Off the smokes?

I started to smoke when I was 13 years old, which is almost 24 years ago, so I’ve smoked an awful long time, too long.  There was no particular reason as to why I started other than I thought it was cool.  It was back in the early 80s and I was in 7th grade – I think.  Not particularly proud of it, but that’s the truth.  Bloody hell, I didn’t even inhale in the beginning (but who did?) and it was only to be part of the tough gang.  We stood underneath the shelter smoking and we were beating up kids who came too near – there was something special about smoking back in those days – you were part of something.

If you are considering to start smoking, well, then don’t.  I know that’s rich coming from a long-time smoker, but that doesn’t mean that I’m proud of it or that I think it is healthy.  Cigarettes are extremely addictive and any smoker will tell you about their giving-up-the-fags-moments.  Several reasons for not to smoke:

  1. You’ll develop a nasty cough, especially in the morning.
  2. You and your clothes will smell.  Nothing worse than waking up after a night out, smelling your clothes or having to clean up all the ashtrays.
  3. You will be standing outside, in all kinds of weather, smoking. Just to get your “fix”.
  4. It is actually expensive.  Try calculate how much you spend weekly on this habit.
  5. Kissing a smoker is disgusting (according to my wife).
  6. You’ll do almost anything to get smokes, if you are out, including selling your body (not in my case for good reasons) and smoking cigarette butts.

Back in the 80s, nobody had sued the cigarette companies or even considered that it might be harming your health and being related to various diseases.  Well, most smokers today are still not convinced that smoking causes lung cancer – it has never been proven!  It was all about being cool and hanging out, talking shite and beating up smaller kids.  Even at home, it was normal to smoke.  All my parents friends smoked and it was VERY easy to get smokes, even at the age of 10.

When I had my confirmation, I was 13, my dad knew I was smoking, so he handed me the cigarette tray (which was normal at parties back then) and he asked me if I wanted a cigarette – in public.  I freaked for a brief moment and denied ever having touched a smoke, but then I realised I was an adult and I grabbed a smoke to the horror of my grandma.  My granddad knew I smoked, how I don’t know, and just laughed. I took a giant drag and started to cough, entertaining the entire audience and receiving loads of friendly abuse.

In fact, my cousins, on my mother’s side, taught me to smoke the pipe when I was only 9.  They forced me to smoke it and burst out laughing when I turned green and started coughing.  That’s what family is for.

Giving up the cigarettes has always been a tabu among smokers.  Sure, they’ll support you if you try, by offering you free cigarettes when you are trying to quit or they’d blow smoke in your face.  We are so helpful that we even celebrate when one of the mates is back on the fags, welcoming him back with open arms.

I’ve tried giving up so many times and all the reasons have been the same – I don’t want to smoke anymore.  Giving up is hard, I kid you not, and your body will change for the worse:

  • Firstly, you will most likely become extremely impatient and short tempered, blowing a fuse when you can’t find the remote or if you are out of toilet paper.  The smallest hint from your partner that you might have forgotten something will just cause a volcanic eruption. And you get angry over weird things like somebody sent you an email about buying viagra.
  • Secondly, your body will slowly start to change too, adapting to not getting the nicotine fix. It will start to crave a substitute such as chocolate, crisps, icecream or just loads of food.  Why? I’m not too sure, but my body is developing Michelin rings now, despite trying not to eat sweets.
  • Thirdly, you will develop an abundance of boogers, causing you to pick your nose all the time.  It has something to do with you getting nose hairs again that catches all the dust – the rest doesn’t need explaning.
  • Lastly (I’m sure there are more changes), the first 5 weeks of giving up will be the most painful for your surroundings, mainly due to the above reasons!!

So, there is where the sharing experiences start.  Here are a few of my attempts trying to give them up, and why I failed miserably:

  1. Within 2 months of starting I tried giving up, resulting in me being evicted from the cool gang and had to spend my time with the nerds – who by the way were still angry at me for beating them up.  Stuck in limbo between good and evil, I went back on the smokes.  The evil gang greeted me back with open arms and gave me free smokes for joining again.  They even threw me one of the nerds to punch twice.  Man, I felt part of something again – cool.
  2. When I was 15 I tried to shelve them again, mainly because that was the part in my life where I was supposed to focus on badminton and become a superstar.  That ambition obviously failed!  It was a classic schoolboy error, as I was invited to a party and accepted – who wouldn’t when all the girls were there too.  I swore it would be my last smoke that evening, but that was all forgotten Sunday afternoon, when I had breakfast with my mates, enjoying a nice smoke after breakfast.
  3. When I turned 17 and I was getting ready to go to the US as an exchange student, I decided to stop smoking while in the States.  This was mainly because I wouldn’t have my smoking mates around me so it would be a lot easier (you gotta blame somebody else) and also because the US was know to be anti-smokers – which they were.  In the airport my sister (bless her) gave me a small packet and told me NOT to open it until I had arrived.  I opened it the day after arriving in the US and discovered 2 packs of smokes + condoms!!!  I threw out the condoms and started smoking, in hiding of course.  I bumped into another Danish bloke in my highschool, who I converted to a smoker, so I was back on the smokes.
  4. After a year away, on the plane home, I decided that I wanted a “clean” and healthy start.  That lasted until I got off the plane in Copenhagen, meeting my aunt and she gave me Danish cigarettes – I knew she missed me and loved me.  I couldn’t say no.  And, to cement my dedication to smoking, me and a mate created the coffee club in college with some rules; you must love coffee and smoking.
  5. Several years went by and I was getting married.  My dad had quit smoking when he got married, and he is still off them, so I wanted to follow in his footsteps.  The morning after the wedding I was off the smokes.  Later that evening both families gathered for dinner and there was so much japping that I had to smoke again.  BUT, only for that evening.  I was actually off the smokes for almost 9 months.  Then I did something most smokers do when off the smokes, which is getting the odd smoke when out for drinks.  That was it and I was back on them.
  6. Then we had our first child and I wanted to be a good dad.  I stopped a few months before our daughter was born, cleaned the house fanatically, getting it ready for my princess.  Just to be clear, I only smoked outside during the entire pregnancy.  While my wife was in labour, I was freaking out so much that I ran to the cornershop and bought a pack of smokes. I probably smoked them within minutes.  Again, I failed.  The same thing happened when our son was born!!

I gave up 10 weeks ago and this time it is different – I swear it is!  I woke up one morning and actually didn’t like the taste of the cigarette.  Tried another smoke two days later and I still didn’t like it.  Halleluja, this must be a sign to give them up.  Well, I was also getting slightly pissed off with myself, as my daughter was starting to pretend she was smoking, which is really bad and it made me feel guilty – rightfully so.  Time to live a healthier life.

Was I cranky, abso-fucking-lutely!!  My wife actually begged me to start smoking again.  I’ve only gained 5 kgs in 10 weeks and I still can’t run more than 5 minutes.

Hopefully this is it!  By the way, I actually bought the Carr book, but didn’t use it.  Any takers?

If you want to quit smoking, then do it.  Don’t say “I’ll start Monday” or “When this pack is empty, then I’m off them”.  It’ll never work.  You have to want to give up, so be honest to yourself.  Amen!


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