Yep. I said March 7th. What was I thinking? That’s two days away! I’m freaking out!
Alan Carr – the quit smoking guru – said that most smokers don’t quit out of fear. He claims it’s fear of stress, of coping, and of withdrawal pangs. For me, it’s fear of failure.
I’ve been smoking since the age of 14. Yes, you read right. 14. I went up to a pack a day by the time I was 18. That means I’ve been a pack-a-day smoker for the better part of 12 years. Basically, my entire adult life.
Now non-smokers won’t understand this – but cigarettes are a crutch for me. Let me explain:
For a teenager, I was doing very “adult” type stuff. I was a night club promoter, I worked on the community TV show, I managed my local Rocky Horror Picture Show cast. Now, that last one doesn’t sound like much, but Haifa is a small city in a small country – so setting up screenings, and getting money for props, make-up, etc. was a huge challenge.
The two adults I usually talked into giving us money and setting up screenings were both smokers. I was a scrawny 15 year old kid. The way I made myself feel more equal to them was by lighting up.
I know they didn’t care whether I smoked or not. Logically, they probably just saw me as a feisty teenager. But that cigarette in my hand made me feel like I could play in the big kids’ sandbox.
My reliance became even worse once I started to direct. The thing with directing is that once you’re on set – you don’t have a moment’s worth of peace. Everyone has questions, everyone wants and needs your input and opinion. It can be overwhelming at times. And sometimes you just NEED A MINUTE to get your head straight and your thoughts together. You can never (especially as a woman) say that you need a minute to figure things out. Your cast and crew would never trust you again. So – “I’m gonna grab a smoke and be right back.” is the perfect excuse.
Plus – the “film biz” is full of smokers. Especially in Israel. You’re surrounded by them. The temptation is always there.
Cigarettes are my crutch. They are my confidence prop. I know it’s bullshit and they’re poison. But feed your brain with a lie for long enough – eventually you start believing it.
In the 16 years that I’ve been a smoker, I’ve attempted quitting several times. Most of them have been in the past three years, since I met shmerson – who is a non-smoker.
- Attempt number one was at the age of 16, when i stupidly thought I was just a “casual” smoker. Six hours later I was sucking on a butt taken out of an ashtray, and knew I was in trouble. It took me several years to attempt to quit again.
- Attempt two was an utter disaster. It was at the age of 23 (yes! it took me that long to try again! stupid me!). I tried acupuncture. I was also going through a tough time because I had recently lost someone I loved in a suicide bombing. This attempt lasted exactly 24 hours.
- Three was actually my first success. It was four months into me and shmerson’s relationship, and I wanted a dog. And he said we could get one if I quit. And we had just moved in together. And he was a non smoker so I was hating myself for smoking. I decided to surprise him. I bought Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking, read it in one night, and the next day, I smoked my last cigarette. This time it lasted 10 whole months. The first three weeks were hell, and I had panic attacks more often (yeah – turns out the nicotine is also a way of me self-medicating), but I made it (I also gained 20 pounds). I finally failed when I started a new high pressure job, in an office where everybody smoked (including the boss). I was having a hard time fitting in, and at the end of my first month there I started panicking at a meeting with him and I felt the need to prove myself. The first thing I did was bum a smoke from him. One week later I was back to a pack a day. I was also promoted to his second-in-command shortly thereafter. Talk about a pavlovian response.
- This one happened a few months before the wedding. I had heard of this place which supposedly miraculously cures people of their addiction. I even heard some success stories. I shelled out a LOT of money, to have a guy put 2 crystals in my hands and do some weird shit with my aura or something. The I spent the next three days eating. I started to panic. I wanted to feel pretty on my wedding day. I didn’t want to gain weight and be a whale in a white curtain. Shmerson and I made a deal that I would quit smoking after the honeymoon.
- This one was right after my first BFP (right after the honeymoon). It was tough. I did the crystal thing again (they let you come back if you fail), and I had plastic cigarettes. it worked alright, but I felt like shit the whole time. Then I started bleeding, and got the blighted ovum diagnosis. The first thing I did – before breaking down and crying, before calling my mother – before anything – was buy a pack of cigarettes and light up.
- This was after my second BFP. I managed to cut down – but I was in so much denial at that point, and having nightly panic attacks, that I made a deal with myself to completely quit once I saw a heartbeat (studies do actually show that smoking leads to damage primarily starting in the second trimester – kind of like alcohol). I was down to two cigarettes a day when I started bleeding. Obviously, the heartbeat never came.
So that’s it – a total of 6 times in 16 years. Each one ending in miserable failure. And guilt. And self-hatred.
I’m praying to the giant spaghetti monster in the sky that I won’t fail this time. I’m hoping that I’ve set myself up for success as much as possible. I know that the cutting down method will never work for me (see try #6) so I have to go it cold turkey. This time I’m trying it with the patch – under advisement from my shrink.
So here are the ways I’ve set this up so far:
- I went to the pharmacy today. I bought the patch. I also bought folic acid and pregnancy tests. I needed to balance out the purchase with a reminder of what I’m doing this for.
- I will be keeping my fridge stocked with carrot sticks. This way, I have something to do with my hands and will hopefully not eat a lot of high fat foods.
- I bought a yoga mat for myself yesterday. My plan is that each time I want a smoke, I do 5 sun salutations instead.
- I will quit before bed. This means – technically, that it may be March 8th. But this way, I smoke my last cigarette, destroy what’s left of the pack, and start the next day smoke free. This worked during my last semi-successful quit attempt.
- I will change my morning routine. Instead of a cup of something caffeinated and a smoke, I will start the day with 5 sun salutations and tea.
- I will try to keep myself busy – but not with high stress situations. I will paint. I will most likely go to yoga every night. Yeah. I’m really counting on this yoga thing.
- I will not be afraid of panic attacks and I will remember that my new friend xanax will be there in case one sets in.
- While smoking my last cigarette, I will write a long, detailed post about the reasons why I need to quit, and how much I hate myself for smoking, and what a disgusting habit it is. I will go back and read it each time I feel the urge to smoke.
- I am sharing it with the world. Yes. I’m counting on you guys here. If I feel like a smoke, and nothing else works, I will blog about it, and I will need you guys to talk me down. Deal? Deal.
So – that’s it. 2 days, and probably something like three packs to go. Cross your fingers for me!