The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Friday, March 16, 2007

Trying to Butt Out - Part II

by Melissa Bell

It's been what now? Sixteen days cigarette-free? Yeah, I guess it has been that long already. Do I miss them? Sure do, but not as much as I thought I would, not like I've missed cigarettes in the past when I'd given them up (albeit temporarily). Previously it had been a real struggle. This time, not so much. I wish I could hone in on some secret that might make quitting The Habit a sure and simple thing for everyone, I really do. But so far this is what's working. For me. YMMV.

1. Avoiding alcohol.
2. Avoiding other smokers.
3. Thinking positive thoughts at all times.

We haven't been smoking in bars for a while now here in Toronto, so enjoying a cigarette with a drink in a "public house" isn't an option anyway. Still, it would only take me about half a martini with a smoking friend at my local before I'd be following him out onto the cold sidewalk to indulge myself when he decided he needed to break away for a dart. Also, up until a few days ago, it's been viciously cold here for March. Having to go outside in that dreadful weather to smoke takes all the enjoyment out of a cigarette. And it really does look rather foolish. One realizes how much of a physical addiction it is in those circumstances. And standing alone, tipsy and shivering in my garage ain't pretty and there's already enough ugly in this world. Even if no one else is around to see it. I know it's there, and it'sme. Goodbye to that nonsense.

Avoiding other smokers is tough, especially if you live with one or you regularly hang with a fellow nicotine addict. Luckily, in my workplace only a handful of people smoke (but it's amazing how there is a strange kind of bond among those who share the habit – smokers can always count on each other for an extra cigarette, a light, etc. - there is rarely any enmity among nico-addicted co-workers), and in my intimate circle of friends, I'm the only one who engaged in such a filthy act of self-destruction.

But just "thinking positively" about the situation has helped enormously. Stopping to smell the tulips every time I walk through reception. Buying an extra cup of coffee for the guy sitting on the sidewalk (the one who used to ask me for an cigarette even though my Extra Milds must have felt, to him, like a complete waste of time and tobacco). Seeking out positive images and messages and sticking them everywhere – my computer, my bathroom mirror – and during my commute, going on a bit of a "news diet" and choosing some classical music over the latest nihilist whine. This might seem like some kind of self-hypnosis and, I suppose, that's exactly what it is at its root. But whatever. When I decided to give it a try, it did feel a little useless and downright goofy at first, but then I started to get into it, started to see it as a game, and a bit of fun, rather than eyeroll-inducing drudgery. Dorky mind-game or not, almost effortlessly, I'm at Day 16 of a tobacco-free life.

And thank y’all for your support and encouragement. Have a wonderful weekend everybody. :-)


Blogger Anne C. said...

Good for you!

Fri Mar 16, 09:34:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger J.A. McDougall said...

Interesting update, I'm thrilled for you! I remember having to stay out of smoke filled rooms i.e. bars, for several months before I could function normally in social situations; I swear, the smoke in the air made me antsy. I think it's a great thing that there is no more smoking in public places, great for the smoker and non-smoker.

Fri Mar 16, 10:43:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Thanks for the update, Mel. You're over the worst of the physical addiction. According to something I read when I quit, the nicotine is gone from your system after two weeks. The emotional need for it takes more time. You're employing an excellent strategy in avoiding triggers like alcohol. Keep it up!

Fri Mar 16, 11:33:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

Keep on goin', MelBel! I'm proud of you.

Fri Mar 16, 03:05:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Steve Gajadhar said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Fri Mar 16, 10:15:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Steve Gajadhar said...

Keep it up, Mel. Use your posts as goals, 2 more weeks till your next post. You can make it till then.

Fri Mar 16, 10:16:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Patricia said...

you're a better woman than I. Congratulations Melissa, keep up the good work!!! do you notice, do you have more energy??

Fri Mar 16, 11:14:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger tamara said...

Go, Mel! You'll find those new little 'tactics' become habits and you'll wonder what you used to do with all your time. Congrats on getting over this latest hurdle.

Sat Mar 17, 12:53:00 am GMT-4  

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