We are often given big challenges in life, which although are attainable over time, feel overwhelming and impossible. It might be getting a college degree, saving up money for a home or beating an addiction. The sheer size of the journey required to accomplish these goals scares many people from ever beginning. That is unless of course, you’re Charlene Beckett, who found the strength to quit smoking by taking life by the hour.
“I never said I was quitting,” says Beckett. “If I would have said I was going to quit and not done it, I would have felt like a failure.”
Beckett started smoking in college and continued for twenty years. She says that cigarettes relaxed her, and made her feel less vulnerable because they created a smoke screen around her.
“In some ways cigarettes were my best friend,” says Beckett. “They kept me occupied, but never argued with me.”
When Beckett reached her mid-thirties, she became concerned about her health. She woke up one morning, and decided to try and not smoke for one hour. When she accomplished that, she faced her next hour. She continued this strategy for ten years.
“The first day was easier than the second,” says Beckett. “I struggled through my addiction one minute at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time. It took ten years before I stopped craving them, but now I can say that I’ve been smoke free for a total of twenty.”
According to Beckett the hardest part was the anger. Cigarettes relaxed her, and without them stress levels were high.
“My family’s happy faces and support were great motivators,” says Beckett. “I wanted to quit smoking for them.”
Beckett says that the benefits of smoking have been tremendous. In addition to saving money, she’s healthier, and her home and clothes are cleaner.
“The freedom of not being chained to cigarettes was a great reward,” says Beckett. “There were times when I’d get stressed out if I thought I might not be able to smoke.”
When I sat down with Beckett to discuss her strength, she was poised, relaxed and portrayed a woman of confidence. There was a time before when cigarettes had controlled her, and made her feel safe. But when she realized that what she’d thought had protected her all those years had become a danger, she took one bold step towards what she knew would be a long and hard journey.
“Hour by hour for ten years is a long time,” I said. “Where did you get the strength to face that first sixty minutes?”
“I can’t tell you what got me through those days,” says Beckett. “It was a gift. An extremely amazing gift.”
For more information on quitting smoking, go to www.quitwithusla.org