Over time, it can be easy to lose sight of the reasons why you put out that last cigarette and made the decision to quit. After two months, you might forget how much you hated smoking, how it made you cough, and what shortness of breath you were struggling with. It’s also easy to feel sorry for yourself or to think about how miserable you are without cigarettes.
It happens to a lot of people, especially after the first few months, as we begin to romanticize the good old days of smoking. This is known as junkie thinking and is a potential danger that most ex-smokers face while recovering from nicotine addiction. Without a mindset, junkie thinking can easily lead to a relapse into smoking.
Brad’s story below is a great example of an abandoned junkie think-slide. Like so many others who tire of the recovery process that can be slow to unfold, Brad was in a crisis and began to feel sorry for himself. However, through a chance encounter, he found an attitude that put his priorities back in order.
Brad’s story: Two months after quitting
Today has been two days since I quit smoking. Yesterday I was thinking about what to include in my two month milestone post on the smokers forum I am a part of.
It wasn’t going to be an optimistic post. No, what I had planned was pretty much a shame party. A full inclination “God, I feel awful. I haven’t smoked in two months and I still feel like shit. Will this misery ever end?” Diatribe. Then I would sit back and wait for all of the comforting, reassuring replies that I knew the forum members would send me the way. A little pathetic, but it’s the truth.
Then happened last night.
The attitude-changing encounter
One of the things that I’ve picked up on since quitting is taking yoga classes. I go three to four nights a week. Last night was pretty full; I think a lot of people had a session before abusing their bodies on New Years Eve.
It wasn’t a very good session for me. My mind wandered on. I thought about the party we went to that night and wondered if anyone would have a cigarette there, if it would be the moment I would slip, etc.
At the end of the class, I noticed an attractive young woman (probably in her early 30s) whom I had never seen before. She spoke to the instructor and I heard her say that she was out of town and only visiting the family for a few days. We went out together and made small talk.
I asked her how she came to find out about the yoga studio. She said she hadn’t done yoga in a while so she looked online on a whim and found the place. She asked me how long I had been practicing. I told her I started again when I quit smoking. Then I said I had done it for almost two months and it was very difficult (that’s the poor wretched part of me again).
She looked at me and said, “Yes, I’ve heard from friends that quitting can be very difficult. Good for you that you quit.” Then she added, “You know, this is kind of an anniversary for me too.”
“Yes?” I said, “What anniversary is it?” She paused and looked me straight in the eye for a second. “I had a double lung transplant about 5 years ago.”
It was like someone hit me in the back with a sledgehammer and all the air had flowed out of my lungs. Did she really say “double lung transplant”? I just couldn’t understand. You read about such things, but to actually meet someone who’s been through it? It seemed impossible.
“Really,” I said, “a double lung transplant?” She smiled at me. “Yes. I have cystic fibrosis and I would have died without the transplant.”
I stammered and tried to think of something intelligent. She was very patient, I think she had been through this situation before. After a few minutes I had the courage to say, “What does the future look like?” She said that after five years she had an average of 25% chance of making it another year. “But that’s just an average. I’ve had very few rejection issues and I feel great.”
We talked for about 20 minutes. She leads a charitable animal rescue mission in Brooklyn. She is the director of a non-profit dance group. She has a full time job. She has a significant other. She lives her life.
I am not a religious person. I like to think that I have some level of spirituality, but there is no organized religion that I would belong to. When she said goodbye, however, I could only say, “God bless you, April, God bless you. I can never tell you how much it meant to me to have met you.” And I hugged her for a long time.
We make a choice
Like I said, I’m not a religious person, but I thought about her all day. It’s like this movie It is a wonderful life. Like an angel came down and patted my shoulder.
Almost all of us who quit do it for reasons choice. It’s tough, it’s miserable sometimes, but we have one choice Continue to harm ourselves or do whatever we can to conquer this terrible nicotine addiction.
April has no choice. She can only handle the hand that fate has given her.
Then I felt sorry for myself for quitting smoking, and someone who faced and faces mortality every day came and graced me with their presence. And did it with courage and class.
A word from Verywell
Very often, true freedom from something like addiction is a state of mind. Pay attention to the positive clues life gives you and work to change the meaning of smoking for you. Give yourself time to heal the habits you have developed related to nicotine addiction and you can find lasting freedom as surely as anyone else.