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Mar 6 09 3:21 AM
Mar 6 09 1:21 PM
Mar 6 09 2:12 PM
Mar 8 09 8:16 PM
About 20 years ago, I made it to the top of the longest, hardest mountain I had ever
tried to climb. I had quit smoking. I was in my 20s. I had smoked off and on during junior high school (starting at
around age 13) and got to be a much more regular smoker by the time high school rolled around. In college, though, I
put them away and believed with all my heart that I would never look back.
For nearly seven years, I didn't. It was a
tough quit, like they all are. I stopped and started once then stopped again. My whole family smoked then, and dealing with the constant smell of it and the
always-available supply of smokes was quite a challenge. I had constant triggers to deal with and remember how relieved I felt when I was able to finally move
out on my own and make my own, smoke-free environment. I bought my first car during college and remember feeling how great it was to be in a car that no one
would ever smoke in.
I was lucky to find a great job right after college, and I packed up my new car and moved
to a new city to start my life on my own. My first apartment was clean and fresh like my car-a non-smoker lived there.
Time went by peacefully and I lived my life like people do. I learned all the things you learn when you're out on your own, I made some mistakes, I had
some stresses and some really great times and I did it all without nicotine.
I was really comfortable and happy. So much time had gone by since I'd quit smoking
and lived with smokers, I never even thought about smoking anymore. There was a guy at work who smoked, and all I ever
thought about him was how bad he smelled. Early in my quit, I used to think all the time about how much I loved being a non-smoker. But years later, it just
never crossed my mind. It was just that far gone from my thinking.
If you'd have asked me about it then, I'd have told you that I had that nasty
little thing beat. It was over, and that's why I never thought about it. Smoking was just a thing of the past, a habit I'd kicked; just like when I
stopped biting my fingernails.
If you'd have asked me "Would you start again?" I would have laughed at you
and said, "Of course not! No more than I'd start chewing on my fingers again."
"I'm an adult now," I would have said, "and I call the shots in my life. I like long fingernails, so that's what I have. I don't
like the way cigarettes smell, so I don't smoke them. Simple!"
Ah, me. What I didn't know then.
Nearly seven years into my totally numb complacency about smoking, I met a new friend.
You've probably all met new friends with whom you have an instant bond-people you know you're going to know for the rest of your life. This was one of
those people. And she smoked.
I didn't think much about that, frankly. I'd been around smokers before-as I
said, my whole family smoked. She lit up one evening when a bunch of us were out having some fun, and I picked one up
and light it, too.
What did it matter? No matter at all. I had quit. I wasn't a smoker. I could have
one, no big deal. "It's been nearly seven years," I would have told myself had any alarm bells gone off in my addled brain at that moment.
"It's not like I'm starting again. It's just one." I thought I could be a "social
I wish so much I had never done that.
I do not know why I decided to smoke at that moment after seven years of not smoking, but
I can tell you what it did to me.
It made me start smoking all over again, and it made a much more regular smoker out of
me. Whereas I'd smoked far less frequently in high school, I was a serious smoker after a few weeks of "social smoking." I got back all the
things I had been so happy to leave: I smelled horrible; my car and house smelled horrible; my chest hurt (at the age of 27); I wheezed; I was nervous and
anxious; I was chained to the pack all the time, unable to spend any comfortable time at all in non-smoking situations. I had to listen to my husband (who had
only known me as a non-smoker up to that point) complain about it all the time. You know what it's like.
I had climbed that mountain, reached the summit, breathed the beautiful air up there,
lived there for nearly seven years; and then one day, I just flung myself off of it all the way back down to the very bottom of the dark valley
In the years that followed, I climbed up the mountain again, but I always took the wrong
path. I used NTR so many times I can't remember. I quit for a few weeks several times, I quit for six months, or nine months; once, I even quit again for a
whole year. But each time, I jumped back down off that mountain top.
I suppose no one will ever really know why I chose to do that over and over again, but I
do know something now that I was not aware of back then. And I believe this thing I know now-this thing I learned at
whyquit.com and here at Freedom-is going to make all the difference in my quit this time: I know that I am an addict,
and addicts can't "smoke just one" or "slip" or "have a little relapse." Addicts
can't become complacent; addicts must remain vigilant.
