Saying goodbye to smoking

Facebook just reminded me of this:
Life Event, Quit Smoking
January 1989 at Chicago, Illinois

That was a serious New Year’s resolution that actually worked.

It’s been awhile. I quit 27 years ago. Hard to believe now that I ever smoked, though I remember the struggle I had quitting. I was worried I’d have a hard time writing since it was my first year of graduate school and I’d smoked my way through all of my undergraduate essays.

There were also some strong personal associations tied into smoking that made it part of my identity–bad girl, punk, philosopher, writer, radical of various sorts–and hence hard to leave behind.

I also loved, as an introvert, the chance to leave a party or a seminar and get away from people and go outside. Later I discovered you could still do that without smoking. Probably these days checking my phone serves a similar purpose.

A few times along the way I relapsed but the problem was that I couldn’t get back what I wanted. I wanted smoking a cigarette to feel like it did back when I was a regular smoker, addicted to nicotine. Then smoking felt amazing. Without the addiction it just felt gross. Friends who were better/worse at relapsing said I didn’t stick with it. Keep smoking and in a few days I’d be back where I wanted to be.

But no thanks. I didn’t want to be a regular smoker. And the rewards of occasional smoking weren’t very big. So I stayed away.

Shortly after seeing news of my not smoking anniversary, this story crossed my Facebook newsfeed, A feminist case for quitting smoking and loving yourself more. The story intrigued me because it’s the story of smoking runners. For me quitting smoking and my first run at getting in shape–mostly I lifted heavy weights but I also ran–happened the same year. One replaced the other.

The story begins like this:

So a couple of years ago, my wife, Nikki, and I are at a party where we encounter a few friends we haven’t seen in a while. Conversation gets around to how we’d just run the Prague marathon, which our friends meet with the typical incredulity non-runners feel towards the willful madness of running 26.2 miles. A half hour later we’re all on the porch having a smoke.

“Oh my god,” one of the friends exclaim. “I can’t believe you smoke cigarettes and run marathons. I thought you were super healthy.” We laugh and shrug it off, “not that healthy.”

In the endurance sports world, there is a certain level of bad-assedry associated with breaking the health and fitness rules. And endurance sports, in general, attract bad asses. I’ve known ultra-marathoners who drank whiskey and smoked a pack a day while training. There’s a sort of pride in defying the “rules” and still kicking ass. You’re invincible.

You should go read the rest here.

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3 thoughts on “Saying goodbye to smoking

  1. I’ve never been a good “heavy” smoker, but I really have a tough time saying no in social settings. There is a community with the smokers. When I the group heading outside, I can’t help but feel left out of what I know are sometimes amazing conversations.

    1. Sometimes I still go outside with smokers and don’t smoke! As an introvert I miss that excuse for leaving the big group and getting some fresh air. Then I realized you don’t actually have to smoke. You can just leave and come back!

  2. I’m a casual smoker, albeit my ratio of cigars or cigarettes per day has severely decreased as I’ve had less interest for it. I reserve cigars for special occasions, whilst cigarettes are just for the common cold, so to speak. Still, I never grew an addiction, yet I never pushed someone towards it. Glad to know that you’re staying smoke-free!

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