Diary of A Quitter – Phase III

Phase III – The Struggle

 

 

I’m not gonna lie. This has been tough.

To recap the story, I lied to my world of people about the fact that I had started smoking again. Then the ONE person I truly wanted to spare the knowledge of my weakness, discovered the sham. The first phase was Busted. The second phase was me facing the Truth. Which brings the next phase of The Struggle.

I’ve wrestled the demons of addiction before. Some are stronger than others. Cocaine was a rough one to beat. But, I did. There is not a hint of desire for that demon to be back in my life. The last time I fought nicotine though, it only played dead. I know because the sensuous seduction returned when I was at my ultimate weakest to resist. Which means, unlike cocaine, it was never truly beat.

Perhaps you’re thinking there is nothing sensuous or seductive about a cigarette. Congratulations. You, my friend, are a non-smoker. However, there are others who might understand the allure of the first smoke of the morning, the after-lunch-deep-drag, or the twilight puff while watching the sunset. There are other times that are just as powerful, but these particular moments are ingrained deep in my psyche. These are the moments, for me, that the demon of nicotine is the most sensually seductive.

October 25 saw my last cigarette. Thirty-four days and counting, so far. There have been times that it never crossed my mind to have a smoke. I don’t know the why of that, or else I’d certainly share the information and engage it permanently. Because there are other days, when all of the stress just boils over.

We’re human. There will be stress. Sometimes in an overabundance. On one of these occasions, while alone and pacing through the house, I found myself looking in all of the places I’d hidden cigarettes before. None were to be found (Curse you, past self!). The car held another hiding spot. I checked there two or three times. Once with the keys in my hand, temptation to go buy a pack at the breaking point.

Between all of the searching, the question, “Why are you even looking?” screamed through my brain. The question seemed ludicrous. I tried to ignore it. The next question, “What are you going to do if you do find one?” was not so easily dismissed.

Shocked, I stopped looking. Because the answer to that question was obvious. “Smoke it. Then pretend it never happened.” I stepped back and realized what I was doing…

 

Demon: I see you’re stressed. A hit of nicotine might help ease that up a bit.

Me: Man, it really would. But I don’t have any on hand.

Demon: Are you sure? Have you checked?

My Spirit: Why are you even looking?

Me (ignoring Spirit): Yes.

Demon: Let’s check again.

My Spirit: Why are you even looking?

Me: Still nothing.

Demon: Did you check the car?

Me: Yep (rattle keys).

Demon: Let’s –

My Spirit: What are you going to do if you do find one?

Me: Smoke it. Then lie.

Demon: [Smiles]

 

This is the weakest I have felt, and the fight wages on. I cannot let the demon win. To smoke would be to allow the cancer-causing, foul-smelling, breathing-inhibitor, not to mention lie generator, back in my life.

 

My new mantra is;

He will not win.

I’ll not give in.

He won’t prevail.

I will not fail.

 

My poetry may be weak, but the struggle sure as hell ain’t.

 

***

JL Mo is mother to two full-grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

Diary of A Quitter – Phase II

Phase II – Truth

 

 

The mental gymnastics we perform in order to convince ourselves to do something that we don’t want to do are amazing. You cannot deny, at least once in your life, you’ve lied to yourself in such a convincing way that you even came to believe it. That is, until the whole thing blew up in your face.

To light a cigarette, and take that first, deep drag was my end goal. That’s all I wanted. Just that first hit. I told myself the one lungful of tar and nicotine had a calming effect on my nerves. With stress piling up, just that one hit could set me right again. Buy a pack, take that hit, then throw the rest away.

I hate smoking. I hate the way it tastes, the smell it leaves on me, the expense. All of it.

This takes strength to admit. I am strong.

I lie to myself quite well, don’t you think?

Lies. The truth and strength I’m searching for are layered in them. I put them there. Layer after layer, it had grown thicker and thicker, until the truth became unrecognizable.

My husband, in a hurt and sardonic tone, threw the spotlight on the congealed mess I’d made of things. “So, you’re lying to me.”

No! I should have screamed in protest. I’m lying to me. Not you! Me! You had nothing to do with this.

Now, the backward gymnastics begin.

I was hiding the truth. From me. And from him. I was lying. To myself first. Then him, and then just about everyone else in the end. I lied about smoking. I lied about where I was going when I went to buy that destined-for-the-trash pack. I ate something strong to cover the hideous, hated taste the cigarette left behind. Can you see all the layers I’d hidden the truth in? Because I didn’t.

As an aside to those who might wonder: I have battled the demons of addiction in many forms. The demon of nicotine is the strongest by far. No shit. I hate him.

The time had arrived to quit smoking. This time it’s permanent. (Stop snickering.) This is not new ground, it should be easy by now. It is not. Dammit, this will be the last time.

I still didn’t see the truth.

Weak from the struggle and humbled by the strength necessary to overcome my base desire, I began to pray. Scoff if you will, but I prayed hard. Prayer buoys me. To rise above the flesh and see the problem from a detached, matter-of-fact level offers more hope than I can explain. Besides, if I’m really lucky, I’ll get a God-smack of truth out of it.

