On Addiction – a different twist
Maren: Were you ever addicted?
Yes – to smoking – and I smoked thirty or so cigarettes a day – which is not too much by some people’s standards – who smoked sixty cigarettes a day.
I smoked steady all through high school. At about age twenty-one, I realized I was addicted to smoking tobacco – which was something I didn’t want (to be addicted to anything).
So I decided to quit. In fact, I decided many times – it took me about six to eight years before I was free. Many funny stories came out of these years – of what it looked like to “quit” smoking. One of the shortest “quittings” took about 20 minutes. I told a group of my smoking friends that I wasn’t going to have any more cigarettes. One of them offered me one and I said, “no”, very definitely. However, in about 20 minutes, desire overtook me and I went and asked my friend if I could have the cigarette he had offered me.
The time between “quittings” – when I was free from smoking – did increase every year of those eight years. I recall my last relapse in my eighth year was a two week period over Christmas. At office parties, and at work, there were a lot of “flat-fifties” (metal boxes with two layers of 25 cigarettes each) lying around like chocolates do in modern-day offices during the holiday season. I was offered several of these boxes – and I succumbed to the free smokes.
Maren: What made that final quitting the end of it all?
Well, as I recall, all the old ‘negatives’ came back when I started smoking again for that last time – and I was adamant about getting rid of them.
This was key to my overcoming my addiction – the gains that I saw in a smoke-free life. These were things like: getting my taste back, breath and body free of tobacco smell, no more holes burnt in clothes and furniture, and not the least, having more spending money. Once I was clear about the gains, there was no turning back.
What I learned from my years of failure to quit, was that you don’t “quit” smoking – because when you turn away from something, it suggests you aren’t getting something that you want. Instead, I turned my attention towards what I wanted, which was to get a new and better life without cigarettes. This was not, in fact, giving up anything, but rather, gaining something far more valuable to me than what I was leaving behind.
Now, with all the research and changed social consciousness around smoking, it is gratifying to realize that I made a fortuitously right decision – at a time when I didn’t have any of today’s research to back me up.
Posted by Maren Dancer http://alivejoyfully.com