I began smoking because I got tired of my then-husband telling me what I could and couldn’t do, as well as, falsely, believing it would help me control my appetite. It didn’t. I eventually went from 2 1/2 packs a day of full-flavored cigarettes like Marlboro to 1 1/2 packs a day of “lights.” Not any better, huh?
Ten years later, tired of the smell on my clothes and constantly hacking and coughing, I quit cold turkey. I still craved them, especially in social situations or bar-hopping, and was even smoking in my dreams, but I succeeded in quitting for 11+ years.
Then I hit one of the really stressful times in my life and was going to psychotherapy every Friday for a while. One Friday, I caved in and bought a pack of cigarettes. I only smoked one and left the pack at my BFF’s in her refrigerator. I got through until the following Friday when I went to my friend’s and smoked another one. By the end of 4-5 weeks, I was smoking more than one on Fridays, so I caved and took the cigarettes home. And the old cycle started again.
I come from a large family, but because I lived away from them for so many years, I missed out on the birth and first few months of each niece and nephew’s birth. Then my last niece, Hannah, was born and because they were living with me and my mom I got the chance to bond with her from the day she came home. I call her “my heart” because we became so close, and we still are even though she is a teenager now. (Can you see my eyes rolling?)
When Hannah was two years old I decided once again I wanted to quit smoking so that I could be around to see her graduate, get married and have kids. Although I wasn’t sure I would succeed because my job was extremely stressful, I set a target date for smoking my last cigarette as her third birthday.
On the target date, I had one last cigarette before going inside to sleep. As I did, I looked to the heavens and said, “Okay, Lord, it’s in your hands now. Please give me strength.” He did.
Twelve years later I am still smoke-free. This time, though, I haven’t craved a cigarette or dreamed of smoking one at all, even in social situations around other smokers. I will always believe that the defining difference between the two “quits” was that I gave my craving into God’s hands.
I know, without any doubt, that if I am ever dumb enough to start smoking again – especially at the price of a pack today – I’ll be unable to quit again this late in my life. But I won’t have to worry about doing that; God’s got my back.
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Tell us about something you’ve tried to quit. Did you go cold turkey, or for gradual change? Did it stick?