How I quit smoking

old-smoker.0On August 4, 2004 I gave up smoking cigarettes. That means that I am one of the fortunate ones to no longer be a prisoner to what is a brutal addiction. When you’re a smoker you go to bed at night after you’ve had your last cigarette, and wake up in the morning immediately ready for your next one. When you travel, be it on a plane or train or bus, you are looking forward to the moment you arrive so that you can light up a cigarette. When there’s a foot of snow outside and you have run out of cigarettes, you will go out and find a place that is open. The discomfort of going out in any type of storm pales in comparison to wanting a cigarette and not having one. So in reading this piece, all you smokers please understand that this is coming from someone who knows how difficult it is to quit the habit. So how did I do it? Here is my method. But remember in reading this that there is a twist at the end of the story.
When I stopped smoking 2 years ago it was not the first time I had done so. I had previous instances where I had stopped for years at a time and succumbed to temptation and started again. So needless to say, I was rather good at it. I had developed an entire system. The system starts with preparation. You set a date to quit, maybe 2-3 weeks down the road and schedule it as a big event. During that time period you smoke any time you get the urge. This usually means you’ll smoke up to a half a pack a day more than you normally would. You then imagine not smoking a cigarette at those moments when a cigarette is most special. After a meal, after sex, with an alcoholic beverage, or with a cup of coffee. Each time those moments arise, just before you light up, you imagine not smoking. This way when you actually do quit, you are at least somewhat prepared for the feeling you experience. Then you need to talk yourself through it. Understand what you are doing and why you are doing it. And the further you go without a cigarette the easier it can become if you use this little trick. Tell yourself that the agony you are experiencing by not smoking can’t be for nothing, and if you light up, all you’ve done is cause yourself unnecessary discomfort. And finally, if you have to, turn to something else. Have a glass of wine or a beer, not too much though because we don’t want you to go from being a smoker to an alcoholic. Or even smoke a cigar. But don’t inhale it because that will just make you sick and angry and you’ll want a cigarette even more. And finally, if you try all this, and you end up starting again, don’t beat yourself up over it. That will just make it harder to attempt to quit the next time. And for many people it takes a few tries before it takes. In fact, I had tried once before this successful attempt about 3 months earlier and I was not successful. I lasted about 3 days before I smoked again. This is where I bring you the twist I promised in the beginning of this piece.
Although I do truly believe that my method works, because I had quit twice before by using it, it is not what actually got me to quit.  In the months leading up to August 4th I had been chatting online with a woman who I was getting along with quite nicely. However the one thing she made clear to me from the beginning was that she did not want to be anywhere near a man who was a smoker. Now the truth is that any time I was a smoker I did want to stop. After all, it is terribly unhealthy, smells awful, and takes away your physical stamina, among other things. So some time around May I tried to stop smoking. Naturally I told the woman that I had stopped since I certainly knew it would only make her like me more. However, 3 days after I stopped, I started again. But when she asked me a week later how I was doing as a non-smoker, I chose the easy way out. I lied. Saying that I still was not smoking and that I was doing fine. Well then when we made a plan to meet in person in the middle of the summer, and knowing that I had fed her misinformation for about 3 months, I had 2 choices. Come clean and tell her I had been lying, or actually quit smoking before I meet her and have it never be an issue. The decision was easy. I decided to quit one week before I met her. This way the smell would be gone and I would have enough time to adjust so that I would not be a nervous terror without my nicotine. Well at least the smell went away. The bad attitude I blamed on being in a bad mood when I was hungry in the morning. Needless to say I was not the most fun to be around that weekend and subsequently never saw the woman again. But at least I stopped smoking.

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