I am going to do something that I don’t normally do (at least on my blog), and I’m going to tell you a story. If you keep up with me, you know that I am very personal in all of my posts and my first post was indeed a story, but I try not to just tell people about me. I at least try to talk about my experiences in a way that might help people and that contributes to what I am writing about. Anyway, this post is going to be something of a story, but I also hope that it well help you in the same way that I’m hoping it will help me. So let’s get into how I’m going to try to quit smoking.
My Story of Smoking
I am a smoker. And by that, I mean that I smoke tobacco cigarettes because in today’s society you have to specify that or else people think that you smoke pot. I know that it may seem weird that I’m writing to tell you that I smoke, but that’s not all that I have to say. I have recently been thinking about my blog and how I want to start producing more content that helps people and actually has a purpose aside from it just being things that I love talking about. The first thing that came to mind was my struggle with being a smoker. I promise if you keep reading, the point will get more clear and hopefully you’ll be able to relate to what I have to say.
I started smoking when I was 18 and have been a smoker ever since, despite the many, many times I’ve tried to quit. I have a lot of family members who smoke or smoked including my mom, my older sister, both of my grandpas, one of my grandmas, my maternal aunts, and I’m sure more than that even. I always used to get so mad at my mom that she could never quit smoking and I also never used to get it. I would throw her cigarettes away and break them up when I was a kid and I also used to tell her that when I was grown I was going to start smoking just so I could show her how easy it was to quit. I could not have foreseen how wrong I was. Now, I did not start smoking because I was trying to prove a point but I can’t exactly tell you why I started. I’m not sure that anyone has a reason for why they started inhaling smoke that’s filled with so many horrible chemicals into their bodies even though they know that it could kill them.
I don’t even remember my first cigarette because it was probably before I was even 18 and actually started smoking. But I do remember that even though when I first started smoking and I thought it was gross and tasted bad and made me cough and feel dizzy, I kept doing it. I don’t even know why because most of the time it made me feel sick. But then one day it didn’t anymore and it literally became a habit. Once I was smoking regularly but in secret from my family, because I knew they would be absolutely pissed if they found out, I always had it in the back of my mind that it wouldn’t be for that long. I always figured I’d just quit one day. And then a year went by and I still hadn’t quit. So I started actively trying to quit and I cannot even explain how hard it was.
If you’re reading this and you’re not a smoker, it might be hard for you to understand. Whenever I talk about smoking and how I’ve tried to quit with people who don’t smoke or who have never smoked (actually been a smoker, I should say), they just can’t get it. It sounds so easy to tell someone to just stop because there are literally hundreds of reasons that you shouldn’t smoke and we know them all. Hell, my grandpa died from lung cancer and smoked until his dying day and my other grandpa died with a lung hardening disease (the disease wasn’t caused from smoking but the smoking did not help matters) and also smoked up until he died. I have plenty of reasons to quit as do all of the other smokers in the world. So why don’t we? Why don’t we just stop? That’s what people always say and I really am not just making excuses, but it is so unimaginably hard to quit smoking. I don’t want to be shortening my life with every puff. I don’t want to have absolutely disgusting breath. I don’t want yellow fingernails. I don’t want a throat that’s always full of phlegm. I don’t want my chances of stroke and heart attack to be extremely high because of smoking. I don’t want to always smell like an ashtray. I don’t want any of those things, so if it were as easy as just not doing it, I wouldn’t.
The easiest thing to do would have been to never have started in the first place. Everyone in my life always told me to never start smoking and I used to think that I never would. And then I did, again with no good rhyme or reason as to why.
So back to the story. The first time I tried to quit smoking I was living with a friend who smoked and we used to smoke in her apartment so that attempt was pretty much futile. I then met my now husband and started living with him and not only is he not a smoker and has never been a smoker, he hates it so much. It was almost a deal breaker for our relationship in the beginning because he hates it so much. So I tried to quit again because this time I was living with someone who wasn’t a smoker but that time didn’t work out either. At that point, it was the summer of 2014 and I was leaving in December for Navy boot camp (where I wouldn’t be able to smoke for two months anyway) so I decided that that was going to be how I was going to quit. There would literally be no way at all that I would be able to smoke for 60 entire days which would be more than enough time for the nicotine to get out of my system and the habits to be changed.
Life doesn’t always work out, though, and I ended up being medically discharged from the Navy after a month. Still, though, a month is enough time for the nicotine to be out of your system so I stuck to my plan when I came home from boot camp. At least for awhile, I did. It was so strange because the whole time that I was in boot camp, I never once thought about wanting a cigarette. I didn’t have cravings, I didn’t think about it and I didn’t even get cranky from the nicotine withdrawals like I had the other times I had tried to quit. As soon as I was home and it was available to me, though, it was like the whole month of cravings and jonesing hit me at once like a two-ton semi truck. I was going crazy not being able to smoke and I cannot tell you why. There was no nicotine in my body so it was all in my head but it was awful. Obviously, I ended up smoking again or else we wouldn’t be here.
When I started smoking again that time it was January 2015 and in my head, I was giving myself a year to smoke and if I hadn’t had the desire to quit by then, I was going to make myself quit. I think that I thought that a year was plenty enough time and I would definitely be quit by then, but that was not the case. In May I tried quitting again, but this time I wasn’t doing it cold turkey. Instead, I bought an e-cigarette (the cheapest kind you can get) and started smoking that to try to help me quit. It kind of started working at first, but smoking the vapor wasn’t nearly the same as smoking a real cigarette. I didn’t feel like it was even doing anything and eventually, the cravings got to be too much and I started smoking again.
