Three years ago today, my life changed forever.
You see, I finally decided that I had to say goodbye to a friend that had been with me for the better part of 35 years. We'd been through good times and bad times, thin and flush, and I always thought we'd be together.
But we wouldn't be; I had to end it. That leech that had permeated my life was finally being shown the door.
I was done.
You see, at 10:53am, January 16, 2012, I crushed out my last cigarette.
It's something which I never really think about anymore and, in fact, I think I actually forgot the anniversary last year. But it's still something which I'm proud of having done.
In all honesty, had I know how easy it was going to be for me to do, I'd have done it 25 years ago. I fully appreciate that some folks always fail when they try. In that regard, maybe I was just lucky. Or maybe I was pig-headed. Or maybe a bit of both. But with the help of Wellbutrin and Nicoderm, I put the smokes aside for good.
I don't consider myself an ex-smoker, I consider myself a non-smoker. Although I can't say exactly why, I think that distinction has been very important for me.
Not long after I quit, my life changed in many other ways and, frankly, had I gone back to smoking it would've been almost understandable. But of all the things in my life I couldn't control, I decided that no longer smoking wasn't going to be one of them. I'd made that decision, I made it rather resolutely, and I was going to own it.
And I have.
The positives? Well, have you seen how much a pack of cigarettes costs? When I first joined the Navy (1981), I could buy a carton of Marlboro; ten packs of cigarettes, for four dollars. In New York nowadays, you'll pay three times that much for a single pack. The financial aspect of it, alone, makes quitting worthwhile.
Other benefits? Well, my clothes don't stink of cigarette smoke, and my truck doesn't, either. I smoked in that truck for a long time and, frankly, I'm kinda' glad it finally aired out. I can't recall anyone ever commenting about my truck smelling like an ashtray. My hair (well, such as it is) doesn't smell of smoke. The tips of my fingers have lost that yellowish hue that comes from three-plus decades of smoking.
The negatives? Well, there really aren't any. Yeah, there was some weight gain, but I expected that. I've gained about 30 pounds since I quit smoking. As much as I hate that, I know I can address it, much the same as I addressed my smoking. It's just a matter of deciding that enough is enough. That's what it took with my smoking, and that's what it will take with the effects of having quit.
I quit smoking. Going on a diet's gonna' be a piece of cake (no pun intended).
So, if you're a smoker, I'd like to ask you to try to quit. I won't (and don't) preach. I'm never going to be one of those militant ex-smokers who believe their life will be shortened if they so much as see a Lucky Strike. Hell, I still enjoy the smell of a cigarette. But I can positively state that I will never, ever, light up another one.
Look at it this way: There's not a single bad thing that will happen if you quit smoking. Not one. Every single thing that happens because you quit will be a good thing; a positive thing.
Why wouldn't you want to do that for yourself?