Days Without a Cigarette: 81.56875
Days Without Nicotine: 24.56875
Dollars Saved: $345.81
Time Saved: 115 hours, 33 minutes
I can’t say for certain that I’ve gone a whole day at this point without thinking about cigarettes, because realizing you’ve gone the whole day without thinking about something forces you to think about that thing. So, by necessity, if I went a whole day without thinking about cigarettes, I wouldn’t have noticed it. I mean, I guess I could keep notes every time I thought about them and look back over the data to discover the note-less days, but to be honest, I’m not that concerned. Even without the proof in hand, I’m pretty confident that by now I’ve gone an entire day without thinking about smoking more than once.
If you’d told me in December that I’d reach that point before the end of February, I couldn’t have believed you. While I fully expected I’d eventually get there, I was thinking it would come on the scale of years, not weeks. I mean, ‘day eighty two’ seems impressive, but I’m still less than three months removed from my last cigarette. And while I can’t say for certain that I’ve gone whole days without thinking about smoking, I can definitely confirm that I’ve gone whole days without craving them.
And I should note that my doubt wasn’t entirely based on paranoia. While I’d never tried to quit smoking before, I had gone long periods without cigarettes a few times… depending on how generously you want to define “long periods”, that is. For a few years I did an annual fast that required giving up cigarettes for five days. I’ve taken multi day hiking trips without enough cigarettes to make me through. I’ve had oral surgeries that require not smoking for several days. And it was these prior experiences that I was building my expectations around – these periods of ceaseless and overwhelming misery. When I’d gone without cigarettes before, I thought about them constantly and craved one every fifteen minutes or so for days on end. It stood to reason that quitting for good would be similar.
In fact, that expectation is built into the advice people give smokers trying to quit. One of the most ubiquitous tips is to take it one day at a time, or even one hour at a time. I heard this over and over again as I approached my quit date: “Don’t think about next month or next year; don’t get overwhelmed with the thought of never having a cigarette again as long as you live. Just worry about getting through the next hour, and then worry about getting through the hour after that.”
And while I understand the utility of that advice, there’s also something to be said for doing the exact opposite. When I’d given up cigarettes for a few days or a few dozen miles, it was a constant source of misery because some part of my body knew that I was going to eventually get more nicotine. It was like looking at the clock at a bad job. Every minute ticked by so damn slow precisely because I knew that some number of minutes had to expire before I could have another smoke.
This time around, I got to remove that. So when my id started calling for a cigarette, I didn’t say “just make it through this one more hour”, I said, “tough shit, you’re never getting another one of those so get the fuck over it.” The very fact that the next minute or the next hour or the next day offers no reprieve makes this minute less exceptional. It removes one of the sources of frustration.
And, of course, all of this is just a round about way of addressing the decreasing frequency of this blog. It’s not something I’m going to apologize for or work to rectify. Part of thinking about cigarettes less often is thinking about this blog less often. I’m not retiring it or anything, as I’m sure I’ll have more to say on the subject going forward, but being an ex-smoker has already retreated to the back of my consciousness most days, and I’m perfectly happy to leave it there.