benefits i’ve seen
at the end of the first segment of module 5 (of the american lung association's "freedom from smoking" program online), we're encouraged to post about the benefits of quitting, and there's a pop-up window with a "starter" list of benefits, then a place to list the benefits we've already seen from quitting, and those we anticipate seeing as we remain smoke-free. i looked at that first space and thought, "it hasn't even been three days; i haven't seen any benefits yet". but as i thought about it some more, i realized that i have seen benefits, and that they are significant.
monday afternoon i was at a meeting at work, and i made a sarcastic remark... when i saw the look my boss gave me, i apologized and asked them to forgive me, i was in the middle of my first day as a non-smoker… i didn’t get a chance to finish what i was saying, because the whole room broke into a spontaneous round of applause, including my boss.
first and foremost, i feel better about myself than i have in a very long time. three weeks ago, i was at one of the lowest points of my recent life; i felt terrible, both physically and emotionally.
i'd go to bed despising myself for my weakness, for my inability to control my addiction to nicotine. and as i'd lay there, listening to my wheezing, labored breathing, feeling as if someone was sitting on my chest, or when i'd wake up choking on the crap that was clogging up my lungs, i knew i was killing myself, but i felt powerless to stop it.
in the morning, i'd wake up feeling drained, rather than refreshed, and i'd dread getting out of bed. as i'd reach for that first cigarette of the day, knowing that that first drag was going to send me into a choking fit that might last for minutes (in fact, there were times when the whole cigarette burned down to the filter as i choked on that first drag - when that happened, of course, i'd just light another one), i'd hate myself for doing what i was doing, but that didn't stop me from doing it.
this monday night when i went to bed, i was able to congratulate myself for making it through day one, and later, when i was twice yanked from a sound sleep, shaking and in a cold sweat, by the demon that is my addiction digging its claws into me, trying to break my will, i was able to hang tough and refuse to give in.
tuesday morning, i was exhausted, yet exhilirated. words can't adequately describe how i felt; i felt powerful, in control, like anything was possible. even surviving day two!
i started day two by congratulating myself yet again for having survived day one (and the night that followed), and then reminding myself that i am still an addict, and always will be, and that i must acknowledge that every day of my life and choose not to feed the demon that day.
now that i'm at the end of day three, my confidence has grown tremendously, as has my self-esteem and my belief that i can do this. i can keep this quit. i pray for the humility to never get cocky; pray that i'll always remember that i am an addict, and that i can't afford to take that first drag...
second, i feel a new measure of respect being shown to me by others when they find out i've quit smoking - for instance, monday afternoon i was at a meeting at work, and i made a sarcastic remark about the (lack of) usefulness of this particular meeting and, in fact, meetings in general - when i saw the look my boss gave me, i apologized and asked them to forgive me, i was in the middle of my first day as a non-smoker... i didn't get a chance to finish what i was saying, because the whole room broke into a spontaneous round of applause, including my boss.
third, people have gone out of their way to offer their support and encouragement as i work through this; my family, my co-workers, even relative strangers (although i have to say that the regulars here are starting to feel more like family than some blood relations i can think of - it's hard to think of you guys as strangers at this point...)
i won't go into the benefits i'm looking forward to; this post is already pretty long and it's late - i need to go to bed. tomorrow (actually today; it's past midnight) is thanksgiving, and i really have a lot to be thankful for this year, not the least of which are the people here who've lent me their support and encouragement over the last 10 days (hard to believe it's only been 10 days...) - i won't list your names, because i don't want to forget anybody, and you know who you are anyway (and so does everybody else who's paying attention ).
thanks, and happy thanksgiving to one and all!
kevin - at the end of day three (still getting better all the time)