I Quit.

06 February 2014

When I was seven, I begged and pleaded and yelled at my dad about smoking.  “Ugh.  Why do you smoke Daddy?  It smells bad!”  We spent summers in California with him and one of those trips included a drive across the country… for the fun of it.  I think I was nine or maybe ten, I very clearly remember a conversation when he told me that he started smoking on long drives to stay awake.

The first time I tried a cigarette, I was twelve.  A friend had an older sister who was maybe seventeen or eighteen at the time.  That means she was very cool.  We stole one of her Marlboro Reds and went outside for a walk and smoked it.  We were promptly caught.  We had to give a speech about smoking and our bad choice, in front of our classmates so we could stay in Youth to Youth.  It was humiliating, couple that with the violent hacking we experienced during our illicit cigarette sharing and I vowed never to smoke again.

In ninth grade, another friend’s older sister taught me how to inhale, so I knew what I was doing.  In high school, none of my close friends smoked.  I would still sneak one now and then.

When I was nineteen, I consciously decided to start smoking.  I think I have it written in my journal somewhere, but the gist was a big middle finger to my parents.  After all, I was an adult.

I smoked through college.  I smoked in my first apartment. And my second.

I met Dave in the ‘smoking room’ at work. 

I smoked outside in my wedding dress at our reception.  Here is my pretty bag, right there next to my cigarettes.

I quit smoking.

I have quit smoking maybe fifteen or twenty times in my life.  Sometimes for a few hours, once for six months, but inevitably I would start again.  On 9/11, I remember driving out of my office complex first thing and right across the street to buy a pack of cigarettes, that time I had quit for almost a month.   Without a thought started right back up.  That is what cigarettes do to you.

Then, February 13, 2006, just like all of those other times before, I quit smoking.  I tried the patch for a day and it made me feel awful, so I just quit.  Cold turkey.  As I was writing this post, Dave reminded me that he was on a business trip {he was also trying to quit} and I yelled, “Happy Fucking Valentine’s Day!” into the phone.  I only tell you this to illustrate that it wasn’t easy, I was struggling.  Though now, after eight years, my view on just how awful it was has been softened considerably.

I quit for me.  And now that my children are here, I never want them to think it’s OK to smoke or see it as cool.  Worse yet, not even take notice it because it’s their normal.

It took me a long time to think of myself as a non-smoker, there is a new normal you need to find.  Sometimes, eight years later, I still have dreams about smoking.  Or a cup of coffee in the morning has me thinking about that first deep inhale.  Sometimes, when the adrenaline of stress flushes though my body, the only thing I want to do is smoke.  Cigarettes are like an old friend, they’re familiar and relaxing and the memory is usually better than the reality. 

The reality of cigarettes is, I can’t pick one up because it will feel like coming home to a place I don’t want to live anymore. 

That is the price of addiction.  That, and the $10,000 I have saved myself over the last eight years. 

I wish I knew what it was, that magic thing, that made February 13, 2006 any different, I’d bottle it and give it away.  I would only say this, if you have someone in your life that smokes, believe them when they tell you that they are quitting whether it is the first time or the twenty-first.  To you over there smoking… Keep trying because one of these times, your resolve is going to be tougher than the nicotine.  Promise, it’s worth the fight to get to the other side.

19 comments:

Samantha @ 24 to 30 said...

YES! The dreams about smoking! I have them too! But I don't associate smoking with coffee anymore, which is weird because they went hand in hand together. I know people use many different ways to quit, but a LOT of people that have quit successfully quit cold turkey. I think you just have to get fed up. I quit in 2009 after my sister died. She didn't die of anything smoking related, but after a long illness and seeing that was enough to scare me into thinking that I didn't want to intentionally do something to shorten my life. So so glad I quit and now it's hard to believe I ever even smoked. Also...I can remember my mom yelling at me about smoking in my wedding dress. Classy :)

Michelle Albright-Peters said...

Samantha, Janet yelled at me too! Dave was right there with me, do you think she said anything to him? HA!

Renee Anne said...

My mom was a smoker. She quit off and on when I was growing up but around the time she found out she was diabetic, she quit (mostly) for good...she did start back up again after I went to college but I shamed her mercilessly when I came home (I could smell it the second I walked in the door, even if she only ever did it in one room (it wafted all over the house). My husband was a smoker when I met him...and he quit not long after. He has one once in a great while, hacks up a lung for a few days after, and is reminded why he quit. He also doesn't want our son to see him doing it.

