That two word response was to a colleague of mine; After she had so magnificently offered me a cigarette after our lunch break. Normally in this situation I would have pounced, feral instincts taking over as my brain realized there was free nicotine up for grabs. Today, well last Thursday to be exact; I quit smoking – hence my completely irrational (for a "smoker" at least) answer.
This, as no non-smoker may realize, is an exceptional feat of will and iron determination. The sheer rage I put into those two words, squeezing my eyes shut, was enough to inform my colleague she should not press the issue any further. Not that she had any chance really because after I regained consciousness, from the anger induced blackout, well … she was nowhere to be seen. I imagine those instincts of mine responded negatively after being ignored.
But I've made it to a week so far, still not smoking and no police report with my face on it, and thought I'd share my experience with those interested in seeing another person's pain. But where to begin? Of course … the start of it all.
I started smoking when I was 19. A recent break-up with an ex-girlfriend and boredom led me down to the local shop in search of distraction. The magazine stand published nothing of interest, and the newspapers were as always filled with the same amount of "fear of everything" as usual and even chocolate held no appeal. I needed something more; Something that I could have that would both burn money and time at the same time, fill the gap that had so recently left my life in a rush of both. And then I saw it, my first pack waiting so eagerly behind the counter calling out to me. I had never smoked before, why should not I give it a try? So I did.
My entire family smoked when I decided to start, with the exception of my older brother. It therefore took away much of the hiding and sneaking beginner smokers often have to do. Mostly because our living room was as dense with fumes as the space shuttle's exhaust anyway so my addition was initially not noticed. After about a week I was hooked, the look and feel that cigarettes cave me contributing exponentially with each drag, and by that point something as fickle as health advice from my parents, and indeed the collective world, was not going to stop me.
And so I had found what I needed to pass the time and get over my heartbreak – at least for the first few months it took to move on. But when I tried to stop, I could not put them down. I remember vividly explaining only two weeks before my first of many attempts, to a friend of mine's mom, that smoking for me was a brief "crutch" and nothing else. Five years walking on a broken leg makes me a liar I suppose.
I smoked everywhere, as much as possible and in those years like so many others it became an integral part to my daily routine.
Wake up. Smoke. Breakfast. Smoke. Drive to work. Smoke. Smoke break. Duh. Lunch. Smoke. Restroom break. Smoke. Drive back home. Smoke. And my personal favorite – last cigarette before bedtime. It was cyclic, like some rare star constellation visible during daytime hours that past longer on weekends with the addition of alcohol. Before I knew it I had been a smoker for my entire first year at university.
Then came the "comfy" phase. I had moved from a beginner to an advanced smoker through intensive nico-training. I became the kind of smoker who buys a pack of cigarettes at night so that they knew they would have some in the morning. Someone who leaves one cigarette in a pack somewhere around the house, so that if option A did not happen there would at least be relief after an extended treasure hunt. I was never far from the delicious tang of discharged tobacco.
After that, well nothing really. Smoking became such a huge part of my life that I could not even remember what it was like to be a non-smoker. I got used to it all. It certainly was not what I needed anymore, at least there was not the same reason behind it, but at the same time it was what my body needed. The chemicals that is.
Which leads smoothly, and somewhat addictively, into why I decided to quit. So far in my smoking career I've been one of the lucky ones, I had never had any health scares and no real problem dealing with the increase of smoking laws, but a few weeks ago I had a strange experience. I met a girl. A really amazing girl. The kind of girl who, when she walks into the room, I would lose all concepts of structured speech and fidget. Like nervousness fidget. Despite being unable to tell her my name the first time she asked, and pathetically fumbling a high-five from a passing friend, we started to spend time together.
Only problem – she does not agree with smoking. I suppose her argument towards the reason why I smoke in the first place, especially since I also work for a company that tries to help people quit smoking, is valid too. But seriously. Most people do not agree with smoking, to some extent or another, and others might even seriously take offense, but in general everyone agrees that smoking is quite … well bad. But the situation was much worse in this case, because encountering a potential dream person and finding out that one aspect of yourself was something that they straight out do not agree – drastic measures need to be taken. And I can not even take the higher ground and say: "You should like me the way I am", because let's face it – no one is born a smoker. True story.
So after I heard this all I looked disdainfully down at the pack of cigarettes in my backpack and thought: after you, I'm done . And so here I am. I suppose it might be a little pathetic that I both started and stopped smoking because of someone else – but these things happen and everyone needs their own motivation for quitting – trust me. I'm happy to say that I've been smoke free for more than a week now. No fancy treatments, although it is a possibility, but just the iron will and stronger impulses than nicotine can compete with.