written on my ninth day of freedom from smoking and originally posted on november 27, 2001, this piece talks about how my fear of never being able to quit again has kept me from relapsing so far.


2009 January 8

it's hard to believe i only found this website (the american lung association's "freedom from smoking" program) 15 days ago, my life has changed so much in that short period - the support and encouragement i've gotten from so many of you (i don't want to name names, because i wouldn't want anyone to feel left out) has been like a lifeline that's been thrown to me in one of the darkest and hardest times of my life.

i’m afraid that if i start smoking again, it will simply be impossible for me to ever quit again.

lately, i've been finding comments from a number of people (both from the group i've come to think of as "the regulars" and from new people just starting their walk down this road) about my commitment to remaining smoke-free being an inspiration to them, and, in a way, it feels really good, yet, in another way, i feel like a fraud...

and no, it's not because i've been "cheating"; i've remained smoke-free since the day i told you all i quit (november 19th), and everything i've posted here has been 100% true and from the heart. but some of the comments i've read make it sound (at least to my ear) like i'm some kind of hero, or i'm blessed with some kind of super-human willpower, or even that i have some secret formula that keeps me on the straight and narrow, but nothing could be further from the truth.

the truth is i'm scared to death.

somewhere along the way from 15 days ago to here, i read something, either here, or at whyquit, or at some other site, that either suggested or stated outright that it's possible to reach a point where it becomes physically impossible to quit smoking again. where the demon has been so well-fed, so nurtured, so protected and cared for, for so long, that it finally gets too strong to overcome.

i don't know if this is true, but i remember seeing my father sneaking a cigarette just days after he had half a lung removed due to cancer: he wasn't a stupid man (far from it; he was a brilliant engineer, well-respected nationally and internationally in his field), nor was he a weak man. but he smoked for over 50 years; maybe he had reached that point where it simply wasn't possible for him to quit any more because the demon had gotten too strong.

and as i look back over the last 9 days, i can't even *imagine* anything harder than what i've gone through to quit this time (especially the first few days), and i've been taking wellbutrin (my health plan won't pay for zyban) for over three weeks! if my demon has become so strong that it's been almost impossible for me to quit even with the help of this wonder drug (and i have 2 friends who were both long-time, heavy smokers that both quit without a single urge after only taking this stuff for a week), i'm afraid that if i start smoking again, it will simply be impossible for me to ever quit again.

maybe this is an irrational fear; i don't really know. but it's this fear, rational or not, that's been responsible for my success in staying away from cigarettes for the last 9 days, and nothing else. i'm no hero. i'm no superman. i'm nothing special. there's no nobility in abject terror, but that's my secret formula; i'm terrified.

and that's the truth.

kevin - day 9

23 responses leave one →
  1. 2003 January 21
    Jan permalink

    I believe you hit the nail on the head. I am afraid if I start smoking again I might have a heart attack. I might end up have to have open heart surgery, worse I might die. I don't want to die until my daughter is grown. I terrified of dying young. This is what has kept me smoke-free for 3d 4h 13m. Is that enough?

  2. 2004 April 12
    Fightn4life permalink

    Kevin...I can not believe this. I have been so afraid if I was to relapse I would never be able to quit again. This is a fear I have lived with every day from Oct 23, 2003, my quit date to now. I felt when I was seaching for help on the net the day I almost caved it was my last ditch effert to quit. Maybe this fear will help me realize how addicted I am and never take another puff. I am glad to know again I am not alone in my insecurities.


  3. 2004 May 4
    margaret permalink

    ALL ex-smokers are afraid, as far as I know. My father quit at age 40, then lived to be 84 (even though he had diabetes and heart disease) and he was always afraid. My brother is the same way and has been quit for many, many years. They said it was so hard that they were afraid if they ever had to do it again they couldn't. THey didn't dwell on the fear, just knew it was there. THis was a good thing, I guess. It keeps them from smoking.

  4. 2004 July 19
    fantashia permalink

    My fear is having to go thru detox again. I hated the way I felt when I quit smoking and I never want to do that agian. I also choose LIFE.

