Oaktown Sara

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OCTOBER 7, 2010 4:24PM

Cigarettes: It’s Not You, It’s Me

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Today is day ten of my quitting smoking. I have smoked for nineteen years; during that time I have “quit” more times than I like to think about.  The longest I successfully quit was four months. I made it that far a couple of times. At four months you have all of the nicotine out of your system; you’re over any physical withdrawals; it’s just you and your head.  In a way, the you-against-you part is worse than the very real symptoms (which can be summed up as something like a severe case of the flu with an added dose of anger.)




Yesterday I tried to write about smoking.  Writing about it made me want a cigarette so badly I had to stop.  I started having these pornographic flashes of a box of American Spirits lying seductively next to the marble ashtray I bought at a thrift store-- the ashtray I have had for over a decade, the one I keep at my smoking station outside, you know, the cool ashtray I can’t bring myself to get rid of now that “I’ve quit.”  When I gathered up my smoking paraphernalia to throw out, I paused at the ashtray and decided it’s really pointless to throw it away when my smoker friends can still use it when they visit.  I’m just being green. In reality, I know it’s that internal jerk who likes to remind me of my past failures and also mention that it’s way too cool of an ashtray to have to replace.




See, this is the tough part about smoking: if it didn’t kill, I would happily smoke until I died of natural causes at ninety-five.  I love to smoke.  Smoking has been there for me through it all. I have known smoking longer than many of my current friends.  It has been more reliable than a few of my ex-boyfriends.  When I am feeling a little too sad, a little too pissed, even a little too happy, a cigarette will always be there to take the edge off.  Without my trusty friend, it’s just me verses the world.  And I hate those odds.

Quitting is different this time because I have had severe insomnia.  I often find myself awake after only three or four hours of sleep.  If I’m able to sleep longer, I am usually up by 6:00.  During a bout of insomnia a few nights ago, I had an online conversation with a good friend who was also up at 3:00 in the morning.   We instant messaged  for a while before she called on the phone. We talked about cigarettes for an hour.  My friend quit smoking four years ago--this is worth noting because she always swore she would never quit.  As far as I know, she never even tried until the day she actually quit.  It took her watching a documentary about some former teen heartthrob who lost most of his face to mouth cancer.  The footage of his badly deformed face was enough to make her quit smoking that day.  Looking for inspiration I asked her, “When does it get better?  When do you feel like yourself again? I feel like I’m climbing out of my skin.  I feel like a crazy woman.”  

Her answer:  “I have never felt like my old self again since I quit.  I’m a different person now.  I lost it when I quit. I didn’t know how to drive without smoking, how to talk on the phone, how to write.  Everything I did, I did with a cigarette.  I went off the deep end for about a year.  I had to relearn to live without smoking. I have not been the same since.”

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I effin' love American Spirits. There. I said it. See, I can pass up ANY kind of cigarette, but for some reason, I see one of those AS boxes and I want, WANT, WANT! The yellow box is my favorite, but I like 'em all.

Great piece on the complexities of smoking. You're right - it takes the effin' edge off and don't we need that? Sigh. And then we die of something else anyway and what does it matter?

I was never a serious smoker. I was a binge smoker. That was me. When the urge hit, it hit big! Now I surf and sing...it's harder. I'll occsaionally allow an indulgence. Once ina blue moon. Then I'm back to not smoking.

But nothing replaces cigarettes. Nothing. Nothing feels quite the same way. It's like bacon. Untouchable.
Thanks for this. You're doing yourself and those who love you such a big favor. Hang in there.
As Twain said: "Quitting smoking is the easiest of all things to do. I've done it a thousand times."

Some years I spend more on the cures than the smokes themselves. Right there with you.
Very good post. There is so much to this subject, thanks for sharing a bit of your past/ongoing experience.
I really appreciate all of the kind words (and good quitting tips!) I especially love the bacon analogy. So true.
It's been 1 year, 3 months and 6 days since I quit smoking.

Although the urge to smoke still hits, it is less frequent and less intense. The biggest change for me is the feeling of freedom. I have been released. No longer is every plan hampered by thinking about when and where I can smoke.

The process I went through to quit rooted out so much of how and why smoking had such a strong hold - the thousand habits, the psychological crutches and the emotional numbing.

I've gone through some very heavy stress and didn't start smoking again - I'm free.

If you'd like to read about my quitting, it's here:
Good luck. It is worth it. I quit the last time about 30 years ago. Nasty habit. Stick with it.
I quit for six months, then the new season of my favorite show, MadMen started. I know it's not healthy to blame a tv show for my own weakness, but darn it. All that sexy smoking sure didn't help!

Great Post.
I have never smoked. However, both of my parents smoke a pack a day. I found it weird because as I got older I had brand pride. My dad has always smoked Marlboro Mediums and my mother, Marlboro Lights. Then as our taxes went up my parents switched to Paul Malls, briefly. I knew my parents bought them because they were cheaper, but when I found my dad smoking American Spirits, I had an internal freak out. It was so odd to me, to not see a Marlboro in is mouth. I remember asking him why he bought the American Spirits, and he told me how they were better.

I had to check myself when a small part died inside of me seeing my parents smoke a different brand of smokes.

Great post by the way! Keep it up (the non-smoking).