Today is smoke-free day 351, and I am thankful to wake up without coughing. I used to wake up coughing every morning. I want to remember that because I don't want to forget. The thing is that I am capable of forgetting. I'm capable of feeling fragile even as I approach a year quit in a couple of weeks on June 18, 2008. Experience with my previous quits has shown me that I'm capable of going well over a year and returning to smoking. We've all known people who have quit for a substantial amount of time, say 10 years or more, who have gone back when some major event happened, right? It happened to beloved ABC news anchor Peter Jennings who was quit for 20 years when 9/11 happened, and he gave in and smoked (and then sadly died of lung cancer within another few years). I get it that he smoked. I understand that. It doesn't make entirely good sense, and it's not the only viable option for coping, but as someone who was a smoker for 20+ years, it's almost scary how very easy it is for me to understand. I've done similar in the past for less dramatic reasons.
That could be me.
I do continue to believe firmly that we are each different people who take our own paths to get to the point of being successfully quit non-smokers who used to smoke, and it's fine with me if saying "never" works for others because perhaps that's just the word some brains need to hear. For me? Never flat out freaks me the hell out.
For two reasons.
One: Never is a very long time, and there are still moments when smoking appeals to me, but I can put it off for a day or so without too much pain (this is an improvement from the early stages when about an hour two was the biggest sized bite I could swallow).
Two: If I get never in my head, I'm afraid I'll forget that for me (ain't saying nothing about none of y'all) this has to be a day by day thing, one day at a time. I'm afraid that I'll forget to wake up remembering each day why I'm glad I quit.
A couple weeks back, a couple weeks to the date, actually, I said that I'm not done talking about this yet. I'm not. Maybe tomorrow I'll surprise myself and suddenly be ready, but I doubt it. As long as I don't smoke, I'm cool either way, but I suspect that "never" is unlikely to turn up in my vocabulary as it relates to the possibility of me ever smoking again. I've seen it happen to the best of us in my real life, in my blog life, to people on TV, and I see no reason that it couldn't possibly happen to me. I am special, but I'm not that special (shhhh, don't tell, ruins the mystique).
I can commit to this one day, today, June 2, 2008 - this day I will not smoke. And when I go to sleep tonight not coughing (which used to break Tom's heart) and then wake up tomorrow morning also not coughing, I can renew my commitment at that time if I wish.
Maybe it's just semantics and a mind game, but it works for me, and the days still string themselves together one day at a time. I'm just grateful that I never have to say never.