I’ve found two things very difficult to quit: cigarettes and certain people. Today’s topic is cigarettes.
My advice to people who want to quit smoking is simple. Stop. Drink a lot of water. And just get through the next five minutes.
Oddly, that’s the same advice I’d give to people trying to quit a person.
Addiction is addiction after all.
When I was smoking, I smoked first thing in the morning, last thing at night. I smoked in the car and at my desk, in the kitchen making dinner and, sometimes, oddly, during dinner. My cigarettes and lighter were always within reach. It felt cozy to me to be in a hot shower, the bathroom full of steam, and to be able to peek out from behind the shower curtain to see my cigarette’s sweet glow, the smoke curling into the damp. Sometimes I would reach out and hold the cigarette just so on the filter to take a drag, exhaling while hot water pounded my back. Sometimes there was a glass of wine on the sink next to the ashtray. All the accoutrements of a fine bar, steamy, warm.
The terrible thing about quitting cigarettes or people is that when you first wake up in the morning, you forget that you quit them. For a few seconds, you look forward to finding your pack and your lighter, or you feel happy and content that you have your person in your life and then you, snap!, remember that the cigarettes are gone, the person is gone. There is no cigarette for you. No person. You are on your own. You have an extraordinary moment of feeling totally hopeless and abandoned and then you get up and start whatever your day is. It’s like this for many days while you are quitting, but after a while, the waking seconds of happiness and disillusionment are shorter, and you get right to the reality of your life which, eventually, becomes okay and then, maybe, pretty good.
If I hadn’t been married when I gave up cigarettes for good, giving them up would have made me feel lonelier and more desolate than any person I ever quit. Cigarettes were my beautiful, glowing, faithful friends. Giving them up felt like living in a tent after years at the Ritz. Deprivation. Total deprivation.
But I lived through it. I stopped. Drank a lot of water. And got through the next five minutes. And the next 25 years.
That’s all you have to do. Cigarettes or people. Works for both.
Written in response to a prompt from The Daily Post: Tell us about something you’ve tried to quit. Did you go cold turkey, or for gradual change? Did it stick?