I Made It


(KATHERINE ELMORE) Becoming a nonsmoker reminds me of what its like to start a new job. You know what youre supposed to do, but you have no idea how to accomplish it. You spend the first few days just figuring out the coffeemaker and putting your mistakes in the shredder. You end the week wishing you could just go back to your old job, where people understood you.

Then things improve a little bit. You figure out the coffeepot, some kind soul shows you how to work the copy machine, and you find a good place for lunch. The praise from your boss helps, but you suspect the receptionist of trying to sabotage your work.

After 21 days, things change dramatically. Youve mastered the database and the receptionist has realized youre going to make it and moved on to weaker prey. Your first day seems like a million years ago.

So thats where I am now. The beginning sure was hard, but at least it feels like a lifetime ago. Im on the other side!

For me, there was a lot more to this than setting a quit date and buying some nicotine gum. Theres been a whole new set of skills to learn, then master. It took practice and some trial and error. Each little success built on what came before it, until it became my new way of living.

I learned how to fill up my gas tank without going into the store for a fix. I figured out how to end the day without a cigarette, and to drive for hours with no thought of smoking. And yes—I even made it through law school exams with flying colors.

One thing common to all quit-smoking programs is that you absolutely must reward yourself. I gave a lot of thought to my reward. Sure, cigarettes are expensive, but what with the high cost of living these days, I still had to think small. Yet I wanted something more lasting than a vacation or a party.

After much thought, I ultimately decided—boring though it may seem—that not smelling like an ashtray and being free of that awful need to have a cigarette nearby is more enjoyable than anything I could think to buy myself. Then theres the extra ten pounds I have as a lasting reminder of my accomplishments. I consider every inch of fat to be well and truly earned.

Its finally over and I dont regret a minute of it. If anything keeps me from going back to my old ways, its the certainty that I never want to go through this again.

This is Katherine's final post about quitting smoking.

Read Katherine's previous posts:
Quitting During Final Exams: My Hardest Test Yet (August 6, 2008)
The Elephant in the Room (July 30, 2008)
James Bond Tried to Hypnotize Me to Stop Smoking (July 23, 2008)
I Quit! (I Think) (July 16, 2008)
I'm Quitting Tomorrow (July 9, 2008)

Also read Libby's quitting blog