Monday, November 15, 2010

Don't try, Just Do it.

                                (Sorry for the absence…I was sick…and it was no fun…Here’s to a healthier week.)
I saw a friend of mine recently and she told me that she was quitting smoking.
Actually, she said that she was trying.
I know that when I used to say I was trying to quit smoking, I never quit, I just tried.
At which point I would smoke less, in hopes to quit. I would not smoke in the car. I would not smoke at work. I would not smoke before work. But, I would smoke after work, all the way up until I went to bed.
Quitting smoking is not easy to do. Nicotine is a strong drug. Each time that I started up again and tried to quit, it would get harder and harder to actually kick the habit.
I’ve tried the gum, and it works if you chew it, and not spit it out because you want a cigarette. Patches work if you want the cleaner air, but don’t mind spending  the money. Because they aren’t cheap . And neither of these erases the real problem; being addicted to nicotine.
I started smoking at age 11. My grandparents smoked. I picked it up there. Then I inevitably met kids who smoked and kept on smoking.
I smoked a pack a day from age 13 until age 20, when my then boyfriend (who became my husband a couple of year later) said, ‘it’s me or the cigarettes’. I ditched the cigarettes cold turkey. I didn’t smoke for 10 years. We were married and had three babies in that time. Smoking never really came to mind. I didn’t want cigarettes, I just wasn’t interested.
Then came my divorce.
I went back to smoking. It was no accident that I started again, it was a decision. I bought them, and I smoked them.  And I knew even before I bought that pack that I would be using cigarettes as crutch during my divorce. Even after ten years of being a non-smoker, I could feel the sensation like it was yesterday, how smoking brought me relief from stress.
I smoked in secret from my kids, on and off for two years.
One day my daughter confronted me about it, I told her yes, I smoked. She was so upset and said, ‘Mommy, after all you told us about cigarettes!!!’ I told her ‘yes, all that I told you is true and that this is something that I did and I intend to stop’. (This did not go over well, as you can imagine.)
Nicotine is an awful habit to kick. Years later, it will still leave an ex-smoker with memories of feel good moments, but the problem is, it can kill you.
If you’re trying to quit, but can’t seem to, than your why may not be great enough. And if the why isn’t big enough, the pleasure you receive from smoking will always outweigh the why. And you will forever try to quit, but never actually quit.
My  trick: is not to try to quit smoking; it’s to quit smoking, cold turkey. The half hearted trys never worked for me. Only when I quit cold turkey, have I succeeded.
Smoking or not smoking is a choice. You must find the reason you want, or need, to quit and you must be ready to quit. Then make the conscious decision not smoke. There is no try. Because try is a set up. It’s a set up to fail.
My method of quitting involved smoking every cigarette in my pack, and as I did, I envisioned the number of cigarettes left matched to the days it would take me to smoke them all. That put me to the day I would essentially quit. I would tell myself at every cigarette and every day, ‘only so-many left, okay, Sunday will be my last day, I will be quitting when I smoke this last cigarette’. Then I envisioned my why (my children of course) and the years that I want with them, and then I told someone that I knew, who  would hold me accountable for quitting. Someone that wanted to quit smoking too and who would not enable me.
I was overjoyed and excited to be quitting. I was no longer going to be controlled by something other than myself. I would now smell nice and clean all day. I would not have bad breath. I would not be up and down on mood swings. I would be adding years to my life and be able to run around with my kids without being winded. All of those things were in my grasp.
Then came the tough part; like the routines when you used to have a cigarette in your hand, being in the presence of others who were smoking, watching a movie where the characters were smoking, and worst of all, those common stressors that brought on the need to smoke to calm down.
By day three or four it seemed difficult and then always much harder on days 6, 7, and 8. That’s when I would slowly become a basket case of emotions.  
Sound tough? It is. Don’t start and you’ll never have to worry about stopping. But, if you are one of the unlucky ones to have taken on smoking, and you are just itching to quit but can’t put them down, believe me, there is no easy way to do it. It requires a lot of hard work, tons of will power and a lot of deep breathing and positive self-talk.
You will have to change the way you think, from ‘I need a cigarette to deal with this’ to ‘I need to deal with this without a cigarette’. Tell yourself that taking a drag of a cigarette is not going to take away the problem but it is slowly taking away your life.

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