Smoking Cessation is a Process

Dee's 2 Year Smoke-Free Milestone


Greetings fellow travelers...

When I started this journey two years ago, I knew with absolute certainty that after 32 years of smoking I was soooooooooo tired of it. I’d had enough. I hated it, absolutely hated smoking with a passion that was quite fierce at times. This hatred not only fueled my quit but may have been my saving grace.

I didn’t know much about how to quit smoking then, but I’d heard plenty of horror stories about the withdrawals.

I did know however, that you could use a nicotine patch or nicotine gum to step-by-step eliminate the nicotine from your body. My thought was, I don’t want nicotine in my body any longer than I have to, I want to quit NOW! Silly, silly me. I could have had help, but this was my first quit, what did I know? I found a forum by accident a few weeks into my quit.

The best thing about quitting cold turkey was that my brain was in such a thick enveloping fog, the agonies of the physical withdrawals were probably diminished. Heck, I couldn’t spend too much time worrying about the discomfort of the cravings anyway. I had to figure out major things like getting dressed and finding my way to and from work every day without getting lost, or assuring my boss that I really could concentrate on a project for more than two minutes at a time!

For the first 3 months quitting became my highest priority. My family and friends say it was actually an obsession.

For three months, I felt mentally drained most of the time. I was either thinking about smoking, thinking about my quit, or feeling the mental urges to smoke.

After my desperate newbie pleas of “When will I know I’m OK” or “When will this get better” I’d told someone in a post that if my brain didn’t get some rest soon I would go nuts.

At that time, my idea of heaven would be to go three days without mental craves or thinking about smoking. My quit elders told me “Girlfriend shut up and hang tough” (just kidding). It eventually happened.

Three days actually passed without an urge or me thinking about smoking and...I didn’t even notice it while it was happening. When I finally did I was shocked! This was a huge milestone and turning point. I had been working on a very complex project those three days and it had consumed me. Soon thereafter, the light bulb went on and I realized quitting smoking did not have to be a 24/7 war.

I’d decided I would not smoke again, so I simply had to face reality. The facts were, I was in the process of healing, there was a rebellion going on in my mind and body and the urges were going to come if I smoked or not. I could choose to battle them or relax and acknowledge them and let them pass. I decided to relax into my quit.

This may sound weird but I actually began analyzing the cravings. I'd review what was I doing when they came, what the trigger was, and how do I avoid this one in the future.

It eventually became a game for me - a challenge. I accepted the challenge and won. It’s been way over a year since I’ve had one of those slaps up side the head serious cravings.

It is so wonderful to be where I am today. This freedom is so awesome. I wish that it was within my power to let all of you still early in your journey get a glimpse of what it's like. A tremendous burden that you may not even know is weighing you down is lifted. You feel lighter spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

I went years without getting a medical exam because I was too afraid of what the doctors might find. Last year I was forced to have a chest x-ray because I needed surgery. I passed with flying colors.

Please believe that if you really want to quit smoking, you can. There are examples all around. You’ve already made the best decision of your life. Quitting is not easy, but is so doable. Smoking cessation is a process. Time spent in the process is the only way to make it through. It cannot be hurried, and it is uniquely individual. I quit after 32 years of more than a pack a day. It’s possible.

You have to believe it with your heart and mind.

You have to know that you really deserve to be free and that you’re not giving up anything worthwhile when you stop smoking - that you’re receiving a wonderful second chance; a gift, and an opportunity that must be taken advantage of NOW because there is no guarantee that it will come again.

My wonderful friends showed me the way through education, their unending compassion and support and their appreciation of a good laugh. I have achieved something that I long thought was impossible...being smoke-free. I am eternally grateful to all of you and for my gift of cessation.

The first year was spent learning how to live “normal” - to do everything for 365 days without a cigarette and make it through all the firsts. The first plane trip, first vacation, first alcoholic beverages, parties, weddings, holidays, funerals of friends and family, verbal confrontations, job stress etc. The blessed second year was totally awesome because I knew how to live my new “normal”.

I believe that year three is going to be even better! I plan to live my life as fully as I can, to help my family where I can, and to revel in my freedom but never, ever become complacent.

Lastly, I don’t believe the lie of “Just One”, neither should you.

Best wishes to you on your own personal journey to freedom.

You can do it! You deserve it!

Smoke Free Since 3-18-03

"Taking it one day at a time."

More from Dee:
Things I've Learned Along the Way
I Love My Freedom
Retraining the Brain
Quitting Tobacco Can be Done
17 Things I've Learned About Quitting Smoking

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