I may have borrowed the title from a WordPress daily prompt. That may be the point. This prompt was actually from a few days ago, but I read it and wanted to comment upon it. A while ago, I had said that I was going to talk about how I quit smoking back in May after almost seven years of smoking. I never got around to it, but today I am.
In an effort to be as cool as possible, I began smoking in 11th grade when I was sixteen. I could ponder on the “why” questions forever but I think it was a combination of curiosity and my ex-boyfriend smoked so I’d be around it and became used to it. Now, I grew up in a non-smoking family, for which I’m thankful. If I hadn’t, I probably would never have been able to quit. The first few times I smoked a cigarette, I did it all sorts of wrong. I didn’t get the point, just that the smell reminded me of my ex and boy did I feel cool (honestly). Then a friend showed me the proper way to smoke and off I went. In high school, it was a few a day. I remember smoking in my car after swim practice. Now, I could shake that person and hit her with a carton of cigarettes. Smoking is probably half the reason I quit the track team my senior year. Now, I had never been on it before, but I joined thinking that I could lose the few last pounds I glared at in high school, but quit after a few weeks. The other 50% of my reasoning was that I was so not a runner. Irony of ironies, that’s my favorite form of exercise now.
In college, I switched to menthol cigarettes and smoking half a pack a day. It became more difficult to only smoke once in a blue moon when I was surrounded by it on campus, at parties, even in front of my dorm. As someone with a history of seriously low self esteem and occasional bouts of overbearing social anxiety, I felt that smokers welcomed me. I had almost a ‘club’. Believe me, I know how this sounds now. But it’s the only way I can describe it.
It’s not that I’m damning smoking, at all. Most of my friends still smoke, at least on occasion. But when I was sixteen really learning what a nicotine buzz was (so thaaaat was the point!), I told myself that I would quit by the time I graduated from college. That always stuck with me. I didn’t want to be a lifetime smoker. Deep down, the D.A.R.E. stuff stuck with me; my parents warnings about cardiovascular health when I was eighteen stuck with me. I tried to quit freshman year and didn’t smoke for two months. Actually picked up running then too (on ice, almost died, it was fabulous). But come finals week, I was super stressed and fell back into it. I played it off two different ways for years afterward: 1. I love smoking, I’m not quitting until I don’t like doing it anymore and 2. Oh, I need to quit. It’s just getting around to it that I’m fighting. I never actually admitted that it would probably be hard. I knew that quitting was going to be rough, that I wasn’t sure how to handle being around a lot of my friends. So, I used that fear and fed upon it and just kept on smoking, wasting money. There was one time, my freshman year, that I was completely broke and craving a cigarette so badly I was losing my ability to function as a human being (i.e. yelling at everybody). My boyfriend at the time drove all the way up to Shippensburg to drop off two packs of cigarettes for me. I should have known then, I should have made the change then. But I didn’t.
My last year of college, I quit again for two months in November. But, I damned myself. I liked a guy that smoked and also happened to be a bit of a prick. We had a habit of meeting up after I got out of work and sitting in his car, listening to his iPod and joking around for hours. This guy would tempt me with cigarettes, waving them in my face and trying to convince me to smoke. I remember telling my co-worker Greg about it and he, a smoker himself, screwed his face up and said, “Wow, that’s a dick move. He’s an asshole.” And I denied it! I was so motivated to quit, I’d switched to the electronic cigarette and was only smoking that when I needed it. I was so pro quitting that I practically had balloons following me around with Surgeon General’s facts. But the one thing I didn’t give up was that time with the guy. I’ve said it before, I’ve been hopeless when I have feelings for a guy. Just, don’t even try to convince me that something other than sunshine and joy comes out of his butt.
Needless to say, I ended up smoking. At first, it was only one or two with him, then eventually I just started buying my own packs. Say farewell, lifestyle change! And on it went until graduation.
