As we’re once again looking to move house, so begins the de-cluttering.
For me, I take the opportunity to look through my memory boxes, I like to think in case I have the urge to throw things away, but the reality it’s a perk of moving house so often, to remember how far you’ve travelled.
I found an old photo album, and within it there’s a photo.
And it’s horrible.
It’s a work Christmas party, I’m there, smiling with three colleagues, I remember them fondly. I’m friends with one of Facebook- twenty years on.
But the photo will probably never be taken out of the memory box.
I hate that there’s a cigarette in my hand.
I used to smoke.
I know exactly why I began. Although if you had asked me then I would have strenuously denied it.
Peer pressure. I didn’t feel pressurized. I just wanted to be accepted. Normal.
I started smoking at 15.
I can tell you all the tricks in the book to create the illusion in your own mind that your parents haven’t got a clue.
They searched my school bag at 16 and got proof.
I was an obstinate child, and went out that night and smoked more than ever, as I bitched about the invasion of privacy.
I was never classed as a proper smoker, probably reflecting my motivation for starting.
But honestly, I did enjoy it.
And as I tried to give up, I got to understand a lot more about the triggers for smoking.
The easiest thing to do was lessen the strength of my cigarettes, although this may not be scientifically appropriate, at that time I went from Malboro to Regal to Silk Cut. I thought this to be a good thing.
I began to understand why I smoked.
I worked in an office, and unless you smoked there was little justification for leaving your desk. Smoking gave me a time out, it gave me five minutes of breathing space, or neutral thought. Oddly it would have been frowned upon to take this time out without a cigarette in hand.
I smoked more when I was stressed. For all of the above. I needed time out.
I went to work functions, and it really was like the episode of Friends, where everyone got up to go outside for a cigarette and if you weren’t there you missed out on the conversation.
There was no motivation to give up.
And I enjoyed smoking when I drank. I never understood the link with alcohol, but towards the end I only ever bought cigarettes for an evening out.
And the truth is now, I can’t remember when I gave up.
I gave up gradually, I bought cigarettes for nights out and the cigarettes left would see me through the in-between.
Maybe I stopped going out.
I remember finding a half a pack of cigarettes in a handbag, having no idea how old they were, and realising I had given up.
What I know now is it’s about the triggers, I have now transferred from cigarettes to eating, same logic.
There are vicious circles of habits.
And will power is great if you have it.
Right now it’s about reducing the triggers.
Legal & General want to understand the impact of giving up, coping techniques.
But therein lies the problem. We are all such individuals.
I have friends who gave up but will still enjoy the odd one with alcohol on a rare night out, I have a colleague who gave up for 18 months and is now back smoking, and we have friends who at least once a year attempt to give up.
All you can do is support, not judge, and whilst your experience is great, it’s not going to be the same for them.
Disclosure: This is a collaboration post.