My Christmas present to myself last year was to quit smoking. A noble idea I thought as I snuffed out my last cigarette with the intent of celebrating my 61st birthday differently than the previous 40. That being without watching a family member or friend roll their eyes when I announced I was leaving a party to have a cigarette, stepped back from my embrace to avoid smelling like smoke, or pointing me outside to the area where their dogs ‘did their business.’
So as soon as I could I proudly made the announcement I had stopped smoking through Facebook knowing as I did, I would get tons of well wishes. Maybe they would come in the form of happy faces I pondered as I waited for a comment to appear or maybe even a “we’re with you gal,” underneath their pictures.
So you can imagine my disappointment when I only received a couple of “Likes”. I waited for some comments but after receiving none, realized Facebook was cold and unresponsive. I turned to my trusty pen and paper and waited for inspiration knowing that once it began the result would bring me pleasure and support.
But nothing came as I sat there day by day. No words, no inspiration, no story. Was it because of my cigarettes? Was it because I had lost the study buddy I leaned against during college exams? My gift of strength when one Christmas my husband decided to abandon our marriage and family? The coping mechanism I used when laid off from my employment?
So many questions that needed to be answered as well as feelings that needed to be expressed. Like how euphoric I felt at first quitting smoking because I had proven my asshole friends and family wrong and quit. How this joy transferred into bargaining when I decided I would only smoke when I was writing. But then turned to anger the night I pulled up into the convenience store parking lot intent on buying a pack and then turned around at the door when I realized I had already passed the 10 day mark. And then settled on a deep depression when my fingers felt tried typing on the computer keys and found they were stiff and lifeless.
But then lo and behold I received via email a 28 day journaling challenge. Journaling, I thought as I excited opened the email, would require me not to type a story or even a paragraph but to hand write on paper just my stupid thoughts and emotions.
It was slow at first without my cigarettes but I found in the next 28 days a new best friend—my journal. I told it how I felt I was going out of my mind with the mood swings created by not smoking anymore. I vented about my jerk family and friend members who somehow remembered I smoked but forgot to congratulate me on quitting. I screamed into it how I wanted a cigarette. I bargained with every approach until one day I realized I was writing and without cigarette!
BIO: Suzanne Steele prefers the moniker of storyteller over writer as she feels the source of her writings are the fantastical stories she creates within her head before channeling them onto pen, paper, notecards, computer, napkin, kleenex, or any type of material that she can find.
Suzanne lives in State College, has her Bachelor’s of Arts in English from the University of Wisconsin with a minor in Journalism, attended the prestigious Yale University Writer’s Conference, and has been published in regional newspapers and magazines.
Blog Image: NBC/Universal (from the Grimm series)