White Knuckle Time
Barbara Jo Myers* of Indiana, PA, started smoking when she was eleven years old. "There were a bunch of kids in my school that would go behind the school during recess and gather at this big tree and smoke. They invited me to come with them the first day I came to that school. Later, one of the kids admitted he invited me because I looked older for me age. They were hoping I could get away with buying cigarettes for the gang, since we were all underage."
"Of course, at first I wasn't inhaling. It took awhile for one of the gang to spot that. Stuart spent an hour teaching me how to inhale. I felt so sick I had to throw up in the bushes. I have no idea why I thought I had to do that, why I had to keep trying. But Stuart said it was immature if I didn't inhale."
"I ended up with a two pack a day habit in a very short time. As I got older, my health suffered. I had asthma and allergies. I also didn't really like the way I smelled. But I just couldn't quit.
At one point, I did hypnosis and that worked for about 6 months. I remember a friend used to say, 'There's no such thing as quitting. There's only the amount of time between cigarettes.' After picking up at 6 months, I thought he was right and I was doomed."
"What finally got me to quit was something really so simple I still can't believe it worked. I mean, maybe there was other stuff at play and I'm not giving those things enough credit, but I'll share my secret anyway. A friend told me that the cravings pass within five minutes. They pass. She said if I could wait out five minutes of cravings, I'd have my habit licked.
That really resonated with me because it sounded so simple! I did deep breathing for about five minutes of white knuckled cravings, and then it would just be gone. Poof. It was just unreal. After a week, I knew this was going to work. No hypnosis, nothing magic, just waiting out five minutes of difficulty. It really wasn't so hard. It was doable.
Of course, there was one other thing I needed to do early on, and that was to give my husband my packs of cigarettes. I told him to really throw them away this time, not to stash them away for when I'd freak out and drive him nuts. There was going to be no turning back. But the main thing was really about the length of the cravings. If you can live through five difficult minutes, you can quit. And that's the long and short of it. I think it can work for anyone, and not just me."
Barbara Jo has been without cigarettes for two and a half years and still counting.
*Not her real name