Not Much of a Smoker

Not Much of a Smoker

kattatonic1 gold4
kattatonic1 gold4

February 29th, 2004, 10:49 am #1

Not Much of a Smoker
The fog lifts as the day breaks here in Quitsville. I see some things clearly for the first time. Worse than the Holier Than Thou Ex-Smoker, for years I was "Not Much of a Smoker". Please forgive me and my big, fat ego.

I smoked a lot in the late 70s and 80s. Around 1988 they implemented laws against smoking in the workplace here. That cut into my smoking time somewhat.

In 1988 I also took a Behaviour Modification psychology course. I did my personal term project on 'Nicotine Fading'. The professor advised me against quitting as a project because he wanted me to study something that had a "better chance of success". I spent four months systematically alternating between my brand of cigarettes and brands with less nicotine and tar until I was down to the Canadian brand with the least of both. I also 'faded' down from about a pack a day to about 10. I documented it beautifully, wrote a tremendous paper and got an A.

Afterward whenever I wanted to quit, I would marvel to my doctor, "How can it be so hard for me to quit? I barely smoke compared to most people I know!" She would say, "Someone who uses 5mg of heroine a day is just as much an addict as someone who uses 200mg a day."

I enjoyed every cigarette all these years, or so I thought. I didn't understand the chain smoker except for the nights I played cards and smoked like crazy. Then I would wake with such a headache the next day, and I thought I understood them less. Those heavy smokers never seemed to enjoy their cigarettes like I did; they lit one after another unconsciously. Almost all of mine were an event. I did not know that I was psychologically reinforcing smoking behaviour with every single 'event' as well as maintaining the physical addiction.

Since I waited between each smoke, I was allowing my craving for the physical fix to build up and build up. The enjoyment I thought I felt was relief to the torture I was putting myself through, being in almost constant withdrawal. I was in fact reinforcing the addiction by making each cigarette special. For the addict, it is as fabulous a relief to smoke after waiting a few hours, as it is to finally stop after you have been banging your head against a brick wall for a while.

I am embarrassed to confess but I will. I really enjoyed my unspoken status amongst smokers as the one who was Not Much of a Smoker. My smoking friends knew I could hang on longer than they could. I think some secretly had contempt for me and my high horse, suspecting (rightfully) that I had a little contempt for their hard core addictions.

Funny things happened. One - the last few years I have increasingly become a binge smoker. Although maintaining my regular pattern most days, I started smoking more and more in the evenings. I've suffered great insomnia from time to time with longer bouts the last few years. I would smoke and smoke in the night. I wasn't enjoying them all so much any more. I have had cyclic energy problems for some time and when my energy was low, I would smoke and smoke. What was causing what here?

Secondly - it seems that all around me most of the hard core smokers I knew have managed to quit the last few years with me having at least as hard a time, if not harder. You would have thought that I, here on my high horse, would have had it easy, would have been one of the first to quit. I am one of or the last to quit in each of my social circles.

And lastly - I have not escaped the physical deterioriation being Not Much of a Smoker. I have weakened my lungs and reduced their capacity by smoking. I have coughed and hacked every day for years like a sick person. I should be in top form at just 41, not wheezing up a single flight of stairs, not wondering if I have developed Bronchitis each winter. I am fatter than I should be because as my lungs have gotten weaker, I have walked less and done less other exercise because it is so uncomfortable.

Yes, the fog is lifting as the day breaks here in Quitsville. I've retired my high horse to pasture. I am humbled and grateful to finally understand what has happened and what I have been doing to myself all these years. And once again I ask of myself, forgive me and my big, fat ego. I am an addict. I am in recovery. And now I understand.

Thank you Freedom for giving me a place to work it out.

~ Kay ~
Celebrating 2 Months, 6 Days, 16 Hours and 12 Minutes of Freedom.
Forsaking 1354 doses of poison has liberated $434.33 and 4 Days and 16 Hours of my life.

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CandidCandiSilver
CandidCandiSilver

February 29th, 2004, 2:29 pm #2

Beautiful post, Kay! I'm glad you've found a place to "work it all out". Aren't these moments of clarity just the best??!! To see who we really were is a little scary at times, but we are now in recovery and doing something about it.

