A harsh and jealous mistress

As I am writing this, it has been 29.5 days since I had a cigarette. It seems like I’ve been trying to kick this habit since I started, and I sincerely hope that this is my last attempt to quit. About two years ago, I had basically gone the same amount of time without nicotine, about a month, but just one offered cigarette from an old friend sent me back into the cycle of craving.

My companion for several years in Vietnam.

It seems to be even harder to quit in Vietnam because cigarettes are cheap and there are many places where smoking is not banned. Finally, after an evening where I had a couple cigarettes with some beer, I went for a short run after work and I felt terrible. That seems to have been the last straw. I haven’t had a smoke since then.

About a week ago, I came down with something. One of the symptoms was a rather deep cough, and I attribute this to kicking the habit. Nicotine is a harsh and jealous mistress, and I hope I am done with her forever.


10 thoughts on “A harsh and jealous mistress”

  1. Hi – I wrote this some while ago – it was the Alan Carr book that did it for coupled with smoking bans that just made me feel like an addict rather than someone being social. Also I noticed that young people weren’t smoking like we did. I felt like a stinky old git. See what you think:

    “Firstly if you really don’t want to quit smoking then just don’t do. This isn’t about me telling you why you shouldn’t smoke or why you should give up. Honestly, smoke if you want to.

    “Plus, if you’re not really ready to give up then you won’t.

    “But if you are ready then it’s mind over matter. Not in a walking on hot coals type way more in the sense that you must not allow yourself to believe that it is difficult never mind impossible. If you want to do it then you will.


    “The first thing to realise is that you need no props. No nicotine gum, no inhaler, not even chewing gum. That last thing you need is extra coffee as you being hyper will only exacerbate the problem. Just don’t smoke.

    “You may feel a little jumpy. Your appetite may increase. You may find relaxing difficult but you need to treat these as side effects of detoxifying. If you feel any of these symptoms then that is good – it’s working. You are almost free.

    “Smoking is not an addiction. Smoking is a habit that you can choose to stop when you want to.

    “Quitting is not hard and don’t let anyone tell you that it is hard. If it was hard then almost no one would have achieved it and yet there are millions of people who have done it. Smoking is easy – you just don’t smoke. That’s all there is to it.

    “To compare it to dieting for example – you need food to live so working out how much you need to eat to lose weight, that’s hard. Cigarettes you just stop.

    “Tell people how easy it has been. Saying how hard it is is only giving you an excuse to fail.

    “Don’t change you life, don’t avoid pubs if you don’t want to – just don’t smoke. Not one.

    “And don’t count the days. This is the rest of your life – when would you stop? You’re not a smoker any more.”

    1. These are some of your favorite quotes from the book?

      Honestly, the toughest times were when a couple beers were involved. For so long that was a natural thing for me. I say were, not are.

      1. Not quotes – just I was going to write something about quitting and got as far as the above. I read the book a year ago so couldn’t really remember how much was me and how much was the book.

        But honestly the key is not giving yourself the excuse that it is hard. If it is hard then you can fail. If it is easy then you’d be pretty dumb to give in.

  2. Steve:
    Perhaps it’s better to say that it is not hard to quit after a certain point. At the very beginning, your body still craves nicotine and there is a certain psychological comfort in habit. However, I went the path of trying to avoid situations where I enjoyed smoking, and as time went on, those cravings diminished to the point were willpower wins over physical and/or psychological cravings. But that’s just my experience though.

  3. Eric- if you can get ahold of some mullein (herb) it is very helpful in helping to clear the lungs after quitting smoking. Ironically the best way to get it in your lungs is to smoke it! (you could also make a smudge….) All the best on your efforts to kick the habit-you will feel so much better! MEd

    1. Hi Maureen! I’ve never heard of that particular herb available over here in Vietnam, but thanks for the suggestion. My cough is much better now and seems to only emerge (less each time, I might add) when I’m exercising. It’ll be over soon.

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