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number 10 photo: #10 10.jpgGUS (Gave Up Smoking) is a community support diary for Kossacks in the midst of quitting smoking. Any supportive comments, suggestions or positive distractions are appreciated. If you are quitting or even just thinking of quitting, please join us! We kindly ask that politics be left outside.

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A message to ALL quitters (and would-be quitters): You don't have to avoid GUS if you have a failed quit. We won't give you a bad time or nag you. We consider the failed quits as "practice" for the real quit.

number 10 photo: number 10 10.gifTen years ago today, I had my last cigarette.

I had decided---on a whim, really, after a nasty chain-smoking marathon session putting together an issue of the magazine I was working on at the time---that I should finally quit. No advance plan, no time to think it through or talk myself out of it, I would simply not buy a new pack of cigarettes that day, or ever.

I was over it. It was time.

I went home and methodically smoked my way through the last pack of smokes I would ever buy, one after the other, like it was my job. God forbid I waste a penny of that $6.50 I had already wasted buying them! At the end of the pack, I took the last one out on my deck with a little glass of wine, staring into the trees and wrapping my head around the reality that this was it...because it was, that mental switch had already flipped, I was done.  Sitting in the dark, I took the last draw on the last one and defiantly stubbed it out in my little wine glass.

With that gesture, after a rocky, confusing, mostly unpleasant, personally expensive 22-year relationship, nicotine and I finally called it quits.

Exhale.

Deep breath.

Easy enough. Just stop, right?

HA! Tell that to your brain and body.

I won't get into the nitty gritty details of how NOT easy it was, not today. After all, I've already shared those in all their glory more than once, right here at GUS, in the more than 260 diaries I've posted over the entire five-year history of the community (which, I just realized, I've been a part of for just a little more than half of my quit time). Been there, done that.

Instead, I'm trying to put ten smoke-free years into perspective.

When you quit smoking, you save money. If you're a heavy smoker, like I was, you save a LOT of money. Seven years in, I'd saved enough to put a down payment on my house. I'd never have been able to afford the place if I hadn't quit. I can thank quitting for literally putting a roof over my head.

When you quit smoking, your whole life changes, in ways you didn't anticipate. You really have to re-learn how to be in the world, re-learn how to do a thousand thousand things without smoking in the picture. Sometimes it's hard, confusing, or stressful. Sometimes it makes you depressed and anxious. Sometimes you backslide or get stuck. Sometimes it's unexpectedly, completely awesome. You learn to focus on that last thing, and figure out ways to cope with the others, until they start wafting away like that last cloud of smoke drifting into the air, finally vanishing.

When you quit smoking, your health starts improving right away. You may not notice it at first---especially if you are quitting without nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and are feeling the physically and emotionally unpleasant side effects in full force---but good things start happening within twenty minutes. How's that for instant gratification? In my experience, smokers are big on instant gratification, so this should be an appealing feature. Of course you don't have to wait ten years to start feeling better, though the rewards for sticking to a quit really start paying off decade down the road:

10 years after quitting

The risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. The risk of cancer of the larynx (voice box) and pancreas decreases.

Sweet! Now I've got that 15-years quit cardio benefit to look forward to. And in just over a year, I'll have been quit half as long as I smoked. Milestones are good.

When you quit smoking, you change the way other people experience you as a person. I have a niece entering high school in a few weeks...she doesn't even remember me as a smoker, which is great. I have friends who have never known me as a smoker, someone who has to take a bunch of smoke breaks or always smells suspiciously of mints & Febreze, with hints of ashtray. I don't have to deal with the negative first impression that some people get when introduced to someone who smokes, or cope with unsolicited advice about my tobacco use from family, friends, or total strangers "who just mean well." It's a relief.

So---if you're still smoking, and looking for a sign to quit? Consider this your sign.*

Delaying things won't make it easier, it will just postpone the inevitable---after all, as I used to remark with smoker's gallows humor, well all end up quitting eventually, whether we want to or not, har har har---why not start YOUR ten years (or more) right here, right now?

August 20th is a lucky quit date, I'm telling you.

*I swear to God, as I typed these words, my dog started wagging his tail in his sleep. Even my DOG agrees it's a sign!

               
               

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Ten more years?

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30%6 votes

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