The idea behind quitting something is pretty simple; just stop doing it. If you want to quit something bad enough, just quit doing it. You can quit just about anything. From addictions to jobs people quit things everyday. Personally, my two biggest achievements in the realm of quitting has been alcohol, and more recently cigarettes. You feel a sense of pride when you’ve overcome that addiction. People look at you different. What happens when you fail though?
One of my biggest accomplishments in my life is I’ve been sober for over 4 years. I knew that alcohol was destroying my life so I made the decision to quit drinking and try to put the pieces back together. I was able to do that with being mentally strong. I’ve always had a great support system and that always helps. I’ve also put myself out there by not being shy about it. I talk about it regularly and it’s a big part of who I am. I’m not proud of being an alcoholic but I’m incredibly proud to say that I’m a recovering alcoholic.
More recently I quit smoking. I told myself if I go a year without drinking, I’ll quit smoking on that 1 year anniversary. That one year anniversary came and went and I was still smoking. It took almost 3 years later until I finally quit. August 12th 2013 I smoked my last smoke. So once again, I threw myself out there. I posted on the Facebook; “Today is day one without smoking” For the tens of people that read my blog, they may remember a post about how I quit and how smoking is so stupid. So I ask again, what happens when you fail?
I’ve made myself somewhat vulnerable by blogging and posting about my “accomplishments”. Plenty of people have come to me and have congratulated me on my success of quitting smoking. You walk around with a little more sense of pride knowing people are proud of you. In my humble opinion, if you are going to boast about your successes, you have to be honest about your failures. I’m smoking again.
I made it 8 months without smoking. My body felt great. I was able to start running and make it two to three miles before I got tired. My lungs opened up and I felt great. Food tasted different. Things smelled better. Smokers stunk. I walked around on my high horse and told my bride it was her turn to quit. “If I can do it, so can you”. I listened to others tell their stories of quitting and shared mine. I was elated to be part of this special fraternity of non smokers. Today I wake up with a cough. My throat and lungs full of poison and garbage. Smelly cigarettes are once again a part of my everyday life.
I’ve been humbled multiple times since I started “Sam Says”. Those times of humbleness have came from compliments and well wishes. More recently I’ve been humbled with shame and embarrassment. “Why are you smoking again?” “You were doing so good!!” “What happened?!??” I can ramble off a litany of excuses of why I started again and none of them are good enough.
I’ll spare us all by not listing any of them. I understand completely the ramifications of having a poor excuse. I’m also smart enough to realize that there is no excuse for doing what I’ve done. I’ve managed my addiction to alcohol fairly well for over 4 years. Why can’t I manage my addiction to cigarettes? Simple; I never really wanted to quit.
In order to truly quit a bad habit, you have to truly want to kick it. It has to be part of who you are. You have to make a conscience decision not to do that habit. When I quit smoking, I did it cold turkey. One day I challenged myself to see how long I could go. I never really committed though. When I quit drinking I told myself, “never again”. When I quit smoking I asked “how long can I go”. From a mental standpoint, those are very opposite mentalities. I just always figured I’d smoke again. I’ve rationalized my smoking habit with “Everyone needs a vice”. I know how stupid that sounds. There are plenty of healthy vices a guy could do other than sucking down a smoke.
I’m embarrassed I’ve started again. With each drag that fills my lungs, a shot of disappointment fills them as well. I tried to hide it for a while but that got exhausting awfully quit. I keep telling myself I’ll quit again this summer but who’s to say I’m mentally strong enough to do that again? I guess the whole point to this post is to help me realize that my everyday struggles make me who I am. If I’m going to continue to share about accomplishments, I have to share my failures as well. Right now, I’m failing.
At the beginning of this I asked “What happens when you fail?” The sensible answer is you stop your pity party and you quit again. Seems logical enough for me. I fear that’s not the answer for me right now. I think the answer for me right now is hopefully the embarrassment and shame will end soon. Hopefully the remorse I have will taper off and I can go back to the “norm”. Seems so silly and irresponsible but it’s the raw truth of the matter.
I feel like I’m mentally strong enough to quit smoking again, I just don’t want to right now. Does this make me a bad person? I don’t think so, I hope it doesn’t. I feel like I’ll quit again relatively soon. Next time, and there will be a next time, I’ll make a better commitment to myself to quit for longer. For now, I’ll accept whatever backlash comes my way with a positive attitude and hopefully with grace. I understand the premise is simple; just quit. What do you do if you don’t want to quit?
In order to completely quit something, you have to truly want to quit doing it. Right now, I don’t want to quit smoking. I have much respect for those of you out there that have quit for years. I hope to be part of your club in the future. For now, I can’t for a plethora of reasons. I hope to kick this addiction sometime soon but for now, I choose not to. Feel free to judge if you’d like. I can take the backlash if indeed there is any. At some point I hope to write about the success I’ve had quitting. For right here, right now, I’ll share my failure.
So what do you do when you fail? You put it out there for anyone to know and hope it sparks something inside you to quit failing. I hope to quit failing soon. No one is proud of failure and I’m not certainly proud of myself right now.