Category Archives: Stress Relief

And then I cried

Tonight I attended the wedding reception of two very wonderful people. After the initial thought of, “oh great, now what am I going to do?,” I found myself sitting among friends at a table far away from the dance floor. The evening went very well, full of wine, beer, and food truck hamburgers. Toward the end of the evening, I found myself with one of my good friends “Tim.” Though he’s close to my parents’ age, Tim is very special to me, and I look up to him and cherish everything he says to me. After some light wine-filled conversation, Tim asked me a question that was loaded with serious.

“When are you going to stop putting your life on hold for others?”

After I tried to deny it, Tim asked me a different question.

“What are your goals for you? Marriage? More children?”

I tried to explain that my life is very busy, and I know that life is easier for me than for other single parents. I’m fairly certain that I’m done having children of my own, given that I’m not in a relationship right now, and having a child after I’m married again would be a difficult change for Em. I feel very blessed to have my family and my church family around whenever I need them. And I have many people in my life who love me.

“Yes, we all love you very much. But you don’t get to go home with us, do you?”

And then I cried.

Tim is right. I can surround myself with lots of love from family and friends, but at the end of the day, in the quiet of the night, it’s very lonely.

It has been a very lonely period. With no dating prospects in my line of sight, it seems a very good likelihood that I will not be in a serious relationship or marriage for another seven years.

There was an article published in the Huffington Post lately, a “journal entry” would be a more accurate description, that a woman wrote explaining why she did not need a man. Having been married before and now divorced with children, the woman explained how she had so many family and friends surrounding her, she didn’t need a man at home to make her feel loved.

I agree with her to an extent. But it is very lonely to not have somebody to talk to, to cry to, to cuddle up with, to love, to cherish.

Human beings need companionship. Extended periods of solitude can be very, very trying.

Tonight I’m left wondering: is Tim right? Am I putting my life on hold so that I can help others have a life? Is my gift of giving aid to others causing my life to stop?

Have I stopped walking along the path that has been laid before me? Or am I just taking a very long detour? Am I behaving like an insolent child, sitting down in the middle of the road, refusing to continue until someone pays attention to me and gives in to my demands?

Have I stopped living my life for me?

And I’m left wondering a question that I thought earlier in the evening: how did I get here, and where did my life go?

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I’m Not As Crazy As You Think

Ok. Lucy’s got some “splaining” to do.

I won a bottle of wine. Like 5 months ago or something. It was a work raffle. I didn’t even know I had been entered. Whatever. It was white wine. I was happy.

I put the wine in my fridge a few weeks ago. You never know when you’re gonna want a glass, right? It doesn’t take up that much space.

A few days ago I decided I wanted a glass of wine. It’d been a hard day. If I’d known it was going to get worse, I’d have gone to bed right then and there at 9:30 at night.

I got the wine out of the fridge and pulled out my Pampered Chef Wine Bottle Opener (nice plug, eh?). I’ve had it for a few years, but have only opened maybe 8 or so bottles with it. Hey, I’m a single mom. I can’t drink alone too often without feeling guilty. Anyhoo, I know how to open a bottle of wine with this thing. So when the plastic cap on top of the screw-thingy cracked mid-use, I was quite surprised. Now I had a metal screw-thingy stuck in my cork (I know, it sounds like a personal problem to me, too). I tried super-gluing the cap back on; no luck. I couldn’t make the screw go up or down (I’m officially a cheesy porn-lit writer now) and clearly I did not yet have any wine to make my bad day better.

My wonderful father gave me a Christmas gift that if given to any other 27-year-old single woman would have likely made her throw a tantrum: a power drill. I was thrilled, being that I’m finally in my own apartment after 5 years living with my folks and my kid. Yay thoughtful, practical daddys! Anyway, I got out the power drill, thinking that I would just put the end of the corkscrew into the opening in the front (see how technical and tool-talky I’ve become since owning a power drill?). I couldn’t get the corkscrew to go down into the cork any farther, but I was able to get it out. Hooray!

