God Bless Those of Mighty Wills
For 28 years my sensual relationship with wine has been marred by a self inflicted handicap. I smoked. Cigarettes, Cigars, and Pipes.
Not any more.
Yesterday at 8am I stopped smoking.
I've done this before. Successfully too. I've successfully stopped smoking four different times….The joke is old isn't it? So has the smelly clothes, ashy desk, bad breath, sneaking out of events to secretly smoke, offending friends and lovers, and shortening my life become old.
This won't be easy. That's why I'm corralling my readers to go along for the ride. Share the pain, if you will. See, here's how I look at it. Being someone who has a certain aversion to both embarrassment and failure, I figure If I'm relating what this process is like to my readers, then there will be a a greater motivation for me to be truly successful this time: You all will know what I'm doing, how I'm doing, whether I'm succeeding..and whether or not I fail.
So,what's it like to quit smoking?
Imagine you are asked to take 2/3 less breaths when you breath. Imagine when you inhale oxygen, you require of yourself that your breaths delivers only 1/3 the oxygen to your lungs than they did the day before. Think about this. Imagine this.
After a while, and it won't be a long while, you are gong to CRAVE oxygen. After a few hours of this self deprivation your chest is going to get tight. Your skin is gong to get tingly. Oh, you'll survive. You'll live. But you'll probably spend your waking hours thinking about those breaths you no longer have; thinking about that oxygen you no longer get to have in your lungs. Odds are after a while of this, maybe 2 days or even two weeks, you'll give in and inhale that luscious, creamy, brain stimulating oxygen, because it feels so damn good in your lungs. Eventually, the pain caused by the deprivation will tighten your chest just enough, will cause enough anxiety, and will distrupt your concentration just enough that you'll say, "screw it!" and take in that extra breath.
That's what its like to stop smoking.
I imagine that an alcoholic trying to stop drinking experiences something similar. I've been blessed with only possessing one real addiction in my life, so I can't say with any first hand experience what stopping drinking is like. But if I'm right and if it is like stopping smoking, then you can be sure that my own measure of empathy for alcoholics has increased.
Why stop now? There is one good reason: The pain of quitting can't possibly be as bad as the pain and consequences of not quitting. It's a simple equation that only very recently was driven home by events and circumstances.
I've got some help with this in the form of patches and pills. And my motivation for stopping this time seems mightier than it has ever been before. I'm smarter today than I was the last time I stopped smoking too. All this bodes well for me. But something else has changed. I've decided to do this in front of an audience.
This means that if you read FERMENTATION on a daily basis, then you will read what I'm doing about staying smoke free, what I'm feeling as I experience a smoke free life, and what it feels like to move from horrific withdrawals to what I know will eventually be a more even keel. This won't replace my ruminations on wine and politics and culture. But for a while it will augment it.
So, as I hit the "publish" button on this post, I am smoke free for 24 hours.
God Bless those of mighty wills!
I smoked and gave it up easily, so I can’t relate. But I have had people very close to me give up drinking and my mom, sister and brother in law have all also recently stopped smoking as well.
You’ll be in my prayers brother. Good idea in creating an accountability group out of your readership. At the very least, you’ve proved to yourself that you’re serious. 🙂
Good for you and even better for sharing and inviting others to join the smoke free journey.
Will be interesting to read if your perception of taste changes for the better.
Great decision and we’ll all be pulling for your inevitable success.
I have yet to have the same will. I’m just a quarter-century old, but I know I’ve got to stop soon. Good luck!
Best of luck, Tom. I have a close friend who has gone through the same and only dropped back into the habit. Maybe I’ll point her in your direction so she has a story to relate to the next time she tries to quit.
I have a serious wine drinking friend from Europe that has smoked for decades and stopped about five years ago. He says that his sense of smell (for wine aromas) was actually better while he was smoking that it is now without cigarettes.
Is this true?
Kudos to you, Tom, and good luck. I smoked for a long time before giving it up. For me, it was easy. I never for a second longed for another puff. I don’t know if you exercise or work out, but I’ve always been a gym rat and runner, so being in good shape (and wanting to stay that way) helped me a lot in giving up smoking.
Quitting a bad habit needs to replaced by a good habit. Find something that fills the void; working out, building stuff, or any other hobby for that matter. Wish you the best!
