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Death of a good friend – I mean – Breaking the bonds of nicotine addiction – Pulling the Trigger

February 7, 2013

So…Decision made. Last cigarette smoked.  Family members informed.  Deep breath, and here we go…

For the first two days I did nothing – absolutely nothing but lay on the couch.  I focused on getting through each and every moment.  As much as I could I avoided anything that would cause me stress.  I cleared my mind as much as possible and meditated and just worked on existing without the comfort of nicotine and that cigarette in my hand.

Day 3, the day before my inlaws were to arrive in NZ, I knew I had to get off my rear and do something.  I needed a shower.  I needed to clean the house for guests.  I needed to pack for the trip up to Auckland and back!  Ugh…

I prepared myself for the day the night before, declaring that I would wake up able to function. When I woke up, I battled the initial craving and made myself get up, shower and start cleaning.  It wasn’t a bad morning.  There were even long periods of time when I didn’t think about smoking.  Then I was feeling calm and I would get that “Oh I think I’ll go smoke now that I accomplished that. Oh crap!  I can’t. I quit.  Damn.”  And I would go back into a mental funk.  I’d battled back out of it, forget for awhile and crave a smoke again.  This happened over and over again.  But the house was relatively clean (with promises from the girls that they would make sure it was near perfect when we came back with their aunt and uncle), my bags were packed, and I made it through another day without nicotine.

I have to mention at this point that I chose to quit this time cold turkey, with only occasional use of tiny pieces of nicotine gum.  I’ve tried so many times to quit using the patch, or the gum.  It just doesn’t work for me.  I felt that I really just need to get this toxic crap out of my body once and for all and as quickly as possible.  Crazy? Well, yes, but that is my m.o.

Trip day dawns – day 4 – and all is going pretty well.  That initial craving is a bitch…We got on the road on time and with no drama.  I know at some point I bit off a corner of a piece of nic gum, but I can’t remember if it was before or after we got in the car.

Several miles into our journey, Denver tells me that in support of my decision to quit, he didn’t take any cigars with him.  Now Denver likes to smoke cigars while on the golf course.  Over the next several days, he was going to play some of the best golf courses in the world with his brother. And now he was going to do so without his cigars?  Crap!  I told him he really didn’t have to do that.  But it was too late to go back for them at that point.  Now I was really stuck.  How could I possibly backslide and give up after he made such a gesture?

Without too much drama, we made it to Auckland.  I think I only ate half a piece of nicotine gum in total the whole day, and was only mildly irritating for Denver (that is my impression – his could be entirely different).  Next morning I woke just dying for a cigarette.  Completely consumed by the need and hating the fact that I was going to have to be upbeat, engaging and nice when the inlaws arrived while feeling this way. We picked up the guests and headed for our destination 4 hours south.  Pulling up to the cabin we booked for the next 2 nights, my sister in law and I looked at the porch and remarked what a great place that would be for a cup of coffee and a cigarette.  Damn!  But we preservered and did not give in.

I won’t go into each day at this point, but what I have found is that I woke up for over a week dying for a cigarette.  I would fight against that until I convinced myself to do something productive.  I’m not sure what scientific evidence there is about how long the actual “physical” addiction really lasts.  I think most people who tell you it’s only a little bit and the rest is in your mind are people who have never really dealt with addiction and they are all full of crap.  Just my opinion.

All I know is that for at least 2 weeks, if not longer (I’ve lost track of exactly what happened when) I craved a cigarette with absolutely every fiber of my being.  I actually felt like I was in physical pain for most of that and psychologically I was a train wreck (but nicer this time – I think I made a concerted effort not to go too off the rails at my family this time.  Though while on the trip through Taupo and Napier, I did get way too short and bitchy with my sister in law – Sorry!  I love you for understanding and putting up with me!!).  I cried a lot.  I mourned and grieved alot.  I realized that smoking was pretty close to number one on my list of things I looked forward to, which made me feel even more like crap and pathetic.

I’ve heard that giving up smoking is a lot like giving up heroine.  I have no idea whatsoever if there is any truth in that.  But I do know that if heroine addicts go through even a tiny portion of this, they have my greatest sympathies and compassion if they falter before giving up the ghost.  This sucks so completely.

This time around was strange for me.  I did not do my usual “hack up a lung” process.  I was pretty shocked when this didn’t happen.  I’m not sure what that says about my lung functions.  I did notice my throat, while not sore, did feel like there was something perpetually stuck in there – like a hairball.  Turns out that after years of being “smoked”  the tissue starts to regenerate itself and you will feel it as it does so.  That was weird…

I also noticed that I spend way less time on computer games (stupid, useless card games I am already ridiculously good at winning).  My OCD has let up its grip and I’m doing more things away from the computer.  I do have a lot more energy (but no, I am not interested in running a marathon with you ;).

It’s been a little over a month and  I am now completely nicotine free.  I slow my pace a little when passing the smokers outside of buildings, hoping for a bit of second hand bliss (lol), and I want a cigarette even as I type this.  But at least now I know I have the willpower not to cave.  I even had 3 little glasses of Bailey’s the other night and did not have to fight the craving for a smoke.

Here’s to quitting!

It still sucks…

  1. Outstanding — it’s not easy, but you’ve passed the worst. Hurray for Denver, friends, and family who have stepped forward for you. You are so loved!

  2. Denver permalink

    You are stronger than I could ever be! I am very proud of you and I love you!

  3. Congrats! You are an inspiration. I’m still struggling, but I’m off the cigs. Now I’m stuck on the nicorette gum which is plenty bad for you too in the long run. There’s a whole list of side effects from the gum as I found out at So now I’m starting to use an e-cig. It’s just one darn thing after another but I can’t actually let go of the nicotine! It’s maddening!

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