Smoking Made Me Feel Pathetic and Enslaved

Kerri

Please note that Smoke Away, the product Kerri mentions below is not approved by the FDA as a quit aid.  Kerri's thoughts on how it worked are subjective and should not be construed as an endorsement of this herbal remedy product in any way.

From Kerri:

My name is Kerri. I' and I have been a nicotine addict for more than half of my life.

I was 13 when I smoked my first cigarette. My friends turned green; I got good at it.

By 15, I was using my lunch money to buy cigarettes. At this time though, I didn't have the internal "smoke alarm". I was not yet a slave, oh no, the best was yet to come. 

You couldn't tell me what was going to happen to me when I was old - or even what could happen to me with just a short time smoking. I was a teenager, and a cool one at that. Regular old social butterfly - look at me in the SMOKING SQUARE - the designated area for smokers. How cool am I?

Fourteen years later, a visit to my high school revealed a garden where the square once was. How ironic that life is now cultivated in the very spot where my fatal habit began.

The first time I tried to quit smoking was the first time I realized that I was an addict. I was 19. I was in another state to be a live-in nanny. I ended up needing the patch. After a couple of months, I returned home and to my smokes.

The next time I was 21 and pregnant.

It took me 6 months to put them down, and that was only due to the shame. I could no longer hide my pregnancy. I am so disgusted with myself recalling this, and worse admitting it.

When my son was 4 months old, I picked them back up again. Old Faithful. This failure lasted 5 years. I smoked while I watched my grandfather die of lung cancer.

He had quit 25 years ago. I smoked a pack a day for those 5 years.

I became pregnant unexpectedly, and got hypnotized to stop smoking. I lost the baby at 6 weeks, and consoled myself with cigarettes. I got pregnant the very next month, and quit that day, using nicotine gum to get me through the hard times. I had one or two in the early months until I had no more. I can't even remember when my last one was. That quit stuck for 19 months. I don't think I need to explain what happened. It's the same reason for all of us, even if it's a different story. Simply put, I let junkie thinking win.

I managed to let another 2 years go by. I was going to quit on June 8th, 2002 - my vacation. That day came and went. "I had too much time on my hands."

I said I'd quit on my 30th birthday. What a great milestone, and an even greater birthday gift. That day came and went.

Then I said I'd quit on my 31st birthday - this past December 13th. Meanwhile, I'm living with a smoke alarm. I can't go to the beach with the kids because I can't go that long without a cigarette.

I have an errand to run...can I bring the kids? I would calculate the amount of time I'd be gone to answer the question. 

The only way I could go out for long periods of time was with another adult so that I could "go to the bathroom" or "go start the car". I couldn't go to a 3 hour movie. I would wait for it to come out on video so that I could pause it to go smoke.

I knew I was a slave. I knew how pathetic it was. What I thought I knew was how much I was missing. I had NO idea how much until I quit. I was pathetic beyond all imagination.

Prepare yourself for an asinine visual - I live in Maine; it's December 19th, 2003. The weather is sleet and freezing rain. I'm outside in long johns, covered in sweat pants, boots to my knees, t-shirt, turtleneck, sweatshirt, sweater, long jacket, glove on one hand, and a big furry felt jester hat. It took me a good 15 minutes just to prepare to go out.

Now here I am, sitting outside, protecting my beloved smoke from the elements. When I came back in 5 minutes later, dripping wet, I looked at my husband, who was looking at me in my get-up. I looked at myself through his eyes and said, "Please go to smoke-away.com. I'll change and get my credit card. I'm done."

I didn't set a quit date - I really didn't think about it. I just said, "I'll quit when the stuff comes in." But still, even in my disgust, being a nicotine addict, I chose the slowest shipping method possible, which I think was "my grandmother will walk it to your door."

