Stopping Smoking

For this of you that can’t, you’re likely to never have smoked. If you have, you should be able to relate that like me, you’re really good at stopping smoking given all the practice you’d had over months, years, or decades. We’ve all become experts; the only problem: We’re just as good at starting again.

I starting smoking at 18 as a way to get back my parents. They were both teachers at my high school and as a straight A student I thought it was the best (most passive-aggressive) way to get back at them. Needless to say, I had it as much as possible from them. I didn’t smoke at home and generally only smoked in the car with all the windows open. Hell, for at lest six months to a year I didn’t really “smoke” at all as I just liked to light up, suck a mouthful of smoke in, watch it dance the air as I exhaled. And I absolutely loved flame.

This year I’ve had limited success quitting. Already having multiple pre-existing conditions, the COVID pandemic made it a very clear choice: either I quit smoking or potentially die. Even then, it’s been stop and go. Every other weekend or so I’ll go cold turkey or put on patches but never seem to be able to make it to the other side. I like smoking–no, I love it! I love sitting on the deck several times a day reading the latest news and articles on my Facebook feed. I love that it wake’s me up in the morning. I love I can focus on it when I’m frustrated, tired, scared, angry, or feeling defeated. I love that it makes me feel tough. And I especially love, after a long day or all my emotions are frayed, sitting on the deck with a dram or two of Scotch drinking, commenting on FaceBook articles, and forgetting all the physical pain I’d been in all day.

Damn, smoking is damn good.

It’s not easy to quit. I’ve smoked on and off for decades. Even changed from cigarettes to a pipe back to cigarettes and then finally on Swisher Sweet Cigarillos. But whatever the input device, the reality is quitting is never quite the same any time. Generally though, the several days I tend to feel increasingly confused. For example, if I were sitting in a chair ever minute or two I’d wonder why I was sitting there watching tv instead of doing something more important. If I get up to do something important in hopes of keeping my mind off of it (as if one can as it’s completely screwing with ones thoughts) I find my mind will go into all sorts of wonky territory. Why did I go into another room? Why am I cooking? Why do I go to the work in the morning? Why am I here? As it gets worse uncontrollable anxiety kicks in, something no drug or meditation can put a dent in. And regular actives, like reading news, becomes pointless. The mind wanders uncontrollably. Then when I go to sleep at night, at least that first couple of nights, I’m likely to wake up with night terrors, my mortality somehow being thrown like a giant Redwood tree into my face. Somewhere around day two the mind is a chaotic confusion. Time slows down. One minute can become five, five ten, and so on—the whole idea of saying to oneself, “This will all be over in n days,” becomes meaningless when time stretches ones patience to its limits.

So here we go again. I’ve only had a couple today, one this morning, two this afternoon. Since this is a three day weekend I’m going a combination of patch and cold turkey tomorrow, in hopes that I can lower my dependency enough to be full cold turkey come Monday (Labor Day). I know I won’t be running on all thrusters come my first day back on Tuesday. And despite how difficult it is to write while “Jonesing” I will continue my daily reasons for not voting for that jackass in the Oval Office.

Gotta keep moving forward.