A Year of Transformation

Karen's Quit Story

Photo © Stockxpert.

Smoking cessation, when truly embraced, transforms us. We often find that shedding nicotine addiction changes not only how we spend our days, but how we regard the priorities in our lives.

In this personal account, Karen, a member of our Smoking Cessation Forum takes us along on her journey to freedom from the addiction that enslaved her for years and shares how the experience has changed her life forever. Thanks, Karen!

"I knew the time had come that I had to quit smoking."

Reflecting back on this past year is to look back at a year of transformation. Little did I know when I made the decision to quit smoking, what a profound effect it would have on my entire life and who I am.

I have been a smoker for most of my life and quit several times along the way. Each quit lasted only a few months until I found a viable excuse to start again. About 10 years ago, I quit for 2+ years and thought I had my addiction beat for good that time. Unfortunately, I started listening to an old familiar voice in my head that softly whispered about memories I thought were long forgotten.

Little did I know, I was setting myself for a relapse.

Alone one weekend, I decided to buy a pack of cigarettes as a reward for all the hard work I was doing. I truly thought I could enjoy a few and then put them aside, because after all, I had quit...right?

If I could take back one bad decision of my life, this would be the one.

That one cigarette led to smoking the entire pack, which of course led to another pack. As I look back now, I can see that with the very first cigarette, I was a full-blown smoker again. I deluded myself however, and said I could quit whenever I wanted, and continued to smoke.

And that’s when the lies began.

Although I enjoyed my little romance with smoking at the beginning, I could not admit to anyone that I had started again. That would prove me a failure. That would show a weakness in me that I could not allow anyone to see. I withdrew into my own secret little world that only had room for me and my addiction.

So the deception was put into motion...
...and would continue for 8 long years.

Only people who have hidden their addiction can truly understand the pain and loss of self-worth this behavior causes. Not only do we allow it, we feed and nurture the covert nature of this kind of deception, letting it take over our lives...making it the most important part of our lives even, like a secret lover that takes over our thoughts and consumes us, body, mind and soul. Hiding becomes an obsession.

Daily activities are planned around smoking, and we are always thinking about when the next opportunity will come to have a smoke, or worse, the unexpected disruption of daily routine that leaves us missing out and wanting.

Little do others know that we were in a constant state of withdrawal; every day, every moment when we’re around others...always on edge, always wondering when our need will be satisfied again.

The madness continued...
and drew me deeper into its degrading addiction.
I suffered for years with this denial, self-hate and deception.

Finally, I knew the time had come that I had to quit. I could not keep living my life like this. Not only did I feel physically that this addiction was slowly killing me; I knew it was killing my spirit as well. Thus, the seed of my smoking cessation was planted.

But when? I thought of the upcoming month and how I would be alone for 3 different weekends in August. Ah...I can have a smokefest; smoke my brains out for the entire month of August and quit in September! The moment I heard myself thinking that absurd thought, I knew what I had to do. I quit on July 24th with every ounce of determination I had, and decided to use those weekends in August that I was by myself to prove my strength and resolve.

And so my journey began.

Alone, with no one else knowing...I quit smoking. I kept my anxiety and nicotine withdrawal to myself. On day five, I was by myself and knew this was going to be the day that either made or broke my quit. Being the levelheaded, non-imaginative person that I am, I came up with a plan. And it was a good plan! The plan was this: I could do whatever I wanted that day, as long as I didn't leave the property. That would work, I reasoned. No smokes on the premises, and if I stayed far enough away from the sidewalk so as not to bum a smoke from passers-by, I’d be safe.

So began the worst day of my quit; one that, to this day I remember so vividly. Even though I gave myself permission to do whatever I wanted, like eat everything in sight, veg out, or sleep all day, I decided to work and be productive around the house.

By three in the afternoon, nothing had gone right. I'd broken everything that I had tried to fix, and was in a total state of frustration. I finally lost it! A primal scream from the basement was surely heard a block away. Not only did I scare our pets, I scared myself as well. Hysterical laughter followed...and a few more screams for good measure. Then came the tears. By the end of the day I was a total wreck, but I got through it -- smoke-free.

The next day I was exhausted from what I'd put myself through the day before. I sat down in front of the computer and looked for help. That’s when I found this forum, this magical place that I now call home. One of the first posts I read was from a closet smoker and the torment she had gone through. I couldn’t believe what I was reading...I had truly thought I was the only one who had hidden my smoking addiction.

That’s the exact moment the healing began.

I cried.

I cried for all the things that I had given up in my life, and I cried even harder for the relief of knowing that I was not alone anymore. I knew now that I didn’t have to carry this burden by myself any longer. There was help, if I just reached out and asked. I read the beautiful words of support to this person and knew that I had found a place where I could feel welcomed and not be ashamed anymore. I had found my saving grace.

A week later, feeling stronger in my resolve to quit, I confessed my smoking history to my husband. He was shocked, and hadn't had a clue that I had started smoking again. It was tough the next few days...trying to stay strong in my quit while dealing with my years of previous deception. It wasn’t easy, but I knew this was going to be the quit, and I wasn’t going to let any shame or guilt rob me of the pride I was feeling. I held tough and stayed on course.

I never posted much during my first months at the forum, but I was logged on almost every day, reading posts and all of the information I could get my hands on.

Not smoking was the most important thing in my life...

I took it easy on myself through the first months of my quit progam. I decided that not smoking was the most important thing in my life. And like most everyone else, I went through stages of recovery. For me, that meant mood swings, lethargy and weight gain.

By the fourth month however, I'd had enough and wanted to get back on track. I started eating better and six weeks later added daily exercise back into my routine. It didn’t take long and the weight I'd gained due to quitting came back off and I was feeling good about myself again. But this time it felt different...because not only did I change my body, I was noticing a change in who I was.

This is how I captured that feeling at the time, in a post that I wrote back in February:

  • "Not long ago mirrors were walked by quickly and ignored...but lately they invite a closer look. These days I pause to gaze at that new person looking back. Not only has the silhouette transformed, but the eyes that look back have changed as well."

As the months progressed, events happened and life changed. Some people came into my life and some disappeared. Lately, I have come to accept and welcome these changes...for only when we do that, can we truly be at peace with ourselves and embrace the thought of new happiness that may be just over the horizon, just beyond our immediate view.

This past year has brought transformation, accomplishments and renewal to my life in so many ways. I believe it’s because of all of the members of this great forum that I have made possibilites into realities. Thank You. Thank you for being part of my journey.

I believe in letting fate take its course,
and I truly believe all things happen for a reason.
We must go through adversity to earn our joy and freedom.
This I believe, with all my heart.

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