Thursday, May 26, 2011

Quitting Smoking: Getting Over Myself

I remember thinking a few years back, “What if I treated myself the way I treat my kids? What if all that love and understanding, compassion and forgiveness, unconditional kindness was directed to my own heart and head?” What a revolutionary thought! Like every good Mama, I dismissed the idea. Ridiculous. Well, I never did anything with that thought before now and I can say with certainty, it really did the trick.

My last blog was January 30th, four months ago. At that time I said I was looking for a way to transform myself in a good way. I don’t know if I’ve accomplished what I meant, but I did quit smoking and had to wait a month to be sure I had a handle on it before I came back to Open Salon. Nothing worse than a self-congratulatory hypocrite.

I did it. I kicked the habit. How did I do it, you ask? With an acute awareness of my lack of self discipline, tons of patience, and kindness to myself. I never thought I could do it. I’ve tried so many times and failed miserably. This is the first time I just took my time and learned how to do some serious and kind self-talk. Oh, and drugs. I took Chantix for 3 months.

I started to smoke at 13, buying my cigarettes at vending machines in gas stations. I seriously started smoking at 18. I grew up in a world where most of the adults smoked. In the 70’s, I smoked through 2 pregnancies without the doctor saying a word about it. It has been 43 years since I woke up without running for a smoke to go along with my first cup of coffee.

Breaking my habits one by one, I started with the first cigarette in the morning and the last one at night. I used to smoke 3 cigarettes before even took my shower. I won’t tell you that I didn’t love it. I did. Even now, probably 2 times a day I have an intense craving. But if I breathe deeply, remember what a drag tasted like, I’m fine. The moment passes.

The downside of quitting: The drug gave me terrible insomnia. I had crazy acid dreams that woke me up and I couldn’t fall back to sleep. For example, I was being told to jump in a well with a walrus. I was saying,”No, you have to tell me your plan for getting me out.” I didn’t get an answer so I didn’t jump, but I opened my eyes at 1:12 a.m. and stayed awake all night.

I would have to take an over the counter sleep pill before I went to bed to sleep enough to go to work to function, make a living. For one month after quitting the Chantix I was utterly, pathetically exhausted. That’s going away. I just realized I feel pretty good today and I’m going swimming.

The good reasons to quit: my grandchildren. I just don’t want them to remember me as the lady in the backyard by herself, margarita in one hand, cig in the other. I want to breathe and not be a sick old lady. That’s the truth of it. I was really nice to myself while I made mistakes, backslid, felt sorry for self. It worked. I waited longer each day to have one, finally realized how silly I was to have 2 a day for about 6 weeks. I just set the date and did it.

Do I miss it? Yup. Then I take a deep breath and it feels good. I am taking one day at a time. Conveniently, with an addicts’ sense of logic, I kept a pack by my bed stand with 2 cigarettes in it. I told my sister I kept them so that I didn’t feel deprived and I could have ‘em anytime I wanted. Then I realized that those words were like an alcoholic saying he can drink anytime he chooses.

I threw them out. Along with my hand lotion, mouth wash, and hand sanitizer in my front seat. Oh, and I got the new car.

I also promise if I walk by you in the street and you have a cigarette, that I won’t wave my hands and make hissing noises, with a disapproving scowl on my face. I hated that before and I hate it still. This is a beginning that I like. Cheers.

Though your destination is not clear

You can trust the promise of this opening;

Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning. john o donohue~

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