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But _when_ does it get better?? A year in review.   One Year and Beyond Milestones

Started Jan-31 by JEM777; 955 views.
JEM777

From: JEM777

Jan-31

Hello fellow smober and soon-to-be-smober folks!

Fear kept me from quitting. Fear spurred me on to quit. It took me over three years to finally make the decision to quit smoking because of fear. I wanted to quit so bad and yet I couldn't imagine my life without my "dear friend" by my side. And it took me over six months for the fear of what smoking was doing to me to get me to actually quit.

Before I smoked, I used to have these crazy dreams about smoking where I would inhale an entire cigarette to ash, like a Bugs Bunny cartoon. I started dating a man who smoked and one day, asked for one to try. I hated it. I should've let that experience keep me from smoking, but I didn't. When that same boyfriend (now my husband) introduced me to clove cigarettes, I liked the flavor and the feeling of smoking. I would smoke 1-2 per day after work. I never felt compelled to smoke or felt like I was missing out. It was more like having a cocktail in the evening. I could take it or leave it. (I've since learned that clove cigarettes can be addictive and are much worse than conventional cigarettes, but for whatever reason, it didn't hook me.) In fact, when cloves became illegal where I live, I didn't smoke anything for over a year. I had made an offhand comment about how I enjoyed smoking cloves and I hated the flavor of cigarettes, so my husband decided to introduce me to menthols. That's when I became hooked on cigarettes. It may seem like I'm blaming him, but I'm not. I chose to smoke. I chose to try each new nicotine delivery method. And I became addicted.

I was still a closet smoker and would only smoke at home. I didn't carry cigarettes with me unless we were going on vacation. I would have "infected" clothing (clothes that smelled like smoke) and would change into those clothes to smoke. I also wrapped my hair in a towel so that nobody would smell smoke on me. My brother in law recently told me that he had no idea I ever smoked, let alone as recently as a year ago. Vacations with family were hard. I had to sneak out of my dad's house in the middle of the night to smoke when I visited him. 

I was diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia years before I ever started smoking. My doctor at the time told me it wasn't a problem until it became a problem. When my heart arrhythmia became a problem, I was admitted to the hospital for several days on and off as they tried to control it so I wouldn't die. I didn't smoke while I was there. I came home and the thought of cigarettes was disgusting. I even threw out my pack, my ashtray, and my lighter, thankful that I was free! But I didn't do any work: I just thought that it would be over. And within a day of being home, I was back to smoking. 

It's been four years since then, and it took me 3 years after having to be hospitalized for a heart-related issue to finally work up the courage to quit for good. My husband quit 7 years ago and gently encouraged me to quit by offering quitting aids or different nicotine delivery methods. I tried vaping for a month or so, but it just wasn't the same. It wasn't just the nicotine, I was also addicted to the ritual and vaping doesn't have the same ritual to it that smoking did for me. I then signed up for a quit smoking trial that gave me a smart lighter and an app to track how long it had been since my last cigarette. Using that method, I got down to smoking only 3 cigarettes per day -- morning, after work, and before bed. I had trouble with finally letting those last 3 go. Then, my work was downsizing and I lost my job. I also lost my desire to quit because I was home all day looking for a new job and the stress was overwhelming. I found a new job, but the people there gave me PTSD (not kidding) as they systematically broke me through bullying and isolation. I quit that job after 6 months, but I was back to smoking 10-12 cigarettes per day. 

With my husband encouraging me to quit and my doctor offering help with quitting, plus me being tired of having to tell my doctors about my smoking, being tired of having to hide my smoking, and my health getting worse, I finally made the decision to quit. I had all the things going for me -- my doctor assigned me a quit smoking coach and prescribed me Wellbutrin, nobody in my home smoked, nor did any of my friends, and I finally took that mental step that quitting was much more important than the fleeting feelings I got from smoking. I also did the work: I identified my triggers and how would I approach cravings, what I wanted from quitting, why I was quitting, and what my life would look like without smoking. 

I quit inhaling cigarette poison into my body a year ago today. And I found this forum shortly after as I frantically searched for help to get through the first three days and the articles led me here. It was this forum that gave me the last bit of support I needed. Here, I found people going through the struggle with me, or who knew about what was ahead. And I remember asking when does it get better?? 

It gets better day by day, but I found the "when" of it not being a daily thought to be nearly 7 months quit. I'm not saying that what a newly quit person is feeling will last for 7 months. I'm saying that's when it flipped for me. That's when I stopped asking when it would get better because I was no longer plagued with missing smoking. When it finally just WAS better. I remember looking at all the people who were months and years quit, wishing to be them. And now I am them. This quitting business is so hard, but so rewarding. I can't say I don't sometimes miss cigarettes, but the thoughts are fleeting and far between. I also miss being young, and that's about the same level of plausibility to attain for me. I am not going back to being a smoker for anything. 

