It seems like a whole other life, yet the memory, and the reason why I turned my back years ago on this addiction still holds true. At the time I was angry, frustrated, and I didn’t know anyone who had ever visited a professional counselor or shrink as I had heard them called. A rebellious being longing to surface because as luck would have it I was raised in a culture that perceived a cry for help as weak. So many shifts, changes, and don’t you even dare stop to complain. The women I grew up with didn’t pop pills, they didn’t drink heavy, but a quiet moment of contemplation and maybe conversation while holding a cigarette was the norm to calm nerves. Yes, many of the ones I knew and loved did just that. I vividly recall thinking as a young girl, resisting the strong second-hand dose I’d hold my breath to get through the smoke filled section that I would never smoke. Just out of high school, I looked on as close friends seemed to look completely different with a cigarette between parted fingers. Curiosity led to chokes, laughs, and coughs or a complaint that I was just blowing smoke. Years later when the going got tough, I resolved to what the tough women did. A tiny, cutely packaged, and harmless looking Capri should do the trick. It wasn’t long before I could double barrel those cute little things. I needed more. The habit began to form and I began to notice that sensation you get when you think you need one. I needed a break. I needed a moment. It wasn’t until I had began to take smoke breaks did I allow myself to have one. A break, a pause, a moment to breathe, to think things through. A crave for that first pull in as a slow exhale billowed out a cloud of anxiety, worry, and then relief. Oh yes. THIS was MY time. I was starting to give myself more and more of these moments. In the morning on the patio while sipping coffee, on the way to work in the car. A brief break during mid-morning after calls, meetings, and emails. After lunch before returning to work, if the work day was long maybe mid-afternoon and then another on the way home. After dinner, children bathe and put to bed, another “me moment” was due.
All the years of looking at the advertisements for smoking; beautiful women and strong, tough handsome men. Where were they now and what did their lives look like? After all those years of disgust for smoking and now I had joined them. I felt far from glamorous and beautiful. My habit had began to catch up with me. Despite my physical picture of health—I felt winded to walk up stairs. My clothes, car, hair and no matter how often I washed my hands maybe it was my nose hairs—but I smelled smoke. One day I watched as one of our daughters’ reached for my drink and took one sip from my straw and immediately sat it back down, ”Eew, it taste like smoke!”. “Mom why do you do that.” I didn’t have a good reason to offer. Every time I held a pack, I read the Surgeon General’s warning: Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema and May Complicate Pregnancy. I knew they were required to put this on their cigarettes not because they wanted to scare me, but because it was the truth. I had witnessed too many declines in those I loved health to ignore my own. I was ready to release the habit. I had to quit.
It Required A Vision.
The idea of being smoke-free just filled my heart and I started seeing myself do things that I enjoyed that did not involve smoking or being around smokers. I got active. It’s hard to smoke and be active. The two just don’t go together. Someone may even set out to prove me wrong, so I’ll just say it did not work for me. When I had a moment and thought just this one, the Divine would send people to just come up and randomly share how they quit. Nothing in life is random, my decision was supported, and I was sent angels to encourage me.
What Could I Gain?
I started tracking the cost of how much my unhealthy habit had really cost me. Time that I couldn’t get back. Over the course of a full day, I calculated that I had used over two hours, multiply that by a week and then a month. Sitting, standing, and worrying about things that couldn’t be solved by holding my cigarette. Financially hundreds of dollars had literally gone up in smoke. Considering how much I love the thought of shopping, travel, or massages over smoking. The decision became more and more clearer.
When You Know Better.
I used the World Wide Web and searched for testimonials of people out there who had quit and how they had improved their state of health. I begin to find sites that showed images of what the lungs looked like in 24 hours smoke-free, 72 hours, a week, and then a month. I learned how sophisticated the body is and how it’s always working toward creating a healthy environment. Given a chance with the absence of cigarette smoke, activity, and good food; my body wants to be healthy and stronger.
Take A Breath Break.
I learned the power of connecting to my breath. I discovered that picking up that pack of cigarettes and putting that cigarette between my lips was more about needing to take a moment to connect with my breath. I didn’t need a habit like cigarettes to take me outside for fresh air. If I couldn’t get outside, I simply closed my eyes, released my fingers, and I inhaled a deep breath through my nose and slowly exhaled. I quieted my thoughts and I listened. I listened to guidance that I could get past this—that I was strong. I constantly reminded myself that I just had to endure one moment, one hour, one day at a time and that someday this will be a distant memory.
As a child, I once thought that smokers were tough. I don’t think that anymore. I also no longer believe that sharing or seeing someone for counseling makes you weak. I believe we are all doing our best with what we know and that every moment there stands a possibility to rise to greater. I now show myself and others loving compassion. I learned not to judge anyone for their habits and that you never know what people will choose to cope or why when they are challenged. As I stated before, I can’t remember exactly how or why I started. Part of me think it was to shift my heart to this understanding or maybe it was preparing me to share this journey to victory with you. My desire is to encourage someone to consider all the beautiful amazing reasons you have to choose a healthier version of you.
Love Talita Akana is a wife, mother, sister, and a friend. Over the years, she has shared guidance from the lessons she has learned. Grateful to be a vessel to assist others as a source of inspiration to touch another with what they learned to grow on their journey. This is Love.