Now, I realize that it’s a shady habit these days and you probably shouldn’t admit to ever doing it, but I still know people who are struggling with quitting and I want to offer encouragement and joy. I loved cigarettes, and loved smoking. It’s a quiet, constant companion when you’re doing something like writing for a living, which means you are locked in your own little room with a keyboard and a screen for 6 or 10 or 16 hours a day (depending on the deadlines). It kept my weight down, until I started the cycle of quitting, then starting, quitting, starting, quittingstarting (repeat 10 times for period of 1 day to 1 year).
But it is an awful habit, too. It stinks. It’s antisocial. It’s not like you can do it sometimes and then not do it other times, like drinking wine or running or something like that, varying your habit according to the company you keep, because it’s so very addictive. So I started trying to quit. Over and over. I tried everything from those little plastic filters to hypnosis to patches to antidepressants (which, let me tell you, turned me into a lunatic, because well….I wasn’t depressed).
Finally, I promised my oldest friend that I would quit so that we’d at least have a chance to be old together. I chose a date. I braced myself for the weight gain, added some walking, got some patches, joined an online service for support. And quit.
The one thing I changed was the rule about cheating. Not one single drag or one single cigarette, no matter what. Not one.
And finally, you know what? I quit. I am so proud of myself, still. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I include the Avon walk and the trip to the top of Pikes Peak and 7 days hiking in France without enough training and seven blisters.
Not smoking opened up so many possibilities. Like hiking all over the world and not being afraid of it. Like flying for 15 hours without having a meltdown. It made me think we are so much more powerful than we think we are. It makes me want to set a new goal, and maybe I will.
What have you done that you’re proud of? And what would you LIKE to do?