I’m off sugar again. Well except for yesterday. It hit me the same as when I quit smoking. You know one of those habits where you know you should quit but you get too much enjoyment out of it so you keep going asking in your prayers for the strength to stop and then you just keep smoking or drinking or eating those hostess cupcakes. Go ahead and laugh but an addiction by any other name…wait…what comes after that? And addiction by any other names is….??
Well anyway, I started smoking (cigarettes) when I was really young. I mean REALLY young. I was in 6th grade. I remember walking to Mikes Cash Market, which was probably a mile from my house, on a back road, in 6th grade, with Ellen, who was also in 6th grade. Nobody cared that it was a secluded country road and we were what 11? I mean first of all I walked there without a thought. My kids wouldn’t walk to the corner. Second I was ELEVEN! Perfectly acceptable behavior in our part of the world (the country) – not to mention that someone at Mikes Cash Market was selling me cigarettes as an 11 year old. I remember asking my dad, still in 6th grade, if I could smoke in front of them. I mean can you just imagine???? Stephanie and I were talking about memories last weekend. Sometimes you remember a snapshot, like a photograph, and other times you remember like a movie. She has some hilarious movie type memories. But those are her stories, for her blog. This memory I have of asking my dad if I could smoke is a movie memory. He was calm and went to this little night stand he had and pulled out a white cloth handkerchief and blew smoke into it so he could show me the brown nicotine that goes into your system, which meant absolutely nothing to me. So I asked again, “can I smoke or not?” – then he said no. I don’t even think he was that surprised that I asked. He probably smoked at 11 years old too. I was pissed. How dare he tell me no. I mean aren’t I a grownup? Dam parents.
I continued to smoke for many years…well not as many as some, but it certainly defined me for many years. My friends smoked…and again I’m remembering a time when Diane and I went through the yearbook and picked out “he smokes, she smokes” photos. I think we may have been drunk. I’m not sure about that but everytime she brings up “he smokes she smokes” we crack up. So many smoking memories. Jean and I smoked Virginia Slims, then I went to Marlboro’s and I finally ended on Marlboro Lights. When I first started smoking I tried Kool’s. Do they still make those? They were nasty.
I remember picking butts up off the ground (butts, for those of you that don’t know, are already smoked cigarettes that someone threw out while there was still perfectly good nicotine left) –we’d pick those up off the ground and smoke em. Unless they were menthol. Daddy smoked Camels. They didn’t have filters. He was lucky I didn’t like them or I would have stolen most of his; although on occasion I would.
In highschool (and junior high) we would smoke in the bathroom at school. I got sent to the office in junior high for smoking in the bathroom, but that could have been for skipping class too. Not quite sure. In Jean and Stephanie’s highschool (they were in a different school district) they actually had a smoking lounge, in highschool. I visited their school once. I couldn’t believe it. Smoking out in the open, in front of grownups!!. I think all my friends smoked back then. I’m trying to think if there was anyone that didn’t. I’m sure there were people who didn’t smoke but they probably didn’t want to hang out with me. Susie might have been a non smoker come to think of it. All of my friends that went to the Academy (private school, I went to public) would tell their parents that the cigarettes they found in their rooms were mine. You know that white trash public school girl. But I found out years later that Linda’s mom knew better. Parents are smarter than we give them credit for.
In college everyone but Sandy smoked. Everyone. It’s a bonding activity. You bum cigarettes off of each other, then someone else lights it. It’s a group activity. Almost every picture of me back in the day I have a cigarette in my hands. I don’t even remember thinking I was cool smoking, it was just such a part of me. I never even considered quitting.
I married Dennis in 1982 – pregnant in 1982 also (don’t judge) – the doctor never told me to quit smoking. He just said “don’t increase..but you don’t have to quit” – I smoked the entire pregnancy. I smoked when I nursed. I know it’s sickening, but it just never occurred to me to stop. No one ever suggested it. Zachary (that son born in 1982) once commented that he was short because I didn’t let him drink milk. I was like WHAT? It was definitely because I smoked. Milk…pishawww…
Well anyway, all this background to say that when I was in my 20’s , married, with a child, my Dad started asking me when I was going to quit smoking (still never smoked around them) and I said “I’ll quit when you quit” knowing full well that was never going to happen. Then he died. Massive heart attack and all that unhealthy stuff that goes along with it. He was 58. The day of his funeral when I woke up I didn’t want a cigarette. So I went with it. When it would be time to have a cigarette I would think to myself…hmmm, not really wanting one…and then I would go longer…and it lasted three years. A work colleague of mine at the time said when he quit he wanted a cigarette everyday, for 10 years. I think he might have started up again. I thought about it a lot but I can’t say that I wanted one everyday…
After 3 years though I was starting to slip, a drag here and there, and then this weird thing happened with Dennis (my husband) where he ended up in the hospital with this crazy condition called epiglottitis. The doctors said he could die in seconds…I was young, I was scared, and I couldn’t believe that I was mad at him for making me (he didn’t make me, he said he’d drive himself, but I took him out of guilt) take him to the hospital at 4 in the morning just because he had a sore throat. Well it turned out to be this life threatening thing and had he not gone to the hospital he would have died. DIED. I started full-out smoking, right then and there, in the waiting room while he was getting an emergency tracheotomy. Smoking in the waiting room. In a hospital. Have you seen the TV Show This is Us? You need to watch the first episode (there’s a connection to this topic..I’m not just writing random things).
Anyway, I continued to smoke for about 9 months and this time I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t stand the way I smelled the way my hands smelled, it was making me sick. I quit again and have never wanted another once since. Even the thoughts of it make my lungs hurt. BUT I loved it once.
I’ve given up a lot of things. I believe I’ve blogged about this before. Smoking, drinking, … but sugar is the hardest. Obviously I have an addictive personality. I was not able to only smoke when I drink (the envy of all smokers who wish they had that restraint) – I’m not really able to drink just a couple drinks…well maybe I can, but more than often I couldn’t…and I can’t eat just one Hostess cupcake. If I open the pack they’re both goin down. I know sugar is bad for me. It’s bad for everybody but it’s been hard for me to quit. And obviously I have to quit totally.
A couple of weeks ago I got through a day without wanting something sweet. So I kept going. 3 days and supposedly you’re cured. It’s been 3 weeks, but I slipped yesterday so I have to start over. I will admit it’s easier after a couple of days but cured? I don’t know that’s ever going to happen. I already think I look better, I don’t know that I feel better as I didn’t really feel bad before, but I’m having less guilt about my unhealthy decisions. It’s a social thing though. I mean who doesn’t like to go out for ice cream, split a dessert, talk about the delicious chocolate they had or bring in a cake they made?
Most of my friends have quit smoking. Most of them. Well some of them. None of my friends have quit drinking to my extent but most of them will still hang with me. But no desserts? I mean really…everyone is going to be sick of my “not doing that anymore” rhetoric. I’ve been lucky to never have lost a friend over my quitting behaviors but I really might lose friends with this one. Is it worth it?
Tomorrow I’m meeting Jennifer in Orlando. She taught me how to inhale (cigarettes) when we were in 7th grade. She was so much more mature than me. I have that memory as a movie memory as well. We sat on her bed and she gave me inhaling instructions. I’m pretty sure we had the window open, like you know, thinking that no one would know we were smoking. Well anyway, after her excellent instruction I became a pro smoker. It was a proud day.
Maybe tomorrow we can have a healthy quinoa salad with kale and carrots. And for dessert share a smoke. Just for old time’s sake.