Friday, August 17, 2007

Ellie Gets a Star / What's On My Counter Top?

It's still Chantix Day 72 and Smoke-free Day 60.

Ellie gets a gold star next to her name in my book of people who read my mind and find what I've been looking for without saying it out loud for bringing up something I hadn't because even though I knew that it was working for me, it's not something I would recommend for everyone. I knew that I wasn't completely alone in this and that John did the same, and I knew that in the past I had heard of people doing this, but I didn't want to just drop it out there on my blog without some kind of someone saying that it really and truly was OK, either an expert or someone I could link to that has been smoke free for many years after doing it. Silly, I know. I mean, if it's working for me, why not just share it? Well, because I'm not convinced that it is for everyone, and I'm more convinced that it could be very risky for some and probably for good reason goes against the good advice in most other places we've all read, so frankly, I was too chicken to put it out there until I had something more than "well, it works for me even if it sounds bass-ackwards" to share.

What am I talking about (unless you've already been over to Ellie's today or guessed from the title - gold stars for you, too)?

Keeping cigarettes around you when you are in the process of quitting. Not throwing out all cigarettes before quitting. Having temptation always at hand. Going against what sounds like the best advice. And not doing it to be cheeky but because it seems like it will actually help with your journey somehow.

Yes, folks, ever since late at night on June 18, 2007 when I took my last puff, there have been exactly 4 cigarettes in my home in plain view. This didn't start out as intentional. Regular readers (or those who have seen my taper calendar covering my Chantix journey start to finish) may recall that I planned on a drop dead no matter what last chance quit date of Wed, June 20, Chantix Day 15. Instead, I quit on Mon, June 18, Chantix Day 13 because when I woke up that morning, I was just ready to quit. Fortunately, or unfortunately, whichever, when I woke up that morning ready to quit, due to the power of Chantix, I still had cigarettes left in the pack I'd been sluggishly working my way through smoking. As a matter of fact, I had 4 cigarettes left in that pack, and those are the same 4 still there today. Part of the issue was that I really didn't want to look at them for the first several days, and the other part of the issue was that it seemed wasteful to toss them.

Side note to Stan because I do know you must be even more curious now: no, it makes no sense to me either that seeing people smoke in movies or seeing crushed cigarettes on your website or on John's bothers me, yet I have part of a pack of cigarettes in my kitchen (though it is bothering me less these days, now that I think of it) - that's beyond the scope of any real understanding I'll ever likely have, but I'm content as long as I still wake up each day knowing that I can make it to bedtime that day without smoking.

Anyway, as I was saying. At first the cigarettes were on the counter next to the Chantix, but then they relocated to the top of one of my coffee makers (yes, I have several on my counters and may be buying another new one very soon). Tom doesn't smoke and neither do the cats, so yes, the remainder of the pack was still mine, all mine. Now they sort of belong to the kitchen, I guess, since I am not interested in smoking them, and yet, there they are, and I think it has actually helped me in my quit. It is my choice to smoke or not smoke, and even if the past few nights I've had to physically pick them up every time I made one of those fabulous Americanos I keep talking about (so good, so very good), surprisingly, it never actually occurs to me to even want to actually smoke one of them. Even on the more hellish days of my quit. Even this past weekend when I went a little nutty with wanting to smoke. As much as I thought I wanted to smoke, and, well, yes, did want to smoke, I didn't want to badly enough to go through with taking one and smoking it because of everything that it would mean and everything that it would bring back into my life that I've been working so hard to get out of my life (all those reasons I quit smoking and stay quit). So there those 4 cigarettes sit, as if they had no more meaning than a napkin holder on the kitchen counter.

Someday, maybe I'll throw them away, but I do know of someone who knew someone (this so vague and not very authoritative information is why I was reluctant to share...) who kept one, just one, cigarette in the glovebox of the car for something like well over 20 years. That was many years ago, but as far as I know, it's probably still there.

I'm sure that the book (Hooked - But Not Helpless, by Patricia Allison) and Ellie, having actually read it, could explain this whole thing way better than I can, which is why until now I haven't even attempted it. From what Ellie said about the author's approach to cravings, I'm intrigued and bet that she is onto something there, too. Since buying this book new on Amazon doesn't seem like an option, I've kept Ellie's link to the book at Powell's, and I may try to borrow it from the library (which I prefer doing most of the time anyway because I am extremely cheap frugal).

