Sunday, March 10, 2013

Strange Motivations

Can a negative create a positive?


I know now for a fact that you can create positive results out of something negative.

This makes me a little sad. I've been making a lot of positive changes in my life for the past few months. Tough changes, changes I didn't think I could make.

This is big for me. Huge. I've always been stubborn and hardheaded.

When I was young, my mother used to say about me that I didn't believe fat meat was greasy. I'd get mad and do the dumbest things. One time when I was a teenager, I got upset about something and didn't eat for a couple of days. My mother was not concerned. She joked and called it my Mad Fast... I gave in at the end of the third day.  When friends commented on how Mama had let me go on with it so long, she just said, I knew those missed meal cramps would bring her around. Mama could be stubborn too. I miss that old woman.

Anyway, here in my older years, I've quit smoking and started exercising and eating better. The smoking was the hardest. The eating changes are going to be a life-long workout.

You would think that having an auto-immune disease that could affect my lungs is the big reason I was able to kick nicotine. I mean, since not being able to run 8 inches without passing out didn't do it. I quit even doing a cute little catch-the-elevator sprint about ten years ago. The sprint was still cute, but the coughing fit that followed.... Well,  looking like you're about to puke up a lung does not bring out the sexy.

So, quitting smoking was the first big change. If I hadn't quit cigarettes, I probably would not have started the other healthy habits.

All good, right? Of course.

Except that I do feel a little guilty. My health was the reason for these changes, but my motivation is my roommate.

I don't mean that this woman is my cheerleader or anything positive like that. No. My friend, I am sad to say, is my negative-positive. Let me try to explain this.

My friend is ten years younger than I am. She has some back problems and lot of esteem problems. You've heard me talk about her before - she's the one holding the Olympic title for sleeping. This woman did everything she could to sabotage my breakup with tobacco. If tobacco was a man I was quitting, she was that chick giving him my new phone number.

When I first said that I was going to really quit smoking this time,  seriously-I-mean-it-no-kidding, she was all in my corner.

I started the Chantix and every day my friend wanted to know how the medicine made me feel.

A few weeks in with the medicine and I was cutting way, way down on my smoking. I went from just under a pack a day to around 6 or 7 cigarettes a day. Anytime my friend stopped at the store for her smokes (which was about every two or three days), she'd text or call to see if I wanted her to pick up me a pack. You have to understand (if you can) that this woman smokes 3 different kind of cigarettes. She keeps one pack of each with her at all times.

When my quit day came, I was ready. I had cleaned my room of all signs of smoking. The smell was gone, the ashtrays and lighters... all gone. This was important because I was going to be holed up there for a minute. I lit my vanilla scented candles and did a lot of deep-breathing. I journalled like someone who knew about paper but had just discovered pens. I became addicted to Starburst and Jolly Rancher candies. I watched every episode of Monk that HuluPlus has.

But, eventually, I had to leave the safety of my room and use the restroom.

I opened the door and the smell of smoke just about slapped me in the face. I held my breath and dived for the bathroom and shut the door. Now, you know that after all those years of smoking and only a few days straight, I could only hold my breath in gasps.

On my way back to the bedroom, I could see wisps of smoke trailing through the air. I snuck a peek around the corner and saw my friend in the living room, looking like that hookah-smoking creature from Alice in Wonderland. Maybe I was having detox hallucinations, but it seemed to me that the smoke was emanating from her skin and not just her mouth.

That right there was motivational. The smell and the image of her sucking on that cigarette...

It was more than a week before I stopped being tempted by the smell of my friend's smoking. I'd do everything in dashes: a dash to the bathroom, a dash to the kitchen, a dash out the front door.

Was she still my little cheerleader? Oh, yes, she was. Her favorite cheers were in between puffs on her smokes:

"Girl, I am so proud of you.."

"Look at you, sucking on those Life Savers."

"Wow, three weeks and no smoking. You rock!"

Really, b***ch?

One day, I was strong enough to start back riding in the car with her. She would have a cigarette and her lighter ready as we left the front door. I'm not kidding. Then, as she lit up before buckling up, she'd go, "You sure this isn't going to bother you?"

I was thinking really horrible thoughts about her, but, remember how stubborn I am? I'd just shrug and say, "If it doesn't bother you, doesn't bother me."

I know that that bothered her. Yeah, so I learned to say it and a lot of other things to work her nerves:

"Go ahead and smoke. Just because I quit doesn't mean everyone else will."

"Light on up - just open your window so that I don't stink."

Sadly, it's as if the stronger I got, the more she smoked. I did get annoyed though, so I once again stopped riding anywhere with her.

Then, I started exercising. I took up walking because my doctor suggested it and because it was a way to get out and get some fresh air. Lord knows, I need fresh air while living with the power-puffing champion of the world.

Again, the passive-aggressive cheers:

"Look at you, getting out there and walking every day. Isn't it cold?"

"Wow, you actually walked a whole mile? Don't your feet hurt in those boots?"

"Two miles? Do your thang, girl! Just be careful you don't overdo it..."

And on and on.

When I started eating healthier, she would come home with something from McDonald's or Taco Bell and ask if I didn't want just a little bit of a treat.

Well, I can be passive-aggressive with the best of them. I started putting broccoli into everything I cooked. She hates broccoli  I quit fixing anything that resembled something sinful. Since she is too lazy to cook (because cooking involves cleaning), she had to go back to her Lean Cuisines. She actually eats those - the pizzas and strawberry shortcakes. Personally, I'd rather eat less of the good stuff than a ton of anything that comes cardboard-packaged.


Last month, my friend's doctor offered her a shot at a surgery that could make a big difference in her general quality of life. The only catch is that she has to be nicotine free for a month before the surgery. She is still smoking.

Now, don't any of you think that I haven't tried to motivate her. I have, but she is hardheaded. My mother had another saying: "She will have to bump her own head to know that a brick wall is hard." (It's always somehow made sense to me...)

The thing is, I want to lift up my friend, but I can't let her drag me down. That's tough. I feel that not being able to motivate her puts a little tarnish on my successes. I feel like I have used her as my mirror to show me everything I don't want for myself. I really hope that doesn't make me a bad person.


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