Sunday, January 4, 2015

How I quit smoking.

It was a late Thursday night before the last weekend of January 1999. I had the thought that I would be an gross old woman with yellow fingernails and yellowed white hair buying a case of coke, several cartons of cigarettes and a large sack of cat food every week..

The next day I had the beginnings of a cold and an oppressive school dance to coordinate. Thankfully, the principal canceled the dance. There was a lot of politics in which I was a bystander that I hoped to escape unscathed without having to take sides.

The cold became a full blown upper respiratory illness. It lasted a week and I could not smoke. Afterwards, I stayed busy and tried to not think about smoking. My hardest moments was sitting with friends at a restaurant who were smoking. It was all I could think about was buying a pack on the way home and smoke just a few.

I have uneasy dreams today where I have smoked a few. It fills me with such regret. I knew back then if I smoked one, I would start back.

I had started teaching night school in addition to day school. Work was not going that well and I wanted an out if possible. I made it for two months, and then spring break with free time came. No longer was my day ruled with day school, walking my dogs, taking a nap, taking a quick shower and working at the night school.

My fluid, throaty persistent cough had stopped. Every time I though of smoking I would remember that cough. It haunted me and rose anytime I got hot, stressed or on the spot. The cough was so aggravating I was able to dismiss the yearning.

With time the urge was less. I really did not think about smoking.

After my dad passed which was December 18th, 2000, I was late driving from my home in Sharpsburg to some place in central Georgia that I needed to be. I began to dig in my purse for no reason as I drove South on the Interstate highway. The hunt for cigarettes that I no longer smoked or possessed had been bidden by my subconscious.

Now, I don't care for cigarette smoking. Mostly that lingering smell on everything is what bothers me. I spent the night at my brother's house and the smell was more than I could handle. After unsuccessfully trying to sleep in the backseat of my Toyota Corolla, the discomfort and the frequency of traffic of the road in front of his house drove me back into his house.

Why did I start smoking?

At first I was just experimenting. A little reckless behavior to take the edge off the fact that I was incredibly naïve, sheltered. Later I smoked on occasion because I was the youngest person where I worked and all the others who were old, i.e. 26, 27 even 31, smoked. It helped me not be so nervous.

The problem was that I no longer could lay them down for months at a time. I still called myself a "chipper". Later, I knew I was a smoker and it was an addiction. I would quit occasionally. I understand why people need help quitting.

I was lucky in that subconsciously I had begun to loathe the habit. I think this is why I was able to go cold turkey. I think this is what happens to most all who go my route.

In the end, I think cold turkey is the easiest. I cheated or took advantage of the fact that I had a chest cold in giving myself a head start. If I had lived with a smoker, I don't think I would have been successful.

The best way to quit smoking is to never start. I was so cavalier about smoking in my late teens and early twenties.

I never drank much due to witnessing alcoholism in family members. It's never very pretty  Later I realized that if alcoholism had been in my make-up, the first drink would not have been my last.

Drugs, go figure, I am poor white and female. Society has no respect for your screwing up. I wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer but even my 18 year old self knew that going to "the barn" and drinking and drugging with a bunch of guys was not smart. Heeding the warnings of drug abuse and knowing that I was lucky to get to go to college, I was saved a lot of misery. I know some folks experiment with no long term harm. The visuals of people I grew up with that lost the battle to drug use out shadow them.

Anyway, it is January 4th and I am making some changes. I'm not saying I am quitting my candy crush and farm king addiction. I am just not playing much anymore. I will read a book or heavens forbid, organize my papers.

Real change never happens in a vacuum.


  1. It's been stated several times that going cold turkey to quit a bad habit is the best way to kick it. Of course, going that way has adverse effects, which is why so many people find it difficult to commit to the idea. Anyway, the past shouldn't matter anymore. You're a changed person now, and it took you great lengths to get where you are now. I'm so happy to read about your story of being a strong and self-disciplined woman, Ann! Kudos to you! :)

    Donnie Benson @ Midwest Institute for Addiction

  2. It's really in our teenage years that we have the urge to try things out of our curiosity. It's the stage where most of us learn to have vices. Anyway, that is a really nice story about how you quit smoking. It's not that easy, especially when it has been a part of your everyday routine, but I'm glad you went through it. You have a strong sense of discipline, and I admire you for that. Thanks for sharing that, Ann! All the best to you!

    Lucia Malone @ Carolina Vapor Mill


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