New Non-Smoker 05/06/18

Blog Post created by dwaith4echo on May 18, 2018

I'm a newly turned 53-year old non-smoker who'd been smoking since I was around 19-years old.  I started smoking while I was working at a gas station on the overnight shift.  Over the years I've tried multiple times to quit using a variety of methods: cold turkey (with friends), the patch, lozenges, hypnosis (3-times), Allan Carr's book.  The longest I went without smoking was over my honeymoon as my wife was never a smoker.  The shortest was only a few hours.


I've always been athletic and active and somehow felt that maybe I wasn't being impacted as much by smoking.  I've played soccer my entire life; competitively and for recreation.  I've played racquetball and tennis with friends over the years.  Jogged and run on the elliptical, too.  Been hiking and I've taken up bike riding again, as well as kayaking with my wife (calm water only!).  In the past half year or so I really did start to notice how smoking was messing with me.


I've wanted to quit for a very long time.  First, when my future wife said she couldn't see herself married to a smoker.  Later, when I started having panic attacks and anxiety after my younger brother died from colon cancer at 26.  I became overwhelmed at times by the anxiety associated with being a smoker, but I was never able to stick with attempts to quit.  I've been embarrassed that I was a smoker and tried hiding it from people who didn't know.  I'm still embarrassed, so much so, that I don't plan to tell anyone who didn't know or never commented on my smoking (if asked I rarely "lied").  So year after year I would make the odd attempt (NRT/tapes/books).  Or justify it to myself.  Then try again.  Repeat.  The depression and emptiness that came with quitting were the primary reasons I couldn't deal with it.  I understand now what those feelings were/are.


I've been in therapy for the last 10-years as the panic attacks got worse and periodically I'd discuss my smoking with my therapist.  She always recommended Smokenders as a possible way to quit for me.  I'm very methodical and a bit OCD so she thought it might be a better method for me.  I finally decided to give it a shot and I'm now 6-weeks into the program with a graduation date of May 20th.  I smoked my last cigarette May 5th and surprisingly I haven't really wanted one since, including that first morning as a non-smoker.  Even though I haven't necessarily wanted to smoke, I do still have the periodic depression, feelings of loss, absence, pangs, stressors, and such.  I am working on these feelings and plan to go through my notes and papers from the program as many times as necessary.


One thing I've realized over the years is how I'd undermine myself in my efforts to quit.  If hypnosis wasn't a magic cure I'd find all the reasons it wouldn't work.  Same with NRT; if I didn't instantly not have the desire to smoke, well then it wasn't going to work because it was flawed.  This time I've done things differently.  There are things about Smokenders that might normally derail my efforts to quit, but this time around I'm able to rationalize them and move forward.  I usually don't announce to anyone that I'm trying to quit because I don't want them aware of my "failure" when I ultimately fail (very defeatist approach).  This time I told my wife weeks ago I was trying again.  I told my adult kids and discussed it with them.  I told co-workers and friends.  Now I think I'd be too embarrassed to start up again and I'll use that emotion to my benefit.  I'm not letting little things get in my way again.


Every night when I get into bed as a non-smoker I put a marble into a jar on my nightstand to mark the day.  I have 12-marbles so far.  My goal is to get a bigger jar when this one gets filled.