Letting Go: Bad Habits As Relationship Debris

I decided this week that I was going to seriously attempt to end two of my "bad habits". I say "bad habits" in quotes because I think that they can be thoroughly enjoyable vices for some. For me, though, I have found that these two - smoking and drinking - are ones I reach for without thinking more often than I'd like.

Both things developed while I was in toxic relationships. I had a lover who smoked regularly, far more than I ever have, and I picked up smoking while with him as a way for us to bond. There was also a chivalry to smoking, with him- he would light my cigarette with a little flourish that made me feel very seen as a femme, and I was attracted to that dashing demeanor that really shone through the ritual of smoking. And I had a lover who would drag me to social settings I felt uncomfortable in, around people I didn't really like, which is where I learned to have a couple of glasses of hard liquor in order to muddle through without feeling too lonely or out of place.

Coming back to the States, I found myself smoking and drinking almost exclusively in social situations as a way of trying to manage my ever increasing panic. After one too many parties where I found myself throwing up and pretending everything was fine, I knew it was time to reassess my relationship to my vices. And it feels like they're both residue from relationships I'm better off without.

So here I am, with bottles of kombucha and sparkling water, with my vaporizer holding half the nicotine. This has been an incredibly harsh week for a lot of reasons, and I cursed myself a bit for deciding on this as the time to start this... but I want to be able to go hiking with my boyfriend without gasping for air, and a large part of that is giving up smoking. I've given myself alternatives to fill the space left behind by these security blankets, and I'm curious to see how I do with it.

A big part of why I want to change both of these habits isn't really for my physical health, though that's not a bad side effect. It's the mental health aspect I'm more focused on, if I'm honest. I've been struggling with social anxiety for a while now and I can't imagine clinging to these habits is helping me overcome that particular issue. At the same time, I think that rather than trying to OVERCOME my social anxiety, I'm going to stop putting myself in situations where I feel at a loss or ignored. I am lucky enough to have supportive friends who I feel safe around, and not tempting to automatically reach for an intoxicant, so I'm going to try to refocus my energy on those spaces and those people.

One of the things that I came across recently was this interactive self care guide. The idea of it is to ask questions that we might be used to ignoring in our day to day lives in order to get by, questions like "when have you eaten last" and "how many hours have you slept in the last 24". What I especially love is that none of the answers cause the game to shame you, but gently encouraging you to make decisions that could be healthier. I think it's easy when trying to change our lifestyles to blame ourselves when we falter or stray from the path we've set. It's hard to remember that it's ok to fail.

I'm kind of curious what will happen the next time I'm in a social situation I want to nope out of. Will it be more awkward for the lack of cigarettes or booze? Or will I feel like it's easier to be direct about my discomfort? Only time can possibly tell.

If you want to help support me with this effort, I put some bitters on my wishlist that I can use to make mocktails!  I also would love recommendations for a soda stream like thing that isn't soda stream, if anyone has any ideas.

Categories: anxiety, balance, body stuff, breakups, fake it til you make it, growth, personal, resolutions, self care

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