Once Upon a Time in the West: a new years resolution kept

Many years ago I was a smoker.  My parents smoked, my brothers and sister grew up to smoke, and eventually, so did I.

I remember smoking my first cigarette.  It was on my eighteenth birthday and it was a day of firsts for me…

I ditched school, and while my parents and siblings were out of the house I locked myself in the bathroom where I stood in front of the mirror and proceeded to drink a beer and smoke a cigarette.  I remember thinking all my friends who were brave enough to defy their parents looked pretty cool.  Not me.  I stood there looking at my reflection I thought,

“You look like a jackass.” and  “This is not cool.”

I never touched a drink or a cigarette again until I went into the Navy, where once again I was surrounded by those who did.  It started out as smoking only one or two cigarettes when I went to  dance clubs with friends, but this quickly and easily became an everyday habit.  A habit I would continue, and that would escalate over the years.

Smoking, I would soon find out, was no less addicting than we are told drugs or alcohol are, and very hard to quit.  Perhaps no one else has told you this, but I believe it is difficult to quit because it’s socially acceptable.  You can go to any store or gas station to purchase them, and simply put:   It is a habit that is nearly impossible to quit.   From personal experience I can tell you that quitting nicotine will drive you to the jitters and give you fits of temper that only a saint (or my husband) could survive!

Pack_of_camel

Many years later, I was smoking three packs a day, Camels, no filter, and didn’t realize how many I actually smoked until my father got cancer.

Now I had previously tried to quit, at least four or five times, and never succeeded until Dad died.  No gory details folks, just know that it gave me the resolve to finally commit to that old New Years Resolution to quit for good!

Here is how I succeeded.

First, I got a small, spiral bound pocket notebook.

small sprial bound notebook

In this notebook I made a hash mark for each cigarette I smoked in a day.   Let me tell ya, I had not a clue that I was up to three packs a day!  This and my father’s passing were a real wake up call!

I sat there and tried to imagine how I could successfully quit such a deeply entrenched habit.   I finally reasoned that  I hadn’t started out smoking all three packs in a day, and therefore I wouldn’t expect myself to just give them all up in one day.Hash marks

Each day I kept track in my little pocket notebook with hash marks, and each day I smoked one less cigarette.  It took a long time,  but by cutting out just one a day it didn’t seem to hurt at all!  Well, until about the halfway mark.  Then I found moments in the day when I realized I needed to pace myself or run out before bedtime.  (I know, can you believe it?)

So during these times of no cigarettes I would send up a quick prayer.

“God, just get me through this moment, Thank you!”

The less I smoked in a day the more I repeated my prayer, and it became my mantra to get me through the day,

“God, just get me through this moment, Thank you!  God, just get me through this moment, Thank you!  God, just get me through this moment, Thank you! God, just get me through this moment, Thank you!   God, just get me through this moment, Thank you!  God, please just get me through this moment!”

This went on until one evening when I was sitting on the couch watching TV with Bob, and I couldn’t keep my eyes open for the stress.  I was down to seven cigarettes a day and still had three to go, but all I really wanted to do was go to bed and sleep.  I turned to Bob and said,

“I have three cigarettes left to go, and I’m ready to just quit now.  Would you do me a favor?  Would you take all the ashtrays out of the house and put them into the garage, and would you please help me out by smoking outside from now on?”

Now the old me would not have been so gracious, but he said, “YES!”  As I lay in bed I heard him go from room to room and take all the ashtrays away.  What a sweetheart!  He spent the next year smoking in the garage or on the patio until he made the decision to quit, and  I was so proud of him too!

I think it was at least a year before I realized I was cured.  I was sitting on the couch absently reaching for something on the coffee table when it hit me, and I thought,

“OH, Yeah!  I don’t do that anymore!”

~*~

If you smoke here are some things to consider…

What’s in that cigarette?

Some Kills

Some Kills (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NOTE:  I am sorry that the wording is lacking in this graphic, but it still makes a point.

