Like just about any smoker, I’ve wanted to quit for almost as long as I’ve smoked. Today, I decided to do it. Cold turkey. No gum and no patch; nothing but willpower and my general disgust of tobacco.
This should not be difficult. I’m not a heavy smoker, my intake being maybe five cigarettes a day on average, but that’s enough to feel the damage being done to my body. Enough to know I don’t want to continue to do that damage.
I smoked my first cigarette when I was nine, trying to look cool in front of a group of kids a couple of years older than me. It didn’t work because I didn’t know how to inhale. I wouldn’t learn how until I was twelve.
I don’t remember how I got the pack, only that I somehow had a pack of cigarettes which meant I was king of the kids at Camelot Lanes this particular Friday night (my dad’s bowling league night). A small group of us slipped behind the building to smoke, and an older kid – someone who wouldn’t have bothered with us were it not for the free cigarettes – finally taught me how to inhale.
It was awful. Dizziness, headache, queasiness. I didn’t understand how people claimed to enjoy the things, but I kept smoking them because smoking makes you cool, right? And they didn’t get any better. The headaches didn’t go away, so I handed the pack to the older kid and walked away from cigarettes. Too gross.
A year later my father died of lung cancer, and watching that disease eat away his body was enough to keep me away from cigarettes the next several years. Despite a summer spent hanging out with older kids, most of whom smoked. Despite the majority of my friends in high school being smokers. Despite almost all members of my immediate family smoking. I stayed away, for the most part.
I’d have the occasional lone cigarette every once in a while in social situations or when drinking, but they were just too gross. And I won’t lie, I enjoyed the bit of uniqueness I felt at being one of the few people in my group of friends who refused to get addicted. As someone who spent a lot of time trying to fit in, I liked having something that made me stand out.
I finally became a regular smoker in the summer of 2005. It felt a little like giving in to the inevitable. Once again I was always around people who smoked. My fiance, her friends, a few of my friends on campus, and many of my new co-workers. That last group was the one to finally break down my non-smoking barrier.
I’ll write about that more tomorrow. Save the past for the future, you might say. Why you might say that I don’t know, but hey, you’re the one saying it. Anyway, let’s get back to the present:
It’s 4:10 pm and I haven’t smoked a cigarette in sixteen hours. I feel pretty good. A little anxious, a little irritable, but those symptoms are to be expected. I’ve “quit” a few times over the last few years and have experienced those before. I know that what I’m feeling today is nothing compared to what I’ll be feeling tomorrow and that’s nothing compared to the hellish third day of quitting.
This won’t be like those other times, I hope. Many of those times my wife and I would run out of pack and just decide to try not to buy another. This time there’s a full pack in my wife’s purse, but I’ve just decided I’m done. It’s not worth it.
Over the next week I’ll write about my struggle to quit and the withdrawal symptoms my body is putting me through. I’ll also delve into more of the history of my smoking. I hope by next Thursday I can report that my body is completely free of this terrible drug.
Wish me luck.