Monday, September 19, 2005

Another Milestone To Celebrate

I’m actually having a little celebration at home tonight to celebrate my second year anniversary of me quitting smoking. Yay me !!!! I’m actually not doing that much to celebrate the occasion other than curling up on the sofa with a half a tub of my favorite ice cream watching a marathon session of “Will & Grace” on DVD. Seriously folks ... I rather do this rather than going out to splurge and celebrate.

Two years is now officially the longest that I have not been smoking. The last time that I tried to quit only lasted 6 months before I had my relapse so this milestone is a really big thing for me. It wasn’t easy for me to stop since I was already been smoking for close to 12 years and averaging about 2 packs of 20’s per day when I decided to quit. Somehow I found the strength and will power to make this attempt stick this time.

People who knew me from back in my smoke stack years and now realized that I’ve stopped smoking would always ask me what made me want to quit. Aside from the health related problems from the smoking and the constant shortness of breath thing that was happening to me, I promised myself that if the price of a pack of my favorite cigarette brand went over RM 5 then that was a signal for me to stop. I chose the limit of RM 5 back then because it was the amount that I would pay for a filling dinner at my favorite warung. If I had to choose between cigarettes and a actual food, a full stomach would win every time.

I believe that it was around that time when the government raised the sin tax on tobacco products which led to the price increase of cigarettes back in 2003. The price for a pack of 20’s went over RM 5 and it was time for me to make good on the promise that I made to myself. I also had the added encouragement to quit around the same time they increased the price because they stopped making my favorite brand of cigarettes. So instead of paying more for a brand of cigarettes that I’m not used to, I chose to stop smoking all together as I promised myself.

Quitting smoking cold turkey was hard and there were times that I was convinced that I would never make it. I was bound and determined to go through it alone without any support or medical assistance partly because I wanted to find out how determined I really was to quit the habit. It had been a while since I really challenged myself to something and the experience of quitting smoking has taught me that I still have a few strengths within me that I never knew I had. Celebrating this achievement tonight reinforces my belief in myself that I really could do anything if I put my mind and determination to do it.

I won’t kid myself and say that there hasn’t been any changes that I not so thrilled about since I stopped smoking. Most notably is the weight that I’ve gained after quitting, a total of 15kgs, that I have yet to shed. Most probably I’ll have to make it my next milestone to start working out again and lose the weight. I’ve also missed the sense of camaraderie that was there when fellow smokers congregate to have their nicotine fix. There was a time in my life that I really believe that I could never trust anyone who didn’t smoke and that the easiest way to get to know a person was to offer them a cigarette. Nowadays, while I can still chat with them while they are smoking, it doesn’t really feel the same when I don’t join them. Still, my lungs and my wallet thank me for deciding to quit smoking.

To those who might be thinking of trying to stop smoking, my advice would be to first figure out why you want to stop and set a tangible goal to achieve or avoid depending on the actual goal. Tangible goals are important because without which no progress could be measured to see how far we’ve gone through the process. Set up small milestones along the way and don’t forget to reward yourself responsibly when those milestones are met. Be mindful that for some having outside support is essential for their success while others might feel that going at it alone is a more exciting challenge. Figure out which one fits best for you and act accordingly. Don’t get too discouraged if things seem to move at a miniscule pace or sometimes not at because what is more important is to continue the forward momentum towards the goal you set. This above advise doesn’t only apply to quitting smoking but also to life in general. Sometimes I have to remind myself about them and by writing them down today, I’m again reminded and hopefully it will also help someone out there.

Today I have one more milestone to add to things that I have accomplished in my less than ordinary life. I’m now been nicotine-free for 2 years, stone-cold sober for 6 years, mind altering substance-free for 9 years and celibate for 12 years.

Hmm ... maybe that last one is not so good.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Congrats!

azmi | 2¢ said...

Noooo... the LAST one is NOT good!
:-P

Congrats anyway for being a smoke-free person!
;-)

azmi said...

Good for ya, Nick !!! That is for being nicotine-free, sober AND substance free. I don't know abt the last one, though. ;-p

Now, you can join us who're second hand smokers. If only people would realised that smoking is BAADDDDDDDDDDD, it's so NOT cool !! LOL !

the other Azmi