Romancing the Cigarette
There are many things that might be considered romantic in life. A picnic for two by the lake. Walking along the beach at sunset. A candlelit dinner. Smoking, however, should should not be one of them. And yet, it isn't uncommon for ex-smokers to find themselves reminiscing about the “good old days” of smoking.
- What would it be like to have just one puff again?
- I really loved smoking.
- Things were better when I smoked.
- I miss smoking.
- Smoking isn't really that bad.
- I can always quit again...tomorrow.
Recognize this self-talk for what it is: romancing the cigarette. Romancing the cigarette means that despite all the bad things there is to say about cigarettes (and despite all the reasons you decided to quit in the first place), you find reasons to go back to smoking. There is nothing romantic about smoking. In fact the opposite is true. Smoking should be considered bad romance! Cigarettes will lie to you. Just one won’t hurt. Cigarettes will control you. When is it time for the next smoke break? Cigarettes will lead you to put it above your own comfort and welfare. Time to stand out in the rain/cold for my nicotine fix. And cigarettes will make you do things you normally would not do. I think I will buy the carton of cigarettes over milk and groceries.
Romantic notions of smoking are false. Tobacco addiction leads you to believe that all those fond memories--smoking on camping trips, late night chats with friends, mingling at parties, etc.--were due to that cigarette, but they weren't. If you went back through all of your happy memories, you would find that the true joy came from the people you spent time with, the activities you were doing, and the places you were visiting. Cigarettes only served one purpose during these times: to perpetuate the addiction. You may have associated your good times with smoking, but smoking was never the source of your enjoyment.
Re-learning how to enjoy life without cigarettes might be hard to imagine, or even scary at first. You probabably spent several years smoking; becoming an ex-smoker won't happen overnight. And whether you realize it or not, smoking was integrated into every part of your life (from first thing in the morning when you get up to the last thing you do before going to bed) and was used as a coping strategy for anger, sadness, stress, boredom, anxiety and other emotions. Undoing the relationship with cigarettes in your life will take some time and practice. It can be done!
Start with re-visiting your reasons for quitting. If they aren't "compelling" enough, go back and make them more specific and personal to you. So for example, if one of your reasons for quitting smoking was for improved health, a better reason to quit smoking might be to train and run your first 5K. Or to be able to climb a flight of stairs without getting short of breath. Or to have energy to be able to play with your children/grandchildren. Bolster those reasons for quitting by letting others in the community know you are re-committing to your quit!!!
Move away from romancing the cigarettes, by making new memories; ones without cigarettes! Take it one moment at a time. Like any bad relationship, it is normal to wonder, “What if….” Catch yourself when your thoughts go down that road. Quitting is like getting out of a bad relationship. You’ve ended the abuse on your body and your mind. Acknowledge there may have been some things you got out of that relationship with smoking. But that was then; this is now. Move forward with your life, smoke-free.
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist