Nfld. & Labrador

Cold Turkey: 'Tis the season for smoking temptation

To Carla Crotty, nothing says Christmas like a lungful of cigarette smoke, and she is longing for some yuletide time with her old pal, Du Maurier.

Carla Crotty is trying her best to be nice, not naughty, on her smoke-free journey

Carla Crotty uses an iPhone app to track her progress as she logs another day of not smoking.

I almost ended it all a few nights ago.

Don't worry, I'm not about to take my life or anything.

By "all," I'm referring to my all-consuming battle against the butts.

It was my own fault.

I allowed myself to be in the presence of several triggers. Christmas drinks were flowing freely, the aroma of cigarette smoke from other smokers lingered in the air, and the fact that "'tis the season" was almost an excuse for me to let myself indulge.

Enjoying an evening of Christmas cheer was by far the worst night I've had since I kicked the habit on Oct. 26.

I didn't give in

I longed to taste a cigarette. The power that those little sticks of tobacco, tar and nicotine still have over me at times is astounding.

I didn't give in. I wanted to, but I didn't give in.

That was partially because of my own willpower, but mostly because of my company.

I was with people who reminded me what an idiotic mistake that would be.

So I'm still winning the battle, and I'd like to think that will remain the case.

Life lessons learned

Quitting smoking has been a pretty big life lesson for me, though.

It's taught me some obvious lessons,  like it really is mind over matter.

My willpower has come through for me during moments when I've felt the biggest urges to light a cigarette.

Three days, three weeks, three months has a lot of meaning when kicking the habit.- Carla Crotty

I've also learned the adage three days, three weeks, three months has a lot of meaning while kicking the habit.

Days three to seven were some of the hardest days I've had in the last six months.

And right around that three week mark, I really started missing my relationship with smoking.

Now, I'm looking forward to getting past that three month hurdle, while at the same time dreading the cravings and desires that might come with it.

What I want to share most with you about this experience is that cigarettes, and the act of quitting smoking, is, for me, about control and the lack of control.

It's about control

Often we equate a battle with an addiction with a lack of control. 

But for me, it's been the opposite. I'm in control of this situation, even when the urge to have a cigarette forces me to tears. I have the choice to completely keep myself from smoking, or allow myself to finally give in.

I appreciate having that kind of control because there are so many other things right now that I can't control. A failed relationship, a dismal dating life, and a career that's off the rails.

Cigarettes represent all of these things for me.

Every time I can't fill my lungs with a huge puff of smoke from my old pal, Du Maurier, I'm reminded of something else I can't have right now.

On one hand, it makes me feel a bit more sad about those other situations. On the other hand, it makes me appreciate more that I have control — and the upper hand — in this battle to quit smoking for good.

It all adds up 

It's been one month and 12 days since I quit smoking. I have not smoked about 217 cigarettes. I've gained two days on my life expectancy. I've saved roughly $150 by not buying a pack of cigarettes every three days or so. My circulation is improving and my lungs are starting to work better.

I have an app on my iPhone that feeds me stats like that every day. Those reminders help keep my focused on my goal.

It's also been a huge help for me to hear from people like you. People who have quit smoking and have shared your own battles. People who have had loved ones die because of smoking related illnesses. People who just care enough about others to want to offer their support.

I'm hugely grateful to those of you who have reached out. Thank you for following along with me thus far.

I've no doubt that I still have a long way to go on this smoke-free journey.

But it's so much easier knowing I'm not going it alone.


Carla Crotty is a freelance writer in Conception Bay South.