Hello, my name is Matt, but you can call me Mateo.
I was a smoker for 20 years. I smoked a pack a day about 14 of those years, and on a constant basis.
I’m 39 now, and I started when I was a Sophomore in high school.
I’ll tell you the entire story and be as real as possible. I won’t lie to you, try to soften things up, or pretend things weren’t as bad as they really were.
I was completely controlled by cigarettes. They controlled my every thought.
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This is my story:
I started smoking because of peer pressure. It was cool to smoke, mainly because I wasn’t 18 yet, so it was illegal.
Doing illegal things were always more fun to do, especially at that age.
Plus there was always that “new factor” which played a role in my youth.
You have to try everything once, right?
My parents smoked, people on TV smoked, and it was glamorized in the movies.
I stole a pack of cigarettes from a department store in my town.
In those years they were within reach of anyone, even children!
You could easily snag a pack and put it in your pocket, and that’s exactly what I did. I wanted to try them out.
Later on that night, after my parents went to bed, I snuck outside and went behind my shed.
I took a cigarette out and lit it and IMMEDIATELY coughed. It was terrible!
The bitterness went away after a little bit and I took another drag.
I was so dizzy and high I stumbled into the backyard, falling all over the place.
It was a great feeling, I won’t lie to you.
I enjoyed it, I really did. It was a total new experience.
The next day I woke up a different person.
From that day forward I had to have one cigarette a day, just to experience that same feeling again.
But one cigarette a day turned into two and then three and so forth. This is mainly because I was beginning my “party stage” during late high school.
I’d say I was smoking five cigarettes per day by the time I graduated high school in 1996, and that includes the time spent going to track practice, cross country practice, and living at home.
Almost all my friends smoked, too, at this time.
As I said before, it was cool to smoke. It didn’t really affect me, either. I wasn’t coughing, or wheezing, or having trouble sleeping.
At that time, I was fine. It wouldn’t last long, though.
By the time I turned that monumental age of 21, I was up to a half a pack a day.
I enjoyed them. They were my lifeblood.
However, they decided how long I stayed out. They controlled my life and told me what to do.
If I was planning on going to some huge event, like camping or a concert, I would stock up on cigarettes.
I’d buy two or three packs at a time, all different kinds, both regular and menthol.
I smoked in my car, in my apartment, around my parents, and in any public place. I was definitely addicted.
Everyone around me still smoked, and I was still going out every weekend. I knew they were horrible for me, but I liked smoking.
I woke up with crap in my lungs, though, and I had a constant cough. Deep down I knew what was going on.
Smoking was ruining my lungs.
I don’t believe someone in the mindset of going out every weekend is ready to quit just yet. There is some growing up to do first.
So, as we all got older, one by one, my friends began to quit. But, I didn’t. I tried, I just couldn’t do it.
I couldn’t understand how some of them quit so easily on their first try.
Were they just strong-willed? No. They weren’t as addicted to nicotine as I was. They weren’t chain smokers like I was.
That’s what it boils down to. I still envied them, though.
But, at the end of the day, I was still the party guy going out to the bars every weekend. I was not in the correct mindset at all.
Quitting was always a thought in the back of my mind, but realistically? No, I was not ready to quit.
When I was about 26, I got bronchitis.
If any of you have had this, then you know how awful it can be.
I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t talk, I could barely even brush my teeth without getting winded. It was a terrible, TERRIBLE condition to have, and it scared me half to death.
Imagine breathing through a straw, and breathing like that for 48 hours non-stop. It was just awful!
Yet, as horrible as it sounds, I still wanted a cigarette. How bad is that?
This is the power of nicotine revealing its true colors.
I bought an inhaler from the store and used it. It helped a little bit, but not too much.
It got so bad that I took myself to the emergency room.
They put me on a respirator that opened up my lungs, which helped tremendously. I did get better, but I paid a hefty price.
I got bronchitis from smoking cigarettes, and I was determined from that point on to quit for good.
I quit for three months, and didn’t smoke a single cigarette, but I was also 27 years old.
Not that my age meant anything, but I was still the party guy going out to the clubs on the weekends.
Going out on a date with a smoker is what made me relapse.
