I used to be a smoker. It was a long time ago, but I do remember it well.
I had no idea that I reeked so. I had no idea it was making me sick. I was clueless.
Sure, I tried to quit every year as a New Year's resolution and failed every year. I even tried a few times in the middle of a year to quit, but something would always happen to stress me out and I'd start back up. Somebody dies? Smoke. Getting divorced? Smoke. Lose a job. Gotta have a smoke, right? And there I'd go again. Smoking those stinking cancer sticks.
I didn't think of them that way then. I didn't really even think of them as a bad habit. I thought that I was an adult and I could smoke if I wanted to. I actually wasn't an adult when I started. I was fifteen and stole my first cigarette from my stepdad. It gave me bed spins. I should have stopped then.
But nooooo, not me! I have to learn things the hard way!
I smoked menthol cigarettes for ten years. I thought I was cool. What a waste of cool points that was!
I ended up with my cool butt getting very sick. I couldn't stop coughing. No, you don't understand. I mean I literally coughed for about 3 months straight, almost non-stop.
My co-workers kept saying, "Go to the doctor!" I kept telling them, "I am!"
The doctor gave me breathing treatments, inhalers, nasal sprays, and antibiotics – all to no avail. I could suck down enough NyQuil to put an elephant down and still cough like a Saint Bernard all night long. Sitting up didn't help. Lying down didn't help. Round after round of various treatments didn't help. That awful dry cough was out to kill me.
Finally, the doctor yelled at me. "You have to stop smoking if you want to get well!"
I listened. I quit… for a week… then smoked one pack of cigarettes over one week's time and I got it again — the dreaded Bronchial Spasm!
I literally couldn't breathe in air without coughing. It was so miserable. I actually bruised my ribs from coughing so much over those months. I would sit in the bed, doubled over in pain, feeling like I was dying. It's one of those illnesses I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.
It was time to take action. I had to quit. But how? I tried every year and failed. What would work?
I dug down deep and pulled something out that I hadn't used much before. Well, what was this little item tucked away in my disposition?
It was willpower.
The doctor was right. I was making myself sick. I had to stop. Period. End of story. I never smoked again because not only did the doctor yell at me, but I told myself matter-of-factly, "You cannot smoke."
Did I still crave them? You bet! I craved cigarettes for about five years after I quit. But as my health and senses returned, I realized the benefits and it got easier and easier.
I realized that all the time I had smoked, I smelled like an ashtray! My clothes, my house, my car… all smelled like an ashtray. I couldn't believe I had smelled like that for ten whole years and didn't even know it!
Soon, it got to the point that I couldn't even remain in a smoke-filled bar for long without going out for fresh air. Wow. Fresh air! Without a cigarette in my hand. What would I do with myself? Well, I stood there and took in the beauty of life as a healthier person.
Finally, my cravings for cigarettes went away. I substituted for a while with chocolate, but broke that habit as well.
Today, you might catch me eating a chocolate truffle, but you sure as heck won't catch me with a cigarette in my hand.
Keep trying, keep strong, and know that you can be an ex-smoker too someday. I conquered the cancer sticks… so can you!