I’m trying to quit smoking.
And by trying, I mean I think about quitting smoking, but I don’t do much beyond cutting back a bit. If it gets uncomfortable, I go back to previously established levels.
A favourite quote of mine is, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.”
A good corollary would be, “Nothing changes if you don’t really want change.”
Part of the reason I’m finding it difficult to quit is that part of me doesn’t want to stop.
There are a million reasons to quit.
It’s expensive. This probably shouldn’t be my number one, but it is. It may be harming my body; it’s harming my pocket book more. Because I have a fixed, relatively low income, this is an important consideration.
I don’t like the smell. I like smelling another person’s smoke as it floats up from a burning tip. I don’t like the way they smell when they’re done. I assume the same odour emanates from me after a quick slip outside. I find that thought embarrassing.
Smoking makes me feel ashamed. Some people look at you when you’re smoking like they just caught you doing something vile to small animals. You are seriously frowned upon if you smoke in public, at least where I live. It was nicer in Mexico; no one cared if you were smoking – though that did take some getting used to; I was always expecting a curled lip.
It causes wrinkles. Thank god for vanity. It tries to stop you doing stupid things. Not because the things themselves are dangerous, but because doing them will have a negative effect on your appearance. I don’t like the smoking lines developing above my lip, and a myriad of articles have informed me that some of the lines around my eyes can be attributed to my history of lighting up.
Additionally, smoking is bad for your health. It causes cancer of the everything, you can get emphysema, and blah, blah, blah. The health admonishments never hit me as much as the self-interest ones do. I’m not sure if that’s a “me” thing – a function of the low-level of dislike I have for myself most of the time – or an everyone thing and those ad campaigns that focused on health and showed you grey, diseased lungs really missed the mark.
Even knowing all that, even with all the selfish and self-care reasons to quit, I don’t really want to.
My eating disorder worries about the “quit and get fat thing” even though I regularly pull up articles that promise weight gain doesn’t have to happen and there are things to do that will help you avoid it. Just the thought gets me anxious. To be honest, the eating disorder part of the brain isn’t worried about cancer. She sees at as a perfect opportunity to get thin, which just goes to show how dysfunctional she is.
I like the breaks smoking allows me to take. I like sitting on the front porch, looking out at the street, and occasionally interacting with the neighbours. A smoke break is perfect suited for my anxiety; it ties in nicely to the challenges associated with sitting still and staying on task for more than an hour.
I like how smoking gives me calm down when I start to get angry. My depression leaves me short-tempered; I get angry quickly and it’s mostly over-the-top and unwarranted. Stepping outside to have a smoke lets me pause before I wade in and cause harm.
There is also, I admit, some resentment that comes along with the idea of having to quit. It’s just one more thing. One wafer thing mint. I have given up a lot of behaviours already, made some serious changes to how I live in the world. I work hard on staying sober in my eating. I work hard on making changes that will help me recover from the eating disorder mindset. I work hard on letting go of the maladjusted coping techniques I used to deal with my anxiety, like cutting and compulsive spending. I work hard on my depression.
Which all sounds like so much rationalization and justification, and it is, but it’s also accurate. At the moment, for me, quitting smoking is a “should” and not a “want to”. I’m reasonably certain I won’t be able to do more than the aforementioned cutting back until that changes.
Next on the “to-do” list, then, is changing my mindset so a behaviour I’ve decided to accept is not allowed to generate feelings of guilt and self-derision.