Smoke-Free Life is Absolutely Fabulous - Jen's Story

Jen's Quit Story

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About.com Smoking Cessation forum member Jen shares a humorous and poignant account of her first year of smoking cessation.  

Congratulations, Jen!

A year. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

ACK!

EEP!

There is a part of me that thought I’d never actually get here.

Heck, if I'm honest, there's a part of me that thought I never wanted to get here.

So. Where am I?

I’m on the couch, 15-20 pounds more than I should be, happy as a pig in...pie, hair looking all fabulous.

But there’s a part of me that is trapped in a land of skinny anxiety, of mania and panic, beneath a cloud of stinky smoke-filled insanity that was masking problems I didn’t want to face.

There are so many things I used to say I couldn’t do without smoking.

I liked smoking. My favorite thing was chain-smoking on the back porch. My favorite line was “It’s the only bad habit I have… everyone is allowed at least one vice.

I liked to say I had the right to smoke, that it was a freedom.

Man, I used to be pretty stupid.

I was also pretty scared.

Stupid and scared is a deadly combo.

I’m not sure if I got much smarter on the journey, but honey, I’m brave now.

One year of crazy made me pretty fearless. I faced the end of my marriage, a deteriorating relationship with my son, the death of a friend, the sunset of a career and a health condition. I faced all of that happy crap without a smoke.

And I was terrified the entire time.

I couldn’t face another failure. I have quit smoking so. many. times.

SO. MANY. TIMES.

I remember as clear as if it was yesterday lying in bed at 3 pm on a Tuesday last March wishing I was dead. Sobbing my guts out. My life was in tatters and I was out of control. I wanted control. I wanted to smoke.

I didn’t want to be mean, fat, angry, nervous, depressed, tired. I didn’t want to be angry all the time. I wanted to feel normal again, and normal meant smoking.

I wanted to die or smoke. How sick is that type of addiction? My brain was so well trained to be a junkie that it allowed no other options.

But hey… I’m HERE baby. And I am smoke free and FABULOUS.

Those dark days grew fewer. Life grew more vibrant. I never, ever got back to feeling old-normal.

Let me tell you,  that new-normal? SO much better. This version of crazy is pretty cool.

And really, normal is so blase, dah-ling, just so 2011. Who does normal anymore?

I went to marriage therapy and fell back in love with my hubs, healed the relationship with my boy, started a brilliant new career, and went back to college finish a business degree. I went back to church and I mean it now, mean it as much as I mean quitting.

I went back to life.

All that good stuff happened because I sweated out my quit, minute by minute, hour by hour. Each day I struggled.

For months I wondered what the heck was wrong with me because it was soooooo hard. Oh my gosh it was sooooo hard.

And worth it.

I learned that for me, smoking stole life. It was more than a crutch or a screen, it was like walking around not really alive.

Smoking was a sort of zombie life, half-life. When life got intense I cut out to smoke.

Super happy? Smoke break. Super hurt or mad? SMOKE BREAK.

I never really felt emotion for a long time. I sort of mimed it and then drew other people into the fray like I was producing a bizarre play. I never really fought through anger to come out the other side humbled. Never really felt sad without getting a quorum of witnesses to back me up in my righteousness. It was hard to understand simple joy and honest, warm love, because I’d been treating them with a clinicalness based around celebrating with a smoke.

Smoking gave me time to physiologically calm down… and the time outside gave me time to plan rebuttals. There wasn’t genuine relationship building.

Let me tell you, fighting through anger, hurt… those things are so good, man. The other side is like the first sunrise must have been. Like watching dawn break on a snow-clean horizon.

Simple joy, warm love, real feeling… those were like taking a deep, deep, deep breath on a cool spring morning. Something I can do now.

Smoking was a half-life in a different time zone. Every minute could be traced to the last smoke and then the next smoke.

There’s no way smokers are honestly capable of living life to the fullest, of living in the moment. At least I wasn’t.

I was never in the moment. I was always mentally manipulating the world to make sure I got a smoke when I needed one. And hey, I claim to be a free spirit… that was just a junkie lie. I was shackled to the stick.

So when I quit and it was so much harder than I thought, then I remembered, I lived here. I kept waiting for the peace that long-time quitters talked about to show up, and I sort of thought maybe those other quitters were full of … pie.

But hey, it’s real. Peace shows up. Even if you’re a naturally chaotic person (like me!). It took a while for me, but it’s good stuff.

I read. I watch movies. I snuggle with my hubs. I hang out at the gym. I never look at the time, because here’s a secret I learned: When you’re in your life… there isn’t anywhere better to rush to, you are IN the best part all the dang time.

I DO eat. I won’t lie. I feel fat. But so what?

I don’t stink. Smokers smell naaaasssstttyy. I have less stress and anxiety, more money (which I spend on highlights and bangs), prettier teeth and better relationships.

I do and don’t do a lot of things… but the biggest don’t is this: I don’t smoke.

I couldn’t have done it without this forum and the mods

Thank you for helping me hang, and for accepting my kind of crazy while I was going through it.

JEN

PS. The January 2014 group has two sayings : “You got to GO through it, to GET through it,” and “We got this.” Both are true.

Quit 01.10.14 — Cold turkey with a side helping of cra-zay.

Read Jen's Quit Journal: Confessions of a Cereal Quitter

More reading:  One Year Milestone Accounts , Personal Quit Stories

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