I have several DIY projects lined up to share but I decided I want to “muse.”
Or rather lecture.
Let’s just say I want to share a “journey.”
I hesitate to say “I WAS a smoker.” Truth be told, I still am a smoker…I just CHOOSE not to smoke now.
Six years ago I stopped smoking. I smoked for most of my adult life. I can still remember my very first cigarette. I was 20…it was a Virginia Slim menthol…on a road trip…with a friend who smoked.
Notice I did not say “I quit smoking.” To me, that would imply I will not do it again. I can’t make that promise.
I have “quit” many times. Many times for years at a time. I tried gum, mints, hypnosis, drugs, cold turkey. I quit when I was pregnant. Every time I would quit I would go out and make a big ticket purchase…like new furniture or a new car. After all, smoking is an expensive habit and if you “quit” smoking you have all that extra money to spend on other things!
Inevitably I would end up with a car payment AND the cost of a carton of cigarettes every week!
I can honestly say this is the longest I have ever gone without smoking. But it is a daily CHOICE I make. The physical addiction is LONG gone, but the psychological craving for a cigarette still blindsides me on occasion.
A therapist once told me that smoking was one of the hardest things for a woman to give up because we use it as a “reward.” Kids down for a nap, smoke a cigarette…mopped the kitchen floor, smoke a cigarette… laundry all washed, folded and put away, smoke a cigarette.
And you know what…he was right. When I looked at my “pattern” of smoking it was pretty predictable.
I see the effects of smoking almost daily in my work. I own apartments and every time I have to clean and repair an apartment a smoker lived in I have to Kilz the walls and ceilings before I paint.
This is what “white” walls (seriously, they were WHITE!!!) look like after a smoker lived in this unit for about a year…you can see where I have rolled white Kilz….the “yellow” is pure nicotine on once white walls and ceilings. (This is AFTER we had wiped the walls and ceilings with ammonia water!)
I have found that oil based Kilz is the ONLY thing that will seal nicotine (and water stains!) so it does not bleed through the paint.
Don’t even get me started on the SMELL!!!! Kilz is some nasty smelling stuff but stale cigarette smoke is just fricking gross!
You don’t smoke inside you say? Good for you…and your spouse…and your kids…and your pets!
But what about YOUR insides…if one year of smoking inside can do this to a wall, what is it doing to your lungs?
For me, I developed a chronic cough and congestion and honestly I was pretty low energy.
Not to mention the other downsides to smoking. It stinks…sorry but all the perfume and breath mints in the world can’t cover the smell of cigarette smoke!
It RULES your life….seriously, you have to plan every activity around cigarettes…when you go out to eat, when you fly, when you go on a long drive, when you go to the movies, when you go to a play, when you go to a sporting event. When and where you can get your nicotine fix completely controls every activity.
When I was traveling, I only booked layovers in airports that had smoking lounges…seriously! And OMG if my flight was over 2 hours long!!!!
Same with long car rides…it is one thing to stop every 4 hours to stretch and pee…but to have to stop every 2-3 hours to smoke a cigarette was a fricking nightmare!!!!
So…how have I managed to not smoke for the last six years you ask?
I want to say I am NOT an “addiction specialist.” Like my weight loss journey I can only share my experience…what I did and what has, to date worked for me!
What I DID NOT do? I didn’t set “a day to stop,” I didn’t tell my friends and family I wasn’t going to smoke anymore, I didn’t have some big “ripping the pack up” ceremony, I didn’t toss all my lighters….
First, I “bad talked” the cigarettes. Before I ever “stopped,” I made myself really focus on all the negatives of the nasty habit…you make me stink, you make me feel bad physically, you made me leave the restaurant early, you made me freeze to death at half time or during the commercials, you made me miss my son’s touchdown pass/homerun/last minute game winning shot, you make it hard to afford groceries/a new couch/a vacation, you make me dry clean my sweaters every time I wear them!
Notice I said “you” rather than “it.” See what I did there?
Just like focusing on “the positives” in your life can change your attitude for the better, focusing on the negative can change your attitude about smoking.
It is no longer just something you do, it is a “baaaaad” thing that is literally controlling your life!!!
By the time I put down my last cigarette, I was a tad ticked!
Good…you want to be (and should be) ticked off that the nasty, expensive habit has such a negative impact on your life…stay focused on that!
Second, I had to change up some routines. Rather than going out for a smoke after I got all the laundry done or the floors mopped, I would go file my nails, or brush my teeth, or pick my nose….ANYTHING other than what I use to do. I no longer sit outside on the porch and drink my coffee in the mornings…because that was my “cigarette time.” (Be careful to NOT substitute food for cigarettes!)
I use an ecig (an Ecig…NOT a vape…this is the brand I use but I am NOT endorsing it….just saying). Okay, so I know there is conflicting data on whether these things are bad for you. But you know what…there is hard core proof and data that smoking cigarettes is super bad for you. So until there is some hardcore proof that these little ecigs are harming me, I will use them.
Why? Because as I said, the “craving” to smoke a cigarette will literally blindside you…you will desperately want a cigarette for whatever reason…you’ve had a bad day, you got a whiff of cigarette smoke and it smells sooooo good…for me, it is seeing it on television…when I can’t smell it, it looks sooo relaxing.
The ecig gives me the ability to “smoke” without going out and buying a pack of cigarettes and having to start all over!
I also stay hyper-focused on the positives of NOT smoking! My car/home/clothes/breath smell better, I feel “healthier,” I don’t have to wash or dry clean my clothes every time I wear them, I have a few extra bucks to spend on positive things (like manicures and facials!), I can sit and gossip with my girlfriends after dinner rather than run outside and smoke, I can sit through an entire game/movie/play/flight/car trip without a “smoke break.” So many great things when a nasty habit isn’t controlling your life!
Which brings me to my final point. You may have to start over…repeatedly. Whether you use mints, gum, Chantix, hypnosis, stop cold turkey, get pregnant…whatever…there is a pretty good chance you may have to start, or rather stop, again.
But that is okay…DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP! Seriously, DO NOT turn the negative onto yourself! If you want to think negative, again focus on how bad the cigarettes are…not what a failure you are.
Because you didn’t “fail.” You stopped…for a day, for a week, for a month….maybe even for years. And if you can stop once, you can do it again.
There are absolutely NO good reason for smoking….but there is a lifetime of great reasons to stop.
YOU CAN DO IT!
That, my friends, is my soap box for the day!