Here we go again. I’m trying to prepare myself for my first attempt to quit smoking in slightly over a year. If you’re reading this, you’ve likely been there before - dreading having to look at that last pack of cigarettes, knowing you intend it to be your last. You start to count what’s left in the pack; you start smoking a half or third of a butt at a time to prolong the inevitable.
My attempts to quit previously have been the result of either a lack of funds (back in the college day) or the realization that smoking really doesn’t help to cure bronchitis (who’d have imagined?). This time, I’m trying to do this of my own accord. I love to smoke, but it’s the epitome of a love/hate relationship. I know cigarettes are disastrous for my health. I know that I’ve certainly smoked the equivalent of a down payment on a car in cigarettes. I know that those I love hate to see me smoke. I’ve seen firsthand what extensive smoking can cause down the road in the form of emphysema and heart problems (which run in my family). I feel how it’s decreased my breathing efficiency, simply after running up a flight of stairs. I know that I’m funding massive companies that uniquely exist through sales of a potentially fatal product. I know that the brown crap I cough up in the morning can’t be a good sign.
Despite all of this, I’ve continued to smoke. It helps me relax. It helps me distract myself. The routine feels warm and familiar. I smoke when I’m drinking, bored, stressed out, tired, hungry, full, or uncomfortable. I smoke whether it’s hot or cold outside, whether it’s raining or snowing, whether I’m alone or with others.
Because I smoke, I tend to shy away from exercise. Back in the day, I was in quite good shape - 4 years of basketball under dictators of coaches will tend to do that. I loved basketball - it helped to relax me, it fed my competitive spirit, it helped me fend off boredom, it helped me socialize and it helped me stay in shape. I now get depressed to think about playing basketball. Even though I’m in the prime of my life, I know that the me from 10 years ago would run circles around the me of 2008, and it shames me. I also tend to stay away from the doctor if I can avoid it, for fear of what they most certainly would insist I immediately do - quit smoking cigarettes.
I’m tired of this game. I want to be healthy. I want to live a long life. I want to reclaim my body as domain of my own self control. I want to stop thinking of how much money I waste on cigarettes when the finances tighten up. I want to stop blaming my own bad habits for my illnesses. I want to regain my lung capacity. I want to make my wife and parents proud. I want to be proud of myself, damn it!
I’m recording my thoughts on my experience here in hopes that it will help me to commit to quit, an idea which I both loathe and relish at once. And I’m hoping that I can find encouragement and feedback from all of you ex-smokers and yearning to be ex-smokers (that should cover 98% of the smoking population). What’s worked for you? What hasn’t?
I’m starting off cold turkey with the help of Wintergreen (non-nicotine) gum. Tomorrow is Day 1 - I’ve only got 8 smokes left. Here’s to making that 16 by smoking 1/2 a butt at a time.