I spent a decade trying to quit smoking. This is it, I’d say, my last pack.
24 hours later, I’d slink back to the gas station for more.
I was a failure machine. Again and again, I failed. And every time I failed, I blamed myself — my lack of willpower.
Apparently, my willpower was broken.
I finally quit with the patch. A tiny square not much bigger than a band aid, you put it on your skin, and it leeches a steady dose of nicotine into your bloodstream.
The moment I put it on, my cravings went away. I was suspicious. Was it really so simple to quit? Had I really lied to myself for a decade?
Apparently, I didn’t love the taste of cigarettes. I didn’t NEED one after a meal. Cigarettes didn’t give me a sense of peace or help me relax; nicotine did.
I had a chemical dependence. And I’d concocted a hundred little lies to convince myself that smoking was a choice, that I enjoyed puffing away behind a dumpster to get out of the wind in the dead of winter.
It was a lesson in self-delusion: an example of how we can manipulate ourselves, how we distort the truth.
“Being aware of a single shortcoming within yourself is far more useful than being aware of a thousand in someone else,” the Dalai Lama says.
Where are my blind spots? I ask myself now. What am I lying about? What are my fears?
If I don’t know the answers, then my lies and fears fence me in. I dig in my heels. I settle. I live a life I never wanted.