I first tried smoking at age 10, and I thought it was disgusting. Two years later, I tried again and almost became a smoker, but I was caught by a family member and consequently reprimanded. From age sixteen on, I’d occasionally have a cigarette at parties on the weekends. What had started as an occasional habit had become an addiction by age 20.
My family home was a non-smoking one. When I moved out, I found myself immersed in a series of smoking environments: friends, roommates, college, bars, clubs, and work. I grew up in Spain, where one could purchase tobacco without an ID—at least when I was a teenager—and smoke at work and in college until 2006, and at bars and clubs until 2011.
You don’t have to be a heavy smoker to find it hard to quit. My daily count was often between five and ten cigarettes. However, it took me many attempts to stop smoking. Some would last a few days or even hours. I can recall a couple of times I went some months without smoking: when I was 23, I freed myself for four months; two years later, I was able to go six months without tobacco.
I finally quit smoking at age 30. On April 25th, 2014, I became an ex-smoker: I lighted my last cigarette at 7 pm. I didn’t even finish it. I threw it into a small pyre in which I burned all my smoking items, including the remaining cigarettes I still had. That was my farewell to that f(r)iend that had accompanied me during most of the past ten years.
The first month after quitting was the hardest: I became Mr. Wild Mood Swings for a while. I could barely focus: something as easy as reading a book suddenly was impossible. I had to relearn to do certain things, and there were the feared cravings. That’s usually the hardest time: your body is starting to detox and is missing its long-time companion. But as soon as three days went by, I had already begun to feel more alive and less stressed. I started to be more active, so I’d walk the four miles from home to work and vice-versa. I felt full of life, cleaner, and healthier.
As time went on, cravings started to happen less and less frequently. I wish I could remember the last time it happened, but I’m afraid I can’t. I certainly had to deal with anxiety issues, since I realized I had been masking them with tobacco. I know that can look off-putting, but I’d rather deal with this issue for some time and get it eventually solved than constantly increasing my chances of starting the process of a fatal disease and still have my anxiety issue there.
On a more positive note, one surely notices the beautiful process of the body healing itself after quitting smoking: fewer colds, fewer wrinkles, better-looking skin, greater sexual drive, etc. I believe that the key to success is to give up the control fantasy.
Let’s admit it: tobacco is a drug, and smoking is addictive. Therefore, you’ll never conquer it, since addiction can only take you deeper into it. Unless you choose to cut it entirely off: that’s when you are in control: that’s when you win!