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.
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.