Why abstinence?

I am a reformed smoker.  Haven’t taken a drag since February of 1986, right before I got pregnant with my youngest.  Do I ever miss it? Never.  So glad I finally got that piano off my back.  What does this have to do with abstinence from alcohol?  Nothing.  Or everything.  Depends on your viewpoint.  For me, it was everything in terms of continuing to struggle with moderation as opposed to just.  Quitting.  For good. I totally suck at moderation, in direction proportion to how much I love the object in question.  A book I’m reading?  I will read until I’m practically cross eyed, coming up only for food, water, and bathroom breaks.  A food I love – Triscuit thins? Fuggedaboudit.  An open box is an empty box.  You get the idea.

I started smoking at 15.  Both of my parents were smokers so I figured they had no business telling me to quit.  I was married before I turned 20; got pregnant very shortly thereafter and my OB at the time didn’t care so much if I smoked while I was pregnant.  As long as I didn’t gain more than 20 pounds, it was all good. (Needless to say this was more than 30 years ago.) Anyway, money was very tight and my little guy was starting to pull himself to standing when I realized I really needed to quit.  We were barely scraping by financially and cigarettes were $7.00 a carton – a fortune to us at the time.  That, combined with the very real fear of my baby pulling an ashtray onto himself and/or getting burned by a lit cigarette helped make the decision a no-brainer.  Fast forward a few years…. baby #2 was a toddler and we began to have opportunities to socialize with my husband’s sisters (who were both smokers at the time).  Before I knew it, I was smoking socially with them.  Then I began to create opportunities to smoke more and more often….. and – you get the picture.  I was well on my way to becoming hooked again.

I’ve been asked, since embarking upon this alcohol-free sojourn, what about a glass of wine on a birthday?  Christmas, or New Year’s Eve? It took me some thought to hit upon the right answer: it’s the event that’s special, not the beverage it’s celebrated with.  I recently marked a ‘special’ birthday.  My husband took me to one of the nicest restaurants in our fair city to mark the occasion.  The maitre’d was all set to pour two complimentary flutes of champagne when I completely let the wind out of his sails by saying, apologetically, “I’m sorry. I don’t drink.” (My husband felt very uncomfortable for me – based on the gentleman’s reaction – which was kind of to look at me as if I smelled bad or something.)  But that’s a topic for another post.

The bottom line is, knowing myself as well as I do, it would only be a matter of time before my habits returned to what was making me so conflicted and worried and full of shame and self-loathing.

“And ain’t nobody got time for that.”