Smoking-Kids-Glamour-Shots_4

Smoking doesn’t make you look grown-up.

Not Glamorous

Smoking doesn’t make you look sexy.  In fact, it ages you beyond your years!

So my point in telling you all this isn’t to shame anyone who smokes, nor to tell you that you should quit.  I am simply relating to you my personal experience and sharing what worked for me.

~*~

If you have decided that one of your resolutions for 2013 is to finally quit, then I wish you every success in your decision!

~*~

This post was inspired by the Daily Prompt: Resolved.  Wherein they asked this question, “Have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution that you kept?

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33 thoughts on “Once Upon a Time in the West: a new years resolution kept

  1. Penny Keach says:

    Hi Lynda!

    My husband Dave quit smoking on July 5, 1997, his own Independence Day. He had a mug of water constantly in reach, and toothpicks to put in the mouth for that feeling of sucking on something. It worked ! He basically quit cold turkey, and to this day you won’t see him without a tooth- pick either in his mouth or behind one ear, sometimes both ears! My dad quit cold turkey, too. However you do it, it is quite an accomplishment. I never bugged Dave to quit, just required him after a few years to wash his own ashtrays ~~ yuckkk! I am proud of you and Bob for quitting. Have you ever totaled up how much money you’ve saved? I think a pack is $5 now, isn’t it? What a waste of money!

    My resolution this year I guess is to lose about 20 pounds. It’s my 50th high school reunion sometime this summer, and I’d like to be about the weight I was in high school, maybe a bit more, but not pooching out in front the way I am now. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    Happy New Year to you and Bob! And the dogs, and the geese, and the chickens, ducks, etc,,etc.,……

    • Lynda says:

      PENNY!!! Well, Dave is certainly made of sterner stuff than I am. Bob quit cold turkey too, but I just couldn’t face it after all my other failures. I guess each of us knows what we can and can not do.

      Thank you! No, but I am certain after all these years, and the constant rise in the price of a carton of cigarettes, that it must be a small fortune!

      Doesn’t it feel weird to say your going to your 50th HS reunion? Where does the time go?

      Have a blessed 2013 and don’t be such a stranger!

  2. petspeopleandlife says:

    I quit for good about 3 months ago. I was smoking 3-4 and sometimes 2 per day for the past 4-5 years. I always smoked 3/4 pack and had quit once for 14 years when at home raising my children. I have much more energy now.

    • Lynda says:

      Isn’t it infuriating how we can be ‘clean’ for so long and then slip right back into the old bad habit like we never ever quit? It’s like being an alcoholic and you just can’t smoke again without being sent back to square one! Congratulations on quitting again. 😀

  3. victoriaaphotography says:

    Well done, Lynda.
    I was a social smoker from age 19 til about 30. After an incident at a party when a ‘so-called’ girlfriend went berserk, I quit the old party/nightclub life, drinking to oblivion, & smoking socially, on the spot.

    Some years later, I bumped into an old boyfriend who immediately said “My God you look amazing – where have you been and what have you done”.

    That was enough to tell me I had made the right decision to give up the old life & smoking.

    Except for the deep dark circles under my eyes (probably from my sleep disorder & lack of restful sleep), I still have lovely soft skin & minimal wrinkles. Chronic pain & ill health has left it’s mark, but I still look better & younger than my girlfriends.

  4. diannegray says:

    There are some great ideas here, Lynda. I must give up (I say that all the time) and I did a few years back cold turkey and didn’t even miss them. But then I had one when it was my birthday and got hooked again grrrrr – I’m bookmarking this page!

    • Lynda says:

      You did it once, and you can do it again, Dianne. Have faith, be strong, make the commitment to yourself and remember how good you felt when you were not smoking. 😀

  5. Island Traveler says:

    My friend, I admire your courage and determination. Sorry to hear about your day. I know that it is difficult to quit but you took the first step and with God on your side, I believe you are on the road to freedom and gaining back your health. My dad was a smoker. He quit in his late 30’s then started smoking again after being away from his family during a job assignment. Then one day he could hardly breath and was rushed to the hospital. X-ray showed he has a spot in his lungs. That very day he quit. His love for his family supercedes smoking. I saw how hard it was for him but his faith persevered. He is now in his 70’s and very much healthy. God is good.