I'm so proud to be on this journey with you ~ hope you'll be one of those oldbies who hangs around quite a bit as I intend to hang around, too!!

God Bless,

Candi
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smurfetteirl
smurfetteirl

February 29th, 2004, 11:27 pm #3

what a post kay,
i think we've all been like that at some stage, you think your so cool ,you think your in controll
but eventually we are all lead to the same path of distruction , trying to say we see sence and comfort in killing ourselves slowly.
i thank god that we've all had this lightbulb moment to change our lives for the better and realise how strong we all are against this addiction.
your doing great
lynda.
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John (Gold)
John (Gold)

February 29th, 2004, 11:46 pm #4

Thanks Kay for the insightful post! Such an honest glance into a junkie mind with varying nicotine use patterns and different dependency perceptions, wowsers Kay!

Not only does tolerance vary greatly from addict to addict but so too does the manner of replenishment. The average cigarette is loaded with roughly 9 to 10 mg. of nicotine but the average smoker only receives about 1 mg. unless of course their level of tolerance demands more and then they have the option of sucking deeper or sucking longer or sucking harder or sucking more often or holding the smoke for a longer period of time or all of the above.

But even more interesting than the details of replenishment are the denial rationalizations, minimizations and blame transference employed by each of us to try and explain our own senseless self-destruction and our bond to a molecule that for some strange reasons seems to have become more important than life itself. To pretend control in order to elevate the perception of peer status, amazing. It's almost like who can hold their breath longer. In the end we all must breathe. Thanks again Kay.

Breathe deep, hug hard, live long! John
Last edited by John (Gold) on July 9th, 2009, 3:28 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Golddabler1
Golddabler1

March 1st, 2004, 12:13 am #5

Hi kay
What an excellent pot,i was that not much of a smoker in the eyes of other addicts because after all i only smoked on social occassions or so they thought,little did they know about all of my closet smoking sessions and my several quits only to raid the trash for a butt.
Rickdabler 11 months 3 weeks 12 hrs happily nicotine free
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Toast (GOLD )
Toast (GOLD )

March 1st, 2004, 12:50 am #6

Hiya Kay,
What a great post! Isn't it wonderful to get down into ourselves and see some things clearly, sometimes for the first time?!! Your post reminded me, indirectly, of a couple of tangential threads I thought would go nicely here:
Was I addicted?
Walking Among the Addicted
Cheers to you and your quit!
Melissa
33 months
Last edited by Toast (GOLD ) on September 12th, 2009, 11:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Tucker1949(Gold)
Tucker1949(Gold)

March 1st, 2004, 12:50 am #7

Hello Kay,

This is a fantastic post. You have described me to a point it is frightening. I could never have written it out as well. I only smoked a "few" a day too but was so baffled by why it was so hard for me to quit. So were others around me when I told them I was struggling to quit smoking because no one even knew I smoked or very few did..

I too am so grateful to the folks at Freedom for being here. The support and knowledge I needed to keep my quit is here and all I had to do is apply it to me.

Kay you are off to a great start. Soon you will be feeling the comfort I feel after 3+ years being smoke free. I still love Freedom and hope it never goes off line. It is posts like yours that keep me coming back. There is always something to learn. Thank you!! Chris
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GrumpyOMrsS (Gold)
GrumpyOMrsS (Gold)

March 1st, 2004, 1:19 am #8

Afterward whenever I wanted to quit, I would marvel to my doctor, "How can it be so hard for me to quit? I barely smoke compared to most people I know!" She would say, "Someone who uses 5mg of heroine a day is just as much an addict as someone who uses 200mg a day."

Hi Kay,

You are very fortunate to have a doctor who truly understands addiction.

I loved your post, your insight, and your style of writing. Keep up the great job and like all of us golden oldies have come to realize, you will find that your life without nicotine will become so much more "uncomplicated" and you will feel a lot better about yourself.
Linda
4 years free
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tyger92000gold
tyger92000gold

March 1st, 2004, 6:02 am #9

Beautiful post, Kay -- and absolutely dead-on. You totally understand the "myth" of smoking and there is no question that you are now and forever free.