But I still don’t have any wine. But I do have a power drill in my hands. So I stuck my long drill bit (see, I know some real words!) into it and decided to just drill a hole in the cork and get my wine that way. The drill bit wouldn’t go through the cork. It was like I was hitting metal, except without the horrific screeching sound I am imagining that metal on metal makes. No sound, except for the stopping of the motor in the power drill because it refused to drill through cork. So now I just have a hole down the center of my cork and still. No. Wine.

I gave up and put the bottle back in the fridge, cried, threw the tantrum I didn’t throw at Christmas and watched a movie or something. I forget.

After a few days I decided to try again. Except this time I’ll push the damn cork into the bottle. But what to push it with? Everything I own that would be small and long enough to fit in the bottle isn’t strong enough to push on without breaking. So I got out my screwdriver that lets me insert different bits (there’s that porn again), took out the bit that was in it and pushed that empty end into the bottle. But I’m a wuss, so I can’t push hard enough to get the cork in. Not to worry, I’m resourceful (as a very good friend put it after hearing this story, my last name might really be MacGyver). I got out my hammer and started pounding on the end of the screwdriver. I pushed the cork about halfway down when I ran into another problem. My screwdriver was too short and was now being blocked by the rim of the bottle (that’s what He said?). Well, Hell!

I thought about putting a long bit into the screwdriver, but I didn’t have any long enough that were the right shape. So I got out my drill bit again. I stuck it in the hole that I’d made the other night (I’m really sorry about this. I’ve now had wine, so it’s kinda funny to me) and pushed. And pushed. It only took 5 or so good pushes and the cork finally slid into the wine!

…with my drill bit still stuck in the hole.

This is what my bottle of wine looks like now:

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So, I’m not really as crazy as you think.

I think.

But I don’t care. I have wine!

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I’m a Quitter


Both of my maternal grandparents smoked and growing up I hated it. I remember one Thanksgiving I handmade “No Smoking” signs and tried to put them all over the house. I detested the smell of cigarette smoke. A boyfriend of mine in high school told me he’d quit smoking and when I smelled it on him I threw a fit. Not more than a few weeks later I was hanging out with that boyfriend, his friend and the friend’s girlfriend and they were each smoking a vanilla flavored cigarette. I tried one and didn’t hate it.

Thus began my addiction to smoking. I used cigarettes to keep track of time; when my then-husband was working nights, I’d stay up and play computer games. I’d allow myself one cigarette every hour-and-a-half so that I could tell how long he’d been at work and so that I wouldn’t smoke a whole pack while waiting for him to finish his shift. I quit cold turkey when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. As soon as that stick showed two lines, I threw out my pack of cigarettes. I didn’t smoke again for a whole year; I went out with “the girls” and bummed a cigarette off one of them. Before my daughter, I’d smoked in our apartment; when I started smoking again I only smoked outside. When my then-husband and I moved in with my parents (both non-smokers), “Jake” and I would take walks around the neighborhood after dinner and after “Em” was asleep and I’d have a cigarette or two. It took me 2 or three days to go through a pack of cigarettes

When Jake, Em and I moved out of state to live with hisparents (both smokers), I smoked outside on their porch during the day. In my selfishness I (and his parents) only smoked in the house when Em was in bed downstairs in the basement that was our bedroom; because smoking while she’s asleep and downstairs isn’t the same as smoking in the house when she’s awake (insert sarcastic eye-roll). Not having a job and being around 2-3 pack-a-day smokers, I increased my smoking to about half a pack a day.

After my separation and divorce from Jake and moving back in with my parents, I decreased my smoking a bit. Living in a non-smoking household, I reserved my smoking for breaks at work and after Em was in bed. Carpooling with my mom to work meant no smoking during the commute, so that helped, too. When my mom and I moved to different buildings for work, I would smoke two cigarettes on the way to work after I’d dropped off Em at the babysitter’s house and I’d smoke two more on the way home after work. When Em started preschool near my office, I only smoked at work during my breaks and again after she was in bed at night. When I was prepping for my surgery, I quit cold turkey. I picked up smoking again a month after the surgery. Soon I bought one of those “smokeless cigarettes,” the ones you put liquid nicotine into and you can “smoke anywhere!” After some news reports of even worse chemicals being in the liquid, I stopped using it.

