Today a month ago I gave up one of the biggest loves of my life. I quit smoking.
It kind of seemed the next logical thing to do, after losing all my excess weight and starting to lead a reasonably healthy lifestyle. I mean, we all know smoking is bad for you, so why poison ourselves needlessly, right?
Wrong. The downside of quitting smoking is that once you’re hooked—both the nicotine and the activity of smoking—it actually becomes one of the greatest pleasures of life. Giving up something that has its claws in you so strongly can prove to be one of the biggest challenges you have to encounter.
Every smoker knows it. Even the great writer, Mark Twain, once said, “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.” So have I. Maybe not thousands, but countless of times indeed.
I smoked since I was around 12. First only a little, secretly, hiding it from everyone apart from the friends I smoked with. Then more, and more publicly. First, I wasn’t hooked at all. Then, in time, I realized I couldn’t be without puffing anymore. It’s like a disease that will always be there. It is a disease.
But this time I decided to go all the way, no matter how hard it would be. The doctor told me already a year ago I had to quit, but we came up with a compromise—I would first start exercising, and then eventually move on to the quitting smoking part. Well, the time to deal with the smoking addiction had arrived.
I had used an electronic cigarette for years already, alongside with the traditional, burning tobacco one. So when I decided to start thinking about quitting entirely, I first quit tobacco and only puffed the electronic cigarette—to help me get the tobacco chemicals out of my body. I wasn’t sure if that would help—but I definitely knew that the previous times I had quit tobacco it hadn’t lasted, so I had to do something differently this time.
So, I only smoked—or, rather, vaped—the electronic cigarette for a couple of months. And then, in the evening of September 4th, 2015, I put the vaper and the e-liquid into my drawer for good.
The first two-three days after quitting nicotine entirely were the most miserable. I couldn’t feel comfortable, whatever I did; I was restless, anxious, something was missing; and I was insanely hungry. In fact, I gained about six pounds in weight by the end of my first day. But in about five to seven days I started to lose the weight again, I started to eat less, and my normal exercise regimen certainly helped wane off the extra pounds.
If I compare my last quitting experience with some of the earlier ones, I have to say, it went a hell of a lot easier this time—and I think it’s thanks to the fact I stopped consuming tobacco months before I quit nicotine entirely. But that is not to say I don’t still think about smoking. Every now and then I get this sensation that I should grab my e-cigarette, only to realize a fraction of a second later that I don’t smoke anymore. It’s not a physical addiction that gets to me, it’s the emotional one now—the one that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
When we’re addicts, we will always be addicts, even after we’ve given up the substance we’re addicted to. But this addict is actually looking forward to an addiction-free rest of his life.
Oh, and I am immensely proud of myself.