By that time, I had completely forgotten what it was like to have bronchitis, and all the negative feelings associated with it.
I had forgotten what breathing through a straw was like.
I had forgotten the promise I made to myself to never smoke again.
Sadly, I convinced myself to smoke even though I knew how stupid it was. Even that first drag felt weird.
I became a smoker again, literally within a couple days.
I went from nothing to a pack a day. Plus I was still using an inhaler.
Sometimes I would get shortness of breath, so I would use my inhaler to clear my lungs, and then I’d smoke a cigarette.
How stupid is that?
Very stupid, but nicotine doesn’t care, and I’m sure this has happened to some of you out there.
Back and forth I went for the next five years, quitting and relapsing, getting it wrong every time.
My friends were beginning to laugh at me, saying how stupid I was for relapsing. They didn’t think I could do it.
I don’t blame them at all. I was disappointed in myself, too.
But it’s just such an extremely difficult addiction to overcome!
It’s not easy in any way, shape or form.
For some it is, yes, but for me it wasn’t at all.
I knew how awesome I felt when I was a non-smoker, and how terrible I felt as a smoker. It was like black and white, with no grey area in between.
Either I smoked a pack a day, or I didn’t smoke at all. I couldn’t just smoke five, or only when I felt like it, or only when I drank.
It was all or nothing.
Quitting and relapsing over and over again can be very emotional. Up and down and up and down I went, going from super happy to super depressed, all in one day sometimes.
It really felt like a roller coaster.
I was consumed with quitting smoking, because I hated it so much, yet one little slip and I was back to being a full blown smoker.
But I FINALLY got it right, and because quitting smoking has become such a huge passion in my life, I decided to help others quit as well.
If you want real and honest information on how to quit smoking for the rest of your life, then you have come to the right place.
First of all, bravo to all of you who are striving to be quitters! I’m sure that your nicotine addiction is every bit as hard to address as alcohol or drugs are.
Now our story. For the first time, I can envision a bright, healthy, active future with him.
I am a non-smoker and have been married for almost 40 years to a “closeted” but recent ex-smoker. As Mateo did, my husband began smoking at age 17 because it was “cool.” Over time becoming a two pack a day Marlboro and a monthly cigar consumer.
He has been living with the lie and deception so well and for so long. So much so that his parents and sister weren’t even aware of this nicotine addiction. Witnessing him maintain physical and even a type of emotional distance from people always befuddled me, e.g. using a destructive behavior to hide another destructive behavior.
He has a genetic predisposition for HBP(medically controlled) as well as all of his male relatives have succumbed to MI’s(heart attacks) between the ages of 38-60. He has(probably smoking related) asthma that’s medically controlled and diagnosed sleep apnea for which he wants no appropriate treatment.
Though vaccinated, in August 2021 on our twins 31st birthday, my husband was diagnosed with CV-19. For the next three days as he convalesced at home, he felt few symptoms other than a fever and body aches. He was happy to be “sailing“ through the infection. It wasn’t until wee hours of the fourth day when he began to feel his chest begin tightening and a tickle deep in his throat. Choosing to not wake me up he let his mind wander. He wondered if he was going to be one of those unlucky people. A statistic. If these were his last few weeks, days, hours.
Sunrise awakened me. I went and checked on him in the guest room, you know, CV protocols, I could see from his furrowed brow that something was up but all he asked for was coffee.
He couldn’t hide the cough and wheezing for very long. As I served him coffee and breakfast he was trying to suppress the wheezing in his pillow. That part of the jig with me was up. He revealed some of his symptoms but not his musings. The cough got worse but the fever broke. The chest tightness remained— unchanged, but because my face to face time was limited I wasn’t able to detect it and he didn’t inform me that he was even experiencing it.
Because he was confined to the guest room he hadn’t had a cigarette in ~five days. He’d quit like this for vacations and such so I thought no big deal.
Another day and night of he alone knowing of his restricted breathing and now he’s connected it to a relative lifetime of smoking. More reflections on endless deceptions, the fact that I, our daughters and son were well aware of his situation and that it was odd that he was still hiding it from us. Now he realized that having four grandkiddos would he continue the deception? Penultimately the knowledge, acceptance and guilt that our son, who always looked up to him, had begun smoking at 17 too.
