By: Tracey Coyle
I started smoking when I was a preteen. The older girls in the neighborhood were sneaking around with a brown paper bag and my “trouble radar” knew to follow them. By the time I was 13 I was buying my own packs and by high school I was smoking in my parent’s home.
I used to say if there was one thing I would change about my past it would be to have never started smoking but that’s not really fair. Smoking has served me well over the years and I for one can’t ignore the opportunities I found in it. The companionship it’s brought me when I was alone in a crowded bar. The friendships it spurred while huddling together outside the office. Smoking has had its moments for me but now the cons far out way the pros and delicious as you are, sweet, sweet tobacco, it’s time for you to go.
I geared up for quitting smoking and went through all the usual steps. I saw a physician to learn more about the different patches and pills available. I bought sneakers for all that working out I would be doing now. And I said good bye to the bar scene for a little while. What I decided was that if this was going to work I had to be prepared for my greatest obstacle. Me. Every time I’ve attempted quitting I fail because the ‘me’ that wants something can be so very convincing. But I had one advantage. If I really thought about it, I knew all the tricks I would be playing on myself. I knew that if I went 3 days without smoking I would start whispering “you’ve earned it… one little puff.” I knew that the first time anyone asked me to go to the bar I was going to consider it because the ‘evil me’ knew that after one beer I would be hopelessly at the mercy of a cigarette. So the plan was simple.
I thought up every scenario that might come up and every excuse I would give myself to smoke. I wrote them all down and I even typed them all out onto my iphone for quick reference while on the go. If I was going to try to pull a fast one on myself, I was going to be prepared.
Four days into quitting smoking I found my first chance to prove myself. My boss was being especially demonic that day and I started feeling the pressure of the long day ahead of me. Every time he spoke I felt my fingers curl closed till my knuckles popped. It was settled. If I don’t have a cigarette I will surely kill the branch manager. It was really in the entire offices best interest that I smoke. And what would killing my boss do to my family? I had to smoke. It was the right thing to do. But as a last precaution I checked the list of excuses that I made. There, under “Want to kill my boss” was my decoded interpretation “You are not an animal. You will not kill your boss. Stop making excuses.” Damn you, clever girl! How could you have foreseen that my boss would drive me to murder or smoking?
Through out the next 4 or 5 weeks I found a number of reasons to smoke and for each one I had an even better reason not to. I knew all the patches and pills were available but I also knew that my personal struggle with smoking was much more a mind game than a physical dependency. And I needed to approach it as someone who was ready to stand up to themselves when the time came. It was the only way I would be successful. And I was right. 6 Months tobacco free, thank you very much.