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Today I am in my early 60’s and I have been smoke and alcohol free for seven years now, but the battle to quit smoking took me 16 years. I was puffing on cigarettes from when I was 15 years old until I was 38 years old, when I first began to seriously try to stop smoking.

I had felt for years that I needed to stop smoking for my health, as there was a history of heart disease in the family, as well as the financial cost, and I disliked waking up with a foul taste in my mouth, but the addiction to cigarettes had me in its vice-like grip. I was hooked.

Alcohol was a big part of my life too and I loved to drink and the cigarettes and alcohol went hand in hand. When I woke up feeling like death warmed up, I blamed the cigarettes, but they were both killing me.

I tried to go ‘cold turkey’ so many times but that didn’t go so well because as soon as I got in a situation where someone was smoking, I would want to ‘bum’ one off them. “I will just have one” I would say to myself.

I would feel guilty for bumming off people, so then I would buy them a pack of cigarettes so I could bum some more! Then I tried hypnotherapy three times, which worked for about 6 months each time, until I fell off the bandwagon by getting drunk… or something emotional would trigger me and I would start smoking again.

My next attempt to quit smoking was patches; they worked for a while but then I would get the urge for a cigarette, especially in a social situation and I would take off the patches, have a few cigarettes and then put them back on again. It was very dumb behaviour and what had become clear to me was that I needed to be part of the crowd and included, even though deep down I knew I was harming my body.

I was beginning to feel self-loathing as a smoker and became very conscious of smelling like cigarettes. How my husband of seven years put up with the smell is beyond me.

Then I started smoking roll-your-own cigarettes to save money and I had this belief that they were less toxic than the ‘tailor-mades’; meanwhile my lungs were suffering in silence. Every day that I smoked I would beat myself up, but I just could not stop.

In 2002 both my granddaughter and nephew were due to be born around the same time and I was very excited by the prospect, but was horrified by the thought of, "How could I breathe tobacco breath over these innocent children?" Once again, I was very motivated to stop smoking and read a book about ‘How to Quit Smoking’. I was halfway through the book when I just quit smoking and I stopped for 3 years. I put on 9 kilos in the first few months and then gradually lost it over time. Then I met someone who smoked and once again I was back on the bandwagon for another 6 months, until I stopped again. Eighteen months later my father was dying at the hospital and I was so emotional I grabbed a cigarette off my brother and away I went again . . .

In 2010 I went to a workshop at Universal Medicine presented by Serge Benhayon, who asked the crowd: "Has anyone ever felt there is something missing in your life?" My answer was a resounding yes!

When he explained that it was me that I was missing and that smoking was a way to fill up the emptiness I felt inside . . . the penny dropped.

One other thing he said that day which hit home was that there was no animal on the planet that would knowingly ingest poison, and we are meant to be the intelligent ones!!!

I stopped smoking from that day forward and it was easy; after nine serious attempts to quit smoking it finally felt like I had the answer.

I have not smoked for 7 years now, and I now know that I will never smoke again, ever.

Why did I start in the first place? It was the early 70’s and it was cool to smoke and apparently, it relaxed you. I was also very insecure, shy and never felt good enough, so the smoking was to help me be part of the crowd and a way to connect with others, or so I thought, but what I was really doing was disconnecting from myself, from my essence.

It’s funny really, because I smoked cigarettes to be part of the crowd and now smokers are made to feel like outcasts.

Fast-forward to today and I have never looked back; discovering why I started smoking was the key to stop. I have attended many workshops with Universal Medicine over the last 7 years, which has supported me to re-connect

Since I quit smoking, I feel joyful, healthy and whole and no longer need to be a part of any crowd, for I am free to be me.

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LifestyleEmotionsSelf-worthHealthy livingAddictionDrugs

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    Photography: Dean Whitling, Brisbane based photographer and film maker of 13 years.

    Dean shoots photos and videos for corporate portraits, architecture, products, events, marketing material, advertising & website content. Dean's philosophy - create photos and videos that have magic about them.