On Smoking Cessation

I’m not proud of this, but I’m not embarrassed by it either. It is what it is. They’re my decisions and I own each and every one of them, for better or worse.
I was fifteen when I smoked my first cigarette. I was really bad at it. I used to snap them in half with my nervous, clenching fingers. 
I’ve been an on-again-off-again smoker for the past eight years. Sometimes I am a heavy smoker, sometimes I’m a non-smoker, sometimes I’m an ex smoker. But I’m still a smoker. 
Every time I put on perfume, I’m reminded of what K’s mom once said to us: “Perfume hides a multitude of sins.” I can’t smell the Cool Water perfume I loved so much without thinking of those days when we used to sneak around and try to pretend we weren’t smokers. 
This gas station used to sell me cigarettes. The lady at the counter would tell me I was beautiful and give me chocolates. I really enjoyed the slight ego boost. 
I met my roommate in college by asking her if I could smoke with them. I’m grateful for that. Without her, college wouldn’t have been the same at all. 
I quit during the cancer scare in college. I quit hard. I gave up a lot of things so it would go away, and cigarettes were of course the first. I stuck with it. I was doing really well, for many many months, until the night I came home to find my laptop missing. I went to 7-11 and smoked an entire pack of Marlboros while sitting in the kitchen in my apartment.
I always told myself I’d quit for real when I graduated from college. And I did. 
Then I went to South Africa. There’s no way to escape the cigarette smoke there. People smoke in their beds, in their living rooms, over tea, while dancing at the club. 
I’m not exactly a chimney, but I really enjoy them while I’m drinking. 
I’ve been really realizing that I need to stop sooner rather than later. I obviously don’t want to be a woman smoker (eek, this woman business is complicated). I don’t want to be a mom who sneaks cigs behind the garage when the kids are napping (I’m sure they exist?). 
I’m not dating/dating (whatever) a boy/man-thing [haha, I would seriously love to see his face if he knew I was referring to him as a boy/man-thing] who really hates smoking. He’s nice because he’s a good reason to really quit. Last night, he kissed me and then pulled away and said, “You’ve been smoking, haven’t you?”

Maybe. (I’d had one like four hours earlier because I thought I wasn’t going to see him and could get away with it.) I didn’t lie to him. 

And I know that you need to “quit for yourself” but at the same time, I usually need a good push. It’s not that I fiend, it’s just that they feel so nice. Having never smoked, you might not understand. But it’s the same feeling as sinking into a hot bath after a long day. It’s like coming home to fresh melted cookies. It’s like waking up in someone’s arms. Actually, all of those things are better than smoking. 
So I’m going to have to learn how to live without them. And I will. Not for him, but for me. 
Anyway, this article reminded me of it and made me want to blog about it.

From ThoughtCatalog.com:

When It’s Good To Give Up

SEP. 30, 2011

By STEPHANIE GEORGOPULOS

I started smoking when I was 14. I used to say things like, “I’ll quit when I’m pregnant,” as though that was an actual plan, as though I could count on my addiction floundering just because there happened to be two of me growing instead of one. I made similar excuses over the course of my ten-year love affair with nicotine, none of which made logical sense but all of which allowed me to poison myself on an hourly basis without remorse. I wanted to poison myself.

But then, much to the shock of just about everyone who knows me, I quit. I didn’t chew gum or feed nicotine through my pores, I just abandoned the one constant in my life, the one companion I’d had for the past decade. The one-year anniversary of my quit date was this week. I don’t think I’ll go back.

It’s true that nicotine is addictive, it affects your mood, it changes the way you make decisions. It’s easy to point out that cigarettes are ‘the bad guy,’ the way they empty your wallet and yellow your fingertips. This is a negative habit that most people will commend you for giving up.

But we could stand to give up more often. Maybe there are no instructional pamphlets or illustrative posters to point out each and every one of the things we need to rid ourselves of, but there they are – lurking in the shadows of our subconscious. They are the people who make us feel like our lungs are in a vice whenever we see them. The humanization of our bad habits, walking and breathing and telling bad jokes.

Some people just make you feel bad. The way you can wake up smelling like some half-rate casino and think to yourself I don’t want to do this anymore, you can feel that way about people, and the worst part is that you can’t extinguish them, you can’t smother their head into an ashtray or make them someone else’s problem.

It’s in our nature to not want to give up, especially not on people; fragile, harmless people – we all just mean well, don’t we? Don’t we all just want to be happy? Don’t the things we do to achieve that happiness, the things that tear us apart from one another – aren’t those the things that make us similar? Aren’t people inherently good? Maybe. But what does it matter if that goodness is not reserved for you? What if all you extract from a person is negativity? How do we justify allowing ourselves to feel badly because someone may or may not be redeemable?

We don’t always recognize when someone is bad for us, but sometimes we do. Sometimes we become all-consumed by the disgust that’s bred from this idea that we allow hate to affect us so deeply. People create art because of it. It can drive us; it can turn us into something we’re not. And even though it’s ugly, it’s addictive. We become addicted to toxicity.

And in that case, it’s good to give up. It’s good to fight against the cancer growing inside of us by neglecting to feed it. We have to starve it into submission, forgo the efforts that help it grow. The brooding and the anguish, bury it. Extinguish whatever it is that’s making us feel badly and worry about ourselves. We need to quit allowing something that’s decidedly negative to drive our actions, our moods. We need to quit poisoning ourselves with vitriol.

The thing is, there are people who don’t make us feel terrible. There are people who listen to us and care for us and make us smile. They loosen the vice around our lungs and help us breathe. They are the fresh air. They alight us in ways a carcinogenic never will. Whatever energy we devote to a toxic situation, we take away from the people who deserve it – the people whose goodness doesn’t have to be assumed; their goodness is just there, in plain sight. They are worth quitting for.

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