The month of my thirtieth birthday, I made two major life decisions. I called the Colorado Quitline to enroll in their smoking cessation program, and about two weeks later (on my birthday, actually) I agreed to marry the love of my life. To be frank, my life has turned into Wedding Madness with a side of Constant Nicotine Fit.
When I told one of my coworkers that I was quitting smoking and planning a wedding at the same time, she looked at me like I was crazy. She proceeded to tell me to my face that I was, indeed, insane. Unfortunately, she’s probably right. My little cancer sticks and I have been friends since before I knew most of my wedding party. Though I’ve attempted to quit several times before, it’s never been successful because something always pops up where the stress gets too overwhelming. Wedding planning is not the best environment for avoiding stressful situations.
This time, I’m determined to stay quit. As of this writing it’s been two weeks since I’ve gone off the nicotine patch, and ten weeks since I started the quitting process. In that time I’ve cheated exactly once, and immediately got back on the wagon. It is damned hard to stay motivated in the face of worrying about absolutely everything that is typically involved in wedding planning. I had no idea that this was going to be so much work! We are crafting much of it ourselves, and we recruited friends to help with a few projects. As a result, I now read wedding blogs on the toilet and have no fewer than eight Pinterest boards devoted to the subject. There are also a thousand other things besides the wedding that intensify the desire to have a cigarette. Little things like roommate conflict, job-related stress, and preparing to adopt our first pet. In the end, though, I know being a smoker won’t make any of this shit easier to do. The cigarette is not going to figure out how to word our invitations for me or get my roommate to pick up his dirty socks; it’ll just make it easier to cope with it.
I admit I’ve already had several meltdowns, and I do feel that it’s at least in part because quitting any addiction inevitably leads to emotional instability. My fiancé has gotten quite used to me having hysterics over things like discovering that our new Swiffer WetJet was defective and I couldn’t mop our floors, or that the navy in the ribbons I got for all the wedding craft projects don’t match. I have already told him, “I hate you for making me quit!” at least once, even though the decision was entirely mine and I know he would not have loved me less if I remained a smoker. He understands everything I am going through, and continues to be supportive and patient. Even when I can tell he just wants to tell me to put my big girl panties on and deal with it. There are times, however, where I can almost see the thought, “What the hell did I get myself into?” cross his face. Those moments are the ones where I ask myself if it’s worth it.
No one said any of this—quitting smoking, planning a wedding, adjusting to the idea that I’ve agreed to permanently share my life with another human being—was easy. There’s always the risk that it’ll wind up too much for me, and I’ll light up again. Or that I’ll turn to my fiancé and say, “It’s too much. I can’t do this anymore. I want to cancel the wedding.” Not leave him, mind you, just cancel the whole shebang and live in sin for the rest of our lives. Of course, there’s a risk one of us will be hit by a truck tomorrow, and I worry about that too.
I haven’t had a cigarette in two months. I get married next summer, so I’ve less than a year to get my shit together. It’s overwhelming, stressful, and I want a cigarette all the damned time. I just keep telling myself that I’m an ex-smoker. I’m an ex-smoker. I’m an ex-smoker. I’m an ex-smoker who never sleeps, obsesses about her wedding, and cries about four times a week over silly, inconsequential things—but I’ve still earned the right to say that. And next July, when I walk down that aisle and I smell like my perfume instead of cigarettes, when I can bust a move on our dance floor without getting winded, and my groom can kiss me whenever he likes without worrying I’ll taste like an ashtray—well, I’ll know that it was worth it.
Photo by APW Sponsor Gabriel Harber Photography