Today is my last day as a smoker.
That took long enough.
25 years, to be exact.
And it’s been 25 days since I had my last drink.
I’m lining up my poisons like dominoes to topple; a delicate chain reaction that’s taken years of habit and ritual to build, finally falling from nothing but the strength of my fingertip.
The morning I woke up knowing that I
wanted needed to get rid of alcohol once and for all (again), I promised myself I would treat it as the easiest thing I have ever done.
It surely hasn’t been.
Not even close.
But here I am, 3 and a half weeks later.
The sky hasn’t fallen, my world hasn’t tumbled around me, and my worst fears of never being relaxed or having fun again have shrunk away in the shadow of how much more relaxed and sober fun I’m having.
All the hypothetical, horribly uncomfortable future scenarios I imagined never transpired. The days keep rolling forward as they always have, regardless of my anxiety or insecurities over dry lunches and un-tanked evenings.
99% of what we worry about never happens.
The process to this point hasn’t been easy and it’s been riddled with roadblocks and triggers ready to burst. But so far – I’ve made it this far.
I’ve had to watch my every step, and that isn’t going to change for a really, really long time.
The landscape we live in is littered with landmines, just waiting to blow us back to the beginning. From blatant advertising (not of a bottle of wine, but of how fabulous that wine will make us) to the more subtle social language of liquor (if you drink with us and like us, you can belong, like we do) the path to recovery is made up of a million carefully calculated steps.
It usually takes something extreme to snap our immature “but I want it” mentality back to reality.
Like a health scare. The death of a relative or friend.
A tragic loss that drops all your priorities into perspective like pianos falling from the sky.
Sometimes it takes something terrifying and obvious to fall at our feet before we finally open our eyes.
When Hubs and I decided to (finally) overhaul our diets last December, I made a quiet but wholehearted promise to myself that if I could first take control of that, then next I would tackle
drinking responsibly my obsessive and destructive alcohol addiction. Then, I would take on the intimidating beast that’s been riding my back for 25 years: the 25 smokes I smoke each day.
The more negative things you remove from your life, the bigger and more obvious the negative parts that remain become.
If I’m doing the work to eat healthier and smarter, why am I washing it all down with poison?
That was a key motivator for me in getting a grip on my drinking: common sense.
If I kept drinking, while eating to live, it was like I willingly shackled myself to a treadmill.
I was never going to get anywhere.
And now that I’m feeling somewhat in control of my diet and drink, it’s time to shake off one last demon that’s equally cunning and sly.
At least smoking, unlike alcohol, is socially shamed now. I’ve grown really tired of being the social pariah, the only one still sneaking out for cigarettes.
It’s like I’m still listening to New Kids On The Block while everyone is blasting Drake.
It’s like when words fall out of vogue (or never getting to become in vogue in the first place), you don’t want to be the only one still describing something as “so fetch”. (Mean Girls reference).
It’s just easier to stop using it.
Here’s hoping. I’m not naive enough to pretend or entertain the delusion that getting rid of cigarettes is going to be easy. Cutting out a 25 times a day routine of filling myself up with smoke and mirrors, pretending each cigarette “helps me relax”, opens up 25 times a day where I’m going to have to be really freaking present, really freaking aware and really freaking strong.
I’m not (usually) an idiot.
I know how awful smoking is for me. I am beyond aware of how wasteful it is to my health, my finances, and my time.
My time right now, and the decades that it’s stealing from my future.
We trade our future health and wellbeing for false, fleeting comforts in the now, that only leave us feeling even more uncomfortable and more unwell.
What a shitty deal.
And, we repeat it over and over, hour after hour, day after decade, until it kills us.
Smoking is just another big sledgehammer in my arsenal of self-destruction.
We’re so counterproductive and love to live in loops. “I’m going to eat healthy”– and we wash it down with wine. “I’m going to stop drinking” – and fill those dry gaps with even more cigarettes. “I’m going to quit smoking” – and fill that new void with…what?
We are always seeking a substitution. Another vice. Another poison.
I’m trying to get my life back to where simply being alive is enough.
The sort of life where I can understand and reclaim what truly being alive actually feels like, without crutches.
Without weapons of self-destruction.
And I can only start by removing the things that are killing me.