I began smoking cigarettes at the age of 14.
I lived in a challenging environment, and I saw all my role models smoke, so why couldn’t I? From the very first drag, it gave me this head change that helped me forget about all my problems for a few minutes. Of course, that only lasted a week or so, but by then, I was hooked.
All of my friends smoked, and it made me feel like I had control because nothing in my life felt stable at that time. I hid smoking from my parents even though they were smokers. I smoked in my bedroom late at night and dumped all the cigarettes into a red purse.
I’ll never forget the day my mother found the red purse where I hid my cigarette butts.
I was kind of happy in a way because it meant that she cared about me, but the punishment made me feel isolated and alone.
Smoking was when my “rebel” alter ego got to do what she wanted. It made me feel powerful, but of course, I didn’t realize the long-term damage I was doing to my health and, worse, the addictive nature of cigarettes.
I was an out-of-control yet-in-control smoker as I got older.
For the most part, I would only smoke during specific times of the day when no one would see me. I would then binge smoke at night when I was alone. For me, smoking and drinking went hand and hand.
I couldn’t have a drink of alcohol (or for many years, I smoked pot) without smoking. When I met my husband at age 24, he wasn’t a smoker. I’m sure my subconscious brain saw this as a problem, so I, of course, offered him a cigarette one night while we were drunk.
I regret encouraging my husband to smoke because we both struggled to quit for many years after that night.
When I got pregnant at age 29, I had to stop drinking, so smoking wasn’t hard to quit. It’s incredible what motivations like having a new baby will do to your addictions, right? But, the minute I was able to drink again, the cigarettes came back full force.
I had many times in my 20 years of smoking where I had a few months of being free from it, but it always came back when I was stressed or drinking. When my husband entered AA and got sober in 2008, he quit both drinking and smoking.
This was helpful, but at that time, I hated him, so I would hide my drinking and smoking from him.
It wasn’t until I heard a friend explain how to quit smoking a few months later that it finally clicked for me. It was straightforward, and you will probably read this and think that will never work, but it did for me.
He said: “Every time you want to smoke, say out loud, ‘I am a non-smoker’ until the urge goes away.”
See, my brain, my identity, and how I handled stressful situations believed that I needed to smoke. That was how I “took a break” and how I was able to take control of my life for those 6 minutes. I was doing what I wanted to do -which was for me to have a moment of peace.
I saw cigarettes as “my time,” and they were a way that I was able to calm down my nervous system.
Alcohol and cigarettes were also paired together, so even if I tried to quit cigarettes, when I drank, my inhibitions were lowered, and I craved cigarettes. I rarely was able to have a glass of wine without wanting to smoke.
When I finally decided to give up alcohol, I struggled less with cravings. If I got an urge, I would still take a 6-minute break, but I would repeat to myself, “I am a non-smoker.”
I genuinely believe that this affirmation mantra helped me reframe who I was. Words are powerful and our brain is always trying to prove we are right. We are only as strong as our weakest beliefs about ourselves. You know the saying “whether you can or you can’t, you are right”? It’s true.
What you believe to be true about yourself is your reality.
If you want to be a non-smoker, speak those words over yourself until it becomes your truth.
Everyone has a different journey to finding their best self. What has worked for me may not work for you, but don’t let anything stop you until your miracle happens. Whatever you want to be true about yourself, it absolutely can be.
I believe in you. You can do this!
If you try this and have success, send me an email at [email protected]
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