What’s in a quitting anniversary?
I wasn’t intending to write about this quitting anniversary. I know that today is an “anniversary” day for me but every year I have to look at an old hand written (back up) birthday calendar that I keep and figure out how many years it’s been since I terminated two activities in my life.
But last night I read a really well written article about women and drinking that got me thinking a bit and I felt compelled to pen something this morning.
Today’s anniversaries are not necessarily important because of the success in terminating undesired behaviors.
It is an important day because it is a reminder for me that I am capable of accomplishing great change in my life.
Strongly desired change.
It was 14 years ago today I quit smoking.
5 years ago today that I stopped drinking alcohol.14 years ago I quit smoking. 5 years ago I quit drinking. There's nothing I can't do. Click To Tweet
Have I become preachy about it? Nah. I’ve used it as an empowerment tool.
I will say that when I see someone hammered I think, “oh lawdy, I’m glad those days are long over for me.” There is nothing pretty about watching a drunk person. Nothing. Especially an older drunk person. It’s actually kind of painful to watch. It makes me sad.
I used both drugs as a tool.
A tool for changing the a myriad of miserable states I was in and not enjoying.
All those years I smoked I was basically just using my little cancer sticks as a deep breathing device.
I’d get stressed out and “need to go have a cigarette.” Granted there was a drug in that cigarette, but mostly what i was doing was taking a bunch of deep breathes. I could have gotten the same results without a cigarette if I just went and sat in a bathroom stall for 4 minutes and did a mini deep breathing meditation.
I never realized until I stopped drinking that I’m a gal that doesn’t much like parties.
To make them easier I drank, like most other folks. Social awkwardness, low self-esteem, whatever…we all have our bag of shit, and it’s easier to get liquored up than look inside and deal.
When I was drinking I liked parties.
When I drank I became the life of the party.
Then everyone wanted to hang with me. “She’s so crazy! I love her.”
I didn’t feel so much like the life of the party the next day.
Yeah, the older I got the worse I felt. Too many days were wasted recovering from the “night before” and I tired of the constant exhaustion. Eventually I just decided I was done. D-O-N-E.
So here’s the rub.
I use this quitting anniversary day as a tool for me.
A reminder that I AM POWERFUL beyond measure.
That I CAN and HAVE changed really difficult habits in the past and that I CAN and WILL change those things that continue to not render me the results I desire.
After Katrina passed and the levees broke in New Orleans, I sat in my friends living room in the Boston watching it all on TV. At that time I had not been drinking for about 2 years. I had a moment that I clearly remember when I said OUT LOUD,
“Cigarettes or beer, Jodi? What’s it gonna be?”
I chose beer because I knew I could quit drinking again. Cigarettes? They are a whole different kind of evil. I wasn’t so sure I could release myself from the nicotine grip again, so I steered clear.
I remember that six pack I picked up. It worked. It changed my state dramatically.
It was another 6 years of consumption before would step away from alcohol…again.
All of it, part of MY journey.
One I’m glad I’ve taken.
I have zero regrets.
I am not lying when I tell you that where I am today, is better than any place I have been previously.
I perceived my party life as fun and in many ways it was. It did, however, slow down the life journey that I really wanted to take.
Substantially slowed it down.
What it did do was force me to have experiences and look at things I might not have otherwise taken the time to contemplate. So for that, I’m thankful.
I look back on these years with gratitude.
Grateful that they taught me the lessons I was clearly not ready to see on my own.
Grateful that they are over.