I started smoking cigarettes, and drinking alcohol in my late teens. I had a brief nine month break from both when pregnant, over ten years later. Honestly, quitting the booze without a second thought, was really easy, but quitting the fags was a real drama.
I had attempted to give up smoking hundreds of times previously, without success; once incentivised to protect the health of my baby though, I was able to do it! I still wanted to smoke, but was ‘on the smoking wagon’ for a very good reason. However, I started smoking again after the baby was born, when I realised that the incentive had gone. I didn’t care about my health, and I only smoked outdoors, so considered the baby to be protected from my passive smoke. I later, really, really, regretted going back, and spent another ten years unsuccessfully trying to quit smoking again. I wasn’t concerned about my drinking, which I considered to be ‘normal’.
I gave up smoking for good in 2010, I can’t remember the exact date, but it was during the summer when I watched my father, a huge character of our town, deteriorate with lung cancer. His old tag line was, “I could be run over by a bus tomorrow!”- he’d die of something, might as well be cigarettes, he didn’t care. I am very sad to say that he did care when his diagnosis was confirmed as untreatable and terminal. It was very difficult to witness his regret that he had ever smoked, and it finally made me understand that smoking was not a ‘lifestyle choice’; smoking cigarettes kills people! I wanted to live without fear of that diagnosis; the incentive. I had it, I quit smoking. I don’t miss smoking.
When I gave up smoking, I didn’t count the days, I didn’t read books, I didn’t go to meetings, I didn’t think about it – if I thought about smoking or not-smoking, I would want to smoke, so I ignored any thought about smoking, totally.
As soon, as I had the nicotine addiction out of my body (a hellish three days), I was free. I told everyone I had given up smoking, never accepted another fag if offered, doggedly ignored any cravings, and just didn’t ever smoke again. As soon as I had stopped, I was a non-smoker, immediately.
I gave alcohol up really easily when pregnant, maybe I did not have a ‘problem’ with it then. Maybe, since being a non-smoker, it has become more important, I don’t know. I woke up early this morning, and left everyone else in bed to come for a cup of tea. I realised that something in me has changed, with regard to drinking alcohol. The authors Allen Carr, and Jason Vale, suggest that if you can appreciate that a substance has no benefit, you will not miss it. I am giving up drinking alcohol for all of the reasons that I have discussed previously, but the most important thing is that I have the incentive to stop. Drinking alcohol, like smoking cigarettes, kills people, it’s not a lifestyle choice! I am looking forward to, and visualising myself as a healthy, and active septuagenarian.
I have given up drinking alcohol. I am tired of thinking about alcohol, and I am tired of thinking about not drinking alcohol. Like with the smoking, it is possible that thinking about not drinking, and writing about not drinking, is perpetuating the importance of drinking, and contributing to a continued dependence on it. What does counting the days of abstinence achieve? When will I consider this addiction as beaten, no-one is going to pronounce me ‘cured’, or present me with a trophy! I do not have an illness or a disease, I should not wait for an ‘all clear’. I think counting the days without alcohol, suggests that I am ‘on the drinking wagon’, but until when? I could be counting forever!
I don’t care how long I have been a non-smoker for, I just care that I am. Similarly then, I don’t care for how long I have given up drinking, I just care that I have.
I am a non-drinker. I am a non-smoker.
Luckily, there are no other addictions! (Yet! – just kidding hopefully.)