Kelly @ turned UP to ELEVEN! said...

Congrats to you for keeping with it. My husband quit right before we moved in together. I was so thankful because i had a hard time trying to think of how to have the conversation with him that A) I didn't want him to smoke in the house and B) How do you tell someone that pays half the rent they can't do something. He said the kicker for him to quit was that after meeting my mother (fighting a battle with lung cancer) he knew he couldn't rightfully smoke in front of me. He decided to quit and never went back. It's been 9 years now. I am so proud of him. He does miss it sometimes when he's drinking and I think the coffee is a trigger sometimes too.

When I was young my parents used to smoke in my room while reading me stories and I finally at like age 3 told them NO... and took the ashtray OUT of my room. Yes, you read that right. Different times I suppose. I remember vividly having to request that my parents roll down the windows on road trips. I mean... really?

Kelly @ turned UP to ELEVEN! said...

P.S. I meant to say I hated smoking, and never really wanted to do it as a kid - I've only ever lit up twice in my life. Once as a joke and the other time because a cool girl at school begged me to smoke with her and no matter how many times I said "I don't smoke." she still begged... so I fake inhaled to get through the situation. I think me hating my parents smoking really struck me as a kid :)

Michele Wright said...

Oh thank you for this post! It will be three weeks for me. I can honestly say I think this is time I will stay non smoking. I was just over it. But let me tell you I am a psychopathic bitch! I go to bed feeling guilty about how mean I was to my husband.:( Oh but those dreams. I love those dreams! It kinda feels like I cheated. ;)

Michelle Albright-Peters said...

You can do it Michele! I think the first month is the hardest and you're almost through that. You are right, the dreams do feel like you've cheated, don't they?? Keep it up! (And be super nice to your husband, he deserves it.)

Michelle Albright-Peters said...

Kelly, I remember driving around with my little sister and brother in the car and not even thinking about smoking. I mean I rolled down the window, but seriously... I'd be so mad if someone did that with Finn and Tate!

seriouslysassymama.com said...

It is so worth the fight. I am a cardiac ICU nurse. I see what smoking does to your heart and your body, and it is not good. It is tough, but I truly believe that if someone wants to quit, they really can!

Mommy Lisa said...

I quit cold turkey too. It was the only way that worked for me. Mazel.

Erin Mikulak said...

The first time I ever smoked in front of my mother was at your wedding with you in your wedding dress. I've been trying to quit. I'm down to one or two a day. Im getting closer to the cold turkey- any day now. On the other hand- its been over a year since I bit my fingernails! One bad habit at a time people!

Michelle Albright-Peters said...

How didn't I know this Erin!?? I'm proud of you for cutting back! You can do it!

SamK said...

I quit 14 years ago and I know exactly what you mean about that feeling of still wanting a cigarette. I quit cold turkey (after numerous other attempts) and that time it worked for me. Although, 14 years later I find if I have my arms crossed, my index and middle finger automatically "assume the position" of holding a cigarette.

Christine said...

I've never smoked, so I can't know what you went through, but I wanted to offer my congratulations. GOOD FOR YOU!!!!

Jackie said...

I for one was the opposite...the psycho bitch who constantly hounded you about how smoking was nasty and bad for you. I don't remember exactly but it could be one of the countless reasons why we stopped talking one of those "not friend" times we had. I am proud of you. You are healthier and your children will thank you someday. Just ask my parents.

Just A Normal Mom said...

I have never been a smoker, though I have lost two loved ones to smoking related diseases. I also know how stinking hard it was for my dad to quit and how much healthier he his now for his decision. (Which was partially made when my son imitated him by pretending a crayon was his cigarette when he was about 3 years old). Anyway, well done, Michelle. Good for you!

Triplezmom said...

Sometimes I think it takes a lot of quits before it takes, you know? But it's still a struggle. . .

Jenny said...

I've never smoked, not even once, I just can't stand the smell since my parents smoked all my life. It's not cool going to school smelling like a cigarette or anywhere for that matter when you're a nonsmoker. Great job on quitting cold turkey though, I know how hard that must be... since my parents have tried and tried before.

Michelle Albright-Peters said...

Triplezmom, absolutely!!

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