It’s good advise…I don’t like the gym. And running makes me want to slit my wrists. What about piano lessons??
Good for you Tom!
How about grabbing your 60 degree wedge and chipping around the backyard when the urge strikes?
First, congratulations on taking such a BIG step…and so publicly! (That takes a lot of moxie.) We’ll all be rooting for your success.
Second, Steve and RideInside are right that replacing a bad habit with a good one is an enormous help. At the very least, it gives you something entirely new and fresh to focus on outside yourself. So if the gym, biking or long walks don’t float your boat, by all means try the piano! (It may drive you crazier though. LOL) Or watercolors…or, well, anything else to provide distraction.
Lastly, I was making new friends at TG&TF bar Saturday and one of them told me his father was quite the engineer and chemist in the early 70s. Philip Morris hired him to scientifically determine the addiction triggers using robotics (?!) among other methods. His dad determined it wasn’t the tobacco or the nicotine that made folks come back for more. It was the glue in the paper. I asked how it was that we’d all heard for decades it’s the nicotine that’s addiction, and “how could they hide it being the glue?” His reply was that it was the talented obfuscation of the industry to redirect us away from the truth. (His dad left PM shortly thereafter, presumably with a fat stack of signed non-disclosure agreements.) Anyway, don’t know if that helps or if it’s true, but I thought it was a new angle I hadn’t heard before. Good luck!
I’m a failed quitter of smoking several times over. Keeping hands busy and mind focussed on something other always helped me in my past (failed) efforts. Thus: Piano is great (but I already know how to play), knitting helpful a few years back; and lately, when I play Text Twist (via internet), I find I can go for hours without thinking of a smoke.
God speed and good luck!
Way to go Tom. I did it 30+ years ago in 1978.
About 8-9 years later, my new doctor asked if I had ever smoked. He saw a faint shadow in the picture of my lungs. I said I had quit about 8 years ago.
That’s how long it takes to rebuild the lungs after 20 years of smoking.
Take up anything new to replace your habit, just don’t take up food in any manner! Unless you also take up the gym.
OMG! You too? We quit together, unintentionally, ha ha!
I play piano and I’ve never had a smoking habit. You might be onto something.
Yet, I have had other unsavory habits, which I no longer have and which took a major trauma to learn to quit.
Addictive personalities do addictive things–it is advisable to find something positive to replace the negative thing that you quit, and it doesn’t have to be physical–just wonderful, to you.
Congratulations, best wishes and good luck.
I stopped smoking on 21 December 1991, and took up running marathons instead. Switched one obsessive habit for another.
But the craving for cigarettes has never left me. So I dela with that one step at a time……
Hayley clued me in that you were doing this. I am so happy for you!! We will be rooting for you. I like the fact that its public, you will do it this time. I KNOW. You always had an amazing palette but now, you will blow everyone out of the water with a clean and plunged hose. Good luck Thomas! You will live alot longer but mostly lot BETTER.
Perhaps you can actually TASTE now.
You are describing it extremely well. I’ve been smoke free for 2 years 9 months. The patch helps, but I think the will to quit is all you really need. I focused on the $5 a day I saved, and eventually I treated myself to monthly massages with all the extra money I had. Good luck.
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I must agree with pretty much everything written in this article. My feelings could not have been summed up more succintly.
Don’t stop there. Do it again for another day. And another, and another… I stopped smoking for 7months. Went to our yearly friends Christmas party and blew it off with one puff. Now I can’t help myself everytime I grab a drink. I really don’t like it. Feels like I’m carrying the weight of the world in my lungs again. Furthermore, I have this bad smell on my mouth from the nicotine. I’m thinking of quiting smoking and drinking altogether.
Interesting post. I really feel that you are correct on this one.
.., this is really good.. thank you so much for the post… smoking habit are really getting wider so there are things to be done…
Very informative post. You have made some good points. I especially found it useful where you said that “The pain of quitting can’t possibly be as bad as the pain and consequences of not quitting”. It definitely makes me think.
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It is not easy to quit something that you’ve been accustomed to for many years, especially when it has been in your system. But you know, it isn’t impossible, since there are a lot of people and things that will support you on your entire journey to a clean life.