Saturday, June 14, 2008

I Got Happiness Instead (by Gayle)

When Ron and I met we were both smokers. A few years later I quit and within a few months Ron did too. Over time cigarettes found their way back into our lives (okay, we found them) and we became full time smokers (addicts) again. Neither of us had any delusions about smoking. We knew the health consequences and each professed a desire to be smoke free. I smoked my last cigarette in early 1992. This time Ron did not quit. He made attempts, but continued to wrestle with it for another eleven years. He no longer smoked in the house and sometimes even hid it from me. Mostly he just kept me out of it. When he began having blood pressure problems in the mid-nineties, I became adamant that he quit smoking NOW. I knew I was right.

He knew I was right too, but that didn’t make it easier for him to quit. What started out as a heartfelt plea to my husband became nagging. The nagging morphed into bitching and the bitching became unadulterated harassment. I felt vindicated. The surgeon general was on my side, his doctors were on my side, for the most part society was on my side, and his children were on my side.

I was right and I knew it, but being right wasn’t making me happy. What were my choices? I could leave him (physically and/or emotionally) or I could practice some acceptance. I did neither for the majority of the time. I stayed in my “rightness” and judged the hell out of him. One of the most painful memories I have was telling him that I thought he was weak because he continued to smoke. Talk about a self-righteous bitch. He was battling an addiction and I invalidated him over and over again. I have since asked for and been given his forgiveness, but I am still sad when I remember how I acted.

In the year or two before he quit smoking, I finally began to set better boundaries for myself. I was never happy about his smoking, but I agonized less. I searched and found ways to reduce (I didn’t say quit) my need to control him. I found more acceptance for his struggle and knew it was not my battle to fight. I never did it perfectly, but I was happier and so was he.

How did I do it? I practiced what we "preached" in our blogs "Selfishness Alway Gets a Bad Rap" and Come Grow Selfisher With Me. I selfishly decided my happiness was more important than my need to right. I focused on what worked in my life and in our life and I did a lot of praying...

In March of 2003 he made the choice for himself to smoke his last cigarette.

Life holds so much - so much to be so happy about always. Most people ask for happiness on conditions. Happiness can be felt only if you don't set conditions.
~Artur Rubinstein

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am so proud of both of you and the work you ae putting into this adventure of writing the book. I was also thinking about how Senator McCain and his wife are a 17 year May-December romance. Never hurts to be up to date and topical. Goofy