If you’ve ever tried to start something or quit something you know how I feel right now. These are the moments when the know-it-alls tell you that it takes 20 days to change a habit. That number of course changes depending on who you talk to. No matter the number it’s never something you want to hear.
I remember when I first tried to quit smoking or shall I say ever time I tried to quit smoking. Everyone had a comment, the best were the smokers that would give you tips… because they quit for a few years. No you didn’t! If you quit then you wouldn’t have started back up! What you did was take a break. There’s nothing better than hearing how to stop doing something by someone that is still doing it. Hopefully you can feel my sense of sarcasm.
I first started truly smoking when I was about 17. Yes, I was pretty late in the smoking game but ironically still too young to purchase for myself. See if you didn’t know, most people start smoking when they are preteens. Ask you’re friends, it’s pretty standard. Their first puff will be stolen from a parent’s pack, if not their own then their friend’s. My favorite part of this story is that it never tastes good. Trust me, that first puff is disgusting! It burns, then you cough, gagging is fairly common and a few even throw up. I was of the gagging sorts. I’ll never forget my first. I stole one of my mom’s cowboy killers, snuck into the bathroom and lit up. It was the grossest thing I had ever subjected myself to at the ripe age of 10. I couldn’t understand why anyone in their right mind would subject themselves to something so atrocious.
Then I found cloves, also known as kreteks. For those that don’t know: ” Studies have shown that kreteks deliver more nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar than regular cigarettes, and that kretek smokers face up to 20 times the risk of lung damage as that of nonsmokers. Kretek smokers also increase their risk of heart disease and certain cancers, such as cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, and liver.” The way they get you is by making the tips of the wrappers sweet. For those romantics out there, my first boyfriend smoked cloves. So when I would kiss him there would be this sweetness that was amazing. As we all know taste and smell associations are powerful things. With that being said when I first put that clove cigarette to my lips I was taking right back to our first kiss and I was hooked. Never mind the chemicals that are in them as well.
So after a few years I realized that I needed to quit. Not really due to the health reasons but due to the fact that cloves have a very strong perfume and I couldn’t smoke them in public places anymore. So I came up with the brilliant idea to switch over to cowboy killers, because there is no way I’d let myself smoke those disgusting things. Hilarious I know, but to my 19 year old mind it was the logical thing to do. I’m sure you’ve all figured out that my logic was beaten out by pure addiction. A addiction that lasted for over a decade.
The beauty part of this story is that I didn’t smoke when i was pregnant. Those times where the easiest for me to stop. There was no way I could subject my child to such dangerous chemicals. Never really coming to grips with the fact that I didn’t feel compelled to treat my own body with the same respect. After my first the birth it didn’t take long for me to start back up again. In those days I didn’t really drink so smoking was the one thing I thought I could do to assert the fact that I had no child around me. The cigarettes became this symbol of adulthood. Which I believe is how so many young people get started. This false sense of them being some kind of rit of passage.
I had tried to quit after I had turned thirty but that had only lasted a few months. I tricked myself into thinking that I had kicked the habit and could allow myself to have one a day. It’s the rationalization that gets us every time. I can have a cigarette when I am drinking. I was also the parent that hid the fact that I smokes from my children. There really is nothing more pathetic then thinking you’re being sneaky about smoking. I would go for ‘walks’ behind the garage. Another one of my favorites would be the spur of the moment trips to the coffee shop, that no one was allowed to join me on.
When I got pregnant with this last child I made the decision that I would not allow myself to get sucked back into smoking again. My older kids were getting hip to my lies and I knew that this was going to be the last chance I’d have to finally kick the habit. With that being said,the one thing that I couldn’t wait to do was smoke. That last trimester was full of smoking dreams and these fantasies of what that first cigarette would taste like. I honestly can say that I craved smoking more than any food in the world. Luckily once I had him I was to tired to even think about smoking. Yet once again I told myself that I am only going to allow myself to smoke when something horrible happened in my life.
Needless to say I fell off the wagon for a brief moment. No this isn’t my long winded way of confessing some major life trauma. Hell I used a fight with my love as reason to smoke again. No this isn’t me confessing that I’ve become a smoker again. Nor is this the lead in to a story about spending a night curled up with the toilet because I chose to smoke a pack in one night. To tell you the truth I only had a few puffs. They weren’t disgusting or delicious. They didn’t remind me of why I smoked or why I chose to quit smoking. What I can say that they are not going to be the puffs that get me back to smoking again. Why? Because now I know that I really don’t want that lifestyle again. So like the person dieting that has that enormous piece of chocolate cake. Or the alcoholic that has the sip of beer. I am not going to think I have to start all over in my “recovery”. What it really was but just a minor glitch in the process and move on.
So to anyone that is trying to start something or to quit something, just know that we are all human and mess up sometimes. Just keep it up, with time and work you can do anything… in 20 days.