On the eve of my 18-months smoke-free milestone, I am feeling nostalgic and grateful and moved to share my story.
My sister and I smoked our first cigarette when we were 10 and 11 years old respectively. I can't even remember if we inhaled, but they were Marlboro's, and they were 50 cents a pack, my entire week's allowance. After a couple of months, the guilt got to my sister, and she confessed (for both of us) to our parents, and I never picked up another cigarette until the summer of my 18th year. I smoked for only that summer, and then I didn't smoke another cigarette until I was 22 and in graduate school. WHY???????? I wish I knew why. Part of it, I'm sure, was being annoyed by the 'good girl' perception that people had of me. I got good grades, respected my parents, and didn't party a lot (a little...but not a lot). Well, one night I was at one of the few parties I attended in college, and someone offered me a cigarette. I took it and never looked back. I bought a pack the next day and began my new identity as a 'not so good girl' smoker.
When I was 12 years old, my dad, my hero, quit smoking, and once told me that if he ever saw me smoking, it would be like putting a stake through his heart. I never let him see me smoke. Since I was still in school and living at home, I was a closet smoker for the next 3 years. It was exhausting, and my parents knew I smoked anyway. When I finally became a teacher and moved out, I lived with 2 roommates, and neither of them smoked, so I smoked outside or in my car. There was a smoking lounge in the school where I taught, but I didn't want my students to know I smoked so I was careful not to let them see me. By now, hiding had become quite a theme in my existence as a smoker.
That continued as I got older, and my sister made me the proud aunt of 4 beautiful children. When I visited I would cower in a corner of the garage, listening for the opening door, so that I could put the cig out before I got caught. How ridiculous, I finally realized. I am ALWAYS hiding behind a wall of smoke, half the time not enjoying my time with family and friends because I was worried about when I'd be able to get my next fix.
By this time, I also knew that my health was being affected by my addiction. I was sleeping on 3 pillows and woke up during the night coughing. Then, when I got up in the morning, I'd hack and wheeze for about 30 minutes...all the while trying to inhale on my first cigarette of the day. I wouldn't know until after I quit smoking that my smoking had also likely caused my chronic back pain, degenerative disc disease. My family history also told me I'd better seriously think about quitting. Two grandparents and an uncle died of smoking-related illnesses, 1 also with emphysema. The more I thought about it, the more resolve I mustered to get a quit plan together.
I found a Web site called "The No Smoke Cafe" hosted by Christine Rowley. I read everything I could read about the addiction and quitting: the best ways to do it, what happens after quitting, how to maintain the quit. I saturated my brain with everything I could find, and then I read post on a message board associated with the "Cafe", and I paid close attention to what people were thinking and feeling as they began their journey to freedom from nicotine. Like many about to quit, I wanted as few surprises as possible. I knew this for sure, though...I wanted to quit more than I wanted to keep smoking, and that thought kept me company during the long road to recovery from nicotine addiction.
I chose a quit date, January 13, 2002, and I decided that I would use a NRT, the patch. I researched the NRT's too, weaning off the nicotine after smoking 2 packs a day for 14 years made the best sense to me. I submitted my first post 18 hours into my quit, and I have been smoke-free ever since. I credit my success so far in large part to Christine and her efforts to provide a place for people to support each other and for gathering so much information regarding smoking cessation. I believe that support is the #1 factor in successfully quitting smoking, and I'm grateful to all those who were there for me in the beginning.
Now, after almost a year and a half, there's nothing I enjoy more than trying to help others realize their goal of freedom from nicotine. Quitting smoking isn't easy, but almost nothing in life that's worthwhile is, and it is easier when you don't have to do it alone. Thanks to all the quitters, friends, who keep me continuously inspired. It's a remarkable journey of self-discovery and one that I have never regretted.
Michelle B. (QUITWIT)Michelle's 1 Year MilestoneMichelle's 2 Year MilestoneMichelle's 3 Year MilestoneMichelle's 4 Year MilestoneMichelle's 5 Year MilestonePatience With the ProcessA Perspective on Using NRT'sThere is No Substitute for TimeDepression When You Quit SmokingSmoking and Degenerative Disc Disease