Two Months Smoke-FreeAs time goes by, it can be easy to lose sight of the reasons why we put out that last cigarette and started smoking cessation. We forget how much we hated smoking, how it made us cough and the shortness of breath we suffered from. We start to feel sorry for ourselves, thinking about how miserable we are without our cigarettes. We romanticize about the good old days of smoking. This is called junkie thinking, and is a potential pitfall that most ex-smokers will face at some point in the recovery process. Without an attitude adjustment, junkie thinking can easily lead to a smoking relapse.
Brad's story below is a great example of an aborted junkie thinking slide. Like so many others who grow weary of the healing process from nicotine addiction that can be slow in coming, Brad was in a slump and starting to feel sorry for himself. Through a chance encounter however, he found a powerful attitude adjustment that put his priorities back in order.
Congratulations Brad, and thanks for sharing your story with us here.
Today marks two months since I quit smoking.
Yesterday I was thinking about what I was going to put in my two month milestone post. It was not going to be an optimistic posting. No, what I had planned was pretty much a pity party. A full tilt "God I feel awful, I've not smoked for two months and I still feel like crap and will this misery ever end?" diatribe. Then I was going to sit back and wait for all the comforting, reassuring replies that I knew forum members would send my way. Kinda pathetic, but it's the truth.
Then last night happened.
One of the things I've resumed since quitting is going to yoga classes. I go three to four nights a week. Last night was pretty crowded; I guess a lot of people were getting a session in before they abused their bodies on New Year's eve.
It was not a particularly good session for me. My mind kept wandering, thinking of the party we were going to that night, wondering if anyone there would have a cigarette and if it would be the moment I was going to slip up, etc.
At the end of the class, I noticed an attractive young woman (probably early 30's) that I had never seen before. She was talking to the instructor and I overheard her saying that she was from out of town and was just visiting family for a couple of days. We walked out together and made small talk.
I asked her how she came to find out about the yoga studio. She said she hadn't done yoga in a while, so on a sort of a whim had looked online and found the place. She asked me how long I had been practicing. I told her that I started again when I quit smoking. Then I said I had made it almost two months, and that it was a very hard thing I was doing(there's the poor pitiful me part).
She looked at me and said, "Yes, I've heard from friends that quitting can be really tough. Good for you for quitting." Then she added "You know, this is kind of an anniversary for me as well."
"Yeah?" I said, "What anniversary is it?" She paused and looked directly in my eyes for a second. "It was just about 5 years ago that I had a double lung transplant."
It was like someone had hit me in the back with a sledgehammer and all the air had gone out of my lungs. Did she really say "double lung transplant"? I just couldn't get my head around it; you read about things like that, but to actually meet someone who had gone through it? It seemed impossible.
"Really," I said, "a double lung transplant?" She smiled at me. "Yes. I have cystic fibrosis, and without the transplant I would have died."
I stammered around trying to think of something intelligent to say. She was very patient, I guess she had been through this situation before. After a couple of minutes I got up the courage to say "what does the future look like?" She said that after five years, the average was that she would have about a 25% chance of making it another year. "But that's just an average. I've had very little rejection issues, and I'm feeling great."
We talked for another 20 minutes or so. She runs a non-profit animal rescue mission in Brooklyn. She is director of a non-profit dance company. She has a full time job. She has a "significant other." She is living her life.
I'm not a religious person. I like to think that I have some degree of spirituality, but there is no organized religion that I would be a part of. However, when she said goodbye, all I could do is say "God bless you, April, God bless you. I can never tell you how much it has meant to me to have met you." And I gave her a long hug.
Like I said, I'm not a religious person, but all day today I've been thinking about her. It's sort of like that movie, It's A Wonderful Life. As if an angel had come down and tapped me on the shoulder.
This has taken a while to explain, but here is what I wanted to convey to all of you who are reading this: almost without exception, we who are quitting are doing it as a matter of choice. It is tough, it is miserable at times, but we have a choice to continue doing damage to ourselves or do everything we can to beat this awful addiction.
She does not have a choice. She can only deal with the hand that fate has dealt her.
There I was, feeling sorry for myself for being miserable about quitting smoking, and someone who has faced, and is facing, mortality every day came and graced me with her presence. And did it with courage and class.
True freedom is a state of mind. Pay attention to the positive cues that life sends your way, and work to change what smoking means to you. Give yourself time to heal the habits you've developed around nicotine addiction and you can find lasting freedom just as surely as anyone else has.
Believe in yourself and the sky truly is the limit.