Living for the Journey: By Pam Robinson.
A year ago this month, I crushed out my last cigarette. I threw out my cigarette lighter and all my ashtrays. I quit smoking cold turkey after more than 30 years of puffing away. I won’t lie. It’s been an uphill battle.
The first three months, I kept my footing only because I vowed to climb out of addiction “one day at a time.” Fighting almost constant cravings for a smoke, I often needed to deal with one minute at a time. That required not only overcoming addiction but some really bad habits also. I had to stop, for example, reaching for a cigarette first thing in the morning while I simultaneously poured a cup of coffee. I still enjoy a morning cup of joe, but I mix up where I drink it, depending on the weather—either in the dining room or on the front porch. Before I stopped smoking, I had headed straight to my home office every morning to drink coffee and chain smoke while I answered email and started writing. In fact, I believed cigarettes absolutely inspired my articles. Somehow I managed to meet deadline during the first three months without cigarettes in spite of writer’s block.
Passing the three-month mark was somehow magical for me. Never before had I stopped smoking for twelve entire weeks. About eight weeks had been my record. For my perseverance, I was rewarded with easier breathing. It resulted in better sleep at night and in far less shortness of breath when I walked around the block or up and down the basement stairs. After three months, my cravings diminished also. For the past nine months, I’d guess “I just say no” to sneaking one of my husband Jim’s cigarettes about once a month. Jim rewarded me also by putting an end to his smoking in our upstairs living quarters.
Now, I’m looking forward to my fourth anniversary as a non-smoker. According to one of my friends who joined the unhooked generation, she stopped craving cigarettes completely after four years without one. Seven years later, she can even hang out with smokers, yet feels no urge to light up again.
My initial inspiration for giving up cigarettes came from St. Philip resident Kevin Ray. He shed 123 pounds in 10 months without gimmicks. One day at a time, he created a new lifestyle of healthy eating and regular exercise. After one year as a non-smoker, I am motivated now by better health and the hope I’ll live long enough to see my 15-year-old daughter Jessica graduate from college and to dance at her wedding to a nice young Christian man. Needless to say, I also want to be around to rock their children.
Calculating $4 per pack for cigarettes, I’ve saved well over $2,000 in the year since I quit my pack and a half a day addiction. More important, quitting has kept the toxin from around 12,000 cigarettes out of my lungs. No wonder I can walk uphill now without doubling over to catch my breath.
I’ll keep you posted each year as I move toward the four-year milestone. Such confession keeps me honest and less like to stumble and fall headlong back down the mountain. I love the view up here, but I must admit, it’s a little dizzying.