Monday, March 26, 2007

Quitting Smoking is Arduous

I must say it's the hardest thing I've ever done. If you've never smoked you probably will never understand what a smoker goes through trying to kick the habit. As a matter of fact, calling it a "habit" really understates what it really is. While there is an habitual component to smoking, i.e., the trip up to the flower market is exactly 3 cigarettes long, - one at the on ramp, one at Manchester, and one at the Poinsettia off ramp; or one smoke on the walk to Mona Lisa's. And then, there are the triggers, similar to "habit smoking", but accompanied with another component) usually another vice - a cup of coffee, a drink, apres sex. Smoking is much more than a habit and by that I don't mean it's an addiction. That's the obvious part.

Smoking is a relationship. Sounds pretty shocking eh?

I've been smoking longer than I've been married. My cigarettes and I have been through a lot together. The high school years, boot camp, births, marriages, deaths. It's always been there when I needed it. Keeps quiet when I'm thinking. It's a constant.

We kill time together.

Kept me company when I used to be on the road for weeks at a time.

Cigarettes are my friend.

So quitting smoking is like severing a long standing relationship. With all the attending fears and melancholy that go along with it. One knows on an intellectual level that this a purely destructive relationship, but as in all destructive relationships all kinds of justifications can be made to continue it.

So there's that part, then there's the physical part. I've heard that it's different from one person to the next, but for me it's lightheadedness, twitchiness, inability to concentrate (to the point that I can't think of anything BUT cigarettes) and irritability. I even got irritated at Diane Sawyer this morning.

Then there is the perverse pleasure of being a social pariah. As one who bridles at authority, who hates being told what to do, or being coerced into a socially acceptable behavior: aka an individualist. It's just great fun to irritate people. So in order to successfully get off the cigs, one has to make the mental adjustment that they're not the romantic outsider, rugged individualist; that the whole world was right along, and that rather than "taking a stand against the man", you're just being childish.

I guess for me the addiction part is the easy part, smoking has become so much a part of my persona, it takes some serious mental heavy lifting to think of a life without cigarettes.

With apologies to Descartes, I smoke therefore I am.

But that is overstating it a bit.

I will prevail.

Farewell my friend.

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