I’ve been doing a pretty good job of reducing my cigarette intake. Within about a week and a half, I reduced from up to 30 cigarettes a day, down to 10 a day. I got to that point by reducing down to 20 a day, doing that for a few days, then going down to 15 a day, and doing that for a few days until I got to 10. But something has happened at 10. I seem to be stuck.
Throughout this journey to quit, I’ve come to the realization that smoking isn’t just a crutch, it’s what I turn to when I’m stressed, bored, or tired to give me a little pick-me-up. I say I don’t have time to pray the rosary every day, but how much time do I spend smoking? And in those times of anxiety, shouldn’t I be turning to God in prayer?
I keep thinking to myself that I need to just cast off cigarettes cold turkey and throw myself wholly into the grace of God. I’ve been pretty good at talking myself out of it and telling myself that continuing to pare down gradually is better for me. It’s seamless. There’s no suffering. But every time I lit a cigarette, a thought sparked in my head: You trust your cigarettes more than you trust God.
Talk about the mother of all disturbing thoughts. However, I have a pretty strong sense of denial. I’ve been doing so well at reducing, there’s no reason to do anything crazy. Let’s be sensible, right?
I’ve been stuck at 10 a day for almost a week. To be honest, I actually had 11 yesterday, with the excuse of “an extraordinarily stressful situation.” Then, this morning, I had 2 instead of just 1. I shrugged off the rising worry that I’m moving in the wrong direction. On the way to work, I realized something. No, I didn’t have an epiphany or sudden divine revelation. I realized I didn’t grab my smokes!
There was a moment there where I nearly turned right back around to go and get them. I would never turn back to go get my rosary or my prayer book, but I couldn’t imagine getting through the day without my cigarettes. No matter what lies I told myself, I knew I needed to go on to work without them. It was no accident that I’d left them behind, this was God sending me a clear message.
I didn’t turn around. I turned up the rosary meditation CD I had playing in the car and just kept going. My mind kept working on all the reasons why I absolutely had to smoke, constantly coming back to the “no one would expect me to just go without completely!” Then, I remembered how small my cross was compared to those who are suffering from addiction to meth, heroin, cocaine, crack, and whatever other demons rear their ugly heads. How much easier it is for me. I decided to offer up this tiny suffering, asking that those suffering from more difficult addictions would be given strength.
As I drove on, stripped of my excuses, the rosary meditation song filled the car with the perfect words at the perfect time, “I can’t do this alone, but I can do it with You…”