In my late teens and early twenties, I smoked cigarettes. At some point, when I decided to start running and ran out of breath after having gone just one block, I decided to quit smoking cold turkey. I threw my mostly full box of Marlboro Light 100s away thinking that’s it.
I failed a good number of times. In those days, bars and restaurants were filled with smoke because the no-smoking law hadn’t been made yet. I became a social smoker. This was not my plan, but one must eat out, and one must mingle in bars, and when it’s around you, one succumbs.
Each morning after, I felt defeated and gross. The good news was, the length of time between smokes became longer and longer, feeling more and more disgusted about it every time I failed. Then I became free of it. I didn’t even realize it until one day I didn’t remember when was the last time I had one. The hold no longer had a grip on me. At some point, I had no interest in even standing around smoke to get it second hand.
My workout was daily, and I found myself in excellent shape. I had replaced one habit with a healthier one.
The plan was not to quit smoking gradually. The gradual thing happened because I kept failing. But I never held the story that I was a failure, or that my attempts were futile.
It’s a lesson that I carry forward with me in all my attempts to shed and add habits. Same story in my attempts to quit complaining; I failed many times. In my attempts to become vegetarian/ vegan, I’d fail many times. To do the daily blog, many many many many times. To show up for my relationships. To practice my mental and spiritual hygiene the way I practice my dental hygiene. To drop my story that I’m afraid of commitment. To stop judging and see God in all….getting better but still working on it.
But it doesn’t mean I’m a failure. It means I’m moving towards something that feels better and much more supportive of life, love, and becoming whole, and I keep moving towards it. At some point, the thing I’m moving away from no longer holds even a small amount of value for me because my eyes are totally somewhere else. One day, I look back and go, “oh yeah, I used to need that. That used to be me.” I have conquered myself many times over to step into a version of me that feels better. Much better.