it’s so very addictive.    So I started trying to quit.  Over and over.   I tried everything from those little plastic filters to hypnosis to patches to antidepressants (which, let me tell you, turned me into a lunatic, because well….I wasn’t depressed).

Finally, I promised my oldest friend that I would quit so that we’d at least have a chance to be old together.   I chose a date.  I braced myself for the weight gain, added some walking, got some patches, joined an online service for support.  And quit.

The one thing I changed was the rule about cheating.  Not one single drag or one single cigarette, no matter what.  Not one.

And finally, you know what? I quit.   I am so proud of myself, still.  It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I include the Avon walk and the trip to the top of Pikes Peak and 7 days hiking in France without enough training and seven blisters.

Not smoking opened up so many possibilities.  Like hiking all over the world and not being afraid of it.  Like flying for 15 hours without having a meltdown.   It made me think we are so much more powerful than we think we are.  It makes me want to set a new goal, and maybe I will.

What have you done that you’re proud of?  And what would you LIKE to do?

12 thoughts on “Happy Non-Smoking To Me

  1. I agree. Quitting smoking was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was tougher than childbirth. Losing a parent. Surviving high school. And turning fifty.

    I only did it once. I knew I only had it in me to do it once. I abided by the no cheating rule. I drank tons of water. I exhaled slowly (always disappointed to have lost the fire-breathing-dragon effect), and I made it. I used nicotine gum for the first two weeks but it inflamed my sinuses so I tapered off that quickly.

    I’d promised myself I’d quit before I was thirty. But then thirty came and went. When I was thirty-four I faced that I’d been smoking for twenty years. I was very disappointed in myself. So I did it. (And–I realize–that means I quit about twenty years ago. Wow.)

    One of the precious things to come out of it was that my DH quit about four months later. When I asked him why he told me it was because he saw me do it and it inspired him. 🙂

    Congrats on reaching this milestone! Don’t you notice how much better things taste and how fragrant things smell? My senses rehabilitated slowly after I quit.

  2. Tapsi

    Quitting is something I’ve been thinking about recently. I’ve been smoking, while also taking some breaks in the middle, since about 4 years ago – with all the requisite guilt, then the not smoking, followed by the glory of the first cigarette after a few weeks of doing without. Ok, maybe I shouldn’t mention that here 🙂
    I’ve decided on a two week break for my lungs when I go on a holiday from tomorrow. It’ll be the foothills of the Himalayas, crisp, cold evenings, walks in tea gardens…and it’ll have to keep me happy enough. Sigh. Wish me luck.

  3. Tapsi

    Oh and Barbara, happy non smoking to you. It’s really a fantastic achievement.

  4. LeeR

    Bravo, Barbara! Bravo!
    I quit 2 months ago and agree — it’s the toughest thing to not do. But heavy smoker DH and I were sitting on the back porch (no smoking in the house) and I was down to my last cig and bemoaning the fact that I’d have to go out and buy a pack the next day, on a Sunday no less, when a little voice said, “Well, you COULD make this your last one.” It shocked me so much that I agreed…as long as I could make that last one a good one. It was.
    I’d always told myself I was okay ’cause I was a ‘light’ smoker — 3 or 4 cigs a day — but it’s made a world of difference. My sense of smell has improved. I breathe better. No coughing and sneezing in the mornings. Best of all — no chance the g’kids will say, “Mimi, you stink like Pop Pop.”

  5. I had a very bad cold in 1987, couldn’t breath and still I was trying to smoke. So, I decided to quit 1 hour at a time. My cold got better and I finally had made it past 7 days of no smoking. 1 hour at a time. I ate a lot of oranges to help with the craving but what was the hardest was not reaching for that pack of cigarettes first thing in the morning. 1987 was also the year I started college years after I graduated from high school. I was proud of myself for starting college and would love to go back someday. I received my degree in Mass Communications in 1992 and became the 2nd person in my family to have gone and graduated college.
    These two things are something I am very proud of and am glad I stuck to my guns and got them done.

  6. Melissa Compton

    Happy Smoke-Free Anniversary, Barbara! Five years is a huge accomplishment!

    I just finished the LA Avon walk a couple of weeks ago with very little training, and somehow managed it without a single blister (though my thighs had pretty much seized completely by the end). I ended up walking it alone, as my partner backed out, but I did it! Along with the list of names I brought to focus on, I thought of you and your walk while I was there. Thanks for the encouragement in SB!

  7. Terence

    Wow it has been five years, my God I am so proud of you my friend….you have accomplished much and that is a credit to your ability to look at the good in things. Thank you for being there always.

  8. Thanks for celebrating with me, everyone. It’s been a very busy couple of weeks and I haven’t been blogging a lot (you would rather have a new book eventually, wouldn’t you?)

    Mmmmm….thinking with slight envy of Tapsi on her holiday in the foothills of the Himilayas!

    Melissa! Congratulations–and my thighs got very tired by the end, too. So proud of you for doing it even though your friend backed out.

    Donna, that really is an accomplishment.

    I know, T, isn’t that amazing? It goes so fast. Like, weren’t we young and beautiful just five minutes ago? 😉

  9. Mel

    I’ve never smoked but have watched others struggle with it and know how hard it is. So congrats on such a great achievement and giving yourself that gift!

  10. I’m grateful I never started smoking because I don’t know that I would have had the willpower to quit. I admire everyone who’s done it. (And almost everyone I know who’s managed it has had to try a few times.)

    The thing I’m proudest of? I lost 60 lbs. between July 2003 and September 2004 and I’ve pretty much been able to keep it off. I’d never been able to keep it off, so this is huge for me.

  11. Yvonne Erwin

    Hey Barb,

    It’s been a long time since we’ve talked. I hope you remember me.

    Listen, I am so proud of you with regard to the quitting smoking thing. I too quit.

    I don’t know how I got so addicted so quickly but as you say, it’s a quiet habit. One can perform it anywhere (well, not any more). I remember driving down the road one day and my mind was screaming, QUIT, QUIT, QUIT, and I fought it and finally I said, okay, I’ll quit. It is for the best. I threw my last pack of cigarettes out the window and I said, there now. I’ve quit.

    And I had for probably four years. Never a craving, never an impulse. And then. I guess it had been ganging up on me all that time because one day, I could taste it, I could smell it, it was on my mind and would not let go. And so, I succumbed and bummed a cigarette off a co-worker and I lit and inhaled and promptly threw up. I was sick all day long. Everyone at my work thought I was pregnant (again). HA.

    That was the end of that, let me tell you. I’ve not smoked since and have no yearning to.

    I’m proud of that.

    I’m proud of you too, Barb. It’s so great, the relief, isn’t it?

  12. I remember you, Yvonne! I never forget anybody. (Though sometimes I forget I might have met you in person, so nobody ever get mad at me over that, okay?) And I am proud of you for quitting, too.

    Katy! 60 lbs off and keeping it off is amazing. A. MAZ. ING. I’d love to figure out how to be slimmer for a long time.

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