About a month ago I made the decision to quit smoking. Four weeks later, I finally acted on my decision and have not had a cigarette in a little over 30 hours. I have taken breaks from smoking, once for 6 months and another time for an entire year. Each break I did it cold turkey, but I don't recall it being this hard.
One minute I'm ravenous; the next minute I'm nauseous. I alternate between headaches and being light-headed. I'm tired yet can't sleep. I'm agitated to the point where bringing a laundry basket down ten stairs has me muttering and cursing.
I think of smoking. Constantly. After all, I have been smoking an average of a cigarette an hour for six straight years. Smoking isn't just a habit or addiction; it's an extension of ourselves. Quitting is like an amputation.
I want a cigarette with each sip of coffee. I want a cigarette when a good song comes on the radio. I want a cigarette after I finish a meal, a snack, a piece of candy. I want a cigarette after a TV show, after a book, after a video game, after every sentence I write. I want a cigarette to think. I want a cigarette to not think about cigarettes.
Cigarettes have become a reward system for every aspect of my life. I did something, anything, even starting a car, and my prize was the click of a lighter, the spark of a flame, the soft inhalation and puff of smoke, nicotine in my lungs.
To combat cravings, I purchased an exercise bike. Every time I have an urge to go buy a pack or bum a cigarette from someone, just to lessen my withdrawal, I hop on the bike and cycle until the thought has passed. This is how I took breaks before; I exchange slow self-destruction for physical improvement.
I'm hoping that quitting sticks this time around, that I won't relapse in the upcoming weekends when I've had a few drinks and everyone around me lights up. Last break I took I had a bad day, got drunk, took a taxi to a gas station, and bought a carton.
I'm hoping for more control, freedom. Addiction is slavery, and I've always justified it by convincing myself I enjoy my shackles. Maybe, just maybe, my third time will be a charm.