May 24, 2011 marked the 2-year anniversary of my saying 'good riddance' to cigarettes. What a relief it is to be in control of something that had controlled me for 30 years!
I was going to title this milestone post "Taking Back Control" because that is what I set out to do from the beginning. Cigarettes had controlled when I would take breaks. Cigarettes controlled when I would have to pause a movie. Two years ago, I wrote it down as my #1 Quit Reason and that thought has never changed. But truth be told, I took control a while back...
How I've Gotten This Far
The first year I was all about taking back control. In comparison, the second year was relatively uneventful; peaceful, calm, serene. I guess you could call this the "maintenance" phase of my quit.
Sure, I had a few moments... An occasional smoking dream... An odd-ball yearning here and there... But for me, smoking really has become an afterthought, and many times I will go a day or two without so much as a fading thought about putting one of those nasty things near my mouth. I've taken control.
Here’s the thing. This was not the lifelong battle that I thought it would be. At times during the first year it really seemed like it would be, but it wasn't. It really got easier and easier as time passed. I no longer consciously repeat N.O.P.E. each morning when I get out of bed. And I wouldn’t necessarily say that I have to remain on guard 24/7. All I have to do is to be mindful that 'just one' is nothing but a trap. I don’t need to be convinced of this. I know from experience that one leads to two, two leads to three, and so on. I’m not falling for it again, because it’s just too darned awesome to get where I’m at.
As for year three, I’m planning for it to be a cake walk. I am so thankful to myself for quitting. Now I just wonder, “What the heck took me so long?”
I smoked about a carton per week before I quit. That's 100 cartons I haven't smoked in the last two years. That's 20,000 cigarettes! Now, check this out. If it takes about 6 minutes to smoke a cigarette, it would take 83 days and 8 hours to chain-smoke that many. Think about it. When I was smoking, I was spending 42 days (6 weeks) per year, ignoring family and friends so I could be outside, getting my fix. How did I ever get anything done?
- Cessation is not a lifelong battle. Try to stay positive. As each month passes, look back and compare how you feel now to how you felt a month earlier. It really does continue getting easier with time and this is how you can see it.
- I never read Alan Carr's book completely, but I agree with him when he said, "'Just one cigarette' is a myth you must get out of your mind." It's a myth all right. ‘Just one’ doesn’t exist. It's a trap. The sooner we accept this, the better off we are. If/When you think you can have 'just one', look back at how far you've come. Do you really want to chance starting over?