I just got off the phone with a friend whom I trust completely. We were discussing the bad habit I picked up when the ex left years ago. Her angels told her to talk with me about it today, although we have talked many times beforehand about it. My initial response when she asked if I had given any more thought to quitting was to groan as I didn’t want to think about it again. I knew she was right in her thinking and bringing the subject up, but I didn’t want to deal with it. Haven’t I been through enough pain? And surely quitting smoking would be painful.
There, I’ve outed myself. My dirty little secret for which I am ashamed. I didn’t smoke for over 20 years until the ex left me and as a convoluted fuck you, I picked up that first cigarette and inhaled and that was all she wrote. I was back smoking again even after not having had one in over 2 decades. It was a stupid response to my overwhelming grief and pain.
The cigarette numbed the pain and was a substitution for my voicing how I was feeling to the ex. It was, in all honesty, like drinking poison and hoping he felt the pain. But it doesn’t work that way. In a twisted way, I was showing him how hurt I was by his betrayal, but it wasn’t hurting him at all. It was only hurting me. It gave me an addiction which embedded itself in my psyche and grew stronger with each inhalation.
Hindsight is 20/20 they say. I know you’ve heard that before now. I read this quote: Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards by Soren Kierkegaard. How appropriate for me today as I step into my next healthy chapter and let go of the addiction which has held me spellbound for longer than I’d like to admit here out in the open and for reasons which to the healthy mind are ridiculous because it is inviting cancer into a body which has already dealt with enough pain.
I feel empowered after talking with my friend. I feel emotional and a little frightened to declare that as of today, I am no longer a smoker. It’s been my crutch, my strength (I know that sounds silly but my warped mind declared it). It’s been my fuck you, my friend, my time out, my help when I needed to gear up for something scary and my gift to me as a prize after I did something that was hard. It has been my disgraceful secret, my shameful flogging of my already beat up self-esteem and broken inner child. It’s been my carelessness about my own self health. It’s been a twisted way in which I didn’t care what happened to me because the ex left and my self-esteem was so wrapped up in my role of being his wife and mom to our kids. It was the product of my failure and the blame I felt for the failure of my marriage and subsequent divorce. I couldn’t be enough of who the ex wanted me to be for him to stay – which wasn’t true at all in hindsight, but with a battered self-esteem childhood issue, it made sense to me at the time. I didn’t blame him. I blamed myself for not being enough and in that unhealthy state, I would have done almost anything to keep our marriage afloat even though I had already lost sight of myself.
I’ve cried quite a bit in the last hour as I wrote this down. A release of grief streams out of my head, heart, mind and body. Wracked with tears, I’ve been rocking on the couch while writing this post. I’m not really good at self-discipline so this may be trying at times. While I wish there were a magic wand to simply wave away the deprivation which will come as I navigate the pangs for nicotine which may come my way, I will cold turkey the addiction.
As my trusted friend suggested, here are the three new rules in my life: 1. Don’t light another cigarette. 2. Change the channel when the urge hits. 3. Refer back to rule 1 and don’t ever have another one.
Sounds simple, right? I didn’t expect to be quitting today. It wasn’t even on my radar, but it’s been in the back of my head for awhile now. I quit a few months ago for a week, only to hear bad news and picked up another cigarette in response to it. I thought it would help me deal the pain. All it did was put me back to square one after having gone through a week’s worth of withdrawal.
My blog is embracing life’s changes and I write from an honest place. I’m tired of being tied to an unhealthy, expensive, disgraceful habit. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but it’s true. I need to break the habit. I began it initially to numb the pain and I figured it was better than drinking alcohol because I would be able to manage myself easier. Drinking only hinders driving (in case the kids needed me) and also my inhibitions to say what I was thinking to the kids about the divorce situation would only hurt them and me. I thought I was choosing the lesser evil. I’m a lightweight so if I were to drink then I might not keep control over what I said, nor remember what I revealed in an inebriated state. Stupid girl that I was. But no more. I am tired of feeling like a bad example to my kids and yes, they found out that I was smoking because the smell gave me away.
I have been through hell and back and I have inner strength that has nothing to do with smoking. I’ve gotten this far in spite of the smoking and not because of the numbing out feeling it gave me. Perhaps I would have healed more quickly if I hadn’t turned to cigarettes, but what is done is done. I need to let go and move on with my life.
Maybe my story, my honesty will help someone else who reads this post. Maybe my mistakes and the learning I’ve experienced will inspire someone else who is in a similar position. At least that’s my hope since I’m coming out to declare it.
And yes, it is a big deal to me. I’m sure to some people this may sound like a whiny post, but the reality is that it’s very real to me. It’s a huge step in clearing the clutter from my life so that I can move on. I saw that eHarmony was offering 50% off membership until today but I have shied away from putting myself out there on online dating sites because I smoke and you can’t hide it. No matter how many showers, breath mints or mouthwashes, it’s there insidiously, smelly and dirty. I don’t want a smoker in my life and I don’t want to be known as a smoker, especially when it comes to potential dates.
I am not a smoker. I am a woman who has dealt with painful experiences and losses enough for a lifetime. Smoking no longer defines me. Health defines me. I can’t change the effects that are here from previous smoking, but I can choose to heal my body starting now.
And that’s my choice and I’m sticking with it.