Smoking is so damn insidious. Don’t ever smoke, kids. You’ll never be able to quit. You don’t believe me, but I’m telling you the truth. No, really.
I’m one of those smokers who always say, “I’m going to quit soon.” Sometimes I do quit, sometimes for months. My biggest smoking cessation successes were my pregnancies. The second I knew I was pregnant, I knew I wouldn’t be lighting up again, and both times I lasted a good while into the newborn weeks or months.
But somehow, I always talk myself back into it. “Just a few while I’m out” becomes “I spent good money on this pack, so I’ll finish it, but no more.” Before I know it, I’m stepping outside on all my work breaks and after every meal for a sweet, delicious cigarette.
I like smoking. I find it pleasurable. I find it comforting. Smoking is like a friend who has been with me when no one else was, when no one else possibly could be. Smoking has seen the secret smiles and tears I shared with no other person in the entire world. Smoking has soothed panic, relieved boredom, looked out over the edge of the universe with me.
I don’t really want to quit. If it weren’t for lung cancer, I probably wouldn’t. I’d probably take my chances with emphysema and COPD, but cancer is my own personal boogeyman, and the older I get, the closer I’m afraid I’m getting to each puff smoking that monster right out from under my bed.
I’m just paranoid enough about cancer that every couple of years I end up in my doctor’s office complaining about chest pain, not-quite convinced I have The Big C, but still wanting to be reassured I don’t.
One such time, I had a chest x-ray that showed a “nodule,” and I had to have a follow up chest CT to figure out wtf that was. I couldn’t bring myself to smoke after I got the call from the doctor’s office setting up that follow up. In the days I waited for my CT appointment, I never felt any nicotine withdrawals, never felt anything but disgusted at the thought of smoking. And when the CT came back clear, attributing the nodule to a “layering of densities,” I breathed a sigh of relief, vowed to amend my ways… and wound up right back here again. Just like I always have.
Another time, I might actually have heard the voice of God telling me not to smoke. Literally telling me not to go out to the back deck where I was headed, and not to light up the cigarette I had in my hand. A voice, an impulse–whatever it was, it was urgent and immediate. And I ignored it. I pushed right on through, out to the deck, and lit up that smoke.
So if scary chest x-rays, my own precious newborns, and the voice of my Creator cannot get me to stop… then what will?
The answer seems to be you just have to will it. You just have to decide. It’s going to suck, and you have to know that, but it’s your own fault for getting into this mess. For thinking you were above addiction, for thinking you had time to get it all out of your system before you had to think about stopping.
It’s never the right time, because for quitting to work, it has to be forever.
I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready for forever. But I’m also quite sure I’ll never be able to accept that I’ll be a smoker forever. I’m uneasy committing to forever either way.
I wanted to close this post by telling you my proposed quit date: Halloween. I wanted to say this time I meant to do it forever, and by posting, I wanted to create accountability for myself.
But, man, I just don’t know.