|“If it is to be, it is up to me”|
“If it is to be, it is up to me”
Edwin Martinez has written the following regarding his efforts to quit smoking and stay quit.
Like any one of you who smokes or has smoked on a regular basis, I to, have my story as to how I started. And, like any one of you, I’ve had my “reasons” and “rationalizations” for lighting up another one. In a series of entries, I would like to share with you the successes and failures I’ve had over the past several years in trying to quit smoking. My hopes in sharing these struggles with you are that you can see that you are not alone and that “failure” is only part of the process of quitting. Also, I’d like to share something my grandfather taught me, that has applied to most everything in my life…and that I now use to help me with quitting…hopefully it will help you along as well…”if it is to be, it is up to me”.
In reading my entries, please realize, though, that in sharing with you my successes and failures, that they are just that, MY struggles. I do not, in any way, want to make light or give any added emphasis to any one individuals own struggles with trying to quit smoking. We all have different circumstances and situations and our experiences may and probably will differ. But, I do hope, that by sharing my struggles with you, it will give you or anyone who reads these entries, a bit of resolve and confidence to pursue your own journey. One that will ultimately lead you away from your own “prison(s)”…whatever that may be.
As of January 1, 2012, I’ve resolved to stop smoking…(holding for applause)… and, of course, get back into shape…(holding for laughter) haha. We’ll, hey, it’s worth a shot right? Anyway, as I stand before you, I can honestly say, I cannot look you in the eye and tell you that I haven’t had a cigarette since then. So, am I a failure? Have I failed already? No, not at all. All this means is that I’m going through a process right now that I’m sure many of those who have quit, have wanted to quit, have tried to quit, or are now in fact trying to quit, go through. And, I won’t lie, it’s hard. But, I’ll get back up…dust myself off…and take another step.
One of the first things I did when I decided to quit…again…was to recognize places and situations where I used to light up. Once I did that I tried to make a conscious effort to avoid those places as much as possible. Now, of course I couldn’t avoid going home, but, I think what helped me there was my family, especially my niece. I felt guilty smoking in front of her…it made me feel bad that she would “catch me” smoking. I say catch me because, even in my own home I would sneek outside to smoke a cigarette. I felt so ashamed…it wasn’t a good feeling. So for me, quitting at home was sort of the easiest place to start. Next, again, wasn’t an easy place to avoid…my car. I would always light up when I would go somewhere…but when I purchased a new car I promised myself I wouldn’t smoke in it. Of course I’m not saying go and get a new car or anything like that…its just one of those things that happened. And lastly one of the last strongholds was work…every break I was outside lighting it up…well it was hard…but I’ve finally kicked that here at work to.
I guess if I had to attribute one thing to my successes in these places…it would be that my family and friends had a big influence. I felt guilty and ashamed when they would see me smoking. Family and friends are very important to me…I just wanted to spend more time with them…that’s what made quitting in these places that much easier.
Well, I’m pretty much through month two and although, yeah, it hasn’t been the easiest, it is getting easier. I think the hardest was those first two weeks…uggh, the cravings were bad. I’ll admit, there were times I had to break down and smoke one, and, I admit, every time, although it satisfied my craving for that moment, I felt like crap after (pardon the expletive). But yeah, it was a bit of a struggle in the beginning. However, over time, fighting the cravings off just a little longer every time helped me build up my tolerance and get past that “15 minute critical period”. (I’ve read or heard somewhere that the average time cravings last are around 15 minutes)
I have noticed that I have a better sense of smell now, lol. It’s crazy, I can even smell if someone is smoking in a car around or near me. I’m dead serious. I kind of freaked out the other day because I was sitting at a light in my car and I smelled cigarette smoke and I looked around and noticed two cars up from me someone was smoking a cigarette lol. The craziest thing was that my windows were rolled up lol. So that is one cool thing I’m noticing has changed. That and I can taste my food a little better. (I’ve also read or heard somewhere that within the first 24hours of quitting smoking, your sense of smell and taste increase by more than half…I’ll have to check the numbers on that but its somewhere around there.)
Well, January and February are behind me now…it’s been a challenge I have to say. But I’m pretty proud of myself, all of last month (February) I “caved” once. A little disappointing, yeah, but I think it had to do more with my surroundings than me actually craving a cigarette.
In the last week of February I was sent on delegation to Las Vegas NV for an economic development conference. Well, for one, its Vegas (really no excuse) lol, and two, I guess I used smoking as a networking tool of sorts. I realize that I didn’t really have to have a cigarette to meet people or talk to them…but I guess in a sense it made it easier. As we broke from our “breakout” sessions at the conference it just so happened that I ended up talking with someone that wanted to step out and have a cigarette…so…I went along. They did offer…and at first I was a little hesitant but for the sake of “smokin the peace pipe” so to say, lol, I accepted and got to talk more with those people on a less professional level. So, basically, I still need a little more practice at saying “no thank you”.
I know, I’m sure they wouldn’t have had a problem with me saying no, but I guess to a degree I felt a little obligated. I know that sounds weird, but again, I’m still trying to break old habits and ways of thinking…and I think in that instance an old way of thinking popped up and before I really had practiced saying no in a situation like that I almost automatically reached for it.
So…tip of the day lol…practice saying no in your head repeatedly. Yeah its weird but I think what it does is it trains your mind or prepares your mind for situations like the one I was in. So, when you’re faced with a situation like that…because you practiced it…you’ll be ready to say no.
Well, until next time …….
Wow…sorry for that…its been a while. Well, I’m happy to report its been…well…I lost count actually…lets just say its been a long while since I’ve had a cigarette. Woo Hoo!!
You know, when I started this “journey” I really didn’t think I could get to this point…I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was so caught up and tied into my addiction that realizing a life without smoking seemed farfetched and out of reach. It wasn’t easy let me tell you…not at all. Like I’ve mentioned before…I think I had to make the decision that I wanted to quit. I know that’s easy to say…we’ve all done it I’m sure…you know what I’m talkin about…”this is my last pack”; “I’ll start next week…next month”; “I’ll quit for lent” lol…whatever it may have been…were you REALLY ready to quit? I wasn’t…it wasn’t until I finally took control…of MY OWN LIFE…that I decided to stop. It wasn’t until I stopped making excuses for myself…that I stopped being a victim, that I was finally able to say NO…and mean it.
Flash forward…..here I am, in control…empowered…and I’ve taken my life back. I can’t say I’ll never have a craving or think about it again…I’d be lying…I gotta be real…I’m human…but at least now I know how to say no…I know how to do the things that will keep me in control and empowered. For any of you still struggling…hey…I know…I know it’s hard…but DON’T LET IT BEAT YOU!!!
Wow…that sounded like a commercial LOL!! One last thing…remember, pain is temporary but the effects of smoking will last a lifetime.