The New Me

Last year, my New Year’s resolution was to completely quit smoking. I was able to gradually quit and even blogged about it. And I’m very proud to say that as of today, February 4, 2010, I’m 100% a non-smoker. But it wasn’t an easy feat. It was hard, but it was SO worth it.

Let me share with you again how I started this nasty habit (just in case you weren’t here yet when I blogged about it)  and how I slowly got rid of smoking in my system.

I started out as a kid, actually. You won’t believe how it happened. My father is a heavy smoker. When I was a kid, whenever he’s doing something like carpentry or tinkering things at home, he’ll instruct me to light a cigarette for him. At first, I didn’t like the smell and taste of it. But, as days go on, I started to like it. I got addicted as early as 11 years old. I learned how to light a cigarette and smoke it. My dad would sometimes get mad at me because when I hand the cigarette over to him, it’s been smoked halfway. I thought he’ll spank me or something, but, no. He didn’t do anything about it. He just scolded me that it takes me longer to give him the cigarette.

This continued on ’til high school. And when I started college, the addiction to cigarettes worsened. I started to buy my own pack and would hide it when I get home. My mother had no idea I was smoking. I was studying in University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, which is far away from home. I’d smoke during my free time. My college friends also smoked so I started to really enjoy it.

Because of my growing addiction, I started buying extra packs of cigarettes and I’ll keep them in my room. Unfortunately, my mother found out. She was so mad at me that she slapped me upon finding my hidden stash. She’s a nurse so she really knows how bad it is for me. I can still remember her face while she was crying and telling me how bad it was for my health. She asked my father to help her talk me out of smoking, but he wasn’t able to say anything. I guess he knew that he was also responsible for my smoking at a very young age.

After all that drama, I still wasn’t able to stop. I became more careful in covering my tracks when I smoked at home. And, one night, I was shocked when my father threw something at me while I was in front of the computer. I bent down to pick it up and almost fainted when I saw that it was a pack of Marlboro Lights Menthol. Yes, dear readers, he gave me a pack of cigarettes.

That gesture prompted me to continue smoking at home. I was glad that I had one parent’s support in my addiction. Yes, that’s how crazy addicted I was with cigarettes. I was even happy that my father okayed my smoking.

I held a lot of parties at our home. Most of my friends are smokers, so I started to smoke openly with them. But, out of respect for my mother, I would hide my cigarette or hand it over to a friend so she won’t see me smoking. I don’t want to hurt her again.

I guess my addiction to smoking really got the better of me because when we moved to a bigger house where I had a bigger room with 6 windows, I started to ignore the fact that my smoking hurt my mom. I became gutsier and started to smoke in front of her when my friends were around. She continued reminding me about it, but eventually got tired because I was so hard-headed. And she couldn’t really do anything anymore because my dad was also a heavy smoker.

I became a chain smoker when I started working in call centers. The stress of dealing with customers night after night, and being with colleagues who were heavy smokers, too – those are the reasons why I started to not be satisfied with smoking 2-4 sticks a day. I started to smoke 6-10 sticks a day when I got promoted to Quality Specialist, and continued on when I moved to a different call center as a Team Leader because at that time, I was free to go out and smoke anytime I want.

mai-emo When I met my life partner Mai over 4 years ago, I was already a chain smoker. She doesn’t smoke and was really irritated by my smoking. She continuously badgered me to stop smoking. It started to become the cause of most of our fights. Because of this and my love for her, I decided to make a deal with her, which she painfully accepted out of love for me, too. I told her I’ll lessen the sticks I smoke everyday if she stops continuously nagging me about it.

Whenever she begs me to stop smoking, I’ll always throw a tantrum or cause drama to make her pity me. Yes, I made excuses and even cried to her to just let me be because it was really hard for me to stop smoking. She’ll always fall for it and would just allow me to smoke because she doesn’t want to see me sad or hurt. That was how addicted I was with smoking. I made A LOT of excuses to continue smoking, which I find hilarious now.

