April 20, 2012

Exhaling.

I started this on Monday. Being vulnerable is hard. I blame BrenĂ© & Oprah. 

*

I really don't want to write this post but I'm chanting "balls to the wall, y'all" over & over in my head (not out loud- that would be weird & Ruby might start repeating it like a crazed parrot). 

I quit smoking yesterday. 

I have been lighting up for 12 embarrassing years. It wasn't a consistent habit- just one that I would take up & put down according to how shitty I felt.  

But recently it has become a crutch. My casual 1 or 2 a day here & there turned into 3 or 4. My smoking indulgence turned into an minor addiction. 

It was hard to type that word. Addiction. It's something I've never claimed. It's not a word that I've attached myself to but I'm just not going to keep pretending like it's not real. 

I think the thing that kept me hanging on for so long (you know, besides the slight nicotine buzz) is taking a couple minutes to go outside & be alone. For someone like me whose brain rarely stops, a break from all the noise was an escape. Nicotine is comforting in the midst of anxiety. 

Also? Denial. Lots of it. I haven't been ready to be honest with myself about the damage I have been committing against my body. It's been easier to not think about it because I can't actually see my own lungs. 

And then I saw these. On facebook. (Thank you for the very strong visual, Ohia.) 


And then these words from Karen Walrond kept showing up in my thoughts. Thank you, Karen. 


And then Shane Conerty told me this romantic story (those musician types tend to be tenderhearted) of the moment he decided to quit. Instead of basking in the afterglow of a particularly wonderful evening with a woman, he found himself outside in the rain, shivering in a blanket- a slave to the stick. It made me think about all the beautiful moments that I have missed & the ones that are yet to be made. Thank you, Shane.

And then I went to visit my dear old friend Sarah... which pretty much changed everything about everything.



This is Sarah with her freaking adorable son Milo. 

Listening to her talk about living with breast cancer blew my perspective out of the water. A conversation about life & death & babies & chemo & eternity will do that to ya. She is grateful for the illuminated beauty of her life. I'm not surprised that she is handling it all with such grace & strength & hope. 

I happened to be visiting the day she received a phone call from her doctor who told her that the cancer had spread to her lung. It was heart wrenching & sobering, to say the least. And I was just a witness. 

I drove away & knew that something in me had changed. Thank you, Sarah. 

Days later, I took out my last 2 & did this. 


Then I wrote this. 


I smoked them while I cried. 

I forgave myself.  

I vowed to respect my body. 

I created a battle plan to combat the cravings. 

I soaked in some encouragement. 

I celebrated by opening a bottle of Prosecco (& instagramming it). 


I realized that was hilariously stupid because drinking just makes me want to smoke.

But I didn't. 

And I am stronger today than I was yesterday. 


*

P.S. In case you're wondering, Sarah's next step in fighting the stage 4 cancer is a clinical trial at Duke. She just started the new treatment yesterday. If you pray, please include her, Milo, & her husband Esteban in yours. She has been feeling really well recently & is tackling being sick with a healthy dose of humor & hope. I'm sure it helps to have a lively toddler around. I love you, Sarah!



1 comment:

oh, jenny mae said...

i quit smoking cigarettes on july 2, 1999. one of the best decisions i ever made. good luck, to ya. your lungs will thank you for it.

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