Two years ago today I stopped smoking. You chaps gave me immense support - thank you SO much for that - and I hope I was able to encourage others to give up the weed as I tussled to be strong. This is MY short story...
As my friends will attest, I can be truly stubborn (in a good way, I hope) and I used this trait to help me conquer the habit. The fact that Colin locked me out on our freezing balcony (!) as I sucked on what I didn't know (at the time) would be my last ciggie also helped.
Having slipped outside for a fly puff, I felt the cold air on my skin as I lit another Marlboro. I'd been weening myself off using various tactics (gum, patches, spray and willpower) but couldn't quite manage the final stage - to say 'I quit'. To go cold turkey, without the gadgets and gizmos. As the grey smoke filled my poor wee lungs I rolled my eyes; partly with relief as the deadly nicotine took hold, and partly with disappointment that I had yielded, yet again, to a habit that was slowly killing me. As I pulled the door to walk back into our condo I found that it wouldn't move. It was locked from inside. And then I noticed Colin behind the glass portal holding several ashtrays and several boxes of cigarettes - along with the prized antique lighter that I took everywhere.
As Colin looked me in the eye mouthing 'them or me', I froze. Emotionally and literally. The icy rain pelted down relentlessly. I was furious. He mouthed the same question. I smiled, but he remained stony faced. I tried to pull the door again. He put the smoking 'kit' down on a table and pulled the door. I'd only been out, against my will, for a couple of minutes but Mother Nature's icy fingers had given me quite the jolt. As my long suffering partner slid the door open, I eased inside. "I've never forced you to do anything, Justin", he said, whilst putting a warming arm around my shoulder, ''but I need you to do this... because I know how much YOU want to do this." My eyes were glassy; a cocktail of fury, icy air and smoke had taken their toll. "It's your choice, Justin. Your choice. I just wanted to remind you of that."
Back inside I said nothing. I simply walked to all the secret places where, traditionally, I stacked my little white, brown tipped sticks. In coat pockets. Secreted in a briefcase. In my office drawer. In an antique box on the coffee table. I gathered perhaps half a dozen half empty boxes of cigarettes as Colin watched. And then I walked towards the bathroom. And walked in. Settled on the edge of the bath and, with the toilet lid open, I carefully crushed my dirty habit, one by one. And then I flushed the loo. And then flushed it again to take away the evidence in one final, aquatic spin cycle. Crying (you KNOW I'm emotional) I lent towards Colin and took his hand. I could hardly get the words to tumble but eventually they came. "I quit. Forever. Thank you for making me realize what I had to do. Thank you. I quit. I quit. I quit…"
Since that evening I have been lucky. For some reason, nicotine cessation has been easier than I thought it might be. Sure, I've struggled here and there (okay, there have been hard times) but I've done it. I haven't sneaked a single ciggie (cos I'm very much all or nothing) and so much has changed. My skin is clearer. My eyes brighter. My mouth isn't grey and dank. My clothes smell of Chanel Pour Monsieur and not of dank, stale Marlboro. And, having been a two packs a day kinda guy I have saved a load of money. You do the maths - THOUSANDS of pounds and even more dollars…
And so I thank Colin. And my aforementioned stubborn streak. He gave me ALL the support I needed... and I clung to that. Thank you, sweet man. Two years ago today you helped me free myself of nicotine's ugly clutch. And you supported me all the way.
Now I can shout it load and proud from the rooftops. I quit. And, if you want to, so too can you. If I can be of ANY help with guidance and such like I will do my best to answer questions or offer any support. When YOU are ready, you too will utter the words - I quit. But only when you are ready.
And I shall never start again. I'd also like to thank all my pals on Facebook and twitter for their support as I conquered my smoking demon. You offered great encouragement!
As I said earlier - I am stubborn. The only difference is that I now recognize how to use that trait to my advantage. I QUIT! I QUIT! I QUIT!