My quit timeline, or a very garden variety quit ( to anyone struggling today, keep on walking, you made the right decision.)
Summer of 2013, I smoked a pack of cigarettes a day at this time, but smoked up to a pack and a half at times throughout my 35 (more or less) years of smoking. I had no thought of quitting, nothing at all until the fall of 2013.
Mid Sept 2013. In September I happened to be adding up the cost of replacement parts for my upright piano when I came to the conclusion that I could not really afford it. In a flash, I suddenly saw how absurd this was to think, since I knew that I allowed for 1800 bucks a year for cigarettes. I also knew that my insurance premiums were higher due to my status as a smoker. In an instant (it happened that fast--not that I hadn’t considered or tried quitting before) I decided to give quitting a chance.
Mid Sept through October 4. I searched for good quit ideas on the internet--websites and youtube. Started making a list of do-s taken from various websites (NH Quits for one) and Youtube quit videos (avoided headlines and titles such as The Easy Way to Quit, Quit in 24 hours--anything indicating that if I read something, ate something, took something I’d have a knee slapping good time quitting). Created a plan (idea of making a plan came from online) that included choices as to what I would do instead of smoke.
I did not set a quit date but knew what my approximate quit date would be because it was based on the carton of cigarettes that I had left. That was my way of deciding: I figured that it ought not take longer than that. But I was influenced by NH Quits which suggested (as do others) that the quit date should not be so far out that one risks losing motivation.
October 1 2013. Became clear to me that my cigarettes would last a few days. Confirmed to myself that my quit was on. No stretching the date. No more wondering. Smoke up, then be done.
October 3 2013. Smoked my last cigarette around 8 in the evening out in the back hall. Went to bed.
October 4, 2013. Smobiety journey starts. Carried on with my day. Walked. Felt dazed and excited but crazy. Not sure what the future held. But stuck to no smokes.
October 2013. Quit days added up. Focused on walking, reading, occupying my time with distractions (followed the list, the plan). Felt jittery (drank too much coffee) and felt nuts. Restless, couldn’t focus on anything. Cleaned cupboards. Began to feel resentful about feeling dazed. Wished I would feel different, stayed busy. Found more youtube videos about quitting, or about tobacco companies and tobacco---kept watching so as to stay focused on my quit goal--or to make sense of how I felt.
November 2013. Tended to accept that I could stay quit because I had, so let more friends and family know that I had quit. Drank too much coffee. Walked, kept busy Ate sugar. Puffed on a straw and pretended to be an insane smoker. Wanted my feelings and mind to get better. Stayed smober.
December 2013. Looked toward winter coming, walked, took photos, drew from pics, drank too much coffee, ate candy and snacks and felt weird and upset a lot. Continued to fake smoke (on occasion) by puffing on straws and acting like an unrepentant smoke-a-holic but didn’t smoke. Decided that if things did not get better, then I’d go back to smoking, but not today, wait a bit. Take some time. Not today.
January 2014. Continued to devise and concoct schemes to feel better. Looked for improvement. Walked, read, stayed busy. Drank coffee as nicotine replacement. Noticed I’d gained about 12 pounds, couldn’t wear most of my jeans. Felt unhappy, pissed off and disgusted. Still, didn’t smoke.
February-March 2014. Continued to stay busy. Tried to find happy-to-quit mindset. Found it nowhere. Worried that I’d never feel happy or interested in anything without a cigarette. Hid my feelings from others, and put on a I’m-doing-this face at times. Felt like punching the God of my understanding in the face. Stayed busy, noticed birds on the river during my walks, began to photograph, identify and draw.
April 2014. Still walking everyday when not at work. Added a nearby hill because of the weight gain--I figured the uphill climb would do me good. It was a hill I’d walked every half dozen years or so since childhood. Often enough to have an association, but not often enough to know the place through and through. At the top of the hill, I said, hey see you in another decade. And suddenly, the thought came to me, why another decade? Why not regularly. And so it began, a relationship with a non temperamental hill that would always be there for me no matter how I felt. I got in strenuous exercise and saw the four seasons. Snowshoes and yaks in winter, on foot along steep forested paths during the good seasons. I took photos from the top.
May through September 2014. Fell up the steep hill drinking coffee and eating apple turnovers bought from a nearby bakery--still wondering when I’d feel normal. When I forgot to think, I started focusing on the forest, the happenings in the woods, the inhabitants. I started adding more nature books to my stay-busy reading library-. Continued to draw and take photos--especially birds.
October 2014 -June 2015 Faced various stresses which seemed unsolvable. Nearly lost my mind, but not my quit. The stressors either ended, or I learned better coping skills--either way, life got better--I got a little better month by month, with each situation addressed.
July 2015--December 2015 A period of calm settle in. Life seemed normal. Smobriety didn’t seem as weird. Had a few fleeting moments of relief and pride in realizing that I hadn’t smoked when I felt really terrible about people, places or things.
2016 A happy year all in all. Joined Ex in August 2016. Still needed to understand my new normal. Not so new anymore, but why did it still seem new I wondered. Responded to new quitters, read blogs, looked at some of the info pages--got a sense that the community was strong, consistent. Stuck around.
Saw people come and stay, come and go. Heard stories of what it is like to live with COPD, heard stories of going back to smoking years after quitting. Got to liking newcomers who came back everyday to say they were still not smoking. Saw some slip away, came to understand my smobriety must always be firm within my mind and not based on people, places, circumstances or things.
All seemed good.
2017 Smobriety felt more me than only a regimen of persistence.
February 2 my brother passed away unexpectedly (though in failing health). A year of grief followed. I walked up my smobriety hill, carried on, did what I ought to do.
Mark of Ex sent me an email about becoming a board member in March or April 2017. I’d drifted away from Ex but logged in to the new sight to catch up. I stayed. Noted an oft repeated smobriety thought on Ex-- ‘life keeps happening after we quit.’
2018 Steadily finding acceptance for the loss of my brother. Visit Ex almost daily in the late afternoon. Continue to relearn life without the cigarettes--but my smobriety roots have grown deeper, certainly in part, due to the experience, strength and hope of many smober Ex members who show up and share and encourage.
Acquiring a deeper appreciation why nicotine addiction is called an addiction. Accepting more fully that smobriety is one day at a time sojourn of building an ever stronger foundation, and by living life on life’s terms.