If someone would have told me years ago that I would be spending my free time writing, I would have laughed at them. I do not think of myself as much of a writer but sometimes I am inspired to share small portions of my life and experiences in hope that it will find someone in need of hearing it for the sole purpose of helping another.
I was a smoker for 40 years. Not just a smoker, a heavy smoker in excess of a pack a day. I smelled like cigarettes, had the cough of a heavy smoker and the typical yellowish fingers and ashtray breath. I hated the way I smelled and felt from smoking but felt powerless. It controlled my life, my mood and was a strong habit.
I had tried many quit smoking techniques to no avail. I went cold turkey a few times but had not succeeded either. I was determined to quit but had no idea how I would accomplish my goal. I was also told by my primary doctor that I needed to quit because I had some underlying health issues that were attributed in part to my heavy smoking habit.
Every time I failed at an attempt to quit smoking, I would feel guilty and beat myself up. It would lead to more cigarettes. It was a vicious merry go round that I never saw myself able to get off. Funny thing was, I hated my addiction, this bad habit I had.
I told myself every single day for months how much I hated cigarettes. Every single day I repeated this to self, especially when lighting a cigarette up. I had said this to myself so many times that as soon as I would light up a cigarette, I found myself grimacing with distaste. I eventually talked myself out of half of the cigarettes that I normally would smoke during the course of any given day. It wasn’t enough though, I was still ‘smoker’ and I wanted to be free.
Until one evening that would change my course forever. I was on the phone with my younger sister who happens to work at my doctors office. She asked me if I was feeling ok and asked me if I would like to make an appointment with my doctor. I had just seen my doctor recently to have my blood pressure and cholesterol meds refilled. I told her I felt fine and asked her why. She told me that I sounded terrible and that she could hear me wheezing, that it sounded like I had COPD.
For those of you who are not familiar with COPD, it is a terrible disease in which you suffocate slowly. It scares me more than the big C disease. I hung up the phone with her and looked at my pack of cigarettes sitting on my nightstand. I picked them up, said goodbye and crushed the pack and threw it away. I decided in that moment that my life was worth far more. I knew right then and there that I chose to live.
The first week was about making choices, starting a new habit. A healthy one. Every time I craved a smoke, I would take ten deep breaths, exhaling slowly. It works. Don’t substitute one bad habit for another. I did not gain any weight but lost 38 pounds making healthier choices for my body.
I now exercise at the gym, engage in yoga and meditation and vegan practices. My blood pressure and cholesterol have returned to normal. I have been off all medications for over a year, free from cigarettes for same amount of time and healthier now in my fifties than I was in my twenties. Not to mention, my skin and hair are glowing.
A habit is just a habit. Anyone can make a conscious choice to make a change in pattern or behavior. And you will succeed. Just follow it through. I’ve learned that if you want to do something badly enough, you will do it.
And by the way, no COPD. Thankfully