I grew up actually thinking that smoking was a cool thing to do and so, like most of my friends, I smoked. Not only did most of my friends smoke but both of my parents smoked. Smoking cigarettes seemed like the normal thing to do back in the 70’s and 80’s.
I became addicted to cigarettes. It was only after I had a family of my own did it dawn on me, the utter control that smoking had over me. I allowed cigarettes to control what I did and how and when I did it. If you were once a smoker and have quit then you know what I’m talking about. But if you are a smoker and have never tried to quit, then you might not understand how cigarettes control a person’s behavior and how they live their life.
Cigarettes are not mind-altering in the same sense that other street drugs and certain prescription medications are, but they do control a person in many ways. Smoking is a nasty, controlling, addictive habit that has led many lives to an early death. Cigarettes are so addicting I’ve seen people smoking who were on oxygen tanks.
People are psychological creatures, meaning the power of our mind can helps us quit something such as a bad habit, or it can help us continue doing a bad habit, such as smoking cigarettes. Most folks when they try to quit an addictive habit such as smoking and drinking will relapse the first couple of tries because they don’t know themselves yet and what works for them.
First Try to Quit Smoking
The first time I tried to quit smoking I quit for my husband. However, no one can be totally healed of an addiction if they quit for someone else. If the addicted person does not have the willingness to quit for themselves they will remain addicted in some way, whether it's emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and or physically. There are many alcoholics roaming the streets that don't drink, yet they aren't totally healed because they still exhibit signs of the condition in how they behave and live their life. That's another blog post, however.
Addiction to a substance can be very powerful, not just in the physical sense but in the psychological sense too. For the physical addiction to cigarettes I used the nicotine gum. Chewing the gum gives you a dose of nicotine that your body craves, but it doesn’t take away the psychological side of addiction like the feeling you just lost your best friend; or the needing to have something in your hands. I became saddened and almost depressed every time I tried to quit smoking.
So after about three days of not smoking I began to smoke, again. I had my friend back and I was happy once more.
Second Try to Quit Smoking
The second time I tried to quit I had this idea that I could just smoke a little less each day until I was only smoking one or two cigarettes. Then my thinking was, it will be easier to just quit cold turkey. I even bought some fake cigarettes that when you puff on them give off a mint flavor, which I used when I wasn’t smoking the real thing. After several months of this I realized “trying to cut down” does not work, at least not for me.
Third Try to Quit Smoking
The saying, “the third time is the charm” proved to be incorrect assumption for me. Several years had gone by since my last attempt at quitting and my cigarette cough was only getting worse; I was only in my early forties but I was dying, literally to a slow death. I wanted to quit and the willingness was there health-wise but psychologically I still wanted to smoke; after all it was my best friend.
The third time I quit smoking I actually went a full 6 weeks without smoking and I thought I was doing pretty well. I went abroad to Dominican Republic with my smoking mother in law. The very first day, smelling the second hand smoke had made my cravings even worse and I started smoking again.
How Smoking Controlled My Life
I never smoked inside the house, so I had to get up in the middle of movies and go outside and smoke, which made everyone in the house have to wait on me while I puffed my cigarettes. I didn’t smoke in the car so when we took long road trips I had to make Frank pull over so I could smoke. I had to leave in the middle of functions and events because I would have nicotine fits, I kept the fact that I smoked from certain acquaintances because I was afraid of what they would think of me. I was a mess. Cigarettes were controlling my life!!
Sometimes I had to go to the store late at night because I ran out of cigarettes and I had to go buy more. A couple of times when I ran out of cigarettes I got so edgy that in desperation I gathered up, out of the garbage can, all of my cigarette butts and smoked them one after another. Once, I almost smoked in the airplane bathroom because I was having a nicotine fit. They’ll put you on the “no fly list” for that, btw.
I seriously was not ready to give up my best friend in the physical or emotional sense. I cannot stress enough how hard it is to quit smoking but many people do it every day and is very much possible when your mind is made up and ready to do it.
I wanted to keep my best friend so much that I actually justified in my mind that maybe “if I grew my own tobacco” it will be better for me, you know healthier. And so that is what I did. I had a wonderful tobacco harvest. I bought cigarette rolling paraphernalia and everything. I became an expert at rolling my own cigarettes and then I’d pop on a filter; otherwise it would be way too strong. I’ll tell you this much, tobacco grows real well in the southeast U.S and mine was organic.
Because it was organic it was better for me than the cigarettes you buy in the store, however you are still inhaling a harsh and toxic substance that causes many health issues. I think I smoked for about another year or so before I tried to quit the fourth time.
(Note) The last year or so, when I still smoked, I started telling myself I was going to quit soon, but I was going to do it my way, not the traditional way that most people quit an addictive bad habit. I still had several bags full of dried tobacco leaves from my tobacco harvest, which I gave away to a smoker.
Fourth Try to Quit Smoking and Mission Succeeded
One day Angelo, my middle child, out of the blue said, “Mom, you’re going to be like that lady we saw with the oxygen tank. You’re going to be wheeling around an oxygen tank and still smoking”. Thinking about this and knowing my son was worried about my health as much as I was, I decided to quit smoking. Hey, what a novel idea, uh? I was 43 years old and smoked for 26 years!
This Time It Was Different – Fourth Time is the Charm
This time I did not tell anyone in my family that I was quitting. For the first four or five days no one knew I had even quit. I don’t know what it was, but I could tell in my heart and mind that this time I was prepared to quit this nasty, controlling habit and obliterate it out of my life for good! I finally talked myself into it, and that my friend is what it takes, besides some good ole “divine intervention”. God helps those who are also ready to help themselves.
Another thing that worked for me, which might not work for everyone is I also kept a pack of cigarettes in my closet knowing if I really wanted one it was there; it's a psychological thing. I’m very happy to say the cigarettes remained untouched, even though I thought about them up there for the first six months after quitting.
Cigarettes are so addicting that I had cigarette cravings every now and then for about two years after I quit. I have been smoke free going on 11 years now! Thanks to the cleansing nature of our lifestyles, I have not craved cigarettes like most people. Thank God.
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