How I Quit Smoking

Let’s just begin with the truth here: I’m a quitter. I have quit, and quit, and quit again. Twice I quit smoking for more than a year at a stretch before I resumed the habit. And so far this time it’s only been a week since I quit smoking. I’m maybe not the best person to look to for advice or inspiration. In fact, I really just came here to rant about how absolutely annoyed I still feel and that I want to crush and smash things. But should you be here seeking help- I’ll do my best! I might also cuss!

I only started smoking when my kids were little and I was isolated, bored, and struggling emotionally with my mom’s rapid and frightening health deterioration. Considering that my “baby” is now thirteen, it’s still been some years that I have been a pack-a-day-or-less smoker. I did take breaks in there, quitting for 9-12 month stretches at a time, a few times. Each time vape pens helped me get through the worst of the withdrawal symptoms. Each time I did notice the health benefits of quitting smoking. And yet, each time I relapsed.

I think I understand my dependence on smoking, and it goes deeper than addiction. For me, it is a coping mechanism. A sanity saver. As an empath and a Type A personality, I believe I benefit from smoke breaks to escape the difficult world I live in for ten minutes, once an hour. Smoking time is strictly me-time, or social time with friends who smoke. No kids allowed. No interruptions appreciated. Quiet, calming, sanity. During a “smoke-break” I gather my thoughts. I make decisions. I change direction. I put things to bed. I regather, refresh, charge up. Since I have quit smoking, I kinda feel like I’m rolling willy-nilly through life. I’ll just have to figure out another way to cope.

I must have some mad motivation then, eh? Let’s talk about motivation, because you really need a lot of it to tackle any addiction. For me, the main motivation of this attempt is money.

I’m not sure if you’re reading this from Cali, so just in case you’re not- we recently saw the taxes on cigarettes increase by $2 a pack here, thanks to our wise and punitive voters. I’m still kinda mad about that- I mean, we’re not coming for your sugary drinks (which kills 184,000 people every year).. or your Big Macs (obesity likely kills around 2.5 million people every year).. or your alcohol (which kills around 88,000 people a year) and ruins countless more lives….

Voters in California are total jerks!

But I admit- incentives to quit are probably a really good thing when it comes to such a destructive addiction like smoking. :/ So far only good of it has come for me and my friends. Annoying good is still good. Of my closest friends and family, more than half have all quit since the tax was imposed. It was, for many of us, a great kick in the pants.

For me, smoking was already a guilty pleasure costing me and my family about $135. But since the tax was imposed it’s been impossible to get away for less than  $210. That’s too gluttonous for me when we are living check to check to make sure our active teens have every opportunity right now. Those kids are darn expensive, and worth every sacrifice too. So, I had to do it.

I think that deep obligation you feel, the “I HAVE to do it” mentality, the one that gets us up in the morning to drive kids around, or take them to the doctor when they are sick, or show up at work when we don’t really want to- it’s powerful. I have been tapping into it this week and I think it has been the strategy that is working above all others to help me quit. I just HAVE to. No arguments, no excuses, no nothing. I can’t even consider a puff to ease the pain, it is not acceptable. I’m just DONE. If you have a deep sense of obligation, tap into that sucker, let it motivate you to succeed.

My other strategies for success have not been near so healthy. I joked with my friends last night that I have replaced one bad habit with several other bad habits this past week- and it’s unfortunately true. The worst of these bad habits is binge eating, and eating sugar in particular. Sugar is my enemy. It flares my gout, it causes inflammation and pain in my body, my weight has shot up a few pounds already, and that’s hard on my loose and arthritic joints. But SWEET JESUS it helps. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms are really freaking awful. When “I’m just DONE” crashes into “Fuck it, I need a smoke!” I just eat chocolate and feel a lot better.

I’ve said it before in other posts and I’ll say it again- don’t feel obligated to make my mistakes. I’m just flailing my way through life and probably doing it “wrong” more than I do it right… then justifying myself later by saying, “it all happened for a reason, now I’m smarter and shit.”

Told you, cussing.

But chocolate, it does in fact help. And it’s easier to ease up on later, I think. As soon as these wicked withdrawals stop I’m sure I’ll revisit my usual, healthier dietary habits.

I’ve also taken a few shots of tequila to dull the nicotine cravings, and I’m not sure that was a good idea. It’s a miracle I didn’t feel just tipsy enough to lose my resolve and smoke a whole pack at once! I was in a social situation at the time where many were smoking and I was going crazy so tequila it was. I did ok but I don’t recommend this. Do not do this. I’m going to try not to do this again.

Probably the one healthy thing I’m doing that absolutely helps with the desperation that is withdrawal symptoms is SWIM. I can feel the anxiety burn off as I’m swimming laps in the morning, and by the end of my work-out I have much less anxiety, and that feeling lasts for a while. I can’t swim all day, so I have to just keep swimming, eh? 😉

Day 7. One week. I’ve made it this far, and I intend to make it a lot farther. I’m still suffering from withdrawals somewhat and that sucks. But I was just with some active smokers and didn’t even think once, “I want a cig.” Not once. I’m getting there. I just have to remain patient.

Now, if you somehow made it this far and still want to take advice from me, this is what I’d tell you: Make the decision, be firm on it, remind yourself that “this too shall pass” each time you want to give up, indulge yourself a little, forgive yourself a lot, exercise to burn off some of the anxiety, and YOU CAN DO THIS. I can do this. I’m going to keep doing this. Let’s do it together.

Current Project: still prepping for this weekend’s yard sale and I’m bored to death but it needs done.

Current Soundtrack: Alabama Shakes Radio on Spotify

I’m Reading: Lab Girl by Hope Jahren