Coming up in a few days, I will have been 100% nicotine-free for one year. [EDIT: It’s now been quite a bit longer than that] I quit a year and a couple of months ago but kept used a transdermal nicotine patch for an additional eight weeks. To celebrate, my sister, mother, and girlfriend bought me a box full of goodies from Oscar’s Adirondack Smoke House in Warrensburg, NY, one of my all-time favorite places in this decaying Republic. That cheered me right up, but nothing feels better than no longer being a smoker.
The past year quitting has become easier every day, but it starts out as the hardest thing you could imagine doing, then being among the hardest things you’ve ever done, and then it gets easier every day. That progression is the only thing that seems universal among ex-smokers, but we’re all different in how we get there. Be it with gum, or lozenges, or cold turkey, or meditation, or whatever they do, every smoker must quit eventually. Some won’t quit until they’re on the brink of death or beyond it, but every smoker quits someday. I chose to quit earlier than that, because when I do have kids I plan on being around to see them grow up into adults, the way my dad couldn’t and my mom almost couldn’t, because I didn’t want them to have to get through their early lives without my constant support.
My argument was always that I could die any second of anything. That’s what I would say to combat the litany of statistics people would randomly pull out of their asses on the spot or somehow name off the top of their heads about smokers dying of lung cancer or somesuch. It never convinced me. What did convince me is I started to notice the first kind of health effects of smoking as I got older and had been smoking longer, so I decided I had to quit ‘cause if I quit I couldn’t get any worse but if I remained a smoker I would never get better.
It’s also important to note I did not quit alone. I had excellent support from my sister, who sent me a gross of paper clips because straightening paper clips constantly was our dad’s way of getting through quitting cold turkey; my girlfriend whose support has been as immeasurable as it has been consistent; my mother who never misses an opportunity to tell me how proud she is of me quitting; and my friends, both smokers and non-smokers alike, some of whom were themselves also quitting. Thanks, space cadets, each and every one of y'all.