Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I Quit Smoking...Again!


          The last time I quit smoking I stashed a pound of tobacco in a high shelf.  I put my Supermatic cigarette making machine next to the tobacco, and a box of filtered tubes next to the machine.  I wasn't fooling myself.  I planned on smoking again.  It was simply a matter of how long I could remain smoke-free before stress and sadness pushed me back to the bag of tobacco, the tubes and the machine.  Any time I wanted, I could make one cigarette or twenty.

          That box of goods sat on the shelf for about six months before I took it down and eased myself back into the habits of a regular smoker.  There is NO up-side to smoking.  In America people treat smokers like scum.  How can I exude self confidence in society when the reek of my clothing gives me away?  How can I teach classes and exude authority?  The social stigma is bad enough but the health risks are so astronomical that one must be utterly insane to smoke.  Yet there I was...again!  Smoking.

          It was the wheeze in my chest that did it: pushed me to the point where the stash of 'baccy and the fancy rolling machine went into a foul dumpster, never to be seen again.

          I wheezed so badly that I kept myself awake.  My god!  It was as if I had John Philip Sousa and a brass band in my upper chest and they were tuning up before a concert.   Tootle tootle whooo whoo!
Shut up, f'god's sake, I'm trying to sleep!  Realizing that I couldn't escape, that the wheeze and I were one and the same shook me deeply.

          Ending addiction is tough.  Addiction isn't about the substance, it's about the emotions that lead to the substance.  I'm going through a time in which I am frightened and very sad. It's all about aging.  This crisis kicks the mid-life crisis all to hell.  My immediate problem will be to survive the onslaught of suppressed emotion.  Ending an addiction is like opening a Pandora's Box of hidden feelings.

          It is now March and I've been without tobacco since December.  I spent most of January in a state of terror and despair.  These are visceral emotions, they roil the guts and drain the energy from every day life.  I could recognize the intensity of these emotions as the product of release from addiction.  They had been stored in my psyche, but my smoking rituals had kept them at bay.  Now I had no comforting coffee n' smokes, no drive to work n' smokes, no smokes, period.  I had nothing but nicotine patches.  There was no avoiding these excruciating feelings.  Every day I woke up with a blue wave of terror emanating from my stomach.   After four or five weeks of this emotional sledge hammer I felt a slight easing of the weight. 

          Another month has passed and though I'm still frightened and sad, these feelings exist as bearable phenomena, like bad weather. 
         
          I can handle bad weather.