The Halfway House

halfway houseAs part of the quit smoking odyssey, I joined an online support forum. It offers tons of information, but most importantly, you can join a group of others who quit around the same time as you. Through it, I have “met” some wonderful people who I believe will remain my friends for years to come.

One of the features of the site is a quit meter. You input your quit date down to the hour, the number of cigs you used to smoke every day and the cost of those cigs. When I checked my quit meter this morning, it said 6 months, 5 hours and 14 minutes, which means I have reached the Halfway House. At one year, we enter the Clubhouse.

I will not reveal the humiliating number of cigs I have not smoked, nor the exorbitant amount of money I’ve saved. Let’s just say that between the two of us, two months’ rent have not gone up in smoke. Literally.

I should be turning handsprings and chanting ditties about rainbow-colored lollipops. They say, “You did it! You quit smoking! Now you feel so much better and have so much more energy!”

Unfortunately, it turns out that is poppycock. It’s absolute, utter nonsense. It belongs with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. It’s the kind of stories people tell small children to make them behave. I feel horrible most of the time. I am moody and cannot trust my emotions. The problem is that only now, finally, my brain is getting adjusted to normal dopamine levels. It will be another six months before my metabolism returns to normal.

The glimmer of hope is talking to people who have been quit longer than me who assure me it will get better. At this point, I honestly only rarely want to smoke. My triggers seem to be limited to anger and frustration and if I can take a moment to close my eyes and breathe deeply, the urge passes. The thing is, once an addict, always an addict. I will have to remain vigilant for the rest of my life. But from the top of my head to the soles of my feet and deep inside my heart and soul, I know it is worth the battle.

I read a wonderful quote on the quit smoking site:

I’d rather be a non-smoker who has an occasional desire to smoke than a smoker who has a constant desire to quit.

*Twitchy sat on my lap for a few minutes this morning, another first. I think it was her halfway gift to me.

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8 thoughts on “The Halfway House”

  1. Arg, I’m sorry this continues to be such a battle, but thank you for writing about it so evocatively. You’re helping me understand the physiological side of why it’s so hard to quit, how it becomes hardwired into your life. I hope that eventually it gets a little easier as you get more and more distance on that last cig. Ganbatte, ne.

    1. Thanks. My quit buddies keep assuring me it will get easier. I just have to have patience and remember that it is all worth the pain. You got it exactly right when you said “hardwired into your life”.

      Gambarimasu!

  2. It’s true that it’s a lifetime decision to not smoke and some days still for me it is a struggle to choose to be a non-smoker and I’m 9 years into quitting. But..the choice is a lot easier to make now and the cravings/urges do subside rather quickly. The thought process that I force in my head is that if I give in to one puff I know for a fact that I’ll be right back on the smoker ride and it’s not one I want to get on. I find that it helps to have a specific thing designated for the money you are saving too. Like the money we don’t use for cigs we had put towards paying off our debt and now goes towards trips. If I give in to cigs we won’t have any more trips and being in Japan that is just not something I will give up.

    Keep up the good work and grats on the 6 months!

    P.S. My biggest trigger is when I’m having a drink in a bar, which we do now and then, less now than then. 🙂 But sometimes we will be just walking down the street and it will hit me.

    1. You are so right. One of the mottoes of the quit smoking site is NOPE–Not One Puff Ever.

      Funny about the money. I recently started doing yoga, then reconnected with an old high school friend who is now a yoga teacher and she’s leading a yoga retreat to Bali that starts, get this, on April 19, exactly one year to the day from when I quit. And my quit meter tells me the cigs I don’t smoke until then will just about pay for the trip. I think kismet is trying to tell me something!

      Thanks for the support. It really helps me believe I can make it.

  3. What you are doing is bloody hard, good on you for sticking it out and sharing your experiences I am sure there are people reading this who are trying to quit or have quit that find what you write helpful.

    1. Thanks, Evie. I’ve gotten a couple of comments along those lines–others who are trying to quit. I do wish there was some way to make this process easier, but it seems patience is the only cure.

Any opinions about that? I love to hear from you.

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