Nine years

We’ve been going through the January thaw with warmer temperatures, rain, and melting snow.  With the exception of the piles of snow created by plowing, most of the snow is gone.  It’s just as well.  It was starting to look pretty ugly, the way snow gets after it’s been hanging around a while.

Today is my smoberversary.  On this date in 2001, I quit smoking.  I can’t believe it’s been nine years.  After all those years of smoking, it feels normal to be an ex-smoking non-smoker.  There is sometimes a little controversy in the quitting world over the use of non- or ex- when it comes to those of us who quit.  Some prefer non-smoker as it puts a period on the quit so to speak.  They no longer smoke, hence they are non-smokers.  I prefer ex- as it reminds me that I should never take the quit for granted because I’m only a puff away from three packs a day.  Never taking the quit for granted is what keeps me quit.  But that’s me.  Everyone has their own approach to these things.

It’s time to have a look at the old quitmeter.  I’m happy to see that QuitNet hasn’t cleared me (or my stats) out.  I don’t visit the quitmeter often, but it’s nice to see the numbers once in a while.  They were very important to me during the first year of my quit.  Seeing the numbers grow reinforced my quit and gave me strength during those times when I wanted to give up.

Well, here goes.  My quit stats:

  • I have been smoke-free for 3,287 days.
  • I have not smoked 197,249 death-sticks.  (Can you imagine what a pile of that many cigarette butts would look — and smell! — like?  Yuck!)
  • Money not spent on the cancer sticks:  $49,305.00

In a way, this anniversary is a little more important to me this year.  My mother died from smoking.  Small-cell lung cancer is caused by either smoking or coal mining and Mom was not a coal miner.

There are times when I feel a little angry with her for not quitting.  I don’t dwell on it much and most of the time I make excuses for her because I understand why she didn’t quit.   I know how difficult it is.  Smoking is a nasty addiction.  Not only is it hard to quit, to get started in a quit, but for most of us it is difficult to stay quit.  There are times when I feel a little angry with myself for not pushing Mom to quit.  But I didn’t want to be one of those ex-smokers, the obnoxious kind who preach Quitting to all who have not quit.  The thing is, I know it wouldn’t have mattered.  Nobody quits until they are ready to quit.  And some are never ready.

Every year I review my list called The Joys of Quitting.  I originally started the list during my first year and have been adding to it once in a while.  I posted it here at the blog back in 2007.  I think it’s time to repost it and maybe add a few new things.

The joys of quitting …..….. the smell of freshly baked bread, daffodils and other flowers, fresh air, sheets that have been dried outside in the wind and sunshine, the earth after a spring shower, scented candles and incense, perfume, buttered popcorn, a freshly peeled orange, and pine needles on a forest floor.

….. the real taste of all those foods I enjoy.

….. hiking up steep hills and climbing stairs without gasping for breath or feeling like I’m going to have a heart attack.

….. sleeping through the night without coughing, wheezing, or waking up craving a smoke.

….. it’s true what they say: Sex really is better when you don’t smoke.

….. lots of spare time to use as I like rather than as a slave to my addiction.

….. the joyous feeling of accomplishment, of knowing I made it through the last craving, of knowing that I’m winning this battle, of knowing that if I can do this, I can do ANYTHING.

….. the journey into who I am and what I am and what I wish to become.

….. learning how to express my anger right away rather than letting it build up to the ultimate explosion. Learning that tears are a river of cleansing and healing. Learning to live life by really feeling it rather than hiding behind a smokescreen.

….. digging deep and finding out that I really do have the strength to do this.

….. healthy, glowing skin and fewer wrinkles. Good hair days. A twinkle in my eyes. White teeth. No more yellow stains around my mouth and on my fingers.

….. living in the moment and appreciating the small joys of life as I take this journey one step, one moment, one hour, and one day at a time.

….. deep, deep, deep breaths which reach down into my toes and seem to go on forever.

….. the look of love and pride on the faces of my husband and sons.

…. the look of love and pride on my own face.

….. the knowledge that it DOES get better if I wait long enough.

….. the swing of my arms, the roll of my hips, and the increasing strength of my muscles and lungs as I take my daily walks.

….. the freedom to no longer worry about whether or not I stink of cigarette smoke when I go out with friends who are non-smokers.

….. the freedom to enjoy a movie, a play, a concert, or a party without worrying about and looking for a smoke break.

….. more energy and a general over-all feeling of being fully, in living color, alive and well.

….. kissing my husband and knowing I don’t taste like an ashtray.

….. training for a marathon, something I never could have done while I was smoking.

….. going on holiday and sleeping in a clean smelling non-smoking hotel room.

….. leaving behind the constant, every 15-20 minutes, craving for a cigarette and knowing that those cravings may occasionally come around as a minor urge, but they’ll never again control my life as long as I tend to my quit.

….. celebrating my One Year anniversary of freedom on January 19, 2002, which is when it finally sunk in that I am really doing this, without one cheat, puff, or slip.

….. the snow-ball effect of moving from one self-improvement project to another because now I truly know, more so than when I first wrote this, that I can do anything I set my mind to doing.

….. celebrating my Two Year anniversary of freedom on January 19, 2003, and realizing that I wasn’t counting anymore.

….. getting together with old friends and family that I haven’t seen in a while and having them comment on how healthy I look.

….. taking off the weight I gained when I first quit (27 lbs.) and taking off more weight now that I truly know I’m capable of doing whatever I set my mind to do. Quitting taught me that valuable lesson. It’ll teach you, too.

….. celebrating a third, fourth, fifth, and sixth smoberversary, and having to be reminded about each of them.

….. voting to go smoke-free in the Bogs and having it pass. It’ll be great, when we move back, to be able to go to restaurants, clubs, and bars without having to suck in someone else’s poisonous smoke. (Sabbaticalville is not smoke-free, much to my displeasure.)

….. celebrating my ninth year of being smoke-free and being astounded by the amount of money I would have spent if I’d still been smoking for all these years.

….. epiphanies.  Even this late in the game, there are things to be learned from the beginnings of this quit.

I used to end this with:  ‘That’s the short list.’  But it has grown so much over the years that the word short no longer applies.

Has this journey of quitting been easy? No. And I appreciate it all the more because of the effort I’ve had to make to get as far as I have. It’s also important to realize that it hasn’t always been hard, either. The joyous, positive moments far outweigh the crappy, struggling moments. I think that’s one of the keys to quitting…..counting up those joyous moments, no matter how small, and being grateful for them.

If you smoke, think about quitting.  If you quit or are in the midst of quitting, stay quit.  Please.