For Richie, smoking was an ugly demon on his back. Since he's shaken it off, he's feeling a lot lighter in more ways than one.
Why would anyone want to submit a story about not smoking anymore? That was the question that immediately hit me when I saw this site and I guess the answer is complex.
Smoking is a demon on your back that brings on waves of guilt. The hidden terror of spitting phlegm and catching another cold. The embarrassment of ducking out of work or losing your temper due to the cravings. It's waking up stinking of smoke, going to sleep in layers of smoke, seeing someone recoil when you breathe on them. Having family and friends look at you with worry. Defending smoking from non-smokers, advertising campaigns, defending your 'right' to smoke, saying things that hide the fear - 'just a sneaky cigarette'.
The relief of realising someone else smokes. The relief and enjoyment of having a smoke in this constant never-ending barrage of emotion. The links between smoking and food, smoking and sex, smoking and exercise, smoking and eating, smoking and coffee, smoking and a nice day, a rainy day, a bad day, a good day, a birthday, any day.
Slapping your pockets, counting the coins, breaking the matches, empty bank accounts, empty packets of cigarettes, lighters everywhere, butts everywhere, cigarette hangovers. Giving up, starting again, giving up and starting again, giving up on giving up.
I gave up for the 7th time after 17 years of a pack-and-a-half-a-day and it took me 2 years to not want one all the time. I used packets and packets of patches and gum and patches and gum and mental lectures and reading quit books and convincing my girlfriend and convincing myself and physically walking out of 7-11's with money in my fist and angry outbursts and sorting the cravings from my own emotions and separating the cravings from hunger and separating the cravings from thirst. I wanted one when the seasons changed and when I saw an old TV show and when I ate meals I had eaten before and went to places I had been to before and saw people that smoked.
But now, all that is gone. I worry about the important things instead and I don't smoke, and I sit calmly in the sun. That is why I want to tell my quitting story. I can sit calmly in the sun.