It’s August 2nd 2014 as I write this and as the title says I did in fact quite one year ago today. It was August 2nd 2013 that I quit smoking. So actually, it’s been a year and a day but let’s not nitpick. The year hasn’t been easy and my life has changed a lot since then. I’ve had to deal withdrawals, serious health issues, prescription medications, frustrations, depression, legal issues and of course there’s that time I killed a prostitute.
Okay, I didn’t really have any depression. But, it was a difficult year for a great many reasons. I really did have a lot of the above issues. However, my biggest triumph is that I quit smoking. I always new that I would quit someday. And, August 1st of last year I had no plans to quit the following day. So what made me quit and how did I do it?
They say that you should plan to quit. You shouldn’t just wake up and quit. That you need to plan for it, be prepared for it. I did none of that really. Of course I knew that someday I would quit but it was day long off into the future. I had this idea that I would first lose some weight and have beautiful, wonderful girlfriend that didn’t smoke and she would help me through it. That I would want to quit for not only her but for myself.
But, before I get into how I quit, let me briefly say briefly what didn’t help me quit. I do this because I hope that maybe the liars and the morons behind why I didn’t quit sooner will read this and see that for all their bullshit, they had absolutely nothing to do with helping me quit and actually encouraged me to continue smoking. I am talking about all the bullshit “facts” about smokers. (not saying that all facts on why you should quit smoking are bullshit. I am just saying that many “facts’ aren’t really facts they’re more like misleading misuse of the facts.) I am talking about all the commercials that tried to shame me or scare me into quitting smoking. The commercials that misrepresent the facts in order to scare you.
Looking at pictures and videos of people with holes in their throats didn’t do shit for me. That blonde lady who is now dead with that hole in her throat trying to scare me into quitting was such bullshit. I love how they added CGI smoke coming out of her throat. I love how all these commercials completely misrepresent the facts using scare tactics and bullshit. It didn’t work for me, it had the opposite effect actually. I would become defiant when I saw these ads or heard of these so called facts. All the bullshit around second hand smoke. Is it dangerous? It can be. If you work around it all day long the facts absolutely suggest that it can be. So, if this bothers you. Don’t work around it. It’s pretty simple really. If you’re walking in a well ventilated area and happen to get a whiff of someones second smoke, you’re not going to die. You will probably have that disgusting smoke smell on you but it’s not really going to cause you any harm unless you already have severe respiratory issues. So let’s just be honest about this and lose the cult mentality over it.
Let’s be honest about the numbers here. The vast majority of smokers don’t die because they smoked. Both my grandfathers smoked most of their adult lives and their deaths had nothing to do with smoking. This isn’t to say that it’s a good idea to start smoking or that I condone it. It is bad for, it can kill you. The science doesn’t just suggest it, it proves it! But to say smoking kills is misleading. Smoking can kill. That’s more factual. But, my point here isn’t about the science. It’s about the advertising that didn’t work for me.
You couldn’t scare me into quitting by throwing bullshit facts in my face. Like the one that says over 500,000 people die every year from a smoking related illness. That’s really misleading. Because it implies that over 500,000 people die from smoking every year. They do not. Or if they do I have never any data that suggests it. What they did there is add up all the ways in which people can die that also relate to illnesses that smoking can help to cause. A great example is lung cancer. A lot of smokers die from this. But, so do a lot of people who don’t smoke, who never smoked and they still died from lung cancer. But, their death, because it’s was caused by an illness that can be attributed to smoking. This is total bullshit. Their death was not caused by smoking.
Let me clear that up. Let’s say that last year 25,000 people died of lung cancer. Of those 25,000 people 15,000 of them were actual smokers. It doesn’t matter. Lung cancer is considered a smoking related illness. So, the anti-smoking lobby can say those 25 people died of a smoking related illness. Do you see how misleading that is? It implies that all 25,000 people were smokers. So you can’t believe these people and that is a terrible thing. Because smoking is bad for you and it can kill you. I am just saying that you don’t need to make shit up about how bad smoking is. The science is there. Don’t scare me with bullshit.
So what did help? A few commercials motivated me when I did quit. Granted I didn’t use their methods but the commercials themselves made me feel better about myself by supporting me in a positive way. Those commercials where a person is asked if they want to have a smoke break or is faced with a situation where they would normally smoke but they choose not to. Then the tiny band pops up singing, “I just want to celebrate!” I thought of those commercial almost every time I wanted a smoke and didn’t have one. I pictured that tiny band singing that song to me. There was also the commercial with the little line cartoon and the guy smoking that wanted to quit but keeps smoking. The narrator tells him it’s not easy but there’s help if he wants it and he just need to call some 800 number. It was again a positive commercial. It didn’t try to scare me or shame me. It tried to support me. It offered help not a scare tactic. It offered compassion not shame.
When August 2nd 2013 rolled around I had already been planning on going to Laughlin for my upcoming birthday on the 27th. I love the Colorado Belle, if I could move in there I would. I wanted to save some money. I had just bought an eCig and my thought was that if I can smoke this more often instead of smoking a real cigarette I could save a good 60 or 70 bucks before my trip.
