Now, I realize this isn't going to be easy. But I've been doing some positive thinking and realize I already have a track record of breaking some significant bad habits. I'm no longer a terrible nail biter, for example. And I don't smoke.
I don't know if kids in Milford had more space and freedom to act out or if they were just bored, but lunch recess at Kurtz Elementary was a rule-breaking free-for-all.
Kids would gather under the tall oaks on the far side of the playground to conduct pretend "marriages" - really just a forum for boys and girls to suck face in public. The playground equipment included huge tractor tires that we could climb into and hide from the supervisor. It was there, desperate to fit into any social circle that would have me, I tried my first puff of a cigarette. It was disgusting. But it was also dangerous and exciting and, even though the other kids laughed at my inexperience, I was "in."
Smoking was super cool back then. Ads made it look modern and glamorous, and tons of parents smoked, so it was easy to filch leftover packs of cigarettes from adult parties and carry them to school in your knee sock (also a good place to store a tampon, I later discovered.) I liked the rebelliousness of smoking, and even though I got into big trouble - I was suspended from school for three days in 7th grade - I kept it up. I snuck cigarettes in my basement, in school bathrooms, out in the woods.
I wasn't a heavy smoker - never more than a few cigarettes a day - but I defiantly kept puffing away until my mid-twenties, when one day I thought, "What am I doing? I don't like this, it tastes awful, and I'm always smoking stale cigarettes anyway. I'm in charge of my own life now, what the hell am I rebelling against?" I couldn't come up with a good answer, so I quit. I've been smoke free for over twenty years.
Oh, I had a few relapses. The hardest thing about not smoking is you don't get to hang around with the smokers anymore, who are often the coolest, most interesting people at any party. The whole ritual of smoking creates a bond - bumming a cigarette, getting a light, huddling together out in the cold. I missed that for a while.
But once I stopped looking at smoking as an act of rebellion, I just didn't need it anymore.
I think many bad habits originate for reasons that make sense at first, but don't stand the test of time. This month, I'm on the look out for those.