When I was a baby, I sucked my thumb.
When I turned 9, I stopped sucking my thumb and started biting my nails.
When I got into University, I stopped biting my nails and started smoking.
When I stopped smoking, I started chewing on my lips.
It’s been almost 20 months now since I quit smoking, and let me tel you, I feel great. My coughs are not as severe, I don’t get sick anywhere as much as I used to with respiratory issues. My headaches are fewer, and I’m even getting into better shape. For months after quitting even the smell of a lit cigarette nearby was enough to make me nauseous and run in the opposite direction. I could barely stand to be near my brother and some of my coworkers, because they smelled of nicotine and ash.
That’s been better lately. I’ve actually caught myself liking the smell of the cigarettes, not to mention the smell of nicotine on clothes. It’s become almost a comforting smell to me, which is just bizarre. And while I was working at the call center, I started to notice the cravings. Ever so slight, but sometimes, a group of people would go out for a smoke and I could almost feel myself wanting to go with them. That was one of the other reasons that I stopped working there. The smoke breaks were getting to be a temptation, the people smoking during those breaks were awesome and I wanted to hang out with them more.
But cigarettes are expensive down here. Crazy expensive. But that’s not the only reason that I’m looking at the last 20 months and reevaluating where I stand, and why I’m happy to have quit and why I will fight my instincts and my need for something to do with my fingers until the end. I saw a billboard the other day. And while I’m not completely sure on the veracity of the claim, or the science used to back it up, it stated that every cigarette costs 8 minutes of your life.
8 minutes. For every smoke. Every pack of cigarettes is 160 minutes. Every carton, 1600 minutes. That got me thinking. All those nights and days at the theatre, where we did nothing but smoke and joke around. Those nights out at the diner where we could finish off a pack and a half easily. Or at verizon or walmart where I could smoke a pack a day, maybe two days when I was cutting down. I don’t want to even think about the money that I spent or wasted, but the time. I mean. All that time. I’ve shortened my life significantly by smoking.
Now, I want to say that while I was smoking, I knew about this. I knew the health risks and the dangerous factors. I knew that I was taking a leap of life and limb every time that I lit up. I knew it, and I didn’t care. It was my life and I was going to live it how I wanted to live it. I was going to make my mistakes, hang out with my friends and bugger the future.
So what changed?
I found a future worth being around for. I think this advert, and the thoughts that followed, effected me more now than they would have back then, simply because of where I was. I was in the car, driving somewhere with Ee. And I think of all the time in our life together, that I cheated us out of, by smoking. Hypocritical? Possibly. Sentimental? Definitely. But there it is. Ee is the one who gave me the strength to try to quite, all those 20 months ago, the reason that I stuck it out, and now the reason that I won’t ever go back.
I want a life with this man. I want a future with him. And our friends. I want a chance to live a life and start a family and see my kids grow up and start their own lives. And now, I kick myself, because I willingly cut off so much time from that dream on my own. I have shortened my own Happy Ending.
This is not for me to post and get all preachy for others to quit smoking. I know that it takes time, and some people won’t ever quit. This is for me to get these thoughts out. 8 minutes a cigarette. assuming that I smoked a carton a week, which is not a big assumption, it comes out to just about 1.5 years that I smoked off my life. Doesn’t sound like much, when you look at it that way. but 1.5 years is the difference between your grandchild being born and not. Between your kid graduating from college and not.
Heady stuff. I’m glad I quit. I’m glad I have what I have. I’m grateful for what I have. I’m just mentally kicking myself for that 1.5 years that I could have had.