I got the package on January 4th. On the 5th, I called my doctor to make sure it was safe (it is not FDA approved). On the 6th, I took the first day's dose and still smoked. I was so skeptical that this would work. The instructions said to not smoke and I did. I was so sure I was going to be cashing in the money back guarantee.

On the 7th, I had my first cigarette of the day in my car on the way to work, as was usual. I tossed it after only a few drags. I had a few during the day, and again could only have a few drags. Something in the vitamins was making the cigarettes taste awful peppery - sort of - it's hard to explain. The best way I can describe it - my kids walking across my freshly mopped floor in dirty shoes. I felt poisoned. I found that I was smoking not out of need, but out of the fact that it was what I did. I'm so stubborn. I even went out and bought a pack of cigarettes because I was out and didn't think I was done.

I had the last cigarette of my life at 11pm that night.

I said to myself, and to my husband: "I'm going to see if I can go without smoking tomorrow - I'm going to give this stuff a chance to work."

At work, I let everyone know that I was going to give it a shot. My boss, an ex-smoker going on 10 years now said, "Just take it one day at a time. Don't think about tomorrow." Smoke Away not only detoxes, it helps get the nicotine out faster, and it has some sort of calming effect. I got through hell week pretty well. Uncomfortable at times, but I took the "emergency pellets" and took it one minute at a time. At that point, days seemed like too much of a milestone.

Smoke Away is a one week program. I had to change my thinking to "OK, let's see if I can do this on my own now." I drank one cup of Easy Now tea after the other. I cognitively sought out alternatives to smoking. Instead of smoking on my way home, I sang at the top of my lungs. Instead of going out for a smoke with a coworker, I'd go grab a coffee and chitchat for a bit, or take a real 15 minute break in the cafeteria. Instead of smoking after dinner, I'd read my email.

Then, at day 9, I got what I call "The Glue That Made It Stick." I found this site. On the front page that day was Cheryl's Story. I froze on the words:

"You think quitting smoking is hard, try having cancer."

I added my own spin...

"You think quitting smoking is hard, try telling your kids you have cancer because of something you did to yourself."

I went to the forum and read. I went to cognitivequitting.com. I posted the thread "I did it". I posted my reasons to quit. I printed those and Cheryl's Story and kept them handy.

I visited the forum every free second, and even the seconds that weren't so free. I found people who understood and people who could have a grand old time in the process. People who honestly care.

So many stories, but the one thing we all have in common, whether we're in our 20's or 60's, whether we smoked socially, or forever and like a fiend. We are all addicts, and don't want to be.

My oldest son thinks I haven't smoked since my 19 month quit. He once saw the commercial with the Marlboro Man dying of cancer, bald and swollen in the hospital. He was haunted by that image, and clung to me saying:

"I'm so glad you don't smoke anymore, Mom."

What a knife to my heart. I hid my smoking from my kids for that reason, and because I didn't want him to think it was OK to smoke.

When it comes down to it, yeah, I quit for my kids, but mainly, I quit for me. My kids would live on. They'd miss me, but they'd live on. I quit so I can see them live! I have no health problems. I can roller-blade right alongside my son. But, I also want to roller-blade alongside my grandchildren someday!

By quitting young, I hope and pray I have saved myself from years of health problems, and am rewarding myself with years of fun, good health, and freedom.

What is different this time? I am quitting cognitively. I am aware of my "junkie thinking". I learned that the unconscious part of me that gets me to work safely when I'm not paying attention was controlling my automatic need to smoke. I remain aware that I was still susceptible at 19 months and like a warrior, am not letting my guard down for a minute for fear of a sneak attack from the NICO demon.

My name is Kerri. I'm 31 years old, and I am a nicotine addict who has been free from cigarettes for exactly 2 months.

~Kerri~(KERRIR)

More from Kerri:
5 Months and a Sock
Kerri's 6 Month Milestone
Kerri's One Year Milestone
Quit Smoking While You're Young
Kerri's 2 Year Smoke Free Milestone

Continue Reading