Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Want a Cigarette?

I started smoking when I was 19 years old. I thought I wouldn't eat so much but it didn't help,instead I had two bad habits. I ended up a chain smoker or as my Mom said, "You smoke like a chimney!" These words came from the wife of a two pack a day husband.

Smoking was more acceptable back then. I was allowed to smoke in the lab beside the acetone. After a drive with me, a huge puff of smoke released when the door opened but no one ever complained. It never occurred to me to quit. I was young and addicted.

When I was engaged, I bought a beautiful silver clutch and matching Bic's lighter cover to go with my wedding dress. Before the cash receipt was in my wallet, I knew I was doomed to quit before I would use them.

A fellow at work fasted for me while I clung on to the last butt. "Let go," he said, probably hoping to quit his fast. So I did.

I returned the clutch and lighter cover, had a wonderful smoke-free wedding but then two years later after my first daughter was born, I surprised myself by finding a cigarette in my hand, once again.

I did not want to have another child while I was smoking, but I finally decided that quitting again wasn't going to happen and decided to get pregnant anyways. Even though the doctor and nurses said it wasn't my fault, I was again determined to quit after a miscarriage.

No one offered to fast for me this time, but I believed that God could help me and had experience with the twelve steps already so I went to Nicotine Anonymous. I again experienced success in overcoming the nicotine habit. That was 14 years ago.

What helped me quit initially:
  1. Having a reason to quit.
  2. Doing the steps, especially having faith in my "Higher Power."
  3. Deep breathing. My lung capacity wasn't very good initially but I could feel that my lungs desired to open up to the more available oxygen.
  4. Having support.
  5. Realizing that the craving wasn't going to last. I only had to endure the discomfort for a little while.
  6. Taking up exercising. My body craved activity.
What helped me stay quit:
  1. I admit I didn't keep going to the twelve step group but I stayed long enough to get the help I needed plus do some twelfth step work, which is helping other people suffering from the same addiction.
  2. Never put the thought of smoking into my mind again although there were dreams that I continued to have for a couple of years after.
  3. Gratitude for the two other children I had afterwards.
  4. Addiction is a call for help and my addictions proved to be a great blessing in my life. As a result of them, I was forced to develop spiritually because I wanted to be free.

4 comments:

cuz said...

I have asthma pretty bad. If I tried to smoke a cigarette, I might die. I can't stand cigarette smoke in the slightest. I think it's awesome that you were able to quit and stay quit. And the dreams...I have dreams that I'm smoking. I don't know why. I've never smoked and no one in my immediate family smokes. And I also dream that I'm drinking. Also something that I've never done. Though I can't say the same for most of my family. But there I am, in this dream, smoking and drinking and berating myself. I promised myself I would never do this, and here I am puffing away. And the alcohol always tastes so sweet. But I do understand addiction and how hard it is to quit. Over-eating being my main thing. I can just look at myself and see the consequences of it. And it goes beyond my looks. But I just love food. I need some steps...

Carol said...

Cuz, Thanks for commenting.
I will write about more about addictions, later.

moira said...

Addictive behavior being rumored genetic, my dad was terrified I'd take one sip of alcohol and be lost forever. That wasn't the case, but I certainly tried in my early twenties. I also took up casual smoking for several years, but I could only stand the taste of clove cigarettes. I don't generally do either anymore.

I consider myself lucky, as I am escapist, and addiction would be an easy, but damaging, out. I suspect it's a control issue, for me, and that trumps just about everything.

Carol said...

Moira,
Yes, addiction is about having no control which is a very uncomfortable.