on not giving up

with the small exception of a brief hiatus in 1998 i have been a bonafide member of the Gentleman’s Smoking Club™ since i first puffed on a cigarette as a spotty oik of a lad in the early nineties (when change from a pound could be had from 10 Malboro lights and a box of matches).

since then being a smoker has been a large part of my identity, rarely venturing far without a packet of rolling tobacco to hand. i would readily admit that i am addicted to a bunch of chemicals which are primarily poisonous but i would also say – despite this knowledge – that i enjoy smoking. the act of rolling a cigarette, the act of sharing a cigarette, the sense of camaradre shared by those who huddle round the ashtray on cold, wet autumn evenings outside the pub.

however, today marks a whole week – that’s a whopping 168 hours – without smoking which is pretty much the longest i have been without nicotine since my early teenage days (except for the aforementioned hiatus). i’m not sure when or even if i will ever have another cigarette but one thing i can be sure of is that i haven’t given up. i’m just taking a break.

so why the break? well three factors really. one the birth of a son, the other a death of father-in-law, the last a killer hangover. for the past few months i have certainly been acutely aware that i have been smoking too much. psychologically, smoking has been a valiant ally in times of stress in my adult life and since january i have embarked on a series of new (and unfamiliar) experiences: a new job, taken on more freelance work than i perhaps should’ve and seen the arrival of our youngest, Felix (as well as contend with the competing affections and emotions from our eldest, Gethin).

in the past 6 months smoking has become more than a habit and i was not particularly happy with how something that i had enjoyed was having such an impact on my life (and to some, lesser extent also my wallet).

this sense was exacerbated with the sad and relatively sudden passing of my wife’s father two weeks ago. the idea that i could make a decision now which might affect the amount of time i have to spend with my children (and their children) was something really powerful and made me think for the first time in a long time about not smoking.

i have tried to give up before but always failed: bad timing, bad planning, bad willpower. the two things i knew were:

  1. that there is never a perfect time to give up smoking, and
  2. that I would know when the time was right.

last Wednesday the time was right. the night before – at my father-in-laws wake – i had indulged in a few gins too many and as a result the following day was spent in a state of utter self-pity, without caffeine or nicotine: the two biggest vices in my life (the third being twitter, which I also somehow managed to abstain from).

am now back on the caffeine and twitter but have somehow managed to stay off the fags. each day since last Wednesday i have said to myself “no, i won’t smoke today”. if i thought to myself i had given up i think there would be too much pressure but as long as it is just taking a break then i can take one day at a time and hope that tomorrow, is just another day when i feel like having a break…

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I’ve never smoked but lived with a smoker for 6 years, ex-smoker for 4(?) – the only secret she had in giving up was to really want to. It sounds like you are pretty much there now. So maybe your way is the AA/take one day at a time way. I hope it continues to work for you like that.

Good on you, I too have never smoked, well I tried it once and it made me vomit into a pint jug, but I don’t feel that counts. I have no advice to give, but on talking to friends who gave up the recurring themes where that of deciding that they where no longer smokers. Its good that the though of you kids helped you decide not just because of the impact on his health, but also through experience the impact of losing a father to Cancer is a hart breaking thing to experience. Good luck to you.

Cole, thank you for sharing. You have reminded me that I need to fire up a blog. Can you run me though best blog practice when I am next in? P.s I dived into my roll up kit to chase the spooky stress away. Also a bizarre attempt to find more time, although the nicotine just revved up the adrenalin and zapped my time.