When I started out on my journey to quit smoking, I felt all alone. I was one of just a few people I knew who seriously decided to pack in the cigarettes, despite the fact that I enjoyed them so much. A few friends of mine had tried to quit before and had successfully failed, proving the point that "once a smoker, always a smoker". I was happy to see that they made an attempt to break from the mould, secretly hoping that it wouldn't last for long, and rejoiced even more when I saw them coming back to the smoking room, sheepishly holding their heads down, ashamed of their feeble attempts at not lighting the next one... And yet inside, they (and I) were secretly happy that they were once again a member of the "gang", knowing that quitting was just a silly game we all played from time to time... A bit like playing the lottery, knowing that none of us would ever win, and conveniently forgetting that some of us could lose, big time.
I'm not new to quitting, but I am new to thinking about smoking and the damage it can cause. Like many, I have this built-in sense of invincibility. I can smoke, and drink, and eat, and party, and nothing will ever happen to me. I can abuse my body as much as I like, because I'm generally fit, and nothing ever happens to people who feel like they're in good shape.
And so what? What am I trying to prove? That I can smoke 20, 40, 60 a day and not feel bad about it? That I don't have any signs of body decay, despite being almost 50 years old?
The next one is not going to harm me any more than the damage I have already done. A few weeks from now I will stop. If I suffer a stroke, I will quit. This whole addiction thing can be beaten... I am stronger than that.
I will be the one person who conquers the addiction.
And so I join a quit smoking site, and soon realize that we are all suffering... together. I start to understand why quitting is so difficult, and why the ones who tried and failed are reluctantly happy to re-join the ranks of the smokers. The head-hanging in shame only lasts a short while, and within moments, all attempts to break rank are forgotten, but more importantly forgiven!
It is easier to fail and be forgiven than to break rank and stand up on your own two feet!
So what happened?
I broke rank.
I came to a point when I realized that people who never smoked, or at least those who never got into smoking, just don't even think about smoking, stopping smoking, buying cigarettes, having a supply, stashing enough money aside, worrying about extinguishing the damned things before they leave home, replacing burnt clothing, the effect of smoking on their children and their pets, worrying about their health.... [insert your smoking worries here]
I don't want to have to care about such things. I want my life - the rest of it, at least - to be as carefree as someone who never smoked in the first place. I want to not know what the fuss about smoking is all about. After all, it's only a "big thing" because we got into it in the first place.
I think that if I had never started, I wouldn't need to be spending my time pondering the choices I could have / should have taken earlier in my life.
Perhaps it's all just a case of "If only I knew then what I know now."