My partner Mai was a major influence in my quest to stop smoking. Because of our deal, she kept track of the number of cigarette sticks I smoke everyday. She won’t let me smoke over 5 sticks a day. Now, I realized that because of the gradual decrease of cigarettes that I smoke, my addiction and its effect on me also gradually decreased. My brain started to make me realize how bad it was for Mai’s health that I’m smoking in our air-conditioned room (yes, that’s how bad it was. Thinking back is suffocating). So, I told myself I need to really quit smoking for her sake and mine.

It was hard. Damn hard. When we moved to Cebu with plans of living there permanently with Mai’s family, I had my resolution to completely stop smoking. No one smokes in their home, so even a little stench of smoke would alarm her mom. I was able to cut down my smoking to 3-5 sticks a day. And even when I started working again as a Team Leader in a call center in Cebu, I kept it at 3-5 sticks a day.

I was determined to stop smoking. I didn’t tell Mai about this ’til today (I got so emotional while writing this that I hugged and thanked her for her constant nagging about my smoking), but I underwent detoxing. I suffered from headaches because I was fighting the urge to smoke more. There were days that the pain was unbearable and I’ll just pass it off as being tired. I don’t want Mai to see that I was suffering because that might stop her from nagging me to stop smoking.

Mai’s nagging and my mother’s continuous text messages reminding me to quit smoking helped me A LOT. I don’t think I could’ve done it without them, especially Mai. And, now, I’m proud to say..

I haven’t smoked a cigarette in 11 months.

Yes, my dear readers, I’ve finally quit smoking. Even now that we’re back in Manila, I don’t want to smoke a cigarette EVER again. Now, I hate the smell of it. I actually started telling my father to stop smoking. LOL! Well, like me before, he’ll completely ignore me or change the subject.

Because of my quitting, I started to feel much better. I feel I’m healthier now. I breathe more easily. My breath doesn’t stink of cigarette smoke anymore. My skin and my complexion started to improve. I no longer look tired all the time. I used to have huge, dark eye bags and now, I look better… well, because I’m better. I’m happier, too, because I finally did it! I’ve completely quit smoking.

Below are photos before I stopped smoking and my most recent one, the new me, after 11 months of no smoking. The positive effect of my quitting is evident. I look more radiant, right?transformation

I know a lot of people out there want to quit smoking, too, and would love to hear how I did it. All I can tell you is STOP MAKING EXCUSES to continue this nasty habit. I know now that making up excuses and my laziness to really control my smoking were the major reasons why it took me over a decade to stop smoking. But, here are a few things that MIGHT help:

  • If you really want to quit, throw out all your stash of cigarettes and lighters. Throw them outside, somewhere far away. Start telling yourself that you’re better off without cigarettes because that’s the TRUTH.
  • Start to hate the smell of cigarette smoke. Control your mind so you’d start to really hate it. In my first week of quitting, I started to complain about my colleagues who stink of cigarette smoke. I kept at it and it did help.
  • Don’t be lazy. Stop making excuses because however you look at it, SMOKING DOESN’T DO ANYTHING GOOD FOR YOU. Really. And you really need to make an effort to stop the urge to smoke.
  • Stop thinking that you’re cool when you smoke. You stink because you smoke. That’s the truth. Whatever brand of cigarette you smoke, you still stink. Your breath also stinks. And just imagine how bad your teeth and gums would look. My gums were starting to darken so I’m glad I stopped smoking before it got worse.
  • Avoid situations wherein you’d want to smoke. What I did was I stopped taking 15-minute breaks so I won’t be tempted to smoke before and after my lunch break at work.
  • If your friends tease you about your quitting, tell them it’s your choice and that you hope they’ll respect it. If they’re TRUE friends, they would understand and might even join you in quitting. Don’t be a pushover. Be firm.
  • And, of course, think about your loved ones, how you’ve affected them by your smoking and how you’re killing yourself.