Combined, these were apparently too much to bear. He called it a type of, “Come to Jesus” moment.
He made a(nother) vow to quit smoking.
It’s not the first time that he’s tried quitting but at 75 days— it’s the longest.
I’m so very proud of him! He’s so hopeful for the future that he’s initiated his retirement processes for 2022! But his elation doesn’t stop there. He has the next two-three years planned out in our retirement. Personally I am elated! Our relationship is better than ever. He’s no longer having mood swings and his nerves aren’t as short. I’m no longer angry at the lies and deceptions. His stinky clothes no longer foul our clothes closet. His wheeze and bad breath are gone and he USED to snore like an ox but not anymore!
I wish you all a bright, healthy, active and wonderful future. The world needs more quitters.
I’m back I quit for 94 days and started smoking again it’s been 6 months since I quit and I started back now I got to go through withdrawals again and weird dreams and feeling sick but I have to do it because if I don’t I will die. And I don’t want to die. So this is the quit date 08/27/21 tomorrow will make it day one of not smoking here I go again.
Don’t beat up yourself too bad because I went 71 days and started fantasizing how good a cigarette would taste and once I did that little by little I was looking forward to one all day long again. The only thing I did right was every time I would smoke I made sure I never took over 4 puffs and I put it out. I did that for 2 weeks and now I have quit cold turkey again. Its not as bad quitting (meaning the withdrawls) but I think its not so bad because I was only puffing on the cigarette 4 times and then a few hours later coming back to do it again until the entire cigarette was gone…Its still a nightmare and Im a fool to have ever gone back..HOPE ITS GOING WELL FOR YOU! I JUST STARTED DAY 2 ABOUT 2 HOURS AGO…
Laura Knight says
I’m ending day 18 and can say this site is what has enabled me get this far. I’m 67 and have smoked since I was 12. I’ve tried to quit many times and failed every time, except now. This site doesn’t give false hope but tells the cold hard truth and that’s what’s necessary, from my experience, to succeed. Anyway, Mateo, what year did you quit smoking? And is it possible to read the chronological comments instead of getting intermittent ones from 2017 til now? I would love to communicate with current people going through this. Thank you
The last cigarette I ever smoked was on Jan 25th, 2016. So like 5 and a half years ago now.
The newest comments are at the top. I don’t want them at the bottom cuz people will be looking to find their comment posted.
Laura Knight says
After 5 and a half years it’s so awesome you are still involved in the quit smoking journey of all of us!! That speaks volumes. Thank you!! I hope I can do the same for others in the future.
I can relate to everything you have said pretty much, although I am female and now almost 68, smoking 54 years, never trying to quit, going 4 days once in hospital., gagging, being sick, taking medicine, keeping right on smoking and ignoring it al, i started this journey in March, and it was getting better, but ended up in hospital at the end of May, with mild emphasyma and now copd. First dianosis, oxygen level 80 and couldnt breathe, been in hospital twice since, just getting out Thursday again! 26 1/2 days today and like you said, NOTHING! But for me its quite an accomplishment but very, very tough! I really commend you on your journey and have found your blog, and web site very helpful and informational! Thank you
Laura Knight says
I hope you’re still smoke free. Keep up the good work!! I’m on day 21, 67yrs old and have smoked since I was 12. It’s still so hard. But I’m hanging in there.
Melissa S. says
Day 32 here. Last week pain started in my right side of my neck and has now moved into my right shoulder blade and beneath my shoulder blade. Is this something any of you have experienced? I am starting to get scared. I’ve quit numerous times before but determined this time will stick!!!
Thank you for this site!
Hey Mateo, just wondering if you ever had a pet while you were smoking and what happened with your pet after you quit smoking? Did you let go through nicotine withdrawals ? I’m on day 18 and my dog has been very abnormal lately. It could be from her old age, but. Just a curious thought.
I’ve had cats and dogs my whole life and they didn’t seem too affected by my smoking. I’m sure it did have some impact, of course it did, but nothing measurable by my eyes.