I quit smoking last year.
The thing that I used to refer to as “my one vice”.
Much to my mother’s chagrin, I am sure, I started smoking when I was 14. Call it curiosity, call it pure rebellion, call it what you will. I still remember that very first time. I was babysitting, of all things, and I was down in the basement putting some dirty clothes in the laundry room when I noticed a makeshift ashtray made out of tinfoil with a few butts in it. They were mostly smoked down to the filter but one was crinkled up and still had a good quarter of the cigarette left. Clearly, I thought, he was hiding this habit from his wife, his kids or both. So, there would be no one to tell if I took that crinkled up old cigarette. So I did. I stuck it in my pocket and grabbed a book of matches from the pile they kept near their barbecue and on my way home, I smoked it.
I remember being really intrigued by the taste, while coughing as my baby lungs were assaulted. And that moment of intrigue led to 25 years of on and off smoking.
Sure, I managed to quit each time I was pregnant, it’d be pretty shabby of me if I hadn’t. But always something would happen that would propel me back to it. Unfortunately.
And then there was the other big problem I had with smoking. I really loved it. Honestly, I always enjoyed the taste, I loved the way it calmed me down. I loved that it was a break in my day, a reason to go outside. The social aspect of it. I just loved it.
And then I got into my late thirties and I started to resent it. I resented all the money it took, I resented how I became a crazy person about people stealing my lighters. I hated that I felt like a slave to it sometimes. So, Shawn and I tried to quit. Last August we bought e-cigarettes and started “vape-ing” as they put it. It was a weird substitution and it was a hard transition. I know that we bought had secretly bought real smokes and were sneaking them from each other when we were at our jobs.
But then Shawn had his heart attack and it was clear that one of the factors was his smoking habit. 25 years of a pack a day will do that to you. So, I asked the kids at the time, who always hated me smoking anyway, to please just give me a week. Just a week, to deal with all the upheaval and emotions of their dad being in the hospital, and I promised I would put them down for good.
It took me two weeks.
But I did it.
And now it’s been a year.
For the first months, it was hard. Every time I smelled it, or walked through a cloud of smoke in the uptown I would crave it, hard. But then I would walk next to someone who clearly smoked for years, in their house, in their car, and their whole being was perfumed with old, stale cigarette smell and I would nearly gag at the intensity of it. Those were the times I was glad I was done.
And now here I am on this side of a year, not craving it, not even missing it. It’s one of the best things I’ve done in my life in recent years and I’m thankful that I got through it.
Now, I know those of you who are still smoking have all the same reasons I did for keeping the habit. It calms you, reduces stress, helps curb your appetite, etc etc. And yes, I know you all know the health risks. All smokers know this, so I won’t bore you with it again. But I will encourage you to quit. Just take a look at the people around you. Don’t you want to be here for them? Because I do. And if you don’t want to, or you’re not ready, then don’t. Seriously. You can’t make someone be ready to put them down. I tried for years. For my kids, for my friends. It was only when I did it for me that I could actually make the change.
I’m happy to be celebrating this anniversary. And I’m happy that it means that I’ll be around a little longer for other anniversaries just because I was able to do this.
Happy One Year to me!