“I’m off to feed my bad habit.” My grandfather’s words I’ve heard so often over my lifetime. Just about my entire family does or has smoked cigarettes. My mom, dad, stepdad, 3 out of 4 grandparents and all of my aunts and uncles smoke or did smoke. It was normal to hear that someone was going outside for a “smoke.” All of my friends growing up smoked. We grew up in a time where we knew it was bad for us, but we were living on the edge.
I began smoking at 14. I loved smoking. It didn’t matter that I had childhood asthma and allergies. It didn’t matter that they were getting more expensive than I could truly afford. I ended up smoking a pack a day up through college. After I started teaching, my smoking became more secretive. I would smoke in my little old Toyota Corolla on the way to work with the windows down (even in the rain), then chew gum and spray copious amounts of perfume on myself. I would smoke on the way home from work, looking around to make sure no coworkers or students were in the vehicles around me.
I quit a few times, always to start back. I quit for my entire pregnancy, vowing to never smoke again. But at my husband’s college graduation party, just 3 weeks after our daughter was born, I smoked one cigarette and my “bad habit” was back. I never tried any of the gums or pills. I felt like if I was destined to quit it would need to be on my own.
My daughter had breathing problems and was finally diagnosed with asthma and that’s the point where I knew I had to quit. The extreme guilt of my poor daughter having to take nebulizer treatments twice a day while I was sneaking out to have a “quick smoke” on the deck really got to me. Even though I never smoked around her, and always washed up afterwards, it was still the ultimate mommy guilt trip. At that point, I cut back big time, smoking only 3 or 4 cigarettes a day.
Then, we bought a new car. My husband was adamant that there would be no smoking in it. I abided by his rules and that took care of my daily cigarettes to and from work. I gradually smoked less and less and then at some point last fall I realized I had a half a pack of cigarettes that I’d had for over 2 months. I realized I hadn’t had one in a couple of weeks. At that point I told myself I hadn’t really quit, I was just “taking a break” like I had so many times before.
But, a couple of months later I threw that 1/2 a pack out and I realized that this time it was for good. I think it took me changing my habits (for me, smoking in the car was a HUGE part of my habit) as well as taking the pressure off of myself by not saying I’d quit. In my mind, if I said I’d quit, then if I ever smoked again it was a lie. If I was still a smoker in my mind, but just not actually smoking, then it was okay if I broke down.
It just so happens, I haven’t started back. I’ve been around other people smoking and now I hate the smell! I don’t think I could take a puff even if I wanted to! I’m not saying that my method makes sense, or that it could help anyone else, but it worked for me this time. If you’re trying to quit, just take the pressure off of yourself. Tell yourself you’re taking a break and see if you can make that break last. You may find yourself as surprised as I was.