Quitting #SOL2023

My mother told me that she’d kill me if I ever took up smoking. This advice scratched against my skin while I breathed in her second-hand smoke and the threat at the same time. I suspect she persisted with her addiction because she didn’t want to gain the weight of quitting — physically and psychically.

I also imagine, she believed her words would carry weight with me, that narratives about the dangers, all the reasons why I should not “make the same mistake” would somehow innoculate me. But, I did it anyway. Like her, I was calculating costs.

I started innocently enough; not out of some rebellious streak against her. Instead I took up smoking in university as a sort of assimilation. I immitated friends whose thin svelt bodies I admired — I wanted to be them and I’d been shamed for curves and an appetite. Coffee and cigarettes were cool back then. Food was optional, fat was imprudent, maybe even evidence of flawed character.

I’d already experienced a youthful bout with self-imposed starvation in high school. Praise and attention were the rewards of disappearing. And then I found another addiction — long distance running — a replacement, a substitute to fill the emptiness of quitting.

With running there is always somewhere to go. I love the freedom that comes with running — you are responsible to no one but yourself, and I do most of my listening to books or podcasts on my long runs. They take me out of my tossled head and force my body into familiar patterns of movement which may be fast or may be slow. But I am definitely, quitting — but not running, nor teaching.

(Inspired by Tobi Hunt McCoy’s post “Not Today”)

4 thoughts on “Quitting #SOL2023

  1. There are some really amazing lines in here. This juxtaposition really hit me: “But, I did it anyway. Like her, I was calculating costs.” And then the hard truth of this one, “Praise and attention were the rewards of disappearing.” Yup. I’m glad you found something besides smoking that helps you out of your “tossled head.” What a great slice.

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  2. I echo Amanda’s praise. The line “Praise and attention were the rewards of disappearing” really sent shivers through me. So brilliant. Glad you’re not quitting running and teaching.

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  3. I cannot figure out why people start smoking, so I really appreciate this post! My husband was a smoker before I met him and he did it for one reason you shared – to assimilate. That feeling is so powerful, especially for young adults. Your description of running resonates with me too – though I am not a runner! I love to get lost in a podcast or audio book on a walk. It really is a meditation. I’ve never wanted to smoke, but I surely have been tempted to start running. (It never lasts long!LOL). Good luck with the quitting.

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    1. I often forget that I smoked because it was such a brief interval. Our reasons for our choices aren’t often rational and we live in a world that calculates and measures too much – that’s what I really want to quit. Measuring humans, grading humans is what I want to quit.

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