A New Sense of Pride: An Ex-smoker's Quit Story

"It is amazing how your whole outlook on life changes when you quit smoking..."

Gail C. Berreitter.

Ex-smoker Gail's story is a good example of how much smoking cessation changes our lives.  We often think that once we quit we'll feel better and maybe have a little more time and money to spend.  It encompasses all of that certainly, but so much more as well.

Congratulations on your success with quitting cigarettes Gail, and thanks for sharing your story.


I am just amazed! Amazed at me! Amazed I've come this far. I can't believe I'm actually a WINNER!

Last year was the worst for me, but I quit smoking anyway. Then my year got even more horrible and I stayed quit. Then my health went crazy, but still I held firm with my quit program. I felt like I was on the side of a mountain, and when I got up near the top, I'd tumble down again. I'd get up and head back up that mountain, determined to make it over the top.

Well, I made it over the top and I'm sliding down the other side, laughing and smiling because it isn't bumpy on this side of the mountain. It's a slide to a better lifestyle, better health and a happier me.

I can't even describe my happiness. It's hard to put it into words, but I am not as grouchy or as touchy as I was before I stopped smoking or even through nicotine withdrawal and those first few months of cessation. I am a much easier-going person today.

For example, I got on the plane to come home. I sat in my seat but didn't buckle up yet because I had an aisle seat and knew I would have to get up two more times. Well, I ended up getting up about 6 to 8 times because people picked the wrong seats. One woman had a dog and she had a hard time getting the poor thing out from under the seat when the person who really was supposed to sit there came in. I told her to take her time and not rush when she was trying to get the dog out from under the seat; that everything was okay. The woman sitting across from me looked at me afterwards and said that I had such a wonderful attitude - most people would have been very upset by now. Eleven months ago I would have been huffing and puffing, tapping my foot, and tisk-tisking at the whole chain of events, but not anymore. Life is good.

I've changed my whole lifestyle in the past 11 months. Quitting smoking, working out, losing weight, and now heading down a new path back to vegetarianism. It may take me a bit to get totally back to that, but I have gone organic when I can and definitely all natural in my foods. I think I look better, and I sure as heck feel a lot better these days. I can even walk up 3 flights of stairs and not get winded.

It is absolutely amazing how your whole outlook on life changes when you quit smoking. Your self-esteem gets so much better and you want to take those feelings and do other healthier things for yourself. Once you get out of one bad habit, it seems you want to keep going and break other bad habits. At least it has worked that way for me.

To all of you who are getting started with smoking cessation, just hang in there. This is so doable. It is hard work for awhile - I won't lie to you. You will rant, rave, cry, and throw temper tantrums. You'll try to rationalize why you should smoke and that you can have just one cigarette. You will be tired and angry for awhile. But don't lose sight of the big picture. You have quit smoking! That is the main thing. All of the discomforts will go away in time.  It gets so much better.

Yes, I still have a bad moment every so often, but it passes quickly now. I have the education I need for continued success with my WIN. I know those feelings will pass. I know about the triggers, the cravings and urges, and I know how to get around them. Educate yourself. You owe it to YOU, to your quit and to your loved ones. Read, read, read as much as you can on this horrible addiction and especially junkie thinking.

To all of those who have gone before me, my new-found friends, my mentors, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have helped me through some of the worst times in my life. I owe my quit to all of you, for without you I could not have gone this far. I love you all!

I wrote a poem dedicated to my support forum "family" just for my 11th month:

A New Sense of Pride

The sun rises
As my day begins.
Revitalized, I meander
With emotions of
Life's consciousness.
Happy and content
I am able to cry,
Yet prepared to laugh.
Spirits high and proud,
I take each day
as it is predestined.
How full of life
I have become!
Awakening a rebirth of thoughts
Passionate and vivacious,
Resurrected in love of self
I have found a new inner strength.
On the edge of dreams
But still in reality,
I will walk forever
With a new sense of pride!

© Gail C. Berreitter
September 15, 2005

More from Gail:
From Loss Comes Strength

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