I believe that if I had known at the age of 27 that I was an addict and known everything
that means, I would have known better.
I thank God I know that now, and I pray that quitting at age 46 was not too late for
I am not yet at the point where I am totally confident in my quit-I don't know when
or if I'll ever really feel that way given my past-but I do know that if I get to seven years again, I'll have something I never had before: the
education I've gotten here. And that will make me stronger.
I'm working every day to keep a tight hold on my quit.
I have been free for 1 Month, 1 Week, 4 Days, 22 hours and 39 minutes (39 days). I have saved $106.33 by not smoking 599 cigarettes. I have saved 4 Days, 13
hours and 49 minutes of my life. My Quit Date: 1/27/2009 9:30 PM
Mar 8 09 9:03 PM
Mar 9 09 12:55 PM
Mar 9 09 2:16 PM
Mar 9 09 2:46 PM
Your words are an inspiration to us all.
You are not alone in climbing this mountain...myself and thousands of others are, like you, climbing it one day at a time.
I was a hardcore addict to alcohol and drugs, yet in the last 6 years I have never even had the thought of taking those up again (I had hit my
I pray it will someday be the same with nicotine...the most devious and addictive substance on earth.
You remind us of how easy it is to forget our quit...stay alert = stay alive!! NTAP
Mar 14 09 11:24 PM
It's been a while! We used to write to one another all the time, remember? I hope you're well, that you've had time to
catch up on your reading and that the fly-fishing has been good! Do you ever get to see our old neighbors? If so, tell them I think of them often and always with love.
I'm doing really well. I feel that you know that.
I'm sorry I haven't written in the last five years. It's hard for me, as I'm sure you know. I just can't do it without getting
But I wanted to tell you something big. I've quit smoking! It'll be seven weeks on Tuesday.
And it'll be five years tomorrow since we said good bye forever. I miss you so much. I wanted to tell you, here in front of all
these people (some of the nicest people I've never met!), how much I wish you'd had an easy time of it leaving this world.
You didn't. You had lung cancer, and you really suffered at the end. I think you smoked for probably
50 years---starting when you were really young, in the late 1930s maybe, or the 40s when you served in WW II. You quit
in the mid 90s, but by then you were already sick with emphysema.
The end was so hard on you. You couldn't get your breath, and you had so much pain when the cancer spread into your bones and
brain-it nearly killed me to watch you go through that. You were such a kind and generous soul; a sweet, thoughtful, intelligent man who lived his life with
honor and dignity.
But addiction doesn't know about any of that. Addiction doesn't care about it, either.
You would tell me right about now not to write about addiction in that way---not to personify it---because you knew, when you finally
quit, that it was within your power to control. Just as it was your decision to smoke in the first place and keep smoking, it was completely possible to quit
if you put your mind to it. You told me that all the time. "You can do it, if you put your mind to it."
You also told me much earlier on that nicotine was addictive and not to ever start. Obviously, I didn't learn that
But the front-row seat I had to those horrific, painful last weeks of your life taught me that smoking can kill you in the worst of all
possible ways no matter how kind and wonderful you are. You were so kind and wonderful, Dad, and I'm so sorry you
suffered. In life, you were a great teacher, and I thank you for everything you ever gave me. At the end of your life, you were still teaching, whether you
knew it or not. I'm sorry I didn't fully grasp the last lesson until just seven weeks ago, but I think I finally understand it now---I am addicted, and
that means never take another puff.
Remembering you is a wonderful thing, Dad. I still cry for missing you, but don't think I'm sad all the time. I'm not! One
of your other famous quotes: "Be Happy!" and so I am. I am so blessed to have had you as my father, and
I've always loved talking about you and your amazing life. But I'm finding value for the first time in talking
about your death. It's difficult to do... but in it is a lesson I don't want to forget. I'll be thinking of it tomorrow, and celebrating another
day of Freedom as I remember also what a wonderful life you had. Kiss Mom for me.
All my love,
Mar 15 09 10:45 AM
Joel's Reinforcement Library
I Can't Quit or I Won't Quit
"I don't want to be called on during this clinic. I am quitting smoking, but I don't want to talk about it. Please don't call on
me." This request was made by a lady enrolling in one of my clinics over 20 years ago. I said sure. I won't make you talk, but if you feel you would
like to interject at anytime, please don't hesitate to. At that she got mad and said, "Maybe I am not making myself clear-I don't want to talk!
