Monday, July 20, 2009

Sixty Days

Tomorrow is the day. 21st July. Sixty days.

I wanted a symbol; a lucky charm I could hang onto and know I was never going to smoke again. I wanted finality, some great epiphany to show me that at last, this was it. How do you differentiate between attempts when you've made so many of them? How can you know that this is the attempt you've been working towards for more than three years?

The answer is that you can't. There's no magical solution to addiction. You can't just wake up and have it gone for good, whether you've smoked for five or twenty-five or fifty-five years. It's always going to be there. And the way that alcoholics never drink again is the way I have to never smoke again. Never Take Another Puff.

I've been feeling, increasingly, that I'm now at a crossroads in my life. It's such a cheesy phrase, crossroads. But it's true. I feel like there's two very clear choices in front of me. I'm almost thirty-two years old. It's not an old lady by any means, I know that, but at the same time, I don't have the vitality of youth on my side anymore. I can't just continue to have the lifestyle (with the smoking, lack of exercise etc.) I have and not pay for it. Looking after myself really well is something I have always left for later. Well, it is later. Later starts now.

I started losing weight a year ago because I knew it was either that or face the rest of my life as an overweight person. It was really clear to me. My metabolism changed after I became pregnant with Jasper, and I gained weight quickly. More and more of it, even after he was born. I could see these two disparate visions of my future in front of me quite clearly, almost tangibly.

I now weight about 25 lbs less than I did this time a year ago. I've been rescued from myself.

That's what I want to do here. Invest. There are amazing gains to be had from quitting smoking even now, in the moment. I felt them, just a week ago - the energy, for one - my ability, quite suddenly too, to wrestle with Jasper on the bed, or chase him back and forth up the hallway. And there's the sense of freedom - knowing you don't have to leave some non-smoking place early because you can't bear not having a cigarette for any longer. And there's more.

And that's wonderful. But it doesn't keep me off them. Because you forget quickly how awful it makes you feel, and that one cigarette late at night is easily rationalised away as just one. Though it isn't - it's just the first, no matter how you try to trick yourself into believing otherwise. It's always just the first.

So I need to keep that long-term vision in my head. That it isn't about the one. About just being able to get back on the wagon tomorrow morning. It's about staying there, creating that future self that I want to be.

The self that I see doesn't smoke. She isn't crippled by all the things I am crippled by daily as a smoker. She is balanced, vital, fit - she has the energy to be creative in the way she wants to be. That layer of anxiety (all the nicotine in the world can't ease the withdrawal when you truly smoke!) that coats my life as a smoker doesn't exist for her.

And she doesn't live with all those shadows at the back of her mind. She knows she's forging her future every day, and doing all the right things to make it a positive one.

There's no regret.


  1. Well done to you. The thing that really stopped me from returning to cigarettes was the fact that the only difference between a smoker and a non-smoker is ONE cigarette. And I really didn't want to be a smoker. This is simple and easy for me to remember, even after a few too many glasses of red...

    It certainly got me past my flirtation with tobacco. I'm sure that in a few months time, you will have forgotten that cigarettes ever part of your reality.

    You're amazing x

  2. When I start to forget how bad it is, I can look at a few pictures I have on my computer. Of my dad swollen from steroid use to keep his lungs functioning a little bit. Of my dad on his deathbed with an oxygen mask over his face. Of my dad's hand in mine as he lay dying. Those are my symbols. Things like Father's Day remind me, I have no father to call or see. And so I remain smoke free for another day. I hope you do too.