I finally did it. I smoked (hopefully) my last cigarette on Sunday night. It was a good one, and I savored every second of it (not going to lie). But it was time to quit. I have lost track of how much money, time, energy, and livelihood I've spent on cigarettes, and while I'm hoping this is my first and last quit, I am being patient with myself.
When I started smoking last year, I was in a very different place emotionally, physically, and...geographically. While I was at ERC, we were allowed outside four times a day. Big deal for a treatment center. Most of the time, I would go downstairs with the non-smoking crew, chat about what groups/outings we might have that day and stare longingly at the Starbucks across the street..or pace around, which always got me in trouble.
One day, I decided to go upstairs with the smokers. They got to stand on top of the roof deck (read: parking lot) and look up at the sky over the mountains. It was a beautiful view. I asked someone for a cigarette (camel crush, menthol), and got my first of many head-rushes. I instantly liked it. It provided some stress relief, bonding, and time to stare at the stars. I had someone buy me my first pack the next day.
When I moved out of inpatient into the partial program, I could smoke ANY TIME I WANTED. And I did. I used cigarettes to prepare me for meals or tough outings (and there were plenty of those). I used cigarettes to connect with other people, although I connected with many people who didn't smoke at all. Surprisingly, I never used them to squelch my appetite, despite popular conceptions about smoking and eating disorders.
So here I am over a year later. I've been in one more treatment center that allowed smoking, and honestly, some of my best memories are of sitting on the porch late at night with my friends, comforting each other, laughing at nothing, and dreaming about diet coke and coffee.
But now I'm 28 (almost 29). I am in an incredibly challenging Vet Tech program, work as a grooming assistant, am a surgery extern at a major animal hospital, and volunteer for a dog rescue group. I am emotionally and physically healthier than I've been in...14 years, if not more. I will celebrate my 5 year wedding anniversary this August, just adopted a guinea pig (and she'll be getting a sister soon!), and have two growing, adorable, energetic dogs to care for. I simply don't have the money (that's potentially the biggest motivator right now), lung capacity, and need for cigarettes anymore.
So I quit. It's incredibly, incredibly hard- and I am going cold-no patches, gum, etc. I just keep reminding myself of why I'm doing this. I have a picture of my dad and me on my phone's Quitter app as inspiration. If he quit after 40 years of smoking, I can do this. I'm on day 5 now (actually, day 5, 12 hours, 44 minutes) and have already saved $45.63 and 12 hours of my life.
If you're quitting, too, I wish you loads of determination, strength, and patience. Luck doesn't play a part of it. It's our choice, and as FREAKING hard as it is, we can do this.
Peace and healthy lungs,