Smoking dreams/Successful New Year’s resolutions

(Elevator in our apartment building. December 2006. Photo by Robin)

Note:  10 March 2010: I’ve noticed a lot of visitors to this post recently, coming from a quit smoking forum.  I recently updated/wrote about the joys of quitting.  You can find that here if you’d like to read it.  Good luck and best wishes to you on your journey to become an ex-smoker.

And now back to the post you came here to read…

On January 19th I will celebrate six years of being smoke-free. It took a lot of tries, hundreds, maybe thousands if you count the half-hearted “I think I’ll quit today” quits that didn’t last more than a few hours or minutes, but I finally did it. I quit.

I know there are some who won’t pat me on the back for that accomplishment. The general consensus among those who won’t is that I shouldn’t have taken up smoking in the first place and, that having done so, I shouldn’t be rewarded for doing the right thing and quitting. Harsh stance, and I’ve heard it a few times.

No matter what others may think, I consider it a major accomplishment. I started smoking as a young teenager. I smoked for about 27 years. By the time I quit, I was very heavily into my nicotine addiction, smoking up to three or more packs a day. Everything I did in life, everything, was associated with smoking. That’s what made quitting so difficult. Everytime I did something that was formerly associated with smoking, I’d want to smoke. Since everything was formerly associated with smoking, that need/want/desire to smoke was pretty much a constant in my life for a while. Needless to say, that led to some very long days in the first few months. It wasn’t until I hit my one year smoberversary (smober = nicotine free, a play on the word sober and being alcohol or drug free) that I truly felt as though I’d quit and might be able to stay quit.

I’ve been having a lot of smoking dreams lately. Smoking dreams are pretty common in the early phases of quitting. They range from being enjoyable (might as well enjoy the cigarettes I’m smoking in my dreams) to nightmarish (smoking through a hole in my throat or the panic of having lost a good quit).

The recent versions of smoking dreams have been somewhat enjoyable, but mostly weird. In one I’m trying to buy two cartons of cigarettes at a discount tobacco store. I can’t remember the name of the brand of cigarettes I used to smoke. I keep thinking it begins with the letter E and comes in a green and white packet, but the lady behind the counter keeps telling me there is no such brand. I’m quite insistent that there is. This goes on for a while until I finally settle for some other brand, one I never liked.

The strange thing was that when I woke up, I couldn’t for the life of me remember what brand I used to smoke. It took me a couple of hours to recall that in the end, I smoked Nows. I’d been through several brands throughout the course of my smoking career, usually changing because they didn’t make the brand anymore or they’d change it into something I didn’t like.

I’ve been craving a cigarette, perhaps because of the dreams, but I think it’s the place where we’re living (and inhaling all that smoke in the bar on Friday night). It’s a lot like living in a hotel, not remarkable when you consider that the building was once a hotel that has been renovated into apartments. Most of the folks on our floor smoke. I know this because I can smell their smoke when I walk down the hallways. Our neighbor’s smoke creeps into our apartment, under the doorway, so that some mornings I wake up thinking someone is smoking in our kitchen.

I gave up the first-thing-in-the-morning cigarette a few years before I quit. It was one of the beginning moves in a long process of change that finally enabled me to be a successful quitter. But the smell of smoke in the morning has reminded me of sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of tea in one hand and a cigarette in the other, and the satisfaction of that first inhale and the lightheadedness that comes with it.

I can’t honestly say I wouldn’t enjoy sucking on a cigarette, having just one. That’s what this is: the addiction sneaking in and whispering that it would be okay to have just one. It wouldn’t be just one, of course. Just one would lead to another because, after all, I already had one so why not have another since I’ve already screwed up. And, well, next thing you know I’d be smoking three packs a day again.

One of the reasons I haven’t cheated at all, not one puff, is the fear that I don’t have another quit in me. That’s not the sort of attitude that would serve me well if I did relapse, but it’s worked as a deterrent. Just one isn’t in my future. That’s all there is to it.

I don’t really want to smoke. Quitting was one of the best things I’ve done for myself and I’m not willing to give that up. It’s the addiction that wants to smoke. And if I learned one thing well it was this: Don’t feed the addiction. Next thing you know, it’s feeding on you.

