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Tell us about one thing (or more) that you promised yourself you’d accomplish by the end of the year. How would you feel once you do? What if you don’t?

I don’t like to admit I smoke, let alone say that I wasn’t able to quit this year, like so many other times, other years. I began 20 years ago in June when I quit drinking. People are warned in treatment to not substitute one addiction for another, but that’s just what I did. I had smoked before I had children, and had been a non-smoker for about 15 years, when I came out of rehab. While I was in, one evening I bummed a smoke from someone there, and that set off my smoking addiction again.  I said to myself it would only be for a while — but now it’s twenty years later.

I’ve been able to justify it on a number of levels: First, I don’t smoke that much, 12-15 a day; and second, I’m able to go for long periods without smoking. Until I retired two years ago, obviously I didn’t smoke during the day. If I go to a workshop or a retreat, or some other event, I can go without smoking. (I do use nicotine lozenges as a crutch.) Finally, I exercise, am quite healthy with low blood pressure, and do yoga about 3 times a week. Additionally, I don’t smoke in the house, and I never smoke in public where children whom I’ve taught might see me. I know that when children see people smoking, the message is that it’s okay to smoke. Children believe what they see, not necessarily what they’re told.

The other thing I’ve learned is that you can’t quit unless you have absolutely decided to do it: if you have doubts or reservations, they’ll slip you up. My son totally surprised all of us when he quit several years ago after smoking quite a bit for 10 years or more. He just decided that he would stop — no matter what.

I’ve quit before, so I know it can be done, but the reality is that I don’t really want to. I enjoy it, I can’t imagine not smoking. I know I shouldn’t, my dear doctor gives me good reasons to quit at every annual physical. She stopped smoking many years ago, and used the patch and has assured me it helps. I have a package of patches. but they’ve been in my drawer for a couple of months now.

My son met a therapist who uses hypnosis pretty successfully to help people stop, but I just can’t make the phone call to meet with her. I really don’t know why I’m holding on to this so obstinately. One reason is that I’m afraid I’ll gain weight, but really quitting smoking is more important to my health. At 66 though, losing weight isn’t as easy as when one is younger. I hope that I gather the strength to decide to do “the right thing,” sooner rather than later.