It’s now been over a year since I gave up smoking. This makes the third time I’ve reached this milestone. Twice before, I quit when I discovered I was pregnant with each of my two sons but after they were born, I fell right back into the old routine. I first just told myself that I would only buy one pack of cigarettes but then I ended up buying another and another until it became again a full blown addiction.
So what made quitting smoking this time different from the last two times? The main thing was that this time, I quit smoking for myself. Don’t get me wrong, quitting smoking because you’re pregnant is a very honorable reason. Unborn children do not have a choice and as a mom-to-be, it is your responsibility to protect your child. But until you understand for yourself that smoking is a road to nowhere, that all it does is suck the life out of you one cigarette at a time, then you won’t fully be over that vice. When I quit smoking a year ago, I did so because I wanted to be healthy.
I still occasionally have cravings. There are two main triggers for a nicotine craving for me. The first is stress. When life gets rough, as it so often does, I find myself wanting to escape into that habit; to go out on the porch by myself where for 5 to 10 minutes there is no conflict, just the soothing action of drawing in a breath of smoke. The next is when I am around others who smoke. Last week, for instance, I was at an event in my town and would sometimes find myself face to face with someone who was smoking.
And even now as I write about this, I want a cigarette.
But it’s easier now to dismiss those cravings then it was when I struggled through the “new” of it a year ago. A year ago, I had to jog, grab a piece of candy, or run up and down stairs to get winded before the toughest part of the craving would go away. Now, if the craving gets bad enough that I actually contemplate buying cigarettes, I grab a piece of strong peppermint gum. It usually does the job.
Quitting smoking while I was pregnant was substantially different than quitting smoking on my own. It was easier to quit knowing that I didn’t have a right to put my child’s health at risk. But quitting when I was the only person I was hurting by smoking was much more difficult. Sometimes, even now, that mindset of “I can hurt myself if I want to,” mentality sets in.
I have to constantly remind myself why I quit smoking in the first place. I have to remember that it was because I didn’t want to die an early death like my birth mom. It was because I didn’t want to be hopelessly riddled with cancer.
Then I have to remind myself how hard it was to quit smoking this time. Would I really want to go through that again? Do I really have the money to throw away on cigarettes? I sure don’t.
By the time I go through my list, the urge to pick up the habit again dissipates and I can go about life normally, without cigarettes, just like it should be.
Sources: personal experience