13 Comments on “Smoking dreams/Successful New Year’s resolutions”

  1. Alto2 says:

    No, you can’t have just one, b/c it will be more than just one. Yes, you should be commended for quitting b/c it was the healthy and healthful thing to do. You should consult a dream book or that wacky Green-Eyed Lady to see what those smoking dreams mean.

    Happy New Year to you!

  2. Kel says:

    congrats on your smober lifestyle choice – I think it’s awesome that you quit

    I wonder if the number “2” and the letter “E” have any significance for you

    the colours green and white suggests “freshness” to me, I wonder what they suggest for you

    btw – no need to answer these queries here – just little dream analyses promptings for you to ponder 🙂

    • Jonno says:

      I’ve had a smoking dream every night for about 2 weeks now! They’re so weird. I quit 1st Jan.

      I think you’re right about the freshness. And it would make sense that the brand didn’t exist. Robin is craving the ‘fresh and clean’ cigs that his current subconscious is trying to trick his consciousness into believing he used to smoke. “Those wholesome, fresh cigs, you know the ones you used to like. mmmmmmmm you’re missing out”.
      Maybe the lady behind the counter is his common sense winning the battle against his nicotine addiction stained subconscious. POW! I reckon the war’s over for this one
      Well done mate

  3. Norm says:

    Hi Robin – Happy New Year and thanks for your good wishes over these last couple of weeks.

    I completely relate to everything you wrote here only I relate it to drinking. Congratulations on staying smoke-free and maintaining those perceptions about the consequence of picking up.

    Don’t concern yourself too much with the occassional thoughts or dreams. They pass and are of little consequence. It’s your subconscious getting cranky and letting loose with some goop. Acting on the thoughts will kill us so keep an eye on the thoughts that cause us to act.

    You’re doing great – keep doing the “do’s”.

  4. MLL says:

    You get a BIG pat on the back from me!!! Wow, 3 packs/day to quitting is amazing. You rock :-)) FWIW, I work at a hospital and part of my job is offering smoking cessation education to patients…..most of whom have had a stroke and/or other major medical problems.

  5. BunnyBubblette says:

    Yes, that is an accomplishment! I smoked from about age 15 to about age 30. I tried to quit lots of times. When I was 30 years old, I got a real bad case of tonsilitis, and I had to have my tonsils taken out. The doctor who performed the tonsilectomy told me the day after the surgery that she thought my throat looked pre-cancerous. Yikes! That turned out to be the motivation I needed. And since I was in the hospital anyway, and since my throat hurt like hell anyway ….. I haven’t had a cigarette since then. It wasn’t easy. And I fully agree that there is no such thing as “just one”. If I had one today, I’m sure I’d be right back to my 3-pack-a-day habit.

    If my math is correct, it was about 21 years ago that I quit. If it helps any, I hardly ever get the urge to smoke now. But I can see how living in a place where you smell smoke all the time could set you off. The rare times when I get the urge to smoke are usually when somebody around me is smoking.

  6. Chef says:

    I like your writing style…it’s very easy to read and understand.

  7. It’s nice to finally find a site where the blogger knows what they are talking about.

  8. Jamaica Vids says:

    I have your site bookmarked and your feed link saved. I should be good to go now.

  9. Christian says:

    I bookmarked your site and will be back here soon. Good luck with it all.

  10. Adriel says:

    Thanks for all the help dude.

  11. Paul says:

    Man that just hits home. Everything you said about having a thousand “I think I’ll quit today” moments, to not allowing yourself to have just one because it will snowball into addiction. I also started in my teenage years, and got up to a pack and half a day before I quit cold turkey. My quit counter tells me I’m at 90 days now. I found your site because I had a dream about smoking last night. It’s odd because it was my first since I had quit.

    Well I just want to say what you’ve done is nothing short of miraculous. I know because I’ve also done it and I can honestly say that this was the most difficult thing I have ever accomplished. It’s amazing how hard it can be to *not do* something. I’ve transferred that new power into a clean diet and exercise. I’ve never felt better in my life.

    Anyway, kudos to you. Even if it’s two years after your original blog post.

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