As always with certain topics, I feel the need to do a little disclaimer. This has been working really well for me. It might not work for you. In fact, I can see about four reasons why and how this method could easily backfire on someone trying to quit. But this is my quit that I am sharing with you, and having 4 cigarettes in my home (I don't carry them with me and have no reason to start doing so) has only convinced me further that as much as I sometimes want to smoke, I want to stay quit even more.

(Second post of the day where I didn't talk about what I hoped to get to because I got too far along on something else, but this is even better. The rest will keep.)


  1. Wow, Maggie! That's a very interesting process you're describing - from something like happenstance to something like a philosophy. :)

    Allison's thinking behind keeping the smokes around is that if we keep them nearby, it can help us stay out of what she calls "deprivation thinking."

    If we think we are depriving ourselves of something, she reasons, it's only a matter of time before we devote all of our energy and cunning to getting what we feel deprived of.

    It's not like cigarettes are hard to get in any case. Even if I didn't have this pack, I am less than five minutes from a corner store.

    Anyway, good on you Maggie, and thanks as always for speaking your truth.

    Also - let me know if you have trouble getting the book & still want it. I can probably loan you my copy. ;)

  2. You're mad! You're all mad!

    This would NOT work for me. I have the will power of a....uh....something that doesn't have a lot of will power.

    Also I'd like some explanation for the multiple coffee maker thing - I'm confused.

  3. Maggie, while there have been a couple of occasions when I think IF I had any cigs in my house I might have smoked them, I really do understand your philosophy behind having those 4 in your kitchen. It really is all about this non-smoking thing being your choice and not some penalty imposed on you. Early in my smoke-free journey (am 34 days smoke-free) someone had discarded an unsmoked cig in an ashtray at work and I had a stare down with that demon! I kept going back and forth looking at it, knowing how easy it would be for me to smoke it. But finally I said (yes, me talking to a cigarette),"you will NOT suck me in" and then I just walked away feeling no need to douse it in water or do anything else to make it "unsmokable". Boy, did I feel the power then!

  4. Oh, and I forgot to say that a young man I work with said his dad STILL had the last pack of cigs he bought before he quit. I asked him when his dad quit and he said, "when he got back from Vietnam" do the "Maggie math" on that one!:)

  5. Ellie, those are exactly the words that make sense, not feeling deprived. The cigarettes are right there just steps away if I want them, but clearly, I really don't, even when I think I do.

    Tasina, yep, I know. It's nutty. It's not the best way for everyone, I'm sure, and I don't know that I'd put it out there as a suggestion even because it's probably a bad idea for lots of people. Coffee answers with more detail than you ever wanted to know will be forthcoming ;)

    Becky, I love it! Yes, that's exactly what I am talking about. It's my choice, and I feel awesome not going for it. And I *knew* there were people who still had theirs from many years ago.

  6. Even though I said on Ellies blog I would prolly smoke any I have in my house.
    Honestly deep down I think I would feel really guilty if I did.
    Wtg that you have those last 4. I have none. Not even an empty pack anymore. And that is probably a good thing. ;-)

  7. I've got to tell you Maggie, that as of this moment right now, I'm with Tasina on this one...

    I was keeping some tobacco kicking around because I was worried about having an emotional breakdown, and, it all just gets back to how weak my addict mind is ....

    When I realized I wasn't going to have an emotional breakdown, I got rid of it... because, I'm still weak and it's just not a good thing for me to have around!

    Good post Maggie.

  8. Tabatha, yep, I'd feel horrible if I did actually have one, and I think that's why I haven't.

    John, I totally get what you are saying. And I even agree that it makes sense ;)

  9. Wow! I understand the philosophy, really I do, but like Tasina, this definitely would not work for me either!

    The night before my quit, I smoked until I went to bed...the last thing I did that night was to crush my pack of cigs, run water over them, and toss them in the trash.

    It's interesting to see the different ways folks approach their quit, but my motto is: hey, whatever works to keep you from smoking, go for it!! I plan to remain a non-smoker by any and all means necessary!

  10. Agreed, MsTekLady, whatever works. And this something that surprised me.

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