Quitting cigarettes has been one of the hardest and most amazing parts of my life’s journey so far. It has taught me more about myself and the nature of addiction than any other single thing in my life.
I began smoking when I was 15 years old and by the time I was 35 I was sick, depressed and even worse, feeling old.
After smoking for 20 years my skin had a greyish, thin look to it but I convinced myself that this was a normal sign of aging.
My circulation was so poor I would often wake up in the middle of the night from pins and needles in my arms and at 5.7ft I weighed in at 85kg’s. I was lethargic and disappointed in myself on a soul level.
I had managed to stop smoking when I first fell pregnant with my daughter but I had, to my deep shame, begun again near the end of my pregnancy. At first it was just one but by the time my daughter was 2 months old I was back to 20 a day. I watched as I allowed my addiction to create a distance between me and my daughter and I felt like I was endlessly pushing her away so I could sneak away for a smoke. It was eroding my very principles as a mother and so it was no wonder that I became deeply depressed.
When I had quit before my pregnancy I had used Allen Carr’s The EasyWay to Stop Smoking. Two years later I recommended it to a friend who wanted to stop smoking.
The premise is very clever – you are instructed to continue smoking throughout the book and you are only allowed to stop smoking once you finish the book. While smoking, Carr destroys myths and explains our thinking to us in such a way that your desire to quit compounds upon itself until, finally, you reach the end of the book and you are allowed the glorious relief of beginning your life as a non-smoker.
It had worked well for me. The only reason I had become a smoker again was because I had broken the Cardinal Rule: Don’t smoke. Ever. It’s that easy and that hard.
When my friend finished the book and began her life as a non-smoker, she did it with such serenity and calm that at first I admired her and then I became inspired by her.
As the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months she continued to blossom. Her skin took on a more youthful and fresh look and she seemed to have oodles of energy.
I was feeling motivated. I found my copy of the book and I set about reading it. Not slowly and hesitantly, like the first time, but with enthusiasm and drive while still taking time to ponder the points I felt I hadn’t quite absorbed.
But all the while, in the back of my mind was that voice, the one that reminded me that I had succeeded and failed before, why would this time be any different?
The night I finished the book I began to feel apprehensive – what if I failed? In my heart of hearts I knew that if I didn’t succeed this time I would probably be a smoker for life. I wanted the serene calm I’d seen in my friend, the gentle bliss of regained health.
That night after smoking my last cigarette I went into the bathroom and locked the door. I’m not religious but I do believe that angels guide us and help us, so I spoke to both Archangel Michael and Archangel Raphael to please help me to quit smoking. I asked (begged!) them to not only help me quit but to grant me the grace of being one of the ‘lucky’ ones that Carr spoke about in the book – the ones who were not only able to stop smoking easily but who actually enjoyed the process- I wanted to be one of them.
In the process of praying to my angels to help me, I began trying to imagine myself the next day as a non-smoker who found it easy and enjoyable to stop smoking. I pictured how I felt and acted as a non-smoker and once I had that feeling, I held myself to it – because that’s what I wanted.
When I left the bathroom I felt calm and serene. I felt that I had it all under control, because I was one of the lucky ones.
Perhaps it was my angels or maybe it was the visualisation I’d done but the next day I found it easy and….wait for it….enjoyable to be a non-smoker. It’s not that I didn’t feel the withdrawal symptoms, but I didn’t mind them; I knew these were the last death throws of a dying addiction and so I allowed my body to experience them with calm and understanding.
Knowing that I was never ever going to smoke again meant I could relax and allow the withdrawal process to wash over me as I continued with my life
I was kind to myself. I was very understanding of the fact that what I was undergoing was the single most important act of my adult life – I was saving my life – and nothing held a higher priority than that.
Journey Back To Health
As a result of focussing on the positive aspect of renewing my health and not on the fact that I was “going without” cigarettes I found my attitude instantly transformed from one of “poor me” to one of “healthy me” – where I got to feel proud of myself each and every day.
About a month after I quit my mood started to really lighten up; the depression I had been labouring under began to lift – and I believe that much of the depression was actually as a result of my guilt and shame because I was a smoking mother.
About two months after I quit I noticed my skin no longer had that grey look to it – instead, it was beginning to look rosy and healthy, I was actually reversing the aging process just by not smoking!
Free to be Empowered
I think one of the most important things that I’ve regained in my life is the notion of true self-empowerment. While smoking I believed that I was ill-disciplined, weak and out of control. Once I was free of the nicotine addiction, I was also free of the misconception that I was powerless.
I took this new feeling of self-empowerment and undertook to overhaul my body and my health.
I began with a 40 day water Fast, where I ate nothing and drank only water in order to clear my intestines – I lost 20kg’s and learnt a great deal about my addiction to food in the process too!
During that time I began yoga to encourage my metabolism to keep working. A few months later and I added gym to my to-do list too.
A year later and I no longer fear the future – I now know the difference between getting older and getting old and I’m no longer doing the latter!
I feel younger, fitter, healthier and happier than I did one year ago. I look and feel great and most of my friends and family can’t believe the changes I’ve undergone.
So, equip yourself with knowledge, believe in yourself and step boldly into the future as a non-smoker because the great news is that you too can be one of the lucky ones!
To find out more about Allen Carr’s book go to: http://www.allencarr.co.za/
- Feeling normal again! (jillandersonblog.wordpress.com)
- Trying a healthy new lifestyle! (sparklyarthur.wordpress.com)