  5. 2004 August 1
    Denice permalink

    I think all of us are afraid.I can't tell you how many people I know quit for years only to see them smoking after all that time. Many are so afraid of failure they refuse to try(me included) Who wants to listen to people say, "Oh you are so weak,we knew you couldn't do it" Those words almost always come from non-smokers who have no clue what it is like to live with this demon every day of your life. We are all afraid....afraid if we don't quit we will die before our time....afraid we will fail and look weak in others eyes.I will use my fear to keep me from returning to my comfort zone...keep from returning to the familiar which is always easier than facing the battle that lies ahead. We will fight the battle all our lives and we must accept that fact.All I am hoping for is that it will get easier as time goes on.

  6. 2004 December 31
    Jordan Ash permalink

    Fear. Yes, I really fear that if I don't quit now, I may actually never quit. I have always told myself that someday I will quit, but if not now, when? I am 9 days into this quit and when the addiction starts saying that maybe I should just go back to smoking, I remind myself that if I give in now, when would I try to quit again? There will never be an easier or better time than right now.

  7. 2005 July 8
    Kelly permalink

    Fear. Gawd, yes. Fear of the pain of living through quitting and fear of dying for not quitting. I've not told anyone that I am smoke-free since the 4th of July because if I fail, as I have in the past, I will have to look them in the eye and admit that I failed yet again. Sounds like a back door, doesn't it! Perhaps so. As I get stronger, I'll be more vocal about it. Another reason for silence is that in the past, when I told people that I was trying to quit, that's all they want to talk about. I just want to try to not think about it.

  8. 2005 November 21
    Charlie permalink

    I hope I'm not like your father...if the craving or whatever it is would just go away for awhile ...but it doesn.t....6 months is as long as I have been able to last before giving in.....but that was before ffs....this time has to be different....the people really help....it has to be different this time

  9. 2006 March 21
    robertamarie permalink

    Today is day 22 of my quit. I've had a couple of lapses (2 drags the 3rd day I quit and a few drags last weekend). I'm terrified. I know I want to quit more than anything and I NEVER want to experience that excruciating withdrawal again. I guess I wanted to leave msg on this page because even though I sometimes feel like a crazy person and suffer deep panic attacks - I know I'm doing the best thing, the hardest thing, but the most self-loving thing I've ever done in my life. I'm 40 and have smoked for 30 years. I feel like a new woman - 3 weeks and with only a couple slips I feel confident I am going to beat this.

  10. 2006 April 17
    Molly permalink

    I can relate with what has been said on this page. I'm on my 3rd day and I'm feeling depressed and fearful. I quit once for about 4 years and started smoking a little here and there ....In no time, I was up to a pack or two packs a day. I have a lung problem also. Not from smoking, but the cigarettes have weakened it a lot. I cannot start again. I feel like they are killing me every day. And, I am also very afraid of this. .....I hope it gets better.

  11. 2009 January 8

    note: the comments above were left on the original tale at the date and time indicated.

  12. 2009 March 30
    hk_1 permalink

    This is specialy for robertamarie, Your panic attacks are gone with the smoke, they were because you smoked. I once had a panic attack and because in those days I had alot of things to take care of at the same time, I was continiously failing in an important test, After the situation got under control I asked myself to find the actual reason for panic attack and I found out it was nothing but smoking. I quit smoking 1 month back and I feel simply more safe and in control.

    Remember cigarette stimulates your flight or fight system in your brain the same system that malfunctions and causes a panic attack.

    Best of Luck,

  13. 2009 September 4
    Ann permalink

    I feel the fear right now, or else I wouldn't be reading this, or feel compelled to post. This is the second time I have quit. I am now 9 days in. The first time I quit, I made it one year and eleven days. Smoking again started with just a drag here and there. Then a cigarette here and there. Then buying a pack here and there. In just a few months, I destroyed a years worth of work and was smoking my old reliable half pack a day. I kept smoking this time for another year and half. Quitting this time around seems so much more difficult than the first....not only am I dealing with withdraws, but I'm also convinced that I will have to spend the rest of my life on guard. All it takes is a second of weakness to ruin everything all over again.

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