I quit smoking a couple of weeks ago. It’s not the first time; I hope it’s the last. Mark Twain said of smoking and quitting, “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I've done it thousands of times.” It’s staying quit that has been my problem. And at two weeks, it is a constant battle – rationalizing away these two weeks and picking up a cigarette is like an internal tug-o-war with the little angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other.
I have not enjoyed my “ritual smokes” for a very long time. Of course, it goes without saying how I feel about all the many smokes in between those ritual ones. Yet, after two weeks, a cigarette sure sounds good. And I’ll be honest here, I’m not too sure I’ll make it – again. If true, I also know that the first smoke will deliver everything promised by that little devil. I also know that the little angel is right too. It will lead to the point where I wish I didn’t smoke again and I won’t be able to quit.
Quitting, as Mr. Twain explains, is quite easy. Technically, I quit every time I snuff one out, unless I’m chain smoking (I don’t). However, for me there are periodic windows of opportunity. One key ingredient has to be a mental willingness – being so profoundly disgusted with smoking (again) to the point that I can say “no” for a period of time and stick with it. A couple of other things need to happen around the same time, but the willingness has to be there.
One is too many. If I decide to have “just one,” I know (and the little angel is nodding in agreement) that how ever much I mean it, it won’t happen. Experience tells me that within 24 hours I will have purchased a pack and be right back where I was before I quit. Knowing this is not, however, a sufficient defense. As the midnight hour approaches, it appears as though I’ll make it through another day. Tomorrow morning I’ll recommit and hope for the willingness and the strength to make it through another day/hour/minute.
I am, in some respects, past the most difficult part. The physical withdrawal symptoms are over and have been for about a week. My normal sleep pattern is returning and my moodiness is substantially less pronounced. I don’t need a cigarette to relieve any particular withdrawal symptom. Yet at the same time this is the most difficult part. It is the time where the habitual nature of smoking is trying to find an outlet… and there is none. I’ve been down this road before.
Over the years I, like Mark Twain, have quit on a number of occasions, lasting anywhere from a few days to two or three years. In the last 18 months, this is the fifth time – the longest period being almost two months. The shear number of attempts is encouraging but I feel that I am at a crossroads in that I need to make it work this time. I don’t - and the little angel will not abandon me if I pick up again.
So now it’s 12:08 a.m. PST, another day smoke-free. I’ll go to bed and tomorrow do it all over again.