Today is the 40th day of my smoking cessation. Can’t really say it was tough, although it wasn’t a walk in the park either. For the last 7 or 8 years, smoking was not a ‘craving’ thing for me anymore. Meaning that I don’t have to have a cigarette right after I woke up in the morning, right before breakfast. Sure, I was like that in my younger single year, back home. But since I moved here, with the kids and everything, smoking was an on/off habit to me. Definitely off during both pregnancies and when the kids were smaller. Then on again afterwards.

I started smoking when I worked as a journalist, back in 1996. I was twenty three, although the very first time I tasted cigarette was in high school. Working as a journalist with 90% male coworkers who most of them were (and still are) smokers, I became one too. Especially because back then, there was no such thing as ‘non smoking work place’. Everybody knows that Indonesia’s like the smoker’s heaven, one could smoke almost wherever and whenever. Even in an air-con room. Watching my seniors typing up an article, kretek on their mouth, and a mug of hot black coffee nearby; I thought that was the coolest thing ever. One said, “It helps my writings.” I thought he was bull shitting me. But after a while, I experienced it myself. It did help me focus, especially when deadline’s approaching.

Since I mostly hung out with them outside work, plus my best friend was also a smoker, that nasty habit had gotten into me even deeper. In a club, in a car, after a meal, while waiting, on the phone, when I talk, almost all the time. First thing I look for after I got up in the morning would be my Marlboro Menthol (or Sampoerna Menthol -clove cigarette with menthol, imagine that- when I broke). Before bed, right before I brush my teeth, was the ritual of smoking; just to complete the day, I suppose.

But here, after the morning sickness, breastfeeding and all (plus the limitation of places to smoke), that habit has been deteriorating. It’s now more like a habit, something I’d automaticcally do after a meal or when I drive. It had found a different ‘purpose’. I found it relieving to smoke when I got stressed out. I told my super nice doctor, that when I got frustrated or depressed, smoking really helped calming myself down. I felt that as I exhaled, my trouble would blown away with the smoke. “Yeah, very poetic. However, lame excuse,” he said. Ouch!

I have not had a cigarette since August 1. At that time, we took a fishing trip up north to help us through it. We thought, it’d be easier to be away and actually doing some activities, instead of trying to quit and stayed at home doing nothing. We went to Ashby, MN for the fishing part and to Minneapolis, MN for the ‘city’ part. I got a chance to have a lunch with an Indonesian friend and her hubby. The trip went quite OK. Not perfect, but OK. I also had a ‘breakdown’ about five days ago, due to a PMS-related reason, and I did two puffs. That’s it. I threw it away immediately because it tasted horrible.

Whoever say that quitting smoking is easy, must not been a heavy smoker. Nicotine addiction is so evil. I know this from a personal experience. The withdrawal is so painful for the person who’s quitting, and being near that person isn’t so fun either. But unlike alcohol addiction which could harm other people beside the user, no police officer would stop your vehicle in the middle of the night and as, “Sir, have you been smoking cigarette a lot tonight?” No judge would order you to go to a jail then rehab for smoking 2 packs of Marlboro a day. There’s no ‘punishment’ nor authority pressure to have someone successfully quitting smoking. A smoker is on him/herself to try to quit. A help from family/friend and probably smoking aids (patches, gums, medicine, etc) would help. But most of all, you’re on your own. When a cigarette maker blatantly lied that ‘it is not addicting’, I was so mad because it is too!