By graduation last May, I had a serious, begrudging, yet honest talk with myself. I didn’t like smoking anymore. I hadn’t for a very long time. It gave me a headache, I hated the smell, I felt gross when I smoked, it was a waste of money, who knows what I was doing to my body, and who did I have to prove anything to anymore? I remembered that promise that my sixteen-year-old self had made. So, after graduation, I began the process of quitting again. This time, my motivation wasn’t the through the roof, bouncing off the walls, “YAY FOR NOT SMOKING” banners and whistles I’d had before. It was a quiet realization: I had to quit. It was time. I needed to, if not wanted to.
So this is, getting to the crux of the matter, what I did: I cut down to two a day for a week if I wanted them. I bought a “last pack” that would keep me for the end of my smoking days. I blew through most of it during an alcohol-fueled Memorial Day campout at my friend and former roommate’s house. But that was okay, it was almost a last hurrah – which is not something I suggest, it just worked for me. I went to the beach the next morning with another friend that, while she smoked, promoted my quitting. She held on to my pack the night before and the trip. I smoked one cigarette on the six-hour trip down (impressive for me, a notorious car smoker), then only once a day the entire trip. Honestly, it was probably easier because I had things like the beach to distract me (though the alcohol did not!). After coming home, it was cold turkey time. I stopped, no electronic cigarette this time. I’d used that as a crutch, like an addict could use methadone. It didn’t actually help, just perpetuated the need and the habit.
I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy. I stayed in a lot, asked friends if we could go to bars or other places that didn’t allow smoking inside – a lot of Shippensburg bars allow it – and let myself walk away when I wanted one. It stunk that I worked in a facility that I had to go out with patients for their smoke breaks, but secondhand smoke has always grossed me out so if anything, it helped me not want to smoke. So I didn’t smoke a single cigarette for over six months afterwards, beating my two month curse.
I’d like to say that I never smoked again, but I have when a few sheets past tipsy. It’s a combination of my lowered inhibitions and others offering me them. Not that I blame them, at all, but it doesn’t help my willpower. Luckily, that’s only happened a few times. I try not to beat myself up over it, remind myself that what’s most important is that next morning, I don’t do it again. And I don’t. The craving is gone. The urge is gone. Even drunk, I’m doing a lot better. It helps that the guy I ‘go out’ with, while he smokes, doesn’t like me smoking. You’d think that would be hypocritical, but I love it. I love when people promote it. My parents are happy, happier than I think they’ll tell me, my family for the most part is proud, my friends (especially the non-smokers!) are excited for me, and I’m proud. I’m proud of myself.
So what does this have to do with the writing prompt? The prompt itself asked how you deal with big changes. To be honest, I’m great at adapting. It’s how I ignore great pain, deal with break ups, and deal with life. I focus on it, look for a solution, and if I can’t find one, I let go of the worry. Don’t get me wrong, I worry a lot. But it’s about different things! Great reasoning, self. I found, that when it comes to me, a little preparation goes a very long way. And that’s how I deal with changes – I’m proactive.
I’m actually waiting for my phone to charge so that I can go running. I have to tell you though, I look fantastic – I’m all mismatched shades of neon yellow and pink. Adorable. I’m going to run at least a mile and a half. I need to start working it up to two miles again soon. I just wish it would get warm out!
This morning for breakfast I toasted a “Nature’s Own” sandwich round (100 calories for the whole shebang!) with a piece of provologne and topped it with scrambled eggs that were three parts egg white, 1 part yolk (seasoned with sea salt, black pepper, basil, and tobasco), arugula, and tomato. I put the other tomato slices on the side for fun. I also had a delicious orange and yogi tea. I’m not sure what I’m having for lunch, but dinner with likely be a lean cuisine. I’ve had this for breakfast a few times now, and I love it. So good, so filling.
I’m going to try my hand at overnight oats tonight. Wish me luck!
What is your favorite breakfast food?
How do you deal with big changes in your life?