From: Gene Short
Email Received: 07/21/09
First I must apologize if this post is too long. After 15.5 years of lying, cheating, stealing, begging, and digging through gutters and public ashtrays for any salvagable nicotine, I took my final hit of nicotine on July 21, 2008 at 9:24PM.
I had tried quitting before - cold turkey then deciding to be social smoker a week later in 2001; the patch in 2002, which lasted about 2 months (smoked through the first four weeks of the patch) until I decided to see if I'd still enjoy just one. Then about a half a dozen or so weak attempts from 2004 onward that never got me past three days.
I armed myself with the best excuses I could - I watched too many Guns N' Roses videos as a kid so I was tainted and could never change. It helps me think, I need some vice. Or my favorite - I lost 106 pounds in 2000/2001 so I'm excused from making any more healthy choices for the next ten years.
My 10 cigarette a day "habit" in high school was now a 30 cigarette a day deadly addiction at age 29. I smoked fast so I had 2 cigarettes at each sitting every hour. I puffed hard, held it in long, and loved the feeling of my throat burning. I was starting to pick up a wheeze that I'd try to hide from my wife, the never-smoker who'd occassionally give me a "you need to quit that" line. But she didn't know how I needed it to survive. All she knew about smoking is that it killed her grandfather shortly before we met. Anyway, my wheeze was getting worse and worse and obviously I never planned on smoking forever so I figured I might as well try to stop now.
Something told me on 7/21/08 that this was a good time to quit nicotine. My wife was now pregnant with our second, I had just gotten my masters which took away my "I need it to think" excuse, and there was that wheeze. So the plan was that I'd finish my current supply that day and wake up on 7/22/08 with a few hours already behind me. That's what I did. I don't know I ever made it past that first day, but one day turned into two, and halfway through the third day I was having a really tough time. I googled "Quitting smoking" and clicked a few links and suddenly was staring at this emaciated figure lying in a bed, mouth wide open, with a woman and child next to him. I'd met a man who would change my life forever that day. I met Bryan Lee Curtis.
There it was, this is what I needed to see. My struggles of "I want one" and waiting around for my usual relapsed suddenly vanished. Here I was five years younger than he was at his death and my comfort that I'm too young for lung cancer was taken from me. I was now never the same. I could never play dumb again and actually believe my defenses. I decided within five minutes of reading "He wanted you to know" that I would never relapse to chronic nicotine use ever again.
I came back to Whyquit.com many times over the next two weeks to read Bryan's story over and over. I also found Noni's, Kim's, and Deb's stories and realized that Bryan wasn't a one-time freak nicotine accident. This was a fate that I had a 50% chance of experiencing unless I got myself under control. I soon began to explore other parts of Whyquit.com and once I truly understood why I smoked and the concept of the Law of Addiction, the struggle became easier. I could now acknowledge that yes, I do want one hit of nicotine, but I understand that addiction doesn't work that way. I can have no nicotine or be back to my old level, but nothing in between. Once I truly believed that, I started to develop a real peaceful feeling about it.
By my one month anniversary, I'd tell anyone who would listen about how great my new life is. I still had plenty of tough times, but by the third month I believe I had my last positive thought about smoking and nicotine use. Somewhere around that time, my wife and I were driving in the rain and I caught of whiff of some amazing smell. I said to her "What is that smell?!?" She looked at me inquisitively, as I pressed my face against the A/C vent in the car. "Nope that's not it", then I rolled down the window and WOW..there that smell was. I looked at her in a "HA! I GOT YOU" kind of look and said "There, that's it. Don't you smell that?" She said very casually "I smell rain". I said "Wait..rain has a smell?!?". "Duh...yes" was her reply. I spent the next week asking anyone I saw if they knew rain had a smell...they all answered similar to her "Duh" answer.
I think I've read every word on Whyquit.com dozens of times; I've read Joel's book cover to cover enough to have most of it memorized. I've downloaded, printed, and bound about 5 copies of "Never take another puff" and given them to various people whom I think may be interested. I know that two people quit after reading it - one on my five month anniversary, the other on my eleventh - I'm not sure if it was directly because of it, but I'd like to think that if all users read the book and understood why they used nicotine that there would certainly be less smokers, dippers, and chewers in the world.
Around the sixth month, I decided to do something to show myself how different life is. I began training to run a 5K. I ran the 5K on the day that I would have had my 10,000 mandatory nicotine feeding if not for finding Whyquit.com. Around kilometer 4, my legs were hurting and breathing was getting hard. How did I get myself through it? Apparently I have Joel's article "So I can't run Marathons" memorized and started repeating to myself. I thought about how Bryan would have loved a second chance to quit and do what I'm doing right at that second. I placed 103rd out of 110 runners, but I knew that I had come a million kilometers from where I had been. I'm no athlete; just an addict.
So now at a full year later I'm writing to thank you for all of the hours spent on maintaining the site and thanking Joel for all of the wonderful and right-on articles about addiction. For all of you contemplating a quit, it's worth it, it's hard for a couple weeks, but it does get better. All you need to do is to never take another puff. For all of you new quitters, my advice is to stay with the site and read anything that you can. Always remember the law of addiction. And before you decide to slip, read the "Smokers Vow" to yourself. While my 366th day may be easier than your 1st, we're both one puff away from full relapse. It's true what they say though, life really does go on. I've survived a stock market crash, bad weather, bad traffic, and the birth of a child, and I didn't need to ingest new nicotine to celebrate or survive through them. The best advice that you could ever receive is just as Joel's articles say - Never Take Another Puff.