Four Years Today - Many More To Come

Today it has been four years since I extinguished my last cigarette. I feel confident that I will never smoke again because I’ve let go of my smoking past. I’m still very conscious of the dangers of starting smoking again. I don’t need to worry about that danger, however, because unless someone straps me down and forces me to smoke, I won’t be smoking again. Ever. My mind is set.

I’m not afraid of smoking. It has simply become something that I no longer do. The addiction has long since departed. Even the romance has died. I can’t remember at what point I crossed over from being a cautious quitter to a self-assured non-smoker. Perhaps there was no single moment, but rather a gradual departure from my old self to my new self.

Previously, I had cigarette in hand at every possible moment ever since my teens. I loved smoking and I hated smoking, but mostly I loved it. Smoking was part of my identity, who I was. I gravitated toward other people who smoked and built my life around opportunities to indulge. The positive was that I successfully developed a cocoon environment in which I felt safe. With careful planning, I hardly ever ran out of cigarettes and I almost always managed to find a way and a place to smoke. The negative was I knew that smoking was bad for me. There was a tiny nagging voice inside my head - particularly when I reached my forties – telling me that it was only a matter of time until something gave way.

Something did give way. I landed in hospital with a deep-vein thrombosis in my left leg and a pulmonary embolism. Basically, the main artery in my leg had a blood clot and part of that clot had broken off and travelled to my lungs. It was a life-or death situation, especially if a piece of clotted blood had travelled to my brain. Luckily, that didn’t happen. Still, it scared me, and despite the fact that the doctors wouldn’t confirm or deny that my predicament had come about as a result of smoking, I felt that I had reached a point where I needed to stop attempting to defeat the odds.

I was quite fortunate inasmuch as my medical condition was only temporary and not a question of a prolonged slow and agonizing death, from cancer for example. However, the experience was bad enough to make me start thinking more seriously about my health and in particular it made me think more deeply about why I insisted on being a smoker. What was really in it for me?

To cut a long story short, I slowly came to the realization that I only smoked because I had built my adult life around smoking and that I was addicted to smoking. I started thinking about what life would be like without smoking, and in particular what life is like for non-smokers. It soon dawned on me that non-smokers have no desire to smoke and don’t even think about smoking, and yet they are able to live with just as much enjoyment of life as smokers. I needed to become a non-smoker, or at least an approximation of one.

Gradually I realized that I wasn’t quitting just because smoking was bad for me. I was quitting because I really didn’t need to smoke. I had never needed to smoke. If I had never started I wouldn’t even understand why people make such a fuss about quitting. I would have spent my time and money on other pursuits. It’s quite possible that I would be no richer or healthier, but that’s irrelevant in many ways. What is relevant is the fact that I was doing something and believing in something that serves no real purpose other than to feed an addiction.

Today I am completely free from smoking. I have no regrets about my smoking past and no worries about smoking in the future. I have taken mental distance from smoking and yet I still live in a world in which people smoke, including some people close to me. While it feels compelling to reach out to every smoker and start lecturing them about how great it is to have quit and be free, I’m also fully aware that addictions tend to defeat any logic. Instead, I help where I can by teaching people who have made the decision to quit that it is entirely possible to reach a point where smoking seems like a foreign concept. It takes time and a lot of introspection, but it is entirely possible.

7 Replies

oldestnewest
  • Well said Alex

    you have always had a way with saying the right words and im so happy that we have been on this path together having people around me that smoke i dont have an issue with but i do find that alot of people who knew me as a smoker still ask me if i am still quit or just offer me one and then when i say no i dont smoke seem to be quite startled as this has been my longest quit i get the odd oh i wish i could quit or i wish i hadnt started i too dont go down the path of you should give up smoking blah blah blah everyone has to find there own path to freedom i always mention this place though if they ask how i quit and how i stayed quit as without the people on here that showed me the way i dont think i wouldnt have been tempted with that thought oh one wont hurt will it?

    as we all know that thought and the action of smoking will lead you straight back to being hooked back in again

    take care of yourself my friend and dont forget to pop back as often as you can :) x

  • That was a truly wonderful post Alex, which really struck a cord with me. Like you, I had smoked all my adult life and like you, it was when I reached my 40's that I began to worry about playing Russian Roulette with my health. I didn't have a specific epiphany due to a health-related issue like you did, but I had started to notice I was wheezy at night- which I didn't like- as I knew deep down that all roads were leading to COPD if I didn't knock it on the head sooner rather than later.

    Today is my 11 month anniversary (so I'm just over 3 years behind you :D) but I already know in my heart that I will never smoke again. It may be a cliche to say that quitting was the best decision I ever made but it isn't far from the truth.

    Many, many congratulations on your 4 years. It's always lovely to know that there is a whole new world beyond the Penthouse and that we can all become a part of it. Thank you Alex, for sharing. :)

  • Such amaziing positive post.

    THANKYOU

  • Thanks for posting Alex, 4 years is fantastic:D

  • Fantastic post,I hope I stay as positive as you......:)

    Really inspirational :) and a an awesome achievement:)

  • Thanks very much for all your words of encouragement!

    Carol, you've been a great support to me throughout all this time, always having plenty of positive energy and keeping me laughing with your jokes and funny pictures. One of the great things I found about this site is the sense of community. I think many of us made it this far because of the sense of "being in it together," and not wanting to let others and ourselves down.

    Skiddaw, it's crazy isn't it, how we start thinking about our health when we get older and not when we're young enough to take longer-term preventive measures. Still, it's good that we actually do start worrying and manage to do something about it. It's great to hear that you didn't have to wait for a big health scare, but still, getting wheezy at night is definitely not a good thing either. Here's to your 11 months, and many more to come!

    To everyone else, whether you're just starting out or already have some non-smoking time under your belt, hang in there because the longer the distance between you and your former smoking self, the clearer it will be in your mind that there is no real need for anyone to smoke. It's just a bad habit to which many people become addicted and have a hard time letting go.

    Finally, as Carol says, Not One Puff Ever (NOPE).

  • So sorry I missed this.

    Congratulations on four years and great to see you post your anniversary.

    Congratulations Alex x x x

    Thanks Karri.

You may also like...