Thursday, January 25, 2007

Quitting

My aunt Lori quit smoking on Tuesday. Cold Turkey. She has smoked for as long as I can remember. I believe she told me once that she had her first cigarette when she was 14. I won't disclose her age, but let's just say that she has been smoking for probably about 30 years. That is a LONG time for an addiction like smoking. I received an e-mail from her yesterday afternoon stating the exact date and time, to the minute, that she had enjoyed her last cigarette. She said that she had been eating carrots, celery, mints and chewing on a lot of crushed ice.

Although I don't know exactly what quitting smoking is like, I imagine it to be one of the hardest things to do. It must consume your every thought, all day long, every minute. As a very weak example, think of something that you have everyday that you take for granted, like your cell phone, computer, coffee or your microwave. Then imagine how you use that thing everyday- how many times you use it, how much you rely on it for something, how if you lost it or if it was taken away, how lost you would be. Smoking has got to be 10 times worse than that. It is a physical addiction, not just a mental addiction.

I don't expect you to understand how touching this is, but in all the encouragement I could muster for my aunt by e-mail, she replied that she has been begging my dad for help. Of course, I started bawling when I read that. After all, my dad died of a heart attack and smoking is one of the top causes for heart disease. After he passed away a year and a half ago, I went crazy researching heart attacks and the causes. I called my aunt a couple of times in the following weeks to try to persuade her to quit smoking out of fear that the same thing would happen to her as had happened to my dad. She knew that she needed to quit, but she just wasn't quite convinced. Her brother had just died because of the very thing that she was doing and that just wasn't enough.

Well, apparently this week was the right time for Aunt Lori. I don't know exactly what sparked her motivation to quit on Tuesday, but each person has to be comfortable with their decision, they have to be ready mentally for that drastic change. Sometimes it takes a while to become comfortable with an idea for one to take the first step. And sometimes that takes years. I remember when my mom quit smoking. She had tried a couple of times before but had not succeeded. She quit for good just after my great grandfather passed away, whom she was fairly close to. She just quit. It was not my dying grandfather's wish that she quit- he was not on his deathbed begging her to quit as a method of bargaining against his death. His death just spoke to her and that was that. She never questioned WHY it was, it was just one of those life-changing experiences that made her want to change her habit. I am not saying that a loved on has to die for someone to overcome addiction, it has been my experience that death is a great catalyst for positive change.

When I think of my aunt, I picture her with a cigarette in between her fingers, taking a long, slow, clearly gratifying drag while she listens intently to my words, keeping the smoke in her lungs for as long as she can hold her breath so as to hang onto the effect for as long as possible. It will be shocking to see her without, to not smell the stench of smoke on all of her belongings and on her when we hug or when I visit. It will be so great to have more time with her and for her to have more time for herself and for her family because she won't have to be constantly going outside to smoke.

And what an accomplishment- to be able to say that you QUIT SMOKING, that you conquered something so powerful that it harnessed your mind, your body, your every thought for THIRTY YEARS. I know this is something that smokers will understand a whole lot better than I, but I see it as one of the most noble victories. I KNOW she can do it.

3 Comments:

At 4:14 PM, January 25, 2007, Anonymous Mishel Bixel said...

Lori, wow, I never in a million years thought you would quite cold turkey. Can you get my mom in on this, lol? I want you to know that I have always looked up to you. You are so strong and have made it threw some really tough times. For God's sake you raise three girls on your own! You never let them go without and you never gave up! That is somehthing to be proud of.

So, even though this will be another though time for you and your loved ones, you will come out the other side healthier, happier and motivated to LIVE! Remember all those Grand Babies when you think of lighting up. They need thier Grandma around. How devistated would they be if another loved one so close to them passed...

I love you and if I can do anything to help let me know. You can also call anytime, day or night. Good Luck, I will pray for you!!!

 
At 1:17 PM, January 26, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The addiction to cigrettes is more powerful then the addiction to heroin. So why would a person smoke. Well I started cause it was a cool thing to do. I have smoked since I was 11 years old and I am now 48, yup a wopping 37 years. I will find the all the support I can to kick this.I have not made it to the point of saying I quit yet and I am only taking it one hour at a time. All of you all been a great help, thanks for cheering me on.
Love you all
Aunt Lori

 
At 9:56 PM, February 06, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Computer back up- so am reading again AND enjoying again. Yes, your mom was awesome ( I wonder if divinely empowered) in her quest to be free of this terrible entrapment for the betterment of her well-being. Grandma

 

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