    I’m thankful for how Mai helped me. I couldn’t have done it without her. Really. My love for her helped me, too, because I started to worry about the effects of my smoking to her health.

    I’m also thankful to my Nanay, my mother… who constantly reminded me, even through text messages when I was far away from her, to stop smoking.

There’s really no easy way to quit. Not even nicotine gums and patches would help if your mind is not ready and you’re not in control. Trust me, I’ve tried them all. What worked for me was setting my mind to really stop smoking. To stop making excuses to continue with my addiction. It’s all about DISCIPLINE and DETERMINATION. You need strength to do this or any kind of transformation.

If a heavy chain-smoker like me was able to quit, you can, too! TRUST ME! Believe in yourself and you can do it.

To all smokers out there, here’s my message for you…quitsmoking

And just in case you’re interested, my dad and I are okay now. He’s actually glad that I was able to quit, but he seems to have no plans of quitting himself even after a couple of encouraging from me.

My mom’s extremely happy that I was able to quit smoking. And, of course, Mai’s delighted about it. *smile*

And, me? I look and feel happier. Thank God for giving me the strength to quit smoking.

  • Its good to hear that u quit smoking. Good. Well, i also smoke occasionally, but i am not addicted to it. I don't always feel like smoking, I don't know how i am not addicted to smoke, but i think its good.

    Hope u will never touch cigarette again.

  • a very inspiring transformation! like your father, both of my parents are smokers, too. and i feel they won't quit the vice even until old age. i already gave up my hopes for them. i admire your strength. 🙂

  • Congrats. I too was a smoker. Luckily, it wasn't hard for me to stop. When I realized that was enough, I just stopped.

  • @Manoj: Good for you. I hope your occasional smoking won't escalate to chain smoking. 🙂

    Thank you. It was really tough, something most non-smokers don't understand. It was an addiction and I'm really thankful for all the help I got and the strength God gave me. I was praying for it the whole time I was trying to quit. 🙂

    Thanks! Yes

  • Congratulations! I know how difficult it is stop smoking. I started at a very young age, late high school to early college. Even after getting sick and having weak lungs, it didn’t stop me. I lied to my love ones for years but what encouraged me to stop was the thought of starting a family and bearing a healthy child. I think the thought of hurting a little one is a great way to hit home. I stopped smoking and a couple of months later, I got pregnant and I’ve never been more thankful that I have a very healthy little girl now. I cannot bear to imagine the side effects it would have brought my child if I was still smoking when I get pregnant with her.

  • @Gene: I remember an officemate of mine who was pregnant back then. She told me her OB told her it was okay to continue her smoking as long as she keeps it at 1-2 sticks a day. The doctor said she didn’t want to upset her and the baby by forcing her to quit while she’s pregnant, which I found very disturbing. We all have different situations that drive us to quit smoking. Thank you for sharing your story. Congratulations!

  • wow! 11 months! i’m on my fifth month now. congratz!

  • Others say it’s difficult to quit smoking…I don’t believe it. Nasa tao lang un! Am a chain smoker but that was a decade ago. Realizing I’ve nothing to gain from it but just a waste of money I immediately stopped without looking back.

  • Daddy Joey: Good luck! 🙂

    Like what I said in my post, it was an addiction for me that’s why it took me a decade to quit. I agree that it’s really up to you if you want to quit but being addicted to something makes it harder to quit because going without your addiction can make you crazy. That’s why I underwent detoxing when I was starting to quit, unlike you. You’re lucky that you weren’t addicted so it was easy for you to just quit. And I didn’t start smoking socially. Hope you read my story completely… then, you’d understand.

  • hi, Mhel! I’m here from the Blog Party!
    great post! but quitting is a much greater accomplishment! *high five*

    i was touched by the love angle of your story, i guess you really know a person is right for you when you make each other better people. Mai has definitely brought out that glow that you’re wearing now! ;p

  • *high five* @ peppermayo

    Yes, I couldn’t have done it without Mai. 🙂 We both changed each other for the better.

    Thanks for dropping by! 🙂