If you make me talk I will get up and walk out of this room. If you look at me with an inquisitive look on your face, I am leaving! Am I making myself
clear?" I was a little shocked by the strength of her statement but I told her I would honor her request. I hoped that during the program she would
change her mind and would share her experiences with the group and me but in all honesty, I wasn't counting on it.
There were about 20 other participants in the program. Overall, it was a good group with the exception of two women who sat in back of the room
and gabbed constantly. Other participants would turn around and tell the two to be quiet. They would stop talking for a few seconds and then start right up
again with just as much enthusiasm as before. Sometimes, when other people were sharing sad, personal experiences, they would be laughing at some humorous
story they had shared with each other, totally ignorant of the surrounding happenings.
On the third day of the clinic, a major breakthrough occurred. The two gossips were partying away as usual. There was one young woman, probably
early twenties who asked if she could talk first because she had to leave. The two gossips in back still were not listening and kept up with their private
conversation. The young woman who had to leave said, "I can't stay, I had a horrible tragedy in my family today, my brother was killed in an
accident." Fighting back emotions she continued. "I wasn't even supposed to come tonight, I am supposed to be helping my family making funeral
arrangements. But I knew I had to stop by if I was going to continue to not smoke." She had only been off two days now. But not smoking was important to
her. The group felt terrible, but were so proud of her, it made what happened in their day seem so trivial. All except the two ladies in the back of the
room. They actually heard none of what was happening. When they young woman was telling how close she and her brother were, the two gossips actually broke
out laughing. They weren't laughing at the story, they were laughing at something totally different not even aware of what was being discussed in the
room. Anyway, the young woman who lost her brother shortly after that excused herself to go back to her family. She said she would keep in touch and thanked
the group for all of their support.
A few minutes later I was then relating some story to the group, when all of a sudden the lady who requested anonymity arose and spoke.
"Excuse me Joel," she said loudly, interrupting me in the middle of the story. "I wasn't going to say anything this whole program. The
first day I told Joel not to call on me. I told him I would walk out if I had to talk. I told him I would leave if he tried to make me talk. I didn't
want to burden anyone else with my problems. But today I feel I cannot keep quiet any longer. I must tell my story." The room was quiet.
"I have terminal lung cancer. I am going to die within two months. I am here to quit smoking. I want to make it clear that I am not kidding
myself into thinking that if I quit I will save my life. It is too late for me. I am going to die and there is not a damn thing I can do about it. But I am
going to quit smoking."
"You may wonder why I am quitting if I am going to die anyway. Well, I have my reasons. When my children were small, they always pestered me
about my smoking. I told them over and over to leave me alone, that I wanted to stop but couldn't. I said it so often they stopped begging. But now my
children are in their twenties and thirties, and two of them smoke. When I found out about my cancer, I begged them to stop. They replied to me, with pained
expressions on their faces, that they want to stop but they can't. I know where they learned that, and I am mad at myself for it. So I am stopping to
show them I was wrong. It wasn't that I couldn't stop smoking- it was that I wouldn't! I am off two days now, and I know I will not have another
cigarette. I don't know if this will make anybody stop, but I had to prove to my children and to myself that I could quit smoking. And if I could quit,
they could quit, anybody could quit."
"I enrolled in the clinic to pick up any tips that would make quitting a little easier and because I was real curious about how people who
really were taught the dangers of smoking would react. If I knew then what I know now- well, anyway, I have sat and listened to all of you closely. I feel
for each and every one of you and I pray you all make it." Even though I haven't said a word to anyone, I feel close to all of you. Your sharing has
helped me. As I said, I wasn't going to talk. But today I have to. Let me tell you why." Then she turned to the two ladies in the back of the room,
who actually had stayed quiet during this interlude. Suddenly she flared up, "The only reason I am speaking up now is because you two BITCHES are
driving me crazy. You are partying in the back while everyone else is sharing with each other, trying to help save each other's lives. She then related
what the young woman had said about her brother's death and how they were laughing at the time, totally unaware of the story. "Will you both do me a
favor, just get the hell out of here! Go out and smoke, drop dead for all we care, you are learning and contributing nothing here." They sat there
stunned. I had to calm the group down a little, actually quite bit, the atmosphere was quite charged with all that had happened. I kept the two ladies there,
and needless to say, that was the last of the gabbing from the back of the room for the entire two-week clinic.
