Thanks for sharing, Lisa, and congratulations on six months smoke-free!
Six months ago at 12:35 am I stood out on my patio smoking my last cigarette. I was crying and I was afraid. I didn't know if I could really do this. What if I failed again? I knew I was picking the wrong time to quit, but I also knew that I was going to give it all I had.
As I put that last cigarette out, I did feel like I was given control over something. By this time I realized that I no longer had control over nicotine addiction. Nicotine addiction had control over me. I was fighting so hard to find something that no one could change. I was holding onto one idea and that was, my quit can save me. You see, at this time my family was going through a very dark period. My youngest daughter had been sexually assaulted, and I was fighting the state for custody of her. No matter what seemed right, it was always wrong. I had to face a lot of things no one should have to face. But I did it without a cigarette in my hand.
To make matters worse, I had just gone through a heart ablation. I'd had a silent heart attack that has done some damage to my heart. That damage made it hard for my heart to stay in rhythm. And there had also been an increase of pain in my legs. My P.A.D (peripheral artery disease) had progressed. It really seemed that no matter how hard I tried, nothing was going right. Just when I thought nothing else could go wrong, my car was stolen.
I am a single mother and was working two jobs. It was very hard on me to get to both jobs without a car. I had to quit the child care job. I was very sad to leave as I had worked there for 10 years. I have watched kids grow up, they're even like my own kids. I wasn't sure how I was going make it financially. I really felt like my life was falling apart no matter which way I turned.
I had no clue how my quit was going to save me, but no matter what happened in my life, it was my quit that I clung to. I did struggle through a lot of the time. I will be honest, there were times that I really thought it would be better if I just gave in and smoked. But that is where the support of this forum came in. I did start to see that each time I faced a struggle and came out of it smoke-free, I was more confident in myself.
I now have learned what nicotine addiction does to a person. It takes way your self-esteem. You feel so much fear when you think about your life without cigarettes. There is an illusion that you enjoy smoking. The truth is that you are in nicotine withdrawal and have to have a cigarette to feel better.
In the back of a smoker's mind, many of us do wonder if we will become sick from smoking. We always tell ourselves that we will quit. But there is always that fear....will I quit in time? Then the fear takes over and you just can't get yourself to put that cigarette down. No matter how you think of it, nicotine addiction equals fear. And it is the fear that controls you. There is even a sense of not being able to change it. You cannot deal with emotions, good or bad. No matter what it is, you cover it with nicotine. I had lost myself and never even realized it. When I think of my addiction it makes me feel so trapped. I never want to go back there again.
How has my quit saved me? I have myself back. There is also a new me. And the new me is so much bolder. I can cry, laugh, and can even be mad and it's not being suppressed by nicotine. As each day goes by I learn something new. I now live my life for me not for the next nicotine fix. My family no longer has to wait for me. I will go to bed tonight smoke-free, and I have the confidence to face tomorrow. And I will do it without a cigarette. I am free!
Things are starting to go back into place. My youngest daughter is coming home. My family now is going to be able to put this nightmare behind us. We are going to work through what happened and heal. My older daughter is going off to college next month. I can't believe that my little girl is going to be starting a life of her own. I am now only working one job. I am not working all the hours I used to. I will also be opening my program up in two other centers. I got a raise that has made up for the income I lost when I quit the day care. I am still working on getting a car. I want something that I can just buy and not have payments on. And my health...I have to take it one day at a time. Some days are better than others. I do go on walks every day. At times it is painful, but I know that I need to keep walking. I am very thankful that I am not making myself sicker by smoking.
I will never forget what I have gone through. I will also never forget what my quit has done for me. I will always fight and protect my quit. When I first started out I didn't know I was going to be able to do this. I was very uncertain -- my journal thread was titled A Quit Full of Uncertainty. I no longer feel uncertain. So I had the journal thread changed it is now called My Journey with Certainty. With that change I also felt peace and it has felt fantastic!
Oh yeah... I almost forgot.....turns out this was the perfect time for my quit!