Sunday, June 21, 2015

How to quit smoking in only 753 days*

This is the post in which I publicly declare my intention to not smoke anymore.

If you would rather not read the following confession/meandering account of my complicated struggles with smoking, that's okay. You can maybe read this post instead. If you want to keep reading just so you can comment and tell me how gross I am for smoking, please don't. I'm hard on myself enough as it is. Trust me.

For those of you who have never been addicted to smoking, let me tell you that it's complicated. I know--I really know--that I shouldn't do it. I am well versed in all the reasons that it is a terrible choice to make. It is rotten for my body, it makes me smell, it pisses off people around me, it's expensive, and it is a waste of my time. I GET IT. (Sorry for yelling.) Asked directly whether or not I want to smoke and I'll say hell no. It's a stupid habit. But then you'll probably find me ten minutes later smoking secretly behind my house, away from my family, because I am one addicted human being.

I'm a passionate sort who throws myself into situations with every ounce of my being, and this holds true for smoking. Some might call me an addictive sort, too, and they'd be right. I'm addicted to coffee, to delicious food, to my family (probably not in that order), and sadly, I've been addicted to smoking off and on for over twenty years. I started sneaking my mother's cigarettes when I was fifteen and it was everything I had dreamed of. Sound ridiculous? Because it is. I had hated my parents' smoking for years, but there I was figuring out how to rebel against the world and discovering that smoking made me feel quite rebellious. Before long I was a regular smoker all the way up until the day I found out I was pregnant with Alyce.

I would like to tell you that I quit that day and never looked back, but no. Not only did I look back but I spun my head all the way around and never took my eyes away. For the better part of five years I didn't smoke, feeling pleasantly smug about my not-smokingness, yet I always thought about it. It was a terrible waste of energy, all that time I wasted thinking about smoking, but it was an obsession of sorts. Though not the obsession it has become more recently.

Two years ago I started smoking socially, and then quickly returned to committed smoking all the time once I started midwifery school. I blame my anatomy and physiology course and all those damn multiple choice exams, but honestly, the new stresses of school were just an excuse I gave myself. In reality I'd always known this was going to happen. I was no longer breastfeeding, I had some more independence from my young children, I was a free woman.

Yet every day I smoked I felt shame. Big, heavy, bossy shame about being a smoking mother (not that my girls ever saw me smoke), a smoking midwifery student, a smoking human being. I had endless conversations with my myself about how bad an idea it was to smoke again, and I had so many reasons not to smoke, namely that I want to live as long as possible so that I can kiss my children's faces until they are grandmothers.  Nevertheless, smoking quickly became a thing I did and I came to rely on it to get me through the semesters. Each week I'd hatch a plan to quit, and each week I'd keep smoking. I stopped once for ten weeks, but I was lured back again and again.

Fast forward to six months ago and I quit, this time for what I truly believed was the end of my smoking. My health was getting worse (unrelated to my smoking, though I'm sure it didn't help things) and I was about to start my first clinical placement. I put a lot of pressure on myself to quit. Who needs smoking when there are babies to be caught? Right? Right. Until seven weeks into my placement I succumbed to my still very active obsession and started all over again, this time with almost daily plans to quit.

This is where I am now. Smoking and quitting on an almost daily basis. Sound ridiculous? Maybe, but I'm not trying to be. I actually want not to smoke for the rest of my life. But MAN is it hard to follow through on the promises I make to myself about quitting. It's hard work, plain and simple, and hard things take work. I look back on these past two years and I like to believe that I just haven't had space in my head to the do this hard work of quitting. My head has been filled with school, work, financial stresses, and sometimes, depression. No space. Closed .

But now that I'm taking a pause I'm ready. Ready or not. I'm taking this year for myself and it's really time to relinquish my obsession with smoking. It's time.

Wish me luck. I need so very much it.

Be well!

*give or take a few

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