While in prayer, I’m given the knowledge that this hated, hateful demon would be beaten back. Encouragement coursed through me. I am strong. That is not a lie. I will be made free of this demon. That is not a lie. God is with me (I really should pray like this more often).

I quit on a Wednesday. The first day I did pray for strength. And that prayer was granted. No secret trips to the store. Yea! The second day went smooth enough, but I did a lot of praying. I mean, a lot. My friend wasn’t going to quit for another week, and I hoped that the first couple of days would be okay for her.

Day three was a Saturday and we were going out with a few friends to a Halloween party. My soon-to-be-quitting friend offered me a nicotine patch. She reminded me that while drinking, the urge was strong, and the mind was weak. Her logic made sense. I accepted the crutch/patch gladly. The end of the night found me exhausted from dancing, inebriated, and laughing all the way home. Not a thought for a cigarette the entire time.

The morning after. I woke up with a slight headache, but attributed that to the alcohol. Duh. But a cigarette! I could think of little else. The concentration for prayer escaped me. The demon had sidled up and whispered everything would be fine with just one, deep, drag. If I had been alone I can’t say that I would’ve made it through the day smoke-free. But I wasn’t alone. My husband was there. I turned to him in my weakness, instead of sneaking off for a covert meeting with my hated demon.

Then I remembered. The nicotine patch was still adhered to my left arm.

I yanked it off, cussing.

In that moment, the realization of the ineffectiveness of this crutch hit me hard. This system is not for me. My approach to quitting is stop. Just stop. No chemicals, no bargaining, no backsliding. The inner battle is my own to deal with. This nicotine patch system still puts the drug in my body, just not through the lungs. What the F good is that? I’m fighting this addiction with every tooth and nail, and then I gave the demon exactly what it demanded? Argh! Once the delivery system on the patch ran dry, my body wanted more, and flooded me with the need for more.

It was on that Sunday the truth blew through the layers of lies.

Truth: I love the demon named Nicotine. But, if I don’t get him out of my life now, he will kill me.

As with any other abusive, toxic relationship, this must end.

God-smack received.

 

****

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

Diary of A Quitter – Phase I

 

Phase I – Busted

I noticed an odd phenomenon when I gave up smoking back in 2000. At first, if someone lit one up around me, it smelled so good. I’d find that person and go stand near them, just for the second hand smoke. Afterward, a year or so I guess, the odor started making me turn away. To this day, I never know how my body will react to the smell of tobacco burning. Whether it is appealing or repulsive, the reactions are polar opposites, much to my chagrin.

My return to the world of smoking began during one of the times when the smoke smelled really good (duh). Also, pain and frustration from a recent surgery. Also, stress. Also, I can come up with at least four or five other good/bad/embarrassing reasons/excuses for putting the nasty thing to my lips. Basically though, addiction. There are any number of excuses I had for lighting up. None of them good, and I knew this to be true.

During this rough patch, I invented a game to play with my own psyche. I bought a pack at a convenience store. Then, I took one out, and threw the rest in the trash can at the store. Only one, I told myself. Just to get the monkey off my back. This happened once a month. Then, twice a month. Then, once a week. Finally, I hid the pack in my purse, instead of throwing it in the trash.

Yes, the reason was addiction. I’ll also admit to a slight thrill. Since a ‘thrill’ is excitement with an element of danger, the experience of sneaking a smoke with no one knowing was a small thrill. The fact it could kill me might have added another level.

After a while I admitted backsliding into the realm of cigarettes. She’s the only one who still smoked among my group. She gave me a ration of shit about it.

One day, she and I were at my house in the middle of the afternoon. I decide to have a smoke. Our conversation turned to the guilt I felt about hiding it from my husband. “This is my last pack,” I announced. While half-way through that smoke, my husband opened the back door where we sat.

Surprise!

No ranting, raving, scene-making for him. Nope. He said five words that hit me like a punch in the gut. “So, you’re lying to me.” Then, he left.

We can all speculate what he thought, felt, or what else he could have said. I call all irrelevant. Those five words will haunt me for life.

I quit that day. Of course, I started again in six weeks. But for right then, I quit.

 

Six weeks later…

I bought a pack at a convenience store.

I lit one, threw the rest away.

Bought another pack two days later. Told myself this would be my last pack. Put it in my purse.

About two days after that, I told my husband I’m a smoker. It didn’t go well. But, the gut-wrenching idea of lying to him again, for any reason whatsoever, made the admission necessary.

Fast-forward. After several heart-to-heart conversations, I offhandedly told him that this would be done by my birthday, which was about six weeks away.

I gravitate between, “What was I thinking?” and “I can do this,” for the next couple of weeks. My friends, with whom I’ve shared this dark patch of life, are supportive. My husband has stopped his sarcastic quips and he looks forward to the day I quit.

Being honest with myself, I’m not happy. About smoking. About having to quit.

My smoking friend and I have agreed to quit together. She’s trying one of the nicotine drugs to quit. I’m going cold turkey.

Again.

****

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.