What a great inspiration for all of us.

joe
Ten months, three weeks, one day, 19 hours, 4 minutes and 44 seconds. 6575 cigarettes not smoked, saving $1,232.98. Life saved: 3 weeks, 1 day, 19 hours, 55 minutes.
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kattatonic1 gold4
kattatonic1 gold4

March 1st, 2004, 11:36 am #10

Thanks folks. I started writing about that psychology assignment last night and that post is what came out. I think to move on, it is best to look at all the ugly mind games, even if it feels bad. I was thinking this morning, I guess I always had to think of myself that way (as not much of a smoker) to make myself feel better about the senseless self-destructiveness of smoking at all, all these years. I am so glad to be Free. Thanks again for all the support!

~ Kay ~
Celebrating 2 Months, 7 Days, 17 Hours and 5 Minutes of Freedom.
Forsaking 1374 doses of poison has liberated $441.00 and 4 Days and 18 Hours of my life.
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Michelle72482
Michelle72482

March 1st, 2004, 12:54 pm #11

Hi Kay~ What a great post. It sure seems to have been written with a lot of wisdom. It makes so much sense and I thank you for sharing it with us. Take care.
Michelle
free and healing for 5 months.
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FillyJilly
FillyJilly

October 27th, 2004, 12:48 am #12

Wow, what an inspiring post!! Thank you, Kay!!
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Forsythia222
Forsythia222

October 27th, 2004, 4:19 am #13

Kay,
What a great post! You must have been reading my mind. I was just at a party this past weekend with people I haven't seen in awhile and didn't know I quit. The one woman ask me if I wanted to go outside for a smoke....how tempting~! I told her I quit and she said well I don't smoke much anyway...only a half pack a day (like me)
That almost made me justify going out to smoke.....but I held strong. Thanks for your post.....it reminds me that an addict is an addict.
Cynthia
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Ann
Ann

October 27th, 2004, 5:03 am #14

Nice voice, style, and organization, Kay! What really counts, though, is the level of thought in your post--very insightful. Your post is also challenging in an extremely positive way, and I want to thank you for making something clear to me. Like you, I "didn't smoke much" during the day. In fact, I smoked perhaps two cigarettes in the morning, one during the work day, three on the way home--and ten to fifteen at night. I honestly thought that I was really ENJOYING my during-the-day cigarettes and it never occurred to me that I was not enjoying the drug but rather putting an "end to the torture." Also, like you, I was (and still am, to be frank) amazed at the length and severity of the withdrawal symptoms I've experienced. For a "light smoker" I have had a pretty severe post-cessation cough, have experienced insomnia, have had a tough "Glory Week"--it's hard for me to face the addiction.

So in sum, thank you and bless you.

Ann (45 days)
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Alivein05ajw
Alivein05ajw

January 27th, 2005, 10:23 pm #15

Kay,

For my morning reading I found your post. Wow, If this post didn't feel like a look in the mirror, I don't know what ever would. I have sat in this holier-than-thou "Not much of a smoker" seat for many years and recently have had people reinforce this to me by saying things like "I didn't even know you smoked." or "You didn't smoke much did you." The fact is I did smoke plenty. I suffered through my work day not smoking, waiting to get into the car to smoke on the way home. Interestingly, that smoke never was too good, but the nicotine fix was needed. My evenings were totally designed around smoking, the weekends were usually binge time. Blah, Blah, Blah. I am an addict! not "not much of a smoker." Thank you for your wonderful post. I am so grateful and humble to finally be free and apologize for my arrogance.

NTAP,

Annette
23 days 1 hour 45 minutes free
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Evolvingkaren1 GOLD
Evolvingkaren1 GOLD

January 28th, 2005, 9:25 am #16

Kay, I read your posts in support for others regularly but today, with this post coming to the top, I now feel like I know you. What a wonderful post to read and help us all guard against complacency. Ahh, faded love...
Karen Pushing 5 months after 39 years
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tepake
tepake

January 28th, 2005, 9:49 am #17

Kate,

I think this post is destined to become one of the 'Classics' at Freedom; referred to and linked up again and again and again.

