Friday, October 21, 2011
I have an anniversary coming up and I can't believe I don't know the date. I quit smoking sometime in November or December of 1991. It is hard to believe that I didn't make more of a mental note of the date. It was a momentous change in my life. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I was a heavy smoker - for a long time - and I even loved it. I was ready to quit drinking, but I was not even ready to quit smoking. I didn't even want to! I did it to support a friend (who didn't quit). Now twenty years later, it still astounds me that I have never had a cigarette in all that time.
But after those first days of withdrawal, I have always "thought it through" like I learned to do with the thought of a drink. Sure, I would like that first puff, but I would not enjoy standing outside in the rain and snow, always bitching about it. I would not enjoy the cigarette I needed in the middle of the night. I would not enjoy the shortness of breath. I would not enjoy that raspiness in my voice and the cough that was always present. I would not enjoy the ever increasingly severe cases of bronchitis that I was getting. And then there are all the things I do enjoy that would be over if I were to smoke again, like marathons and triathlons, etc.
On the day my daughters were born, I spent a moment with each of them alone and promised them I would not leave them. It turns out I didn't exactly keep that promise, but I did try. My mother died when I was 19 and living without a mother is a desolate thing. I did not want to do that to my daughters. I am positive this promise has been involved in many of the paths I have chosen. I knew I would not live long, or even want to, if I continued to drink. I knew I was ruining my health smoking 2 packs a day. I knew that weighing over 200 lbs. was not going to help my longevity. Today, all of those things are in my past, and I say Thanks Be To God.
I do wish I remembered the date I quit smoking though. I know the year before I quit on November 11. I know I started smoking again in late May and thought I would never quit again. I know it was before my 40th birthday that I quit. But I don't remember whether it was November or December. Maybe it was even October. I don't know. But I know that I have been a non-smoker since 1991 and I am very grateful for that.
I am also grateful that I had cigarettes to lean on in my early years of sobriety. I don't think I could have gotten sober if I thought I had to go "all pure" at once. But I sure am happy to be now. The grace of God is a wonderous thing.