By: Brian Laubscher
Sports Information Director
Wow! Where has the time gone? My last blog entry was way back on November 4 and so much has happened in that time. Unfortunately, I did not win the lottery (see my last entry), but I’m still trying and I now have been entering to win the HGTV Dream House 2012 since it appears the numbers just aren’t aligning for me.
Since my last entry, I took my parental leave, an extended leave that the school has been so generous to allow for. I was off for better than six weeks and I enjoyed every minute of just me and the little guy. In truth, I never imagined how hard and rewarding it would be (as evidenced by how I could look at the clock and realize it was 2 PM and I had yet to make the bed or shower). There’s certainly a blog entry to be had about my time home with Parker, but I’m going to choose a different path today. I’m going to write about another life-changing event that occurred some five years ago this week.
Actually, life-changing may not be the proper term, perhaps I should say life-saving when referring to giving up something I did at least 10-15 times per day for all of 18 years. I’m amazed that now there are so many people that don’t know this, but I started smoking at the age of 15 and continued to suck down heaters all day every day until this week in 2007. There were so many life experiences that I had during those formative years and every step of the way was that comforting friend (or so I thought at the time) that came along for the ride. When I woke up, when I went to bed, after each meal and when I was stressed, the old Marlboro Reds found their way to my lips. After a while, you begin to feel like smoking is as much a part of you as eating or breathing. I got trapped into thinking I couldn’t live without them and for many years the beat went on.
Friends, family, perfect strangers, they all tried to tell me what I was doing to myself, but I hadn’t died yet and after so long, it didn’t seem like taking another hit was doing any damage at all. It wasn’t until New Year’s Eve 2006 that I decided it was time for a change. Let’s just say things happened, I looked in the mirror and decided that I needed to make some changes for the better. It still took me a couple of weeks to work up to it, but I announced to friends and co-workers that the time had come. I had tried many times before, but this time I actually did some reading and research. I read that all the times before, I didn’t give in because I was weak, I gave in because the addiction was stronger than I was. I realized it was okay to want a cigarette and to want to quit at the same time. Once I had armed myself with the facts, I gave myself the support system to help make it work. My staff of Austin Calhoun and Molly Reid were my most closest supporters and encouraged me throughout the long days. The worst though were the nights. Cold sweats and nightmares that I had given in to my desires were rough, but eventually one day led to two and one week led to one month, etc. I rewarded myself with gifts by making each goal. First was something small like buying a movie DVD and I worked up to bigger more expensive things (which was okay because I was saving the money I had spent on cigarettes).
The biggest challenge was when I headed to the bars with friends since smoking and drinking definitely went together. I almost gave in the first time I went out for drinks, but another former assistant and then avid smoker Scott McGuinness talked me out of my urges. Scott would also later quit and has probably two years under his belt.
The next thing I knew the following fall had begun and I was counting down the days to one year. I’m not going to lie and say I never tried another cancer stick, but whenever I did (which was rare, I’ve maybe had three since quitting), it only reinforced why I had quit. As one year approached, I decided to grow a beard and not trim it or my hair until I reached the magical one year mark. I’m not sure any pictures exist of this unflattering look (they did at some point but I don’t really have the time to go looking), but I can tell you it was heaven when the barber took it all off (though she talked me into leaving a mustache and Austin laughed at me all day and told me she couldn’t take orders from someone who looked as silly as I did). The ‘stache came off a day later. I also bought myself a $250 present, a vintage 1980 Philadelphia Eagles Ron Jaworski jersey from Mitchell & Ness, which still gets me high fives at the local BW3’s on football Sundays.
As I look back, I can’t begin to understand why I ever started or why it took me so long to quit. I am only comforted by the fact that despite being older and probably still a few pounds heavier, I feel so much better physically than I did. I also know that as a smoker I would have never met my wife and my son Parker would never have been a reality without the decision that I made and the support that I received some five years ago. To those who helped and encouraged me I say thank you. To those who read this and have yet to quit, I say there’s still time.
P.S. I’ll try to be less deep and meaningful with my February entry. 🙂