I expected quitting smoking to be hard. I had already tried to quit a couple of times and had gotten really close (3 cigarettes a day: the “almost there” magic number), but I’d never really managed to quit. I had always blamed my failure on the fact that I didn’t really want to quit; but then, I didn’t really want to this time either. What happened was this: the thought occurred to me that I had reached “that age” which meant that I had been smoking for “that long.” Time to quit-for real this time.
I expected to wake up thinking about a cigarette, to spend the day craving a cigarette, and to go to bed wanting a cigarette. I expected to bark at The Fiancé for breathing the wrong way and not to consider the feelings of the other customers in the checkout line before opening my mouth. I expected to gain a few pounds and to crave more sugar. But quitting smoking came with some little, unforeseen aggravations that I’ll share here.
“So, how’s quitting going?”
This question was annoying enough when quitting wasn’t going so well, but no one bothered to tell me how down right miserable it was going to be when I actually hadn’t had a cigarette in a while. “You want to know how it’s going? It was going along swimmingly until your perky butt reminded me about smoking!” At least that’s what I wanted to say. Instead, I put on a brave face, smiled and said, “Just fine,” as I longingly watched the smokers exit the office for their break.
Tip: The smokers and the used-to-smokers generally know better than to ask this question, but not the perky non-smoker. Thankfully the perky non-smoker is easy to spot and avoid. The person at your job who cheerily says things like, “That’s why they call it work,” in response to some bad day complaining; or the friend who insists upon singing Happy Birthday to you in spite of your protests that you are ignoring the date and so should everyone else; these are your perky non-smokers. Know them. Avoid them.
Condescending people are still condescending.
It’s no surprise that this one became evident to me at the doctor’s office. Doctors are always a bit condescending to smokers, but apparently talking down to people is just as hard a habit to break as smoking. The doctor asked how much I smoked per day and I told him I quit. He gave me an obnoxious half smile and asked me “When? Last week? This morning?” I hadn’t had a cigarette in over a month and I was sure to tell him so in my crankiest new-non-smoker tone.
Tip: All of those people that annoyed you about your smoking are ten times more off-putting the second you quit. For all of their reminders that smoking is dreadfully unhealthy and that nicotine is a drug and that you’re addicted, they’re generally not very supportive once you’ve put that last cigarette out. This is because nicotine is, in fact, a drug, but it’s not like it’s crack. So, everyone wonders if you really quit, but no one wants to acknowledge that your headache, mood swings, and other such withdrawal symptoms are actually withdrawal symptoms, putting actual stress on your body that’s not “all in your head.” No one really cares, nor does anyone understand besides the used-to-smoker. So, if you can’t avoid people altogether, find yourself a used-to-smoker and stay close. You will have to endure a few “Oh, I remember when I quit…” speeches, but it’s a small price to pay, really.
Ten deep breaths are not a cigarette.
Nor will they ever be. Yes, it is true that ten deep cleansing breaths will calm you down almost as well as a cigarette will. But let’s be honest about those ten deep breaths. They never seem as urgent as that cigarette did. I made darn sure I got my smoke breaks, but my ten deep breath breaks…eh.
Tip: Find a way to continue to take your smoke…er…ten deep breath breaks. I fully admit that one of the reasons I kept smoking for so long was that I got more breaks at work than other people did. After all, it wasn’t my fault that the non-smokers didn’t smoke. But when I decided to quit, I vehemently insisted that I was still going to take my breaks, especially if I was going to be expected to be a nice person. Fortunately, I am blessed enough to work for a company that was just fine with that. That said, if your boss is not okay with you taking a “smoke break” if you’re not going to smoke, LIE! Or at least come up with some “rare medical condition” which forces you to leave your post at approximately the same intervals as smoke breaks. Being able to get breaks when I need them (even if I admittedly need them less often) is one of the reasons I’ve managed to be successful in quitting thus far and haven’t hurt anyone in the process.
Now, as for the stuff I expected…
Yes, there are certain things that are just plain harder to do without a cigarette. For example, this took me longer to write than it would have before. The good news is that the number of times that I reach for a pack that’s no longer there decreases daily.
Yes, I gained a little bit of weight. But let’s consider the strategic (or not) planning that went into when and how I quit smoking. I quit at the end of October so I would have an abundance of Halloween candy (a special shout out to the Tootsie Pop) to take the place of cigarettes. Of course, this also means that I quit smoking right before the feasting holidays. I was going to gain weight, plain and simple. However, I only gained about ten pounds. I have lost three since noticing it.
Yes, the cravings suck (especially when quitting cold turkey ) but not nearly as badly as I thought they would. I thought for sure that I would go back to being a nail biter or a gum chewer. Nope. Also, I have a ton of Tootsie Pops left so it couldn’t have been that bad, although I admit that I did buy the super bag.
Quitting smoking is no party, but…
…It’s worth it. (You know you saw that coming.) In a very short time, there has been a noticeable change for the better in how I climb a flight of stairs. I no longer plan my daily activities around when I can have a cigarette or whether I have to stop somewhere to get another pack. And-this may be the best part-I get to be the used-to-smoker making people endure the “Oh, I remember when I quit…” speeches.
I like that part so much that I decided to write about it.