GIVING UP SMOKING: TWO MONTHS ON

Yes, yes, I’ve given up smoking. Well done me. I’m amazing.

No really, I am.

I really, really am.

Nearly two months ago I gave up smoking; an addiction I’ve been living with for coming on ten years (no, I’m not proud of that), and one that, if I’m honest, I never thought I’d kick.

I liked smoking. I liked being a smoker. I knew it was bad for me, everyone knew it was bad for me, but I didn’t care. I did the thing that all smokers do really well, which was live in denial – this cancer stuff? It won’t happen to me, not yet anyway.

I always said I’d give up by the time I was 25. Apparently if you give up by the time you’re 25 your body can completely heal itself of all the damage you did by smoking before then (no doubt I was told this by another denier). As 25 approached however, and I fell ever more in love with my cigarettes, I thought to myself, well I’ll stop before I’m 30. I’d like to have a baby around then, and I can’t smoke when I’m pregnant, so I’ll use that as the excuse… the ~perfect~ excuse.

As an IBS sufferer (I’ve written a lot about that, if ya fancy reading a poo related blog post), I have had to give a lot up in my life; gluten and dairy mess me up something rotten and I had to bid a sad farewell to those four years ago and have been assured, sadly, that I won’t get them back. Then, because life is cruel, about eighteen months ago my stomach got hella angry and I was forced to give up alcohol, caffeine and sugar all.in.one.go. (read about that shit heap of a time here).

I am no stranger to giving things up.

Although I now thankfully have sugar, alcohol and caffeine well and truly back in my life, I will never forget the misery that came with giving up everything I love (and I’ll never get over the loss that comes with knowing that I’ll never eat a Cadbury’s Creme Egg or a Greg’s sausage roll again) so if anyone ever had the audacity to question to my smoking I’d tell them I was never giving up anything again; smoking was my last vice.

It was a pretty good excuse. People couldn’t really fight with me on that. Particularly not as I became a manic wailing beast of a woman who turned on them as if they’d try to steal one of my arms every time they so much as brought up my bad habit.

So I deflected the comments, promised myself I’d give up one day and silently hated myself for spending nearly £12 every two days on an addiction that made me stink, anti-social and was probably killing me.

It’s a ridiculous thing to say, but although I didn’t like smoking, I loved being a smoker.

It always felt a bit naughty, a bit fun, just a thing. I felt grownup and a bit sexy, my two teen television idols Carrie Bradshaw and Bridget Jones both lived for their Malborough Lights and I liked being like them, even after I grew old enough and wise enough to know that Sarah Jessica Parker definitely does not smoke IRL and that smoking isn’t cool. It isn’t. It ISN’T. Is it??? It’s not… I still liked smoking.

So I smoked and I smoked and I smoked.

Back at the beginning of this year, one of my new year’s resolutions was that I wouldn’t smoke between 9-5 on week days. I thought that this would be the beginning of the end, I thought it would curb my addiction. I knew though, in my heart of hearts, that this was a pathetic attempt at ‘quitting’. This was not going to be the way that I stopped. This was just a thing I was doing to placate my mother and myself.

If I’m not a day time smoker then I’m hardly even a smoker right? Right…?

For the month of January I didn’t smoke during the day. I made up for it at night. It wasn’t working, not really, but it was easing my conscience.

A month and a bit later, on February 12th I got the news that my brother had been involved in an accident and that he was at the hospital. I got the call at 8.15am. By 9am I was sitting on the M40 chain-smoking, apologising to Alex for breaking the rules I had set myself, but conceding that if ever there were extenuating circumstances, these were them.

For the next 12 days I smoked as if my life depended on it. I was stressed and I was bored. (If ever there was a recipe for lung cancer, that was it.)

My brother, a smoker too, was told that because of his injuries, he would need to stop whilst his bones healed. (If ever there was a way to add insult to an injury, that was it.) So because I may well be the best sister in the world, I decided that when he came home I would stop smoking in solidarity (at least, that’s what I said to my mum, I fully intended to revert back to my smoking style of 2010 and do it craftily after everyone else had gone to bed).

The following Friday, the 23th of February, I sat up with a friend of my brothers and we drank a bottle (maybe two bottles, who’s counting?!) of wine and smoked all of her cigarettes and talked and talked. The next morning I woke up with a hangover, I don’t really like to smoke with a hangover anyway, and we didn’t have any in the house so I thought; okay, let’s just see if I can not smoke today.

My mum had optimistically bought me a vape a couple of days before (the Cool Fire if anyone is interested) and I started playing around with that instead. It seemed to be working. That evening I went to bed having done my first day since 2012 without a cigarette (other than one day in 2016 when I got struck down by tonsillitis).

I’ve done one day, I thought, I can do two. And so I did. And I kept on doing that and now it’s been lots of days and I just keep doing.

I didn’t tell anyone that I was quitting. That’s important I think. There was no song and dance about it.

I went out for dinner a few days after my FF (final fag) with my best mate, the girl I smoked professionally with and we sat in our favourite seats, outside our favourite restaurant and we drank two bottles  of wine (are you noticing a theme here?) and we cried about everything I’d been through and how shit her work was and we laughed and we ate and we drank more and she smoked, GOD, she smoked (did I ever smoke that much?!) and I could have had one, there was no one around, I could have done it, I wanted to do it… but I didn’t.

And still now I don’t know why I didn’t. I want to still be smoking. Every part of me wants still to be smoking.

Apart from the bit that has quit smoking. And the bit that has quit smoking is damn sure that I’ve quit smoking and has no interest in smoking anymore and will not, as much as I want to, as drunk as I get, quit on quitting.