It is thoughtful, insightful, well organized, straightforward and no-nonsense. It also hits home, because I smoked less than a pack a day, making me "not much of smoker." The irony is that in most of the circles I frequented, family, friends and work, I was the ONLY smoker. If ever anyone needed a match, I was the first person they'd go looking for!! So although I was 'not much of a smoker' in my mind, to almost everyone else I know I might as well have been "the smokiest smoker in the world."

As a corollary to this item, I'm inspired to write "That one didn't count", about the cigarettes that didn't count because they weren't finished, weren't inhaled deeply enough or came before or after an exercise session.


Terry (the California one)
right with you at 69 days quit. (2 Months, 1 Week, 1 Day, 22 hours and 41 minutes, 1,049 cigarettes, $262.29 since 11/18/2004.)
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Rickrob53 Gold
Rickrob53 Gold

March 24th, 2005, 1:56 am #18

...saw a post today that reminded me of this thread.
Just look at Kay now! For "not much of a smoker" back in her other days, she's one heck of a GOLDen Oldbie these days!
Last edited by Rickrob53 Gold on September 12th, 2009, 12:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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JoeJFree Gold
JoeJFree Gold

March 24th, 2005, 3:24 am #19

Kay,
I remember reading this once before. Your message undoubtedly strikes a chord for each and every one of us. Your essay has a new and special meaning for me now. Here's why.
I recently got together with a cousin for the first time in about 8 years. Like you she is smart, strong, and very intelligent. We've known each other since we were children. We correspond regularly but distance and living our own hectic lives has kept us apart. Anyway, suffice to say that your insightful observations and admissions have provided me with hopefully the right message to help my cousin understand what a 'controlled secret habitual compulsion for cigarettes' really is. I know it's a long shot but one I feel compelled to take. I know that this place can assist in making miracles come true, one happened for me 71 days ago.
Thanks Kay!
joejFree for Two months, one week, six days - 1804 cigarettes not smoked, saving $353.63 - Life saved: 6 days, 6 hours, 20 minutes NTAP!
Last edited by JoeJFree Gold on September 12th, 2009, 11:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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lo bluestocking
lo bluestocking

April 13th, 2005, 5:28 am #20

I have to say -- this post is inspiring.
I wasn't much of a smoker, either, when it all came down. Even my doctor said -- Oh, heck, only that many? Just quit. He made it sound like a snap (and he'd even been a smoker, years ago... apparently he forgot, or never understood the addiction)
No one understood how difficult the concept of quitting really was. Least of all, me. I'd been justifying my "little habit" for years and years... as just that. A little habit.
Even now, having quit, I still describe my habit to non-smoking friends as a "minor habit". I've GOT TO STOP THAT!! And this post reinforces why.
Yeah -- I'm ashamed.
Yeah -- there are a lot of people who never knew I smoked.
But that's why I've started telling everyone. Today I told two people that I quit -- two people who never knew I smoked. Sure, it's changed their impressions of me. But it also forced me to face up to something that I've been in denial about for years. Now I'm being honest. Now it's out there on the table. And now I have to STAY QUIT!!

I wish it was just a nasty little habit


lo
I've made it 11 days, 14 hours, 57 minutes, 31 seconds. That translates into 139 cigarettes NOT smoked!!
Last edited by lo bluestocking on September 12th, 2009, 12:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Franksmom5
Franksmom5

April 15th, 2005, 11:17 pm #21

I too have just come upon your wonderful post today and as I have told many people and posted on this board, when urged by my doctor to quit, I have always answered, I don't smoke that much -- only ten a day. My doctor who complimented me on my weight control, exercise habits and great blood work results, commented, even if it's one, it's too many and you are negating all the good you are doing. That thought shall always stay with me and now that I am green (yesterday) with a long way to go, and taking it a day at a time, I know my doctor was right. Thanks for an inspiring post. I am passing it along to a friend of mine who is trying (?) desperately to quit. Maybe it will shed some light on her addiction.
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McClain
McClain

