Today, I went out to sit on my patio. I don't often do that. Why? Because when I was a smoker, the patio was my private smoking haven under an extended roof that protected me from rain and snow.
I had it all arranged just the way I wanted it so that I could sit out there for HOURS and smoke one cigarette right after another...and another...and another...
I had a comfortable big wooden rocking chair with comfy seat and back pads. I had a round side table, always covered with a tablecloth that could be washed when stray ashes dirtied it. I had my favorite 1960's aqua glass ashtray. Sometimes I switched that out for one of my other cool mid-century, kidney-shaped, dripped-glaze ashtrays. I had a lamp on my table so I could read when it was dark. I had a chrome wastebasket with a foot pedal-controlled lid, close enough that I could dump my ashtray full of smelly butts without having to leave my rocking chair. I had a magazine stand, stocked with reading material, within arm's length. I had an oscillating fan a few feet away to blow the smoke away from my neighbor's balcony (I thought that I was SOOOO considerate to provide that for them!). And finally, I had a small electric heater under the side table, pointed at my feet to keep me warm in the winter. What a set-up! I only had to go inside the condo to eat and sleep. I spent HOURS out on my patio.
When I quit, I dismantled the entire set-up out there. It had too many associations with smoking. I had learned that one of the most important things you have to do is to break those associations, not only with things like coffee, driving, talking on the phone...but also with physical surroundings and daily activities.
It's a very effective tool to do things like: sitting in a different chair to watch TV, getting up from the dinner table to take a short walk outside immediately after eating, to take a shower in the evening instead of your usual morning routine, to play different music in the car, to brush your teeth at random times during the day. You may not realize how many unconscious associations with smoking that you have in your daily habits.
But, back to why I was SO mad! When I went out on my patio today, it was only to sweep the autumn leaves off. But I immediately spied a cigarette butt. It probably came from the guy two floors up who smokes. Or maybe from one of the guys who drives the lawnmower past my patio. Or...heck, I don't care WHERE it came from! I only know it was there, sitting in all its nastiness on MY patio. Mad. I was SO mad.
And then it struck me. How many times had I tossed cigarette butts on other people's sidewalks, out my car window, in parking lots, outside buildings before I entered them and in all kinds of random places that would be considered littering at best and causing a fire hazard at worst? Lots of times. Thousands of times. And never thought one single moment about how wrong it was.
I plead guilty. And to all those people, known and unknown to me, I humbly apologize for infringing upon your spaces with my nasty, thoughtless addiction.
I am so thankful to be free now.