It has been two months since my adult children and I rented a house together and I committed myself to no longer smoking in the house.
My daughter doesn’t smoke so that was the main motivation but I was ready to make the change. I was really tired of smoke clinging to my clothing, stinking things up and dirtying my possessions, not to mention staining the walls and my chronic smokers cough.
What I wasn’t prepared for was just how much smoking has crept into every part of my life over the years and how completely it had come to dominate my every waking moment.
People talk about danger times being a problem when they give up smoking. Times when the desire to light up is especially strong such as right after eating or when having a drink and so on.
Imagine my shock to discover just about every minute I am awake is a danger time!
I smoke right after eating like many smokers but I also smoke right before eating and, occasionally, during eating. When I was smoking inside I smoked while I watched TV, whilst reading, writing, on the phone, off the phone, on the computer, off the computer, before going to sleep, the instant I woke up and so on. I was pretty much chain smoking to the tune of over 50 cigarettes per day.
I’m not exaggerating here. I actually smoked while cooking and when I did the dishes afterwards I’d have a smoke hanging from my lips. I even took a smoke with me to the toilet if I knew I was going to be in there for more than a minute!
Smoking accompanied almost every single thing I did and, if I had nothing to do, I smoked even more because that gave me something to do!
There was, literally, only two things I did without smoking – take a shower or sleep. Even sleeping wasn’t completely free of smoking as, if I woke during the night for any reason, I’d have a smoke before going back to sleep!
This little change, no smoking inside, has thrown me completely off balance and, even though I am still smoking, it feels like I have semi-quit and I am going through withdrawal! I wander around the house feeling like I have lost something and I don’t know what to do without it.
I go outside for a smoke but it is cold right now so I don’t like being outside. I go inside to warm up and almost immediately I feel lost again so I eat or go back outside for another smoke.
There are only two activities I can settle down to do inside apart from take a shower, sleep, or eat. I can watch the TV if something interesting is on, and there are no ads or I can fast forward through them, and I can talk on the phone.
I was a bit surprised to discover I can chat as long as I like on the phone without wanting to go for a smoke but then I realised I have to do that at work. I work on telephone help lines so I talk on the phone more at work than I do at home. My workplace is a no smoking zone so I am used to not smoking while I talk on the phone.
They say it takes three weeks for a new habit to become entrenched but it looks like that is an optimistic prediction.
I am getting there though. Last night I watched a couple of shows with my daughter. Twice I wanted to stop and go for a smoke but I resisted. This morning I forced myself to go to the loo, put some washing on and make a drink BEFORE having my first smoke.
Little by little I am retraining myself to a life not dominated by the filthy habit which should make it easier to give up when I am ready to take that step.
In the meantime, I have forced myself to stick at this entry long enough to finish it but now it’s time to go have a smoke.