April 16th, 2005, 8:33 am #22

Kay,
Thank You, for the great post. I just came across it today. Like you I thought the same I am not that much of a smoker and all sorts of people around me smoke alot more then me, I must be ok, I have control. Until I tried to quit, oh so many times.
Also like Lo, so many people did not know that I smoked and now I tell them, I guess this is because I feel SO good about not smoking now. Now I can say, I am not a smoker.
What a wonderful talent you have for writing.
Keep up the great work and congrats on your progress


Kimberly - 20 days and about 22 hours.
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kattatonic1 gold4
kattatonic1 gold4

April 16th, 2005, 12:23 pm #23

Hello Freedom friends,
Thanks for the nice comments about my old dramatic high horsin' post. The dramatics actually embarass me now but I'll blame it on the phase I was going through being Double Green when I wrote it. (I skipped the anger phase but did other emotional swinging!)
I am very proud of you all(!) and glad that something I wrote could be of some help. I wanted to check in to show you my stats these days.
The most important thing I learned about being Not Much of a Smoker was that I was in almost constant withdrawal for years. I learned that here at Freedom and WhyQuit. I thought I loved every cigarette because each one, after several hours of abstaining, was fulfilling the dependency I had on nicotine.
Law of addiction
Are "aaahh" memories calling your name?
Now I perceive the pursuit of that feeling as an addict searching for a high. We don't usually use the word "high" with nicotine addiction but I know I was looking for that "ahh" feeling all the time, particularly when I was binge smoking. It took me a while to find my "normal" here in Quitsville , but I cannot express to you how glad I am that I did. I don't need that "ahh" feeling any more.
Believe it or not, Ripley, I haven't even wanted that "ahh" feeling for a very, very, very long time. Freedom is fantastic! Keep up the great work, friends. You are worth it!
Kay (Gold)
Celebrating 1 Year, 3 Months, 23 Days, 18 Hours and 49 Minutes of Freedom!
Forsaking 9596 rolls of burning toxic weeds and chemicals
has liberated $3,131.97 and 33 Days and 7 Hours of my life!
Last edited by kattatonic1 gold4 on September 12th, 2009, 11:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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JoeJFree Gold
JoeJFree Gold

October 27th, 2005, 9:18 pm #24

Well Jamie,
If you liked Kay's Today is Some Day, One Day, Tomorrow and Monday
then I hope you and many others will enjoy another of the 'Kay Classics'.
JoeJ Free on Day 290 and every day I choose to NTAP!
Last edited by JoeJFree Gold on September 12th, 2009, 12:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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enjoyinglifeJamie
enjoyinglifeJamie

October 27th, 2005, 9:45 pm #25

Wow how many chords does that strike with me? Let me count the ways.
I'm having another one of my "I'm not alone" moments.

I too had responses like "that's all you smoke? why bother then?"
* or *
(from an ex-smoker) "If I only smoked 4 or 5 a day I would have never quit!" - hmmm...who was I lying to then? 4 or 5 a day...puh-lease. Maybe a few times, thinking I was on my way to quitting by gradual withdrawal. Good thing I found Freedom so I could stop torturing myself. How ironic- I thought I was doing a good thing. It made me feel like I "deserved" those that I did smoke that much more.

I remember my father-in-law told me once (he's a recovering alcoholic for almost 30 years)...he told me that he used to smoke, and he had himself down to ONE cigarette a day. That's it, just one. At the end of his day in the evening. But if he didn't have that one, he'd pull his hair out. He was just as addicted to that one smoke, as I was to my "not many smokes." Just as addicted as some are to their 3+ packs a day.

Just when I think my eyes are wide open, I read another eye opener. Thank you so much Kay for writing another tremendous post.
And thank YOU JoeJ for popping it up. It's amazing that was written a mere 2 months into a quit...I have so many emotions regarding my quit but I could hardly dream of putting them down into such eloquent words.

What a great place. Freedom rocks.

jamie - workin on day 192
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