Quitting smoking shouldn't be too hard this time around.
Another year gone, already? Man, they just whiz by once you reach the point of having gone through 50 of them. There’s barely enough time to really mess up my hypothetical New Year’s resolutions before the occasion is here once again to ponder making new ones.
I say hypothetical because in most years, I’ve plum forgotten to make any – on paper, that is. Ever present in the back of my mind, though, are all sorts of things about yours truly – some being hefty projects to tackle, others relatively minor – that can be improved upon.
For example, my perennial favorite resolution for nearly three decades, quitting smoking, would have been a major undertaking involving a complete overhaul of my lifestyle, habits and thought process. Some years, I’d start out good but falter within a few days. Others, it never came to fruition. The year my boss and I had a bet going as to who would light up again first was actually very successful for a month and a half – until he left for a position in Fargo. With no one to answer to or keep me in check, his departure also broke my resolve.
And so it went for most of my young adulthood and getting into (gasp!) middle age. My heaviest smoking years were during my free and single 20s, when pretty much all of my friends and acquaintances also smoked, at least on a "social" level – in bars, at parties, in college lounges and when hanging around with other smokers. Admittedly, I did a lot more partying in those days, shaking the wild oats out of my system prior to settling down with a husband and kids. And for lots of folks like me, alcohol and smokes were (and still are) like bread and butter: it just goes down smoother and more pleasantly topped off with the latter.
Cigarettes still had a stronghold on me over the couple of decades since, though their influence was waning. The more activities that kept me busy doing things around the house and with my family, the less I smoked. I even managed to quit cold turkey for a year, gaining 35 pounds in two months, before starting up again after some devastating occurrences in my life (at least that was my excuse).
On the plus side, I managed to lose the 35 added pounds in about the same time period as they went on.
Then, a few years ago, I subconsciously began cutting down. It wasn’t because those menthol-flavored tar-laden tobacco sticks had gotten outrageously expensive with all the sin taxes imposed on packs, nor did the increasingly stricter laws regarding where people are allowed to light up have anything to do with it. Heck, my health didn’t even play a significant role (although the thought of being able to breathe better was probably floating around somewhere in my cranium).
Cigarettes just didn’t turn my crank like they once had. During an unsuccessful attempt to quit via a smoking cessation course at my college back in my mid-20s, I discovered I was sort of an anomaly in that I had virtually no physical addiction to nicotine; it was more habit than anything. This proved to so true during my one-year sabbatical from smoking years later, when I used nicotine patches at first to aid in my efforts but after three days, found them to be unnecessary. What bugged me most was not lighting up at certain times of the day or in places where everyone else was lighting up. I did not get particularly grouchy or feel like jumping out of my skin.
The one thing that propelled me into taking up smoking in the first place, being part of the bustling bar and party scene, was now irrelevant, given that smoking is not allowed in public places. Not that it matters, anyway; I'm lucky if I make it out twice a year.
I had gone from smoking as much as two packs a day in my 20s to taking two to three months to finish off a pack in my late 40s. So why not just quit? Well, the puppet strings are still too strong. For some unexplainable reason, I just couldn't severe those final ties, even though for all intents and purposes, I am now a "social" smoker.
Hence, my New Year's resolution for the coming year is to rid myself completely of these strings. This should not be too difficult, unlike earlier attempts, given that I have only sporadically lit up over the past year, possibly totaling a pack's worth but no more.
What better way to kick off a new year, and third quarter of my life?