All the people who were there that night were successful at the end of the program. At graduation, the two ladies who had earlier talked only to
each other were applauded by all, even the lady with lung cancer. All was forgiven. The girl who lost her brother also came for the graduation, also smoke
free and proud. And the lady with lung cancer proudly accepted her diploma and introduced one of her children. He had stopped smoking for over a week at that
time. Actually, when the lady with cancer was sharing her story with us, she had not told her family yet that she had even quit smoking. It was a few days
later, when she was off a week that she told her son. He, totally amazed said to her that if she could quit smoking, he knew he could and stopped at that
moment. She beamed with joy. Six weeks later she succumbed to the cancer. I found out when I called her home just to see how she was doing and got her son on
the line. He thanked me for helping her quit at the end. He told me how proud she was that she had quit and how proud he was of her, and how happy she was
that he had quit also. He said she never went back to smoking, and I will not either." In the end, they had both given each other a wonderful gift. He
was proud her last breath was smoke free- she NEVER TOOK ANOTHER PUFF!
Epilog: I normally say you can't quit for someone else, it has to be for yourself. This incident flies in the face of this comment to some
degree. The lady with lung cancer was quitting smoking to save her children from her fate, to some degree undo the lesson that she had taught years earlier.
The lesson that she "could not stop." It was that at the time she "would not stop." There is a big difference between these two
statements. It holds true for all smokers. The lady in this story proved years later she could quit-too late to save her life, but not to late to save her
sons. Next time you hear yourself or someone else say, I cannot stop, understand it is not true. You can quit. Anyone can quit. The trick is not waiting
until it is too late.
Mar 15 09 11:26 AM
Mar 15 09 1:51 PM
Sorry you had to watch your dad go thru such a horrendous death. I can't imagine how painful that must have been....
I also want to congratulate you on your great decicion to quit smoking. 7 weeks is awesome! Keep up the NTAP - You know it is the only way ;) Great going
and belated congrats on GREEN!
11 mos tomorrow
Mar 16 09 8:33 PM
Mar 16 09 8:59 PM
Mar 19 09 7:36 PM
I had to go to the drug store on the way home from the office this evening because I needed three little things. It was one of those
12 hour days--you know the ones--and I'm in the drug store, standing there, holding two of the three things and absolutely unable to remember what the
third thing was.
I stood there, frozen to the floor, as I went through a mental list: Milk? No. Shampoo? No. Birthday card? Uh-uh.
What the heck is it? And guess what popped into my head: Yep, I'm sure you've guessed it....
Cigarettes? I thought.
No! I got to say back to myself, without any hesitation.
And how wonderful it was that when the thought came to me, a crave did NOT. And how
futher wonderful it was that smokes didn't make my mental list until about 15 other ridiculous things had
already crossed my mind (bird seed?).
I remembered with some amusement that the drug store I was in is the place where I nearly always paid for my fix--still, even when I was totally stumped for
item number three, smokes did NOT enter my mind for a long, long time, and the thought, when it did come, did NOT make me crave.
I take a nice, deep breath and smile as I remember
this. Seven weeks ago, I would never have believed it possible. It's a blissful thing--this Freedom. I feel as if tonight, I got my first real glimpse of
what it will be like every day of my future. It feels great!
Thank you Freedom & Quit Friends. If this is what it will be like,
you were all--every one of you--right.
(Oh, and the third thing was gum! Something I don't run out of nearly as often as I did when I was using it alllllll day to
try to cover my smoke-breath)
Free and Healing (with lovely, fresh breath) for One Month, Twenty Two Days, 21 Hours and 26 Minutes, while extending my life expectancy 2 Days and 15 Hours,
by avoiding the use of 763 nicotine delivery devices that would have cost me $135.79.
Mar 20 09 12:53 PM
Free for 1 month, 5 days, 2 hours and 33 minutes
Mar 25 09 9:11 AM
Mar 25 09 10:46 AM
Mar 25 09 11:01 AM
Mar 25 09 3:51 PM
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