5 January 2017 will be two years of me not smoking.
I am happy to also say that as things stand now weeks (even months) go by where I do not think about smoking again. Many would argue that to quit smoking is one of the hardest addictions to break. Obviously there’s heroin but i’m talking about less destructive habits like a chocolate or dairy. Anyone who quit smoking will confirm that the desire to smoke again never really leaves you…its there somewhere in the back if your head in a dark room. The smoking demon inside tends to slip out every now and then and the damage he wreaks depends purely on the amount of thought-power you give him/it. Thinking and pondering about non-smoking for even a few seconds can lead to the mind becoming weak, willpower fading and the habit being picked up again. This was/is my biggest tool on successful not smoking.. learn how to take control of your thoughts and just don’t think about it. after the habit is broken (21 days give or take specific memories you’ve associated with smoking like climbing a mountain or after a movie) the addiction is triggered by the mind. Control the mind and you control your addiction.
But, this post is not about quitting smoking, this about things I miss about smoking. As damaging as it was for my health and my wallet there were definite things I still miss about smoking. Some of them are irreplaceable while others are.
1. All the breaks (time-outs), which can be a great thing: I started smoking as a software developer at work, and being able to step-out of a current problem situation and going for a smoke was amazing. The “fresh” air allowed me to free my mind a bit, stretch my legs and come back and look at the problem afresh. You don’t have to smoke in order to do this but smoking made it so much easier than walking outside and sitting there, doing nothing then coming back.
2. Avoiding awkward social situations: Being an introvert there it was very convenient to walk out of a awkward situation and go for a smoke. It removes me from the obligation to meet new people at a social gathering, make conversation to strangers at ex. a wedding or sitting at table with people I feel uncomfortable with. My escape was to get up and go for a smoke outside. Perfectly normal excuse. I saw my wife (to-be) for the first time like this. As I exited a socially awkward situation to go outside for a smoke…there she was… .But now being a non-smoker I am forced out of my comfort zone to chat to strangers and make conversation. This has been extremely challenging for me but also rewarding.
3. That first pull: This one is difficult to explain but I really enjoyed the taste of smoking. That first pull when you just lit up was euphoric. For a while I smoked only half of the cigarette as it was the first few pulls that gave me all I needed. This was by far the most difficult aspect to let go of as a non-smoker.
4. Associating with the rejected and judged: This may be specifically to where I live but smokers tend to be the people that are judged and rejected by society and the community. They are typically the people that don’t fit in the mold society gives, have tattoo’s, swear and are generally speaking your “rough” people. I know I am grossly generalizing but my experience was exactly this. The people that smoked with me as I smoked where the ones that desperately needed a friend, someone to listen and connect to/with. They were the ones being labelled as sinners by the church, the disobedient by the parents, the addicted by the holier than thou. Me being a typical nerd with no tattoo’s, not a “bad boy”, a servant at church, model son, and obedient friend challenged people’s perspectives about smokers as I started associating with “them”. And I love this. I miss challenging the judgmental and breaking the mold given to smokers.
5. Losing a coping-mechanism: There’s a lot of mind games going on when smoking. Although smoking increases brain activity people feel ‘relaxed’ after smoking. The nicotine you’re inhaling definitely does not help you calm down yet I can swear that I DID feel more relaxed after having a smoke. It’s all in the head and thus it becomes a coping-mechanism that help you deal with stressful life events. Whenever work becomes to hectic, whenever you have a fight with your wife or when traffic is a nightmare…light a cigarette and feel better. It worked! And this is how smoking became a coping mechanism for me if ever there was one. Whether it scientifically helped or not it is irrelevant… I felt it work… Now that I no longer smoke I don’t have this. I don’t have smoking to help me cope with stressful events… so what do I do now? What?
This is but 5 things I really miss. If you liked this post check the rest of the blog for more inspirational life event type post.