A year-and-a-half ago my company instituted a no-tobacco policy at our buildings: no tobacco use of any kind near the buildings or in the parking lots. I quit again cold turkey; I lasted a couple of months. I bought a pack of cigarettes while on my way to the funeral of a coworker who had died of his second heart attack before the age of 45, just months after his doctor had told him to quit smoking. I smoked my cigarettes in “honor” of him (insert another sarcastic eye-roll). Our company rules didn’t include smoking on the sidewalks (because they don’t “own” them, they can’t prevent people from smoking on them), so I’d walk out to the sidewalk and smoke between the trees and the street.

I’d tell myself I wasn’t really addicted, that I was just bored. I could go camping with my folks for a two or three-day weekend and not have a cigarette and be totally fine. I was a counselor at a church camp for three nights and four days and wasn’t allowed to smoke while I was there. I took nicotine gum with me but never used it. I was fine because I was busy; I didn’t have time to smoke a cigarette. But at home, in my car or at work, I have time. I make time.

I also didn’t want people to knowI was a smoker. I felt that if they knew I smoked, they’d think less of me. I’m not really sure how well I hid it; I know my family knew when I’d lie about smoking again, but how many of my church friends knew? Smokers never smell the smoke on themselves; they get used to the smell. But I tried what I thought was the best to keep myself from really stinking like an ashtray. I’d keep mints and gum in my car or purse and a can of Febreeze under my car seat. I’d roll the windows down in my car when I was smoking to let as much smoke out as possible. I’d wash my hands with flowery soap after I smoked. But who knows if it did any good?

Cigarettes are a legal drug. I can only assume it’s legal because it doesn’t affect people the way other drugs do; I’m not an unsafe driver after having a cigarette, I’m allowed to get a tattoo after having a cigarette, I don’t halucinate, I don’t “trip.” But I’m still an addict. I once bummed money from my sister when she was in high school, telling her I was low on gas and wouldn’t make it home to my apartment 60 miles away; I really just wanted to buy a pack of cigarettes for the drive home.

I’ve been smoking on and off  (mostly on) for 10 years. I don’t even want to know how much money I’ve wasted, knowing that nowadays a pack of cigarettes costs up to $6.50. Even just the basic math shows that a three-pack-a-week habit like I currently have is over $1000 a year. And that’s just the monetary cost. The health costs are too scary to think about. Quitting now doesn’t mean I’ll never get lung cancer. Quitting now won’t bring back my singing voice.

But it will get me closer to being as healthy as I can be. There are things in the near future that I can’t do if I continue to smoke. So I’m quitting. On Friday, February 25th, 2011 at 12:30 PM I smoked my last cigarette. I have nicotine gum in my purse that I’m trying to use only when I really need to because I’m likely to run out before I get paid on Friday, and a pack of cigarettes is cheaper to buy than a box of nicotine gum.

Quitting isn’t easy. I’m used to smoking in my car on my way to anywhere, I’m used to smoking outside after dinner, I’m used to smoking when I talk to my ex-husband because “it helps me relax” and not yell at him as much. It’s easier to not smoke at work because I can distract myself with other things. But when I’m driving home from work or when Em’s in bed for the night, that’s when I really want another cigarette. I borrowed my dad’s guitar to give my hands something to do. But part of the addiction is having a cigarette in my mouth. One of the pitfalls to quitting smoking is gaining weight; people who smoke tend to eat more to give their mouth something to do. Trying to lose weight and quit smoking at the same time is very difficult.

I really want to succeed at this. I will always be a smoker, just like a recovering alcoholic will always be an alcoholic; taking just one drag off a cigarette is likely to put me back in the habit. There are so many different “cures” for smoking and I know that some will work for me and some won’t. I just have to really stick to my guns and stay focused on what I want. I can’t smoke and do what I want to do this year (more on that later; sorry I can’t actually write it down yet). It’s just not possible. So I have to stay focused on that, not on how much I really want to smoke every time I see someone else with a lit cigarette.