A blog experiment by Brad Mills.


Quitting smoking, day 730

As of midnight tonight, I will be smoke-free for two years. I won't say it's been an entirely easy process, but I have reached a stage where it's something I don't think about much versus in the early days when every day, every hour, every minute, counted. The only time I think about it now is in the half hour or so before I officially start work.

See, I've kind of acquired this new morning ritual. Katie's high school is outside our district so I take her to school every morning. Early in the morning. I drop her off and then head straight to work, where I have about half an hour to kill before I officially start. So, I've found a place where I can sit, with a cup of coffee, fairly unobtrusive, and people watch. I'm inside away from the elements and I can look outside and watch all the people streaming in. And some of these folks have cigarettes in hand as they meander up the sidewalk.

It's odd and fascinating to watch these people smoking as they walk toward the building. This was me not too long ago, and though it's largely foreign to me now, I still recognize the mannerisms I see — the flick of ash, the exhale, the raise of hand to lips. The expressions on their faces remind me of zombies, and I wonder if I looked like a zombie wandering up sidewalks with cigarette in hand over two years ago.

One of the things I remember is the need to get outside every so often. In the beginning I found I really missed going out on the front porch. For about the first three months, I would find myself standing out there, doing nothing for about five minutes, with nothing to do except stand there. Even today, I'll still step outside once in awhile because it seems like I need to — not for the five minutes at a time like before, but just for a few seconds. I tell myself I'm just getting some fresh air, but yeah, I'm just visiting the place where I finally got that monkey off my back, stabbed him in the neck, and buried his dead ass.

Damn proud of it too, in case you hadn't noticed. And why not? Six or seven or eight attempts (you lose track after awhile), and I've reached a point where the relapse rate plummets to 19%. I manage old triggers with ease, I've saved at least $2200. I've added time to my life, statistically speaking, and reduced my chances for serious health problems later in life. I feel better. Food tastes better. I breathe easier — quite literally; it's something I can feel.

And... it feels pretty good. I have absolutely nothing against people who smoke. Quite the opposite... I totally get it. Been there, done that. But for the first time in twenty years or so, I feel comfortable and one hundred percent confident saying it is officially behind me. I wouldn't trade that feeling for anything.

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