I was at Walmart on the 2nd and I had walked by the nicotine patches then I saw the gum. I thought, just for the heck of it, what if I just try to quit for a day? Maybe I could just actually smoke less. Maybe just have one or two smokes a day with the help of the gum. I bought a pack for 30 bucks. I got home and started chewing. I think I had 3 or 4 pieces that day? With each hour that passed I started to wonder, how long can I go before I just have to break down and smoke? By the end of the day smoking was all I could think of. I had trouble sitting still. The thought of smoking was consuming me.
However, another thought was creeping into my head. What if I could actually quit smoking. My dad quit smoking 10 or 15 years ago. My grandfather on my mother’s side quit smoking in the late 70’s. I remember it well. He lived with us. I was just kid back then. But, I remember him coming home from a brief stay in the hospital. The doctor had told him he didn’t have a choice, he had to quit. He never smoked again. Keeping them in mind also was a great help. If they could do it, so I could I. Then I started to think, I made it through the day, maybe I can make it through another day.
It was rough but I made it through. I stopped taking the gum after the first day. As I understand it, the patch and the gum just add to your suffering because it keeps the nicotine in your system. Without them the nicotine is out of your system in about 48 hours. I could be wrong about that but it’s what I had heard. I thought, let’s get that crap out of my system.
I knew the hard part of quitting would be the habit. It’s truly is a two step process. You have to get the nicotine out of your system. That’s actually the easy part. The difficult part is breaking the habit. For me, I would work at my desk in front of the computer all day and about every hour I would get up for a smoke break. I’d be out at the side door of my garage taking that glorious, relaxing smoke break. I loved those! I would have one if I had to wait for something, anything, if I had to wait for something and it was going to take more than a minute, I was out on a smoke break. I would have one before dinner and of course there’s not much better than the after dinner smoke break. And, having one with my morning coffee.
Smoking is a habit and giving up all those wonderful breaks can be one of the hardest things you will ever do. I decided to try and fool my brain. I went and bought some Red Vines. I would grab 4 or 5 of them when I craved a smoke break. I would go to my usual smoke break spot and bite the ends off the Red Vines and pretend it was a cigarette. I would actually inhale through the thing like it was a smoke. It sounds so silly now but damn it didn’t really help me! I would take a long drag and then a bite. Those 4 or 5 vines would take about as long as smoke break to go through. I can’t express how much this helped me get through it.
I think the most difficult day was day 3 or 4? I was miserable. I was in such a bad mood that day. I just wanted to beat or kill everyone. Everything was pissing me off. I wasn’t expecting that it was the closest I ever came to cheating on my new resolution and having a smoke. I kept telling myself. “Don’t kill yourself, you can have just one smoke. You deserve it!” Somehow, I made it through that day and didn’t smoke at all.
I kept up the Red Vines trick for about a week and a half. By this time, I still wanted to smoke. But, I could finally have brief moments where I wouldn’t think about smoking. It still wasn’t easy. I loved smoking. I knew it was bad for me, I couldn’t even take full deep breaths any more. And all that crap about Erectile Dysfunction was somewhat true. I don’t want to get into the gory details other than to briefly say I had some issues over it. I wasn’t completely broke down there but there were some “getting there” issues. I look back at all the years of some less than stellar moments in the bedroom and at times it makes me wish I could get a “do-over”. But, that’s how powerful the control smoking can have over you.
The Red Vines weren’t my only help. I have to admit that I always hated smoking. When I was teenager I couldn’t stand it. I looked down at smoker in some ways. I always knew it was bad for you. It always stinks and you can always smell people who smoke. Now, I walk past some people and I can smell it so strongly that it almost makes me gag.
This was one of the joys of quitting. Since I worked at home and I don’t date much if at all any more. I don’t go out unless it’s to go see my kids or go shopping. That smoking smell just soaks in. Because of it, I never could just really go out at the drop of a hat. I knew I smelled so if I suddenly realized I needed something from the store for example, I would have to take a shower just so that I wouldn’t stink as bad. It was always a hassle. In fact that was the biggest reason I kept not smoking once I finally quit. I didn’t really care about my health enough to quit. I loved smoking too much. There are few things better than enjoying a good smoke break. It made quitting more difficult for me because I loved it. I still do love the idea of it. But, the reality of tit is what keeps me from smoking.
I love not having to spend the money on it. I love that I don’t stink like smoke any more. I feel better about myself knowing that I don’t have all that crap in my body anymore. It’s been a year and there are times I think about smoking. In fact I still have 3 and a half packs sitting out in the garage that I haven’t touched since August 1st 2013. I keep them there as a reminder. For some reason it helped me knowing that they were there in case I ever really needed them. It took long a time and I am glad to say that after a year, I still look at them. It’s just that now I don’t keep them because I might really need them. I keep them as a reminder that I never did really need them.