Chaos to Cosmos
The path from chaos to cosmos was discovered by telling one's life story

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

One year

No Smoking

I promised myself that I’d write a progress report if I managed to go a whole year without smoking and I have, today. Even after a year, I still crave cigarettes constantly. I still can’t sit and do nothing, even for 30 seconds. I dare not think about it: writing this has provoked the worst cravings I’ve had in 365 days.  I still have a cough that I didn’t have when I smoked. I get breathless, which I didn’t when I smoked. In addition, I’ve had a year filled with major stresses and losses. The year has been hell actually, thank you, but I still stuck to this 100%.

How? Well, after a really bad experience with nicotine patches – that may even have been a mild heart attack – I’ve been too bloody scared smoke, because I just could not go through that again.

I’ve had only coffee and fruit as replacements. The former as it does help me with cravings and fruit, because I figured that if I overdosed on the latter it would provide the double benefit of clearing more poisons from my system, faster. (I’m still waiting for it to help me lose the weight I’ve put on.)

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to give up smoking: I think it’s an entirely personal thing. I personally, don’t think I could have done it at all if I’d told anyone (even me) in advance, or got help, even from a professional, who would remind me and make me focus on the one thing I really HAD to avoid thinking about.

The right way, for me, probably would have been to have thrown myself into a DIY project for a few weeks. Alone. With Prozac.

If smoking is an addiction, I actually don’t think it does the potential ex-smoker any damn good to think of it in those terms, because that makes it seem a much bigger deal and more difficult hurdle to overcome, even than it is. And at this point you need to have belief and confidence in yourself and your abilities, so it would also be counter-productive to think of yourself as “an addict”, with the inference of weakness and other negative connotations.

Frankly, I don’t believe it to be true anyway. Who says we’re addicts, other than manufacturers of smoking “cures” (who need us to be “dependent” upon them); medics and others with a vested interest?

It seems to me much better value to forgive yourself for merely doing what was socially acceptable and perfectly normal at the time. (If you’re as old as me, they hadn’t even begun telling us smoking was harmful.) Maybe taking up smoking because all your friends did, or because you thought it made you look more grown up, or whatever excuse, is a bit pathetic when you really analyze it, but since so many of our peers did it, can you really say that only the “worst” people smoked? No, of course not! Maybe it just shows that we’re human? I prefer to simply accept that and move on.

Can you do it?

Well, if I smoked, eventually 2 packs a day, from when I was 14 to when I was 50 (my mental arithmetic makes that 36 years) and I’ve managed to go a whole hell-like year without, I think anyone can. Seriously. I didn’t even want to give up. I’m independent and strong willed enough, but I know I can lack self control when it comes to denying myself pleasures and I’m certainly not one to let anyone else try to deny me them! Smoking bans, to me, are like red rags to a bull and I might have given up 15 years earlier, if it hadn’t been for someone trying to tell me where I could and couldn’t smoke.

Yet it can’t have been impossible, can it?

The truth (not that I’d admit this in public), if we can face it, is that it’s really only uncomfortable and I suffer bigger discomforts. But even after a whole year without smoking, I’m not willing to say that I’ve (yet) given up permanently and I’m not going to make the mistake of being complacent. There’s still work to be done. And lots of TLC to award myself.