I didn’t inhale until I was 10

It’s nearly unreal when I say that I had my first puff of a cigarette when I was 8 years old, but it’s a fact.
I remember as if it was yesterday. One of my older brothers let me have a cigarette. Don’t worry, I didn’t inhale until I was 10.
When I turned 10,  this brother of mine refused to give me any more cigarettes, unless I inhaled. “It would be a waste of money otherwise, were his words”. I surely inhaled and was violently sick.

Pure enjoyment

30 years later and I was still puffing away. I truly enjoyed smoking cigarettes – every one of them.
Living in Ireland meant that it was a luxury good. I can’t remember what we paid for those ciggies in 2002, but I do know that it was far more than anywhere else I knew.
Today, you pay about  €10 for 20 cigarettes.

Sick of being a slave

I never forget the day. It was a Sunday morning. I got up and was looking forward to my first cigarette. I nearly collapsed when I noticed that I was out of them.
It was a cold, damp October morning. I put on my coat and legged it to the garage. It was a good ten minute walk. When I got to the garage I realised that I forgot to bring any money. I was gutted.

I went back home and was so very angry with myself that those missing cigarettes made me feel so miserable. I think it was the first time that I realised that those sticks enslaved me. That I would be better off without them.
I decided then and there that this was it. No more from now on.

Nicotine does the talking

As a smoker it is easy to say, no more. Doing it is easy as well, at least for 40 minutes or so, before you suddenly feel this immense pressure of having to have some nicotine.
You start to feel light-headed, nearly doped.
The air you breath starts to smell different. I decided to go for a walk and legged it into the nearby woods. As I was walking, taking in all the fresh air, I thought “you can do it”. I realised that I was born without a cigarette in my mouth. I realised that there had been a time in my life when I didn’t smoke.
I looked at the sheep and cows in the fields, I thought of our cats at home – none of them smoked. I CAN DO IT.


Suddenly, I came across a place where some lumberjacks must have been working. Loads of wood lying about and sawdust.
On one of the tree-stumps there was a cigarette packet. I picked it up and I couldn’t believe it. There were actually cigarettes in there.
I put them into my pocket and brought them home. I didn’t want any children to find them. Once at home I destroyed them.
God, was I proud that I didn’t fall for this.
It was like a trial I overcame.

That was it, I came to the realisation that I meant business.
As the day went on, the craving got worse and worse.
I started researching online about the effects of quitting nicotine.
I came across some very good timelines of what happens when and how you feel. I also learned that it is a matter of minutes and then seconds, where cravings really do your head in. I learned to time it. I also learned to drink water when the cravings set in and to go for good long walks.
I learned to embrace these mad cravings, because they were a part of the healing process. I learned to understand that my mind was trying to fool me into smoking. I learned that nicotine was an evil foul thing, which was by far not the worse. I learned that there are thousands of other vile poisons in cigarettes, which are just corroding your body and mind.

Reality Check

Wow, that sounds serious. No, I am not one of those bitter former smokers who has no time for smokers. Not at all.
I loved smoking. I enjoyed this “freedom” it gave me. The time out I had when lighting a cigarette, or later a cigar. It was calming.
I really understand smokers. I also understand if a smoker wants to quit and I do understand the obstacles a smoker faces.

Looking back, I know that the freedom I perceived, while smoking, was not freedom, it was a false sense of freedom. What’s free about not being able to smoke when and where I want to? What’s free about having to smoke because I can’t help it?
Same with the calming effect. The reason that lighting a cigarette felt calming was, because not smoking was stressful. It was the language of addiction.

Let’s give it a go

So, here we go. That’s how you can do it.
You’ve nothing to lose. It might not work for you. But it’s worth a try.

A few preparations
  • Be aware that your mind will go crazy as soon as it realises that you are actually going to take the step.
  • Nicotine is going to take over the reasoning.
  • You (the nicotine) is going to find many reasons why you should have a cigarette.
  • Nicotine is going to find loads of reasons why this is not the right moment to quit. You’ll find many excuses to have just that one for now.One thing is for sure. Nobody is making you quit. If you think that the nicotine needs to have the upper hand – go on – smoke.
    It’s when you understand that it is a power-struggle between you and the nicotine and once you’ve decided that you’re going to win this struggle, that’s when you’re on the right track.
It gets easier

Every day gets easier and before you know it, you are going through a day, or most of a day, and suddenly realise joyfully that you haven’t even thought of a cigarette.

Breaking habits temporarily

I have to say, that I also gave up alcohol and proper coffee. I drunk loads of water (flushes out the toxics) and drunk decaf.

A lot of the difficulties in giving up smoking has to do with routine. It’s a matter of breaking old habits.
When I say, that I gave up alcohol and caffeine-coffee, I have to add that I picked those habits up again later.

Anyway, to cut a long story short. It gets easier as time goes on. Don’t be fooled by people who tell you that it will be a drag for the rest of your life. This is just not true – unless – unless, you didn’t really give up in the first place, then it will haunt you for the rest of your life.

I found that the first 10 days were a real struggle (worth fighting for) and after about 10 weeks I forgot I ever smoked.

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