It all started when I was 16. I wanted to smoke. It seemed right and cool, and cigarettes’ scent seemed nice. I loved to smoke and enjoyed it. Or at least I thought I enjoyed it.
The truth is – smoking has changed my life. It affected different parts of it. It affected my mental state, my emotional health, and even communication with other people. I even started smoking roll-your-own cigarettes – they were much cheaper than the regular ones.
I never smoked less than 40 cigars a day. For 16 years. I enjoyed nicotine more than I enjoyed the food. I was worried more about my cigarette supply than my fridge supply. Many times I would skip a meal and had a cigar for breakfast.
Then I quit smoking. I felt like I was reborn. Now, I am convinced that everyone can leave cigarettes easily.
But how did I quit? Here’s my story.
In my doctor’s office
Once in a while, every passionate smoker starts thinking about quitting this ugly habit. “Should I quit?” This question pops up out of nowhere. In my case, it didn’t just pop up out of anywhere.
I coughed a lot. I had asthma. Stairs were causing me a problem and I couldn’t breathe normally. I decided to visit a pulmonologist.
The doc said my lung age is 70. I was shocked because I was 32 back then! I knew I had to change something. I had to quit smoking for the sake of my health.
I had a conversation with myself
As soon as I came home, I had a serious conversation with myself. I was determined to change this habit (or addiction), but I didn’t know how. People say you just need to decide, but it wasn’t enough in my case. I decided, but I didn’t act. After all, 16 years of smoking is a long time. I needed something else besides the simple decision.
I’ve never tried to quit before and I didn’t want to use any kind of replacement (gums and similar stuff). So I had to change the way I think and stop deceiving myself with stories that preach about the positive effect of smoking.
There were no positive effects of consuming cigarettes.
I had to realize that I will benefit only after I quit breathing in nicotine.
However, I didn’t have to force myself to anything because I knew I am not doing anything wrong. It was because I believed quitting was the right thing to do.
I started facing the truth
As a smoker, I was wrong in many cases. I was literally scared – I didn’t know how I’ll survive without my “precious“cigarettes. Now I ask myself: “How could I live with them?“
Money people spend on tobacco is the least important. But what is most important is the lifestyle smokers have.
They become prisoners and they steer their lives’ wheels in directions given by the smoking addiction. They start avoiding no-smoking places, they avoid seeing friends that don’tallow them to smoke in their home.I experienced this kind of life.
I became aware of how ashamed I feel every time I am the only person that smokes in a room full of my friends.
I took the small steps and chose the right direction
Smokers are known for their unusual rituals. They just cannot do simple things if they don’t smoke.
I am guilty – I had my own rituals. I knew these rituals are going to be a problem as soon as I quit smoking.
So I started changing my habits that are connected to cigarettes before I decided to finally quit. And I lowered the number of these small rituals each day until there were none left.
For instance, I quit smoking in bed in the morning (yeah, that was an awful habit!). Also, I tried to delay or even skip lightning a cigar after a meal (and it was one of my favorite moments). This was a kind of preparation before the final step.
The biggest challenge of quitting
I have to admit that my mind was my worst enemy. The most challenging part was to stop fearing of failure and to start believing I can do it.
The biggest challenge was to try to quit and smoke the last cigarette. As soon as I quit, I realized it wasn’t a big deal. I was even excited for the first few hours.
However, I must admit that I felt a bit weird. I didn’t feel the need to light a cigar nor was I nervous. I didn’t even suffer emotionally (or physically). I just felt weird because I was supposed to smoke and I didn’t.
This weird feeling turned into pure joy and confirmation. I REALLY CAN DO IT!
Every new day was easier than the previous one. I didn’t need nicotine. I was very proud of myself and was truly happy! I felt really good.
I had help and support
I must admit that support from my boyfriend and my family really helped me. They were there to say that they are proud of me, to remind me that I am doing something really good for myself – for my mind, body and even my wallet.
The first and second weeks are the hardest.
By saying “the hardest“, I mean the weird feeling you have when you don’t smoke. It’s not a crisis, and I didn’t feel the urge to light a cigar. It’s just unusual because you don’t do stuff you used to do. The weirdest moments were after a meal because I usually smoked at that time. But the weird feeling was gone as soon as I explained to myself that it’s only my mind’s reaction to changing a habit.
For example, you could feel weird when you don’t smoke when you are taking a break from an activity, you don’t need a cigar to enjoy your lunch, and you don’t practice chainsmoking when you are under stress – you calm naturally.
The truth I realized after quitting
A few months later, when I could say that I am an ex-smoker, I realized that the scent of tobacco is not nice, it’s rather yucky. Most importantly, I don’t smell bad anymore. My clothes don’t have that awful tobacco scent.
Now I realize that cigarettes are not socially acceptable. I feel as if the cigarettes took my dignity and I’ve got it back as soon as I quit smoking. I feel much better now.
I can be anywhere I want. I don’t have to avoid places with ano-smoking sign – it doesn’t affect me anymore and I don’t feel ashamed.
I am less nervous now. Let’s face the truth. Cigarettes do not calm people down, it’s only a myth.
Reasons that help me not to start smoking again
First of all, after I quit, I have never ever lighted a cigar “just for fun“. Never.Not even one because that one cigar could literally chain me and I’d return to smoking again.
I just say to myself that I don’t want to lose the priceless freedom I have now over one cigarette that I smoked “for fun“.
I don’t envy other smokers because I gained great things after I quit. I am no longer obsessed with cigars, they no longer control the way I spend time or the amount of money I’ll spend each week or month.
My nails and fingers aren’t yellow anymore. I breathe with my lung’s full capacity, my asthma is under control. And my presence is not restricted by some red signs.
Do I need more reasons to be happy as a non-smoker? No.
It’s simply wonderful not to smoke!
Jovana is a teacher and a freelance writer that has been smoking for 16 years. Today, as an ex-smoker, she feels great. She likes to take long walks in nature (she likes to hug trees) and to breathe the fresh air. She also believes anyone can stop smoking and live their life to the fullest.