Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Personal Milestone

Today is a significant day for me.

It has been 2½ years — 30 months — since my last cigarette.

It hasn't been easy. It still isn't easy. You can believe me when I tell you that being unemployed and not smoking when I have been under the most stress has been one of the hardest things I have ever done.

And I can honestly say that I never thought I would be able to give it up. I loved smoking. But, so far, I have been successful.

Some of my friends tell me that, after 30 months, I am an "ex–smoker." But I can't bring myself to refer to myself in that way. I call myself a "recovering smoker." I guess that's my way of acknowledging that nicotine is a slippery foe. Like a poisonous gas creeping into a room through the slender spaces in a door or a windowsill, nicotine finds you and pinpoints your greatest weaknesses.

That's why tobacco companies manipulated the nicotine content in their products. It is the key to addiction.

And, when I think of what the tobacco companies did to keep their revenue coming in, it makes me angry.

I respect nicotine's power. I think that is where a lot of people make their mistake. They don't have enough reverence for what nicotine can do. Consequently, they aren't prepared. Then it becomes a mismatch. Nicotine will win when the first craving hits.

To win this fight, a smoker must be mentally and physically prepared.

I'm not ready to claim victory. To me, it seems that, if I do claim victory, I'll let my guard down, and nicotine will snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

But, after 2½ years, I feel that I've done pretty well. I've gone 915 days — not bad. Let's see how long I can keep this streak going.

And, if you are a smoker and you're thinking about giving it up, I'll just say this. I never thought I would be able to say that I had been smoke–free for 30 months. But I have been.

If I can do it, anybody can. Find the strategy that works for you. Good luck.

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