Quitting seemed kind of like the stages of grief for me:

  1. The Denial Stage was before I quit. I denied over and over that I needed to. 10 cigarettes a day wasn't "that much," right?
  2. The Anger Stage carried me through the first few months. I made a list of what I was gaining by quitting, but I also had in the back of my mind a list of what cigarettes were stealing. When I had a craving, I would use that anger at the lies cigarettes tell about needing them to get through the day. The anger stopped the junkie thoughts better than almost everything else. I still had my distraction techniques, but anger was my first weapon.
  3. The Bargaining Stage was mostly me fighting with myself. Junkie thoughts kept trying to convince me that just one would feel sublime, just one wouldn't be a problem, I could handle just one, I needed just one. Junkie thinking is powerful, but there is truly no biological reason to smoke. It doesn't provid
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In reply toRe: msg 1
Belinda2019

From: Belinda2019

Feb-1

Thank you for this Jem. I’m at 107 days and the jts are absolutely mind boggling. I’m looking forward to being where you are now

JEM777

From: JEM777

Feb-1

Hi Belinda!

I can't wait to see you in the clubhouse at the end of the year! It's hard. Reach out if you need help. Pause and be very, very aware of your surroundings and don't let auto-pilot break your quit. YOU CAN DO THIS!! heart

In reply toRe: msg 1
48yrsmokin

From: 48yrsmokin

Feb-1

Jem thanks alot for your insight into the future of the non smoker. I'm waiting to get too those days. at 3 1/2 months things are in the super FOG stage. But I keep telling myself that this is all worth it. And I put myself threw the smoking stage for over 40 years. The non smoking stage will be nice for the next 40 yrs. The stages you talk about are here and being nasty. So it's time to ride it out. It's always good to here about the future and need that. Cause the stage I'm in now always keeps you wondering  & wondering & wandering. whats next. if anything.  Waitng for the winter to end in Northern Indiana IS ALSO a trying thing. Haven't seen any SUN for weeks. No snow.  Kind of waitng for something to happen.                                                           Ed G.

In reply toRe: msg 3
48yrsmokin

From: 48yrsmokin

Feb-1

OH Jem Congradulations on your year quit time. So rapped up in my stuff that your the one that we should be congradulateing.   Thats really COOL that you have made it all the way thru these trying times.  Give yourself a BIG OL HUG.for what youve done for yourself..                                                                                                                                     CONGRATS JEM    FROM UP AND COMING QUITTER ED G.

JEM777

From: JEM777

Feb-1

Hi Ed!

My hardest time quitting was between 3 months and 6 months. You've got the right attitude to see you through. And yes, when you're going through hell -- KEEP GOING!

I'm in sunny northern CA and we're hitting a temperature spike currently. Highs almost in the 70s (normal for this time is mid-50s). So, sorry for stealing all the sunshine from Indiana. You guys can have it back!! :)

Jem

In reply toRe: msg 6
48yrsmokin

From: 48yrsmokin

Feb-2

Thanks JEM  For once in a great while the sun is shineing this morning . Thanks for sending it our way. Feels good right now haveing it shine thru the window on my face. It's going to be a good day. Especially when the CHIEFS win today.  Have a good superbowl sunday.

In reply toRe: msg 1
ModDee

From: ModDee

Feb-2

Jem,

Congratulations on your awesome achievement and post.  Welcome to the 7% Club!

Each year will bring more and more benefits.  What a marvelous gift you've given to yourself and your loved ones.

(((Hugs)))

In reply toRe: msg 1
CindiS319

From: CindiS319

Feb-11

Jem,

That's a great post and again, congratulations on 1 year.  I didn't really keep a journal my first year, but your post (especially about the stages) brought back some (not so great) memories for me.  It's great that you had that support at home...that I didn't have because my husband still smokes and my daughter is off at college.  But I think it was the anger that got me through those first few months and after that, I sure as hell wasn't going back.  I honestly don't know if I could quit again and that's what keeps me from having just one.  I was so addicted, both physically and emotionally, that it makes me cringe to just thinking about starting at Day 1 again.  I honestly don't know what triggered me to finally do it after 35 years of smoking a pack a day.  But here we are at the Club House and I have no regrets.  Thank you again for your post and look forward to seeing your 2 year post!

CindiS319

From: CindiS319

Feb-11

Hi Ed,

Keep up the great work!  I understand your statement about winter because I'm in Northern Ohio and I wonder when we'll ever see the sun again.  We did have some snow though but it's mostly gone again.  Strange winter.  Hang in there!

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