I am celebrating the absolute longest I have ever gone without a cigarette since I first started smoking in the rock and roll year of 1958.
As many of you know, it was actually more than 4 months ago when I first quit smoking. On August 15, 2019, I finished up the cigarettes I had on hand, gave away my lighters, and cleaned all the ashtrays before storing them on the uppermost shelf of the kitchen cupboard. I slapped on a nicotine patch and made the resolve to not smoke, taking it day by day.
What prompted me to quit that day was surgery scheduled for August 30th, to scrape out my left carotid artery passing from my aorta near my heart and on to my brain. The carotid artery was clogged with fatty deposits and cigarette tar and was putting me at high risk of a stroke.
While I recovered in the hospital I continued using the nicotine patches which became my major nicotine replacement to facilitate my quit once I got home as well. I also had nicotine gum and mints for back-up when the inevitable cravings came. I told myself and everyone else that I knew I would not smoke for each particular day but that I would not promise what might happen in the future. This "looseness of commitment" proved to be my downfall.
On Veterans Day, November 11th, 2019, the opportunity came for me to have a cigarette. It took me less than 15 minutes to decide to smoke that cigarette. But I told myself and others that I would get back into the groove and continue on. Unfortunately, just that one cigarette proved to be my downfall. I had literally fed my addiction and by the Christmas holidays, I was back smoking again. In fact, smoking more than I had been when I'd originally quit on August 25th. I immediately jumped from 15 cigarettes per day that I'd been smoking in August to over a pack a day.
I was angry with myself and embarrassed when I revealed my relapse and knew in my heart that I had to get back to not smoking again. As I prepared my self for another Day # One, I (1) smoked my brains out for about two weeks (2) joined the Ex community (3) read all I could get my hands on regarding nicotine addiction and recovery (4) came face to face with what had led me to relapse [ not only smoking that one cigarette in November but acknowledging that I had never really accepted that I would never smoke again] and (5) tightened up my quit plan and (6) read Alan Carr's book " The Easy Way to Stop Smoking." What I found "neat" about the Carr book was he urged the reader to not stop smoking until the book was finished.
By January 6, 2020 I had finished Carr's book and set that date as the beginning of my last and final quit. I changed my outlook, adopting in my heart the approach that I would never take even one puff ever again, no matter what happened in my life.
The first month was not as difficult as I'd expected it to be, but after that-- when the newness of my quit had worn off -- cravings were more noticeable. I followed the hallmark suggestions to thwart my cravings with drinks of cold water, deep breathing and distracting myself from cravings with activities to keep my hands and mind busy with other things.
During that first month I'd stumbled onto a post by Giulia entitled HOW PRECIOUS IS YOUR QUIT? I realized that in order to stay quit, I needed to raise the value of my quit over an object that was precious to me. In doing this, I put up as collateral a small wooden cross that had been gifted to me by a daughter-in-law following the death of my husband and my subsequent move from our home in Washington State and back to my native New York State. In other words, if I relapsed I would have to give that cross away.
Eventually, I was around 100 days quit. I had gone down to Step 2 on the patches and was chewing clove gum to put off or even eliminate the use of the nicotine gum and mints. Quite suddenly, it seemed, my cravings came back with a vengeance and I became afraid that I would relapse.
I posted about my increased cravings and my fear of another relapse. I gained strength, confidence and increased resolve to stay smoke free through the support, encouragement and suggestions of my friends on the EX. And, I have continued on with new confidence.
So here I am, at 121 days --exactly four months since my last cigarette. I am not only still smoke-free but have a firmer hold on my quit. How I know that for sure is that I forgot to put on my patch for two days in a row and saw no difference.
So, I have stopped using my patches. (Although I do use the clove gum and/or nicotine gum and mints when needed)
I hope my story will encourage other long-time smokers like me ( for 61+ years, sometimes up to 2 packs or more per day) that it IS possible to carry on WITHOUT cigarettes AND for any who relapse that it is possible to make a come-back~
However, my wish to all my EX friends is that you will stick with your quits and not relapse, because RELAPSE SUCKS.
Give it your all and stick with your pledge to not smoke even one puff. no matter what. And you will come out a Winner.