It’s the weirdest thing.

At the end of March we went to Barbados on a holiday that we have done every year as a family since I was a wee babe (read about that here) and I knew this was going to be a tough place to be fag-free. One of my all time favourite activities is sitting on the beach with a Pina Colada and a fag. I dream of it, regularly. I don’t believe in heaven, but if I did, that would be mine.

Sand, sea, rum and fags. I’d have made a good pirate… Or millionaire.

People encouraged me to smoke, I was offered countless cigarettes, everyone around me was doing it and for the life of me, I don’t know why I didn’t. I’m not doing this for anyone, I don’t owe it to anyone, anyone who was let down (mum), would get over it, in time.

But it seems, subconsciously, I didn’t want to let myself down.

And so although I keep telling my friends who still have fags permanently wedged in-between their fingers that I haven’t really quit and that I’ll probably get pissed and have a couple any day now, I sort of don’t think I will.

I like to talk the talk, the ‘I haven’t quit, I’ve just stopped’, but in truth, I think I’m saying that to myself. I’m saying that to the numb the ache in my stomach that is the pain of losing my smoking addiction. Yes, I’m mourning it. I’m sad it’s gone.

I don’t miss stinking, I don’t miss the guilt that came with forcing one in because my body demanded it, I don’t miss having to pop outside as the only smoker, I don’t miss being irritable when I haven’t had one in a while, I don’t miss killing myself with the bloody things, I don’t miss constantly lying to myself about how bad my addiction was, I don’t miss the spots that I’d get on my chin or the yellowing of my finger nails. But I still really miss smoking.

Alas, I think I’m done with it now.

Who knows.

If I’ve learnt anything over the last two months, it’s not to question it. Your mind is a truly amazing thing. Stronger than you’ll ever know… or mine seems to be at any rate. Three cheers to my mind please, for whatever sorcery has gone on here.

I may well pick up a cigarette again soon. I hope I won’t, but I might.

Someone said to me years and years ago, as she was trying to persuade me stop (because a lot of people try to do that), that ‘you’re just not having this one’ and that’s something that came back to me, hard, when I decided to stop smoking.

I’m just not having this one. One cigarette at a time. One ‘no thank you’, one ‘not this time’, that’s all it is. And if I were to say yes one day? Well, I’ll just have to say no the next time I suppose.

I don’t want to say yes, I’m not saying that I want to say yes. But one day I might, and that’s probably fine. I don’t know, I’m in uncluttered territory.

In truth, I don’t know how it happened, I don’t know how I’ve done it, I’m just sort of doing it.

It didn’t happen because someone forced me to, it didn’t happen because I read a leaflet, it didn’t happen because I set a date and reached that date, it didn’t happen because the man I loved said he wouldn’t be with me if I didn’t quit (and then react by wastefully throwing them all down the loo – Carrie, here’s looking at you…), I didn’t do it for any other reason than that I did.

And that’s all I’ve got I’m afraid. I just quit smoking. I don’t know how or why, but it’s happened now. So yay for me.

Oh and also, it was easier to quit smoking than it was to quit caffeine. So if you smoke, but have given up caffeine, you’ll be fine.

(NB. I’m all but done with the vape as well, I still take it with me if I’m drinking or whatever but mostly I don’t use it anymore and I just crack on day to day with nuffinkkkk).

(The only pearls of wisdom I have, just in case you were thinking about giving it a bash:

  • no big declarations
  • don’t make a big song and dance about the last fag, just smoke as normal until you don’t anymore
  • get a vape, it really helped
  • try to use the word ‘stop’ not ‘quit’ – cos no one like a quitter
  • remember how much money you’re saving – put that in an account and buy yourself sommin’ real pretty.)

9 Comments

  1. Natasza
    April 10, 2018 / 8:39 pm

    I like your attitude towards not smoking and I like how real you are about. I’ve never even smoked and I still find you so relatable.

    • Emily Clarkson
      April 10, 2018 / 8:39 pm

      Thank you so much darling 😘😘😘

  2. Ana
    April 10, 2018 / 9:02 pm

    What helped me – and I don’t really know how it happened – I stopped almost overnight, was thinking of myself as a “non-smoker”, rather than an ex-smoker.

    congrats!! hope yr brother is getting better

  3. Carly Thelander
    April 10, 2018 / 10:39 pm

    I quit coffee in november and it still hurts in my heart everytime someone says something about coffee. My body got over it was faster them my soul…

    • Emily Clarkson
      April 10, 2018 / 11:13 pm

      Oh my god I so understand this!!!

  4. Paige
    April 11, 2018 / 6:09 am

    I had to quit sugar and caffeine and I can’t have gluten or dairy, so I know the feeeeeels! Amazing job. Definitely yay to you! Three cheers and a hurrah! Note: I would pay a lot to be able to eat a croissant again. 😭

  5. K Burnham
    April 11, 2018 / 1:50 pm

    I had quit smoking right before you did and unfortunately have started again. ☹ however I plan on buying a vape and stopping g again so I can be healthier for my daughters and husband!

  6. April 11, 2018 / 4:18 pm

    I love the bit at the end where you say “use the word STOP not QUIT – because nobody likes a quitter!” – that is such a good point…. Huge well done though – phenomenal effort !

  7. Bryce
    April 14, 2018 / 5:14 pm

    Hi Emily, this article is soo gorgeously written and I thoroughly enjoyed every sentence of it! I have some friends who are in a similar predicament to what you had and I’m definitely showing this to them. Everything about your writing hits the nail on the head, so real and relatable!😊😊☺️

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