“There is No Such Thing As Quit.”
That is what my father told me a few years before he died of lung cancer. He smoked for the entire time I knew him even while he was sick and dying, with breathing oxygen through a tube in his nose. He smoked right up until his breathing was too shallow to make it worth the effort, but by then he had morphine to help prevent him from caring to much about that.
It’s been almost two years since I stopped smoking; I had tried several time in the previous 25 years but it just never took. Quitting smoking seemed to get harder with every attempt. Tired, angry, and confused, became the normal state and I’m not sure how I made past the first few days. On day one I got to work and there was no coffee. Nicotine withdrawal, no caffeine and there I was surrounded by razor-sharp knives, lot’s of open flame, what might have been (given the circumstances) the largest collection of aggravating people you could find without dealing directly with the government. Fortunately no one went to the hospital or jail so I was willing to mark it as a success.
Failure is an option
One of the hardest things is, that it is almost considered acceptable to cheat about it. In fact no one will hold it against you if you just start smoking again. People are so supportive of your decision, even most other smokers; but they all understand how hard it is to quit and if you “fall off the wagon”, well that’s OK at least you tried.
“How long did you make it? Well that was a great try.”
“I’d have never lasted that long.”
“Aw, you were doing so well, what happened?”
“Better luck next time man. Hey, can I bum one of those.”
All of the above is a bunch of bovine dung.
I’ve never told anyone but my wife this, I once bought one of those electronic cigarettes. I felt like such a coward for using it. Really if your going to breath in an addictive chemical, you might as well have some kind of health risk attached to it. Besides, now you have two groups of people who think you look like a schmuck, smokers and nonsmokers.
The long haul of not smoking has been very easy, after the first few weeks. I got to a point where people don’t annoy me, more than they used to. However, even today I have little moments. I’ll be standing in a check out line and I’ll realize I am staring absent mindedly at cigarette display, or I’ll step out onto the side-walk and start searching my pockets for a pack of smokes that aren’t there.
I think I became a nonsmoker on the day that these small behaviors no longer bothered me. I’d like to think that this was what my dad meant about there not being such a thing as quit, that there are just things that stick with you no matter what. After all it was something I did for over half my life, it’s just a bit normal to miss having the habit. Now there are times I look at myself and wonder, how many toothpicks I go through each day.
I’m betting it’s a lot.