Since last weekend, I have not smoked a cigarette for one whole year. It was on the 4th of August last year at exactly 14:00 when I smoked my last cigarette. I must say that I am proud of myself for this achievement. I think only smokers and ex-smokers can fully appreciate how rewarding and gratifying it is being able to stop smoking and continue to stop smoking for a year and – hopefully – beyond. I deserve to give myself a one year chip for not smoking.
Indeed, I am very proud of myself for being able not to smoke for one whole year since last weekend. I was a smoker and now I am liberated from the nasty addiction that has enslaved me for many years in the past. I thought I will never free from it. Somehow, I have accepted that I will be addicted to cigarette smoking for the rest of my life and that I would never be free from it. And yet here I am, an ex-smoker blogging about being an ex-smoker. I am not a smoker anymore. I find the ‘not smoker’ version of myself more pleasing than the one who was a smoker.
Although I am no longer a smoker and that I love being a non-smoker, it would be, nonetheless, a lie to say that the nasty urge of the bad habit from which I have been liberated does not visit me from time to time. I think the ‘stop smoking guru’ named Allan Carr refer to these episodes in ex-smokers life as the visits from the ‘passenger’ or the ‘little monster.’ Even though I have not been smoking for a year now, there were still moments that the thought of lighting a cigarette will come to the fore and invade my conscious mind.
One day, while I was waiting for the train that will bring me to Brussels, I saw a man walking his way into the area on the platform reserved for smoking. I used to walk that walk before. I know exactly how it feels and fully grasp the urgency of that moment.
The pack of cigarette was still new and he was holding it with his left hand. He was holding a lighter with his right hand while he tries to opened the newly bought pack of cigarette. Then, he took one cigarette, put it between his lips and lighted it. He started to puff the cigarette while holding it between his index and middle fingers.
I was watching him from a distance like a starving child watching him eating his bountiful dinner. I can almost feel the filter between my lips, the firm cigarette between my fingers, the smoke filling my lungs and the sensation as a smoker exhales the smoke.
This is just one of the examples of the many visits I get from the old passenger I thought was no longer aboard. At that moment, the craving to light and smoke a cigarette was so strong. However, on that same breadth, I am also relieved that while I may have the cravings, I do not have to smoke anymore because I am no longer a smoker.
The truth of the matter is, that I have managed to come this far because I do not underestimate the old passenger. I do not underestimate the stronghold of my addiction on myself. I recognize that I am powerless vis-à-vis my addiction.
While I have managed not to smoke for almost a year, I cannot say that I will never smoke anymore for the rest of my life. Instead, I can only promise that I will not smoke today. And when I recognize the old passenger, look it straight into its eye, and acknowledge the power it hold over me, the passenger seems to evacuate the premises and leaves me alone in peace.