God's love and my guardian angel helped me beat my addiction.
- Posted on Jun 6, 2012
There were two ways I relaxed: quilting and smoking. Quilting was my passion. Smoking was my addiction. I was a nurse. I knew cigarettes were slowly killing me. But I just couldn’t stop. My good sense couldn’t stop me. My husband couldn’t stop me. My kids couldn’t stop me. I was a smoker, and that was that.
I loved the ritual: Take the cigarette out of the pack and put it in my mouth, flick the wheel on the lighter and watch as a spark becomes a flame, suck in and taste that first drag of smoke. A ciga- rette first thing in the morning or after a good meal felt like a reward.
One day after work, I settled in at my quilting studio. I was in the middle of a baby quilt, and I pulled out my fabric. The cloth reeked of cigarette smoke. You’re going to give this to a newborn? I chided myself. No more smoking in my studio. As it was, I was running out of places to enjoy a cigarette. At home I had to go out on the deck to light up. I guess my family did have a point about the smell.
I took the baby material home for a good washing. That night, out on the deck, I stared up through the plume of smoke into the stars, wondering which one my guardian angel was sitting on. He probably wants you to quit too, I thought. Days later, I developed an uncontrollable cough. “Are you okay?” my husband asked. I struggled to catch my breath.
“Fine,” I insisted. But after weeks with a hacking cough, I felt more foolish than ever. “I know, I know,” I told my husband when I came in from the deck one night. “I want to quit. I’ll try after this pack’s finished. I promise.” I hated to see the day come, but I’d promised. I crushed the empty pack and dropped it into a wastebas- ket one morning before work. Within an hour my head buzzed. Then came a full-on headache.
I went to work. I snapped at co-workers. I was curt with patients. I fidg- eted, not knowing what to do with my hands. This is too much, I thought. Soon as my shift was over, I raced to the store. I tried other ways of quitting: hypnosis, the patch, nicotine gum, cutting down. But nothing worked.
I got tired of people’s dirty looks, complaints and lectures. Seemed the only place left to smoke in peace was in my car. Of course, there was no escaping my own better judgment. I strode across the parking lot one night after work. God, if only quitting were easy, I prayed silently, I’d do it in a heartbeat.
I buckled up, started the engine and reached for my cigarettes. Oh no! Only one left! I’d have to stop for a fresh pack on the way home. Just as I put the cigarette in my mouth, I heard a voice. I thought you wanted to quit. Who said that? I looked in the backseat. Nobody there. Now I was hearing things. The voice of my guardian angel, for all I knew.
I do want to quit. Well, put up or shut up. Tough talk from an angel? I had to laugh. But the words rang in my ears: “Put up or shut up.”
I thought for a moment. This was one way I had never tried to quit—with divine intervention. Who knew how many times I’d heard a voice telling me to quit, yet I refused to listen? Now my ears were open and I was ready. “God, I’ll quit if you help me. I don’t want to suffer withdrawal or cravings. I’m too weak,” I said.
No promises from my guardian angel. But I felt a conviction come over me: This cigarette would be my last one ever. That was it. No more. For real. I made it through the evening and went to bed early, just to be safe. The next morning I jumped out of bed and had my coffee, as usual—but not out on the deck with a cigarette. My husband didn’t know what to make of it. At work someone asked me why I wasn’t dying for a break. It was midafternoon. It struck me that I had not smoked a cigarette all day. No one was more surprised than I was. My family believed me when I said this time quitting was for good.
They say the first couple of weeks are the toughest. For me it was a breeze. I quilted more than usual to keep my hands busy, but I never went through withdrawal, and I’ve never been tempted to light up since that night in my car. I know it’s a miracle. Because a tough-talking angel told me to put up or shut up. I put up, and God won’t let me down.
If only that angel would drop by my studio. I’d make him a nice quilt.
This article is excerpted from Threads of Encouragement.
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