Days one through five of my attempt to stop smoking went really well. It helps that I was on a cruise in the beautiful Caribbean with my sister (who doesn’t know I smoke) and I had plenty of things to distract me — like kayaking, rock climbing, snorkeling, and swimming in the clear blue water. That said, every time I passed someone who was smoking, I desperately wanted to ask them for a cigarette and a light.
So it’s not entirely surprising that within 12 hours of arriving home, I went out and bought another pack of cigarettes. The good news is that I’m smoking at a much slower pace, so a pack of cigarettes lasts me around three days instead of one. I’ve also been doing a lot better at question my reason for lighting up: Am I hungry? Am I trying to avoid eating? If the answer is yes, I grab a snack (I’ve begun keeping them in my car again) before smoking. I’ve also been trying to push back the desire — if I want a cigarette, I’ll ask myself if I can wait five or ten minutes. If the desire is still there, then I’ll allow myself a cigarette. It’s not a perfect system since I’m, ya know, STILL SMOKING*, but I’m hoping to have greater success by slowly weaning myself off.
Another thing I started doing to encourage myself to stop smoking is playing my bassoon again. And boy oh boy, am I rusty. I picked up a few beginner’s books of popular music and classic concertos, and I’ve been trying to practice for about half an hour each day. It’s not a lot, but I’m slowly getting my chops back and honestly, practicing for much longer really frustrates me because I remember how good I used to be and how I am not that good any more. On the other hand, I’m really amazed at how after almost two years, my fingers still know the keys and can whip through passages with the same speed I did when I played them for juries in college.
It’s doubly nice, because it reminds me of parts of myself that my eating disorder took away. I used to live, breathe, and drink music — I spent hours every week practicing, composing, sitting in rehearsals. I loved it. I still do, as it turns out. One of the books that I bought came with a CD of piano accompaniments and I am loving listening to the melodies and harmonies weaving together as I play.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how far I’ve come in the past year and a half. I can attribute it to nothing but the glory of God. Yes, I’ve put in a fair amount of work, but even that account for the vast changes that have occurred in my life. I went on the cruise and was able to eat three meals a day, drink alcohol, sit around without running off to the gym. I spontaneously went out to dinner with friends on Friday night to a sushi restaurant, which I could have never done last fall. I went to a baby shower on Saturday (complete with a full spread of foods) then followed that with a wine and cheese birthday party that night. People are noticing that I’m in a “really good place” and I’m more present in conversations.
In short, recovery is finally paying off. Finally. Do I still have freak-outs about my nutrition goals for the week? About what is going to be at a party? Do I still read menus before I go out to determine what I might be comfortable eating? Sure. I still do all of these things. But the point is, I’m going OUT. I’m meeting new friends. I’m starting to act like an actual human being, instead of a prisoner in a cage of my own design.
And I am so unbelievably thankful — especially for all of you who have supported me the past two years. I simply couldn’t have done it without your kind and encouraging words, your shoulders to cry on, and your reminder that all things are working together for the good of those who love God.
Thank you, guys. I love you more than I could possibly say.
*Please understand that I do NOT condone smoking at all. I am actually a little disturbed and disgusted that I do it. I am working on quitting (some days, I’m working harder than others). If you smoke and want to quit, visit Become an Ex for tips on how to quit.