  6. 47whitebuffalo says:

    Hello Lynda,
    I’ve never smoked –but have lived with parents who did. One quit. The other could not . But–I did have to deal with my addiction to Coffee–and that was not fun either. Three 12 cup pots a day complete with cream and sugar. First the sugar went. Then the cream went adios. Then No more coffee cold turkey. It was hell for over 2 months. Even hated myself. That was a resolution kept. Congrats on your 25 years of being Camel Free!!! Good piece of writing too. 🙂

    • Lynda says:

      You know, I just looked up “drugs that end in ine” and found out that all them are alkaloids and are highly addictive and mildly poisonous to our systems. Nicotine, caffeine, morphine, benzadrine, pseudoephedrine, and the list goes on. The only alkaloid that does not end in ine is Opium.

      Mercy!

      Congratulations on kicking the caffeine jag! That is not one I have not been able to give up. Yet…! 😀

  7. shoreacres says:

    Ah, yes. And I wondered how my mom knew I’d been smoking in high school. I never smelled that smoke on my clothes!

    Actually, I didn’t smoke all that much. It was the occasional “stolen cig” just for the thrill of doing something forbidden. In college, I smoked a good bit, but again it was more a matter of just having them around. Cool, you know. Coffee. Cigarettes. Existentialism. Good grief.

    My dad was quite a smoker, but he quit after a heart attack. He kept asking Mom to bring him his cigarettes once the doc said he could start if he wanted. Mom kept “forgetting”. Finally, after about three weeks, he said, “Well, I guess there’s no use starting up again.”

    I really admire you for being able to kick the habit. I know a lot of people who have struggled for years and years. I gave it up about forty years ago – a guy I really liked said he wouldn’t go out with me unless I stopped, so that was that! Motivation is everything!

    • Lynda says:

      Neither of my parents or my brothers were able to quit. My sister quit about two or three years ago, and I and I am very proud of her! Linda, Yes, motivation is definitely a factor! 🙂

  8. Sawsan@ Chef in disguise says:

    Lynda I am really proud of you!
    My dad used to smoke 120 cigarettes aday and he tried to quit many many times. Then one summer there was a documentary on TV on the hazards of smoking and I watched it with my little brother we were 7 and 5 at the time and we decided he must quit!
    We threw cigarettes out the window, crushed some and drowned others and he actually listened to us and quit, it was not easy but he did it and I have a deep and profound respect for anyone who manages to get rid of smoking 🙂

    • Lynda says:

      Thank you, Sawsan! How wonderful that you were able to save your father from smoking, and equally, that he had the resolve to do that for you, his family. Beautiful!

  9. littlesundog says:

    I tried smoking a cigarette just once. I was 15 and tried it with one of my sister’s (both our first times). I choked and coughed so bad I thought, “This CAN’T be good for me”!! My sister choked too but she said she liked it. I think she’s smoked off and on in her life, but has quit now. I’m so glad you were able to quit. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to stop smoking. Bravo to you!

  10. Marcy Coffey says:

    The last time I visited this forum was two years ago. I quit smoking for almost 10 months that time before I seduced myself into returning to the habit. During that quit attempt, I began the work of learning how to “change my mind” about smoking. I learned about the effects of smoking , the nature of nicotine addiction, and how nicotine and other chemicals affected my brain, and in my case, my immune system. I did such a great job at educating myself and changing my relationship with smoking, I was miserable when I picked up again.

    • Lynda says:

      I know how you feel, Marcy. I had quit many times and then was ‘seduced’ as you say. If you quit once, I am certain that you will be able to eventually quit for good. Just remember how awesome you felt when you weren’t smoking!
      Thank you for visiting the Farmlet today. 🙂

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