Thursday, February 23, 2012

Giving Up

Today is about Lent... kind of.
Lent begins Ash Wednesday (yesterday) and ends Easter Sunday.
Normally, I know exactly what I want to give up for weeks in advance. I plan to give up browsing Twitter, or swearing (not an easy feat for me), or watching TV after midnight, or something of that nature. It took me quite some time to realize that from a Christian perspective, giving up something for Lent is not about punishing yourself or sacrificing something for that purpose alone, but about giving up unnecessary personal luxuries. Some very traditional believers fast during portions of Lent, or choose to offer sacrifices. Admittedly, I can't be that devoted due to the lifestyle I lead, but that's no reason I can't sacrifice something personal for 40 days.

I have previously given up that phenomenon known as social smoking. You know, having a couple cigs while drinking to heighten the sensation. Many of my friends and acquaintances at Longwood smoked socially, particularly when they were imbibing with the gentlemen of the fraternity organizations. Some of my friends smoked Black & Milds at parties because "they're not as bad for you" and because "you don't inhale them" (FALSE on both accounts). Something about smoking while you're drunk makes it feel less carcinogenic, less dirty, less smelly, less costly, and less bad. What it doesn't do is cure your hangover, heal your raw throat the next morning, refill your wallet with $4 extra, remove the ashtray essence from your clothing, cease your horrid cough, or prevent people from seeing you (especially females) sucking poison into your lungs. I can't deny that I absolutely enjoyed parties more when I smoked socially. Worth it?

When my best friend freshman year was diagnosed with a life-threatening blood clot, smoking became less of a thrill and more of a threat. She was in a wheelchair for several weeks, she had to take blood thinners daily which restricted her diet (and her alcohol consumption), she had several scary ER visits, and she was in almost constant pain. The ultra-scary part for me? The doctors attributed her blood clot to a combination of birth control and smoking.
We were on different birth controls, but both on contraceptives nonetheless. Before that time, commercials for various forms of BC hadn't included warnings about heart attacks, strokes, DVT, blood clots, or even death. They also didn't include the risks of smoking while on BC, especially for women over 35. Now those commercials and warnings are everywhere you look, and her family is four years deep in a complicated lawsuit. Worth it?

When I met Ian in 2009, he implored me to stop social smoking. I thought it just bothered him to date a girl who smoked sometimes with the guys at parties, but I would later find out that his grandmother had passed away on his birthday when he was young due to many, many cigarettes. He told me within two weeks of meeting me that he will not marry a smoker. As of this date, it's been 2 years, 3 months, and 11 days of ups and downs and ups, but he will not be marrying a smoker. Worth it?

Both of my grandfathers smoked heavily for many years, and they both suffered the ill effects of heavy nicotine use. My paternal grandfather, Granddad, quit smoking and recovered well, learning to lead a fruitful and healthy life smoke-free. My maternal grandfather passed away before I was born, so I never had the pleasure of meeting him. Neither of my parents experimented with tobacco, but the addiction to nicotine is generational, and affects Caroline and me regardless. Several of my extended family members are currently suffering terribly from years upon years of smoking, and their long-term prognoses are less than optimistic. Worth it?

With all of this evidence stacked against me, and with my whole life ahead of me, I am so proud that I am officially--and have been for some time--officially no longer a smoker, social or otherwise. I thought long and hard about blogging about this subject; it's taboo (especially in the healthy living blogger community), it's embarrassing, and it's a part of my past of which I'm not proud. I've known since the day I began blogging that I wanted to be "out" about it, I just had to bide my time for an appropriate, passion-fueled time to write about it. What better time than Lent? After all, I owe so much of my strength and pride in quitting to God.

Worth it to give up the social cigs? You bet.
Trust me -- I haven't been and couldn't have been accomplishing all of my fitness goals or giving my lifestyle a 180-degree turn OR blogging about my journey if I were also smoking.
No deceit here!
So what did I give up for Lent this year? This information. It's out, and I feel good about it.
"You gotta put your past, behind you." -- The Lion King

1 comment:

gilesi68 said...

Correction: "You got to put your behind in your past." - The Lion King