My Korean Air flight from Seoul was about to land at Denpasar in Bali when the clock ticked over to midnight and April 19 began, and thus I achieved my one year of smobriety. (The term “smobriety” is one of many helpful tools hopeful quitters will find on About.com’s smoking cessation forum. I’ve never been a bumper sticker kind of person, but quitting is hard, and sharing it with others helps a lot. If you’re ready to try, that’s good place to start.)
So we had done it. After a lifetime of poisoning ourselves, one year had passed without me inhaling a single puff of expensive, stinky, life destroying tobacco. According to the forum, only 7% of quitters make it through the first year, so I figure that’s something to be pretty proud of. (See what I did there? That’s called an “understatement”.)
I could go into all the stages of pain it cost but instead I will share two pearls of wisdom I learned the hard way that might help people who want to quit.
Pearl 1: I used to get annoyed at people who referred to smoking as a “dirty habit”. As a smoker, it doesn’t seem all that dirty, but for months after quitting, I would sometimes grab a sweater I hadn’t worn in a long time, pull it over my head, gag, and toss it into the wash.
And habit? Nah. It’s an addiction. People who haven’t experienced addiction can’t begin to understand what it is. But then I quit and realized how right they were. The addiction is hard, but the habit is so much worse. Smoking becomes not just something you do; it becomes something you are. You spend all day every day thinking about when and where you can have your next smoke, and it only got worse as the world became more and more anti-smoking. Plus, no matter what the world throws at you, your dear friend Mr Cigarette is always there, happy to provide a screen for you to hide behind. But take away that screen and the world is still what it is. The smoke doesn’t change anything. It all comes down to learning the difference between needing and wanting. Once the need is gone, the want can be dealt with.
Pearl 2: Denial. I used to say, “I like smoking. I know that I’ll never be able to quit because I like it.” That was complete and utter bullshit. I hated it, but to admit that I hated it was to admit that I’d been a smelly dope for longer than I could face. The longer I stayed quit, the more I realized there is absolutely nothing, not one good thing, about smoking. Even this: Smoking is a great excuse to go outside and get away from the people at work for a few minutes. But you know what? You can do that anyway, and people are a lot more sympathetic when you tell them you need a breath of fresh air than a lungful of poison.
So there it is. We did it, and as long as we don’t let ourselves romance the smoke, I think we can stay quit. Cheers and gratitude to all those who have been so supportive and special thanks to Rumiko for this, a happiness tree that symbolizes two burning cigarettes, yet costs only water and produces only oxygen.