This entry is generated by three things.
The primary reason for writing this is really about tying the effort it took me to quit smoking to the inner forces we face that challenge us when we try to do difficult things. The reference to The Flinch is important because it challenges you to push your personal boundaries and Leo has something interesting going with respect to the same thing. His site is stripped down, very minimal. It forces you to concentrate on the content; content that makes you consider how you live your life.
Quitting smoking was the hardest thing I have ever done.
I was 29 years old when I quit for the 3rd and final time (17 years ago, yikes). I started smoking when I was 16 and like any other young kid in the early 1980’s I thought I was cool and a little dangerous. Smoking was part of that persona. When I think back about it now I know that I was simply an idiot but hey, none of us is perfect, least of all me. I am fully willing to admit THAT.
It’s funny that I can remember these attempts so clearly when other memories of that part of my life are so very fuzzy (age and other stuff certainly contributing).
The first time I tried to quit I didn’t want to so it didn’t work, at all. I lasted a few weeks, suffered through the first stages of withdrawal and was a total shitty asshole to everyone around me especially my friends who still smoked. I fell back into it very easily and hated myself for it for about a second. It passed.
My friends were happy again.
The second time was a few years later when I was in Europe where I started feeling like crap every morning and decided that I had enough. I stopped cold turkey. Loser f**king move. I got this fitness thing in my head and started running; everywhere, all the time. I thought it would help me to fight the urges. It worked for a while and over time (3 months or so) I started to ease up, lose a little of the extreme tension and started to relax a bit. I just remembered being so damn serious about everything, so much so, it hurt. By that point I had lost a ton of weight but I was back to being an asshole. People generally hated me because i generally hated myself. Damn it.
Are you getting the message?
After I came back home to Canada I got back into the routine with my old friends and over a short period of time it was all over. I kept telling myself it was ok to have a cigarette now and then. I am not going to go back to smoking, nah, not me. I had this sucker licked. That inner voice was convincing.
That bulls**t inner voice.
I let it get the best of me and before long that was it. Back in the habit (and I’m not talking about some weird religious cross-dressing thing). The amazing thing was it was like I never quit. I was right back to the exact same consistency as before. It must be muscle memory or something. It was years before I tried again.
The third time it stuck.
Why? I wanted it to. It was hard as hell. It hurt, a lot. I used a smoking cessation aid but don’t let anyone tell you that it makes it easier because it doesn’t. It’s painful and generally a joyless time. At the same time I took up fitness again and found the world of mountain biking. I dove in. Deep. Ride, ride, ride. It seemed to help me keep focus. The difference this time was that I actually enjoyed being healthy and didn’t listen to that voice telling me I was missing something in my life. That little f**ker that sits there, all sanctimonious, lying out his ass telling you it’s ok to give in once in a while.
“You don’t have to push yourself so hard, do you? I mean, c’mon, ease up. You’ve done this before and look where it got you? Asshole that you are. Ok then, have it your way, I’ll just sit and wait. You know I’ll find an opening and I WILL wedge my way in. No worries. I have PATIENCE and all the time in the world. Go on, asshole, do your thing.”
I didn’t let it in.
You have to admit that with any difficult thing in your life that it is really easy to give in. Why make the effort when it’s just so much more work? Geez Louise.
- Making a difference.
- Doing the difficult work.
- Being a good person.
- Putting in the extra effort.
- Spending the time.
- Really listening.
It all seems like so much more than we really NEED to do, doesn’t it? My inner voice will tell me that every damn time. It’s always there; goading away but you know what, that bastard is pretty lonely these days and I don’t feel bad for it. AT ALL.
What’s yours telling you? How did you kick its ass?