The loss of the cigarette and thus a little piece of identity

In the last few weeks I wasn’t able to type any words. Neither for my creative writing course nor for my blog. My concentration was simply gone. Gone with the cigarettes I once again banished from my life.
Again an attempt. It’s not the first time. Or the second or third. It’s exactly the fifth time in the last six years.
There were many reasons to start again.
In 2011 I was alone at the other side of the world for a couple of months and found it quite scary in the beginning.
In 2013 I fell in love with the wrong guy.
In 2014 the immigration stress and paper war began.
In 2015 I did not get the permanent residency permit in Canada, the ground was taken away under my feet and I had to re-plan my life completely.
In 2016 I went to Ireland and realized that this is not the country I want to live in. Again the ground was gone under my feet…


The important role of like-minded people

The phrase “but smoking is unhealthy” is very popular amongst non-smokers. OF COURSE SMOKING IS UNHEALTHY.

But does that keep any smoker from smoking?
So many times I had to listen to those stories that someone knows someone who has smoked two boxes a day and just stopped from one day to the other. My uncle was one of those chain smokers. He quit, too. But that does not mean I can also stop that easy.
The second sentence I hate the most is “if you really want it, you can do it”…seriously, I’d rather just roll my eyes.


I always really wanted to quit. But unfortunately, quitting smoking is more difficult than some can imagine. Nicotine detox takes only a few days, the withdrawal however a whole year.
What I needed was like-minded people. Someone who could understand me. Someone who went through the same phase. I found a smoke-free course in my area and signed up…
And found what I had been looking for: Acceptance and understanding that becoming a non-smoker is not easy. We exchanged and shared worries and fears. It helped me immensely to sit in it together.


Nicotine addiction = same addiction potential as cocaine or heroin

One thing I have learned in the course is that nicotine has the same addiction potential as cocaine or heroin. It is not the physical but psychological addiction.
Quitting smoking without having the support that, for example, cocaine addicts get, means being left alone with your addiction. Search for help or pay costs. Most health insurance companies pay half for smoking-free courses. However, acupuncture, hypnosis or aids such as nicotine patches are not covered.
So, while cocaine addicts receive any support in Germany, cigarettes are sold everywhere and almost everywhere people do smoke.
When the ban was introduced to stop smoking in pubs, there was an outcry. Already after a short time you were able to smoke again in many bars.

Cigarettes are available at every third corner (cigarette machines).
Smoking is widely accepted in Germany.
In the prevention sector, there needs to be done more: The reintroduction of smoking bans in ALL public buildings (including restaurants and bars), further increases in cigarette prices, abolition of cigarette machines, abolition of cigarette advertising at bus stops and large advertising areas.
Germany WAS on the right track and got away from it.


Imagine you could buy cocaine in the supermarket.

At every third corner a cocaine machine.

In bars it would be allowed to smoke heroin.

What do you think how easy it would be to stay clean?


After three weeks…

The positive sides?
I meditate daily (sometimes several times), do more sports (which partly stresses me out more than doing any good) and take time-outs when I need them. I do not have to stand in the rain, snowstorm or in the cold anymore or plan to buy some cigarettes on the way home. My sleep problems have subsided (it was not nice to wake up in the morning between 4 and 5 o’clock in the first week…).
The negative sides?
Yes, they still outweigh. For three weeks no concentration to write. Replying to messages and emails is incredibly difficult for me.
My better sense of smell let me notice that the city I live in (Kiel) stinks of stone and concrete and made me realize how much I miss the smell of nature.
The Mandala book is great. But I still need to practice to not cramp my fingers around the pen. It would be nice to not have a tennis arm and a numb middle fingertip after doodling 😉
Since I am a stress-smoker and “unpleasant-feelings-away-smoker”, I have to struggle with frustration and anger.


BUT: I’ve recovered 124 hours of life, says my smoke-free app…


A whole year is still ahead of me

The loss of the cigarette is as if a part of my self was torn out of me. I have smoked for 21 years (with interruptions) – quite frightening. I have smoked more than half of my life!


Many of my first times I have experienced with cigarettes: drinking coffee and alcohol, going out, falling in love, losing love, dealing with stress and negative feelings, living alone in another country and so much more.
In the past 21 years, I have learned a certain behavior that I must now unlearn and learn new behavior patterns.
Will I remain smoke-free? Honestly, I don’t know. I’ll stay tuned and do everything to keep it that way.
I have a long way to go, because the withdrawal takes a whole year. There will still be many “first times” without a cigarette: A summer evening at the beach, going out with friends (I have not been able to do that so far), having a BBQ in the park, falling in love, losing love, moving to another city/country again and so on.
I will have to say many times “no, I do not smoke” – especially to the former smoker in me, which sends me occasionally greetings and is asking if she may come for a visit … “NO!”



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