Today is my six month anniversary. I decided to quit smoking because I didn’t know what else to do. Not about smoking, just about life in general. People think it’s an admirable quality, having the willpower to not cave in to the urges and the cravings. It had nothing to do with willpower. It had everything to do with control. There is a difference. For some people, control is an eating disorder. Others turn it into compulsive cleaning. For me, control was a game. I wanted to see how far I could go before I cracked. I smoked for 18 years and I cracked nearly as many times during my previous attempts to quit.
Honestly, smoking became boring. There wasn’t much enjoyment left in it for me. When I thought I had nothing better to do, I’d take a walk out to the back porch. When I had to mentally prepare myself for a stressful encounter (such as a conversation with the ex or, God forbid, college algebra homework), I’d take a walk out to the back porch. When I needed some alone time, I’d take a walk out to the back porch. Nobody bothered me out there – it was one perk (probably the only perk) to being the last smoker left in the family. I especially loved going out to the back porch when my family of quitters would tell me how wondeful life was without cigarettes. I didn’t believe them, but mostly I was tired of hearing it.
Then one day I looked at my near-empty pack of cigarettes and didn’t feel the panic I normally felt when I only had three cigarettes left at one o’clock in the morning. I told myself I’d give it a shot. If the withdrawals left me feeling too miserable, I’d just go buy a pack of cigarettes and continue on with my life of bronchial inflammation and hearing my daughter ask, “Mommy, why do you want to die?” Eh, things wouldn’t change all that much. Until she asked me to pay for gymnastics lessons and I almost said (out loud), “Well, Mommy can’t afford gymnastics classes because then she won’t have enough money to buy her cigarettes, too.”
So I quit. Cold turkey.
The challenge of taking control over something and the absurdity of choosing my nasty habit over my own daughter’s happiness led me to quit. The money I would be spending on cigarettes now goes toward my daughter’s monthly gymnastics tuition and still leaves me with $30 to blow on Starbucks (my somewhat healthier habit that was brought back from the dead on Quit Day 1). My body reacted to food like it had never been fed before and I finally broke the 100 pound mark, leading me to jump up and down with joy after stepping off the scales at the local Publix.
No more girls size 14 jeans for me, no more bedazzled butterfly sequins on the ass of my pants. I can shop in the big girl section now – Juniors!
I know alot of people will wrestle with this idea of quitting smoking now that the New Year is quickly approaching. Don’t be bullied into it. Not by doctors, not by your co-workers, and not even by your kids! When your mind is ready to quit, your body will be able to better adjust to the endless fits of crying and random verbal attacks on strangers. Hey, nobody knows the hell of quitting smoking. Not even someone who has successfully quit. They’re already past the hell part. I can’t remember how miserable it was, I just know that it was. And then one day, I got the hell over it.
So I’ve added 27 days to my life by quitting smoking (according to some online statistics) and saved over $650. I’ve gained 15 pounds and look a helluva lot healthier. I take walks because I enjoy the fresh air now. It’s my present to myself.