Now, most of the times that I’ve tried quitting, I wasn’t very good. Whenever I was hanging out at my mom’s house or with my sister, I would have a drag of their cigarettes and soon that would turn into me bumming one from them and then, of course, I would be smoking again. I always thought it would be harmless but it never was.
So moving on from that spring into that summer. I had gone out to visit my family in Colorado that summer for a little soul searching and when I came back, I had a serious plan for my life and that included quitting smoking for real this time. I felt ready this time. I was actually doing really well at first, too. Two weeks later, though, my grandpa suddenly died and the first thing I did was go buy a pack of cigarettes. I, of course, continued smoking for the next three weeks while I was in Colorado again and around all of my smoker family as we dealt with our grief.
I came back to Michigan ready to quit smoking for real again (or so I had thought) and again I started out really strong. It was at least a month that I was quit that time but then I turned 21 and the night of my birthday I was obviously drunk and possibly smoked a whole pack. It took a couple weeks after that before I would admit that I was, yet again, smoking but eventually I did. My husband has more than once referred to me as the girl who cried wolf because I seriously cannot count how many times I’ve tried quitting and failed.
I hope I haven’t lost people’s interest yet and hopefully at least one person is able to relate to what I’ve gone through with this because this has really been one of my biggest struggles for the past four years. By this point, I’d pretty much figured out that all those times I had tried quitting before, I was quitting for so many of the wrong reasons and I’m not talking about all of the actual reasons to quit but the fact that I wasn’t quitting for me. I was usually always trying to quit for everyone else that wanted me to. I am absolutely not blaming anyone for my mistakes in this issue, but I’m more blaming myself for not being able to find the will to actually quit for myself. I knew that if I was ever going to have a shot at being a non-smoker, I would really have to have the desire to stop and to want to stop for me. (Which by the way, I do want to stop smoking but I’ll get more into the complexity of that later). So I decided that I was going to keep smoking until I could quit for me and not for anyone else.
That lasted for about the next four for five months until February 2016 rolled around. Looking back, I cannot quite remember what made me want to quit that time (which is part of my problem now) but it was so real. I went out and I bought a new e-cigarette, one that was a little more expensive and a little more heavy duty but not one of those huge vape pens that fills the entire room with a cloud of vapor when you smoke it. I started at 6 mg of nicotine and that was good for me. I really enjoyed smoking my vape and I didn’t have a problem with not smoking. After awhile I didn’t even think about cigarettes hardly ever and that was HUGE for me! Don’t get me wrong, though, I still had mood swings from the nicotine especially when I was out of liquid or I needed a new coil and couldn’t vape and almost bought cigarettes a few times but I didn’t. I didn’t even smoke when my husband and I visited my family in Colorado in April even though I had hardly been using my e-cigarette.
I had finally quit. I could not believe it but I was so proud of myself. Sometimes I had thought that I’d never be able to quit but then I was finally a non-smoker. It was so awesome.
I’m sure you know what I’m going to say next and that is that, yes I did eventually start smoking again. It started slowly this time: one night in July I was mandated at work and had to stay overnight and I ended up smoking with the other nurse aides and nurses that smoked. Then I smoked a couple cigarettes when Josh and I visited my family in Colorado again. Then came our big move to Louisville where Josh was living down here and I was trying to find a job but still living in Michigan for the time being and I started smoking full time again. I didn’t tell anyone, though, thinking that when I went down to Louisville for good I would just stop. How I convinced myself that I would be able to just stop I don’t even know. Did I not learn from all of the times that hadn’t worked before?!
Well, no it didn’t work and my husband almost killed me because he couldn’t understand why I was being so incredibly cranky and mean until I finally told him the truth and continued smoking. And that leads us to right here, right now with me blabbering on about how I can’t quit smoking.
When I was working at the hospital down here in Louisville, I met an awesome girl that I got along with really well that was also a smoker. She and I got to talking about smoking and how we had both tried to quit multiple times and our stories were so similar it was crazy. It was so nice to finally talk to someone who understood what was going on in my head about it, though. So many times I’ve tried to explain it to my husband or his mom or anyone else who doesn’t get it and they either think that I’m not trying hard enough or I’m just making excuses. And like I said, I’m not trying to make excuses even though that’s exactly what people who are making excuses always say.
This is the thing: as I mentioned above, I want to quit. I want to be a non-smoker for all of the health reasons and also because it’s just plain gross. Smoking is such a disgusting habit and I don’t want to be a smoker. So I’ll decide to quit when I’ve finished the pack that I’m smoking and feel really good about it for that day. And then I get down to my last two or three cigarettes and it starts to feel so real and scary like I’m going to lose the one constant thing that I can control in my life or something stupid like that. So I end up buying a pack of cigarettes and putting it off. And then a bunch of time goes by and I might decide I want to quit again. So this time I stop smoking and I don’t buy cigarettes for a day or two and the cravings get so bad that smoking is all I can think about and the only thing running through my mind is how I can get away with buying cigarettes or finding one to smoke. It’s really pathetic is what it is.
I want to find a way to quit where it will be permanent. I want to want to not smoke. I want the desire and the will to just not be able to pick it up.
So that’s what I’m going to try to do. I’m going to do as much research as I can and I am going to find a way to quit smoking. If you’d like to keep up with my story as I continue to post on this subject, please share your email and you’ll get updates when I try new ways to quit smoking. Also, please let me know if you can relate to me in any way!