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I think you always visit me in the bright moments, Papa; you and Pain. I think that's where I'll always find you: in these brightest moments. So when Pain invites me to dance. I never refuse. The thought of no dance at all, of the absence, is far more painful than the intensity of remembering.
Let me start by being as whole-heartedly honest-to-goodness up-front with you as an addict can: I'm not happy and this isn't an uplifting post.
If you're looking for motivation to keep on ''being quit'' you probably won't find it here. But nor will you likely find an excuse to start again. I'm not here for you anyhow. I'm here because I'm an angry ex-smoker with a need to blow off some steam and I'm sick of trying to walk and bike to ''fight through the craving'' so I may as well write.
I am headed into my 21st day smoke free. It's actually only Day 20 but it's almost bedtime and even though there's an unlit Marlboro Double Ice dangling from my lips, I figure I'll make it to tomorrow without lighting up. Anyhow, I figure after 20 days I've earned the right to gratuitously tag an extra day onto my accomplishment.
I also have added motivation to make it to Day 21:
- #1 they say the hardest of anything always comes at three (3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months). Since I am obtuse, I am absolutely resolute in my determination to make it past the week three milestone.
- #2 I promised my daughter I would tough it out at least until my birthday, which falls on Day 21. This was around Day 11, when I had a serious meltdown and shouted a whole lot of awful at the world. My 11-year-old looked at me in the midst of my undoing and said ''I'm so proud of you Mama. Why don't you try to hold off smoking until your birthday and re-think it then?'' This from the mouth of a babe ... too bad her old mom's not so reasoned ...
- #3 I'm working for my birthday, tomorrow, and have to get up at zero dark thirty. Otherwise I would likely have crumbled like a house of cards and headed down to the Belgian Bar for the glass of wine which would have undoubtedly led to the smoke (a lit one, just so we're clear).
- #4 I'm still hoping that Day 21 will bring about a miraculous renewal of faith and desire to make it to at least Day 28.
- #5 I haven't ''yet'' gained the 5 lbs that I have sworn will be my ''PASS GO'' card to nicotine nirvana.
- #6 I'm still hoping there's something more powerful in me than ''me''.
- #7 I like not smelling of smoke (even though I admit to having gone outside to the smoking corner to take a whiff of others smoking ...).
- #8 If I stay quit until tomorrow I'll have saved a whopping $77 (USD) - yes, that's how cheap a pack of smokes is in the ME (not sure how this made the list).
- #9 I'm scared if I have ''one'' today, I'll never manage to stay quit again.
- #10 I'm scared to disappoint the people I love.
- #11 I want to be a healthy, happy ex-smoker one day.
- #12 I want to ''not want to smoke'' one day.
So there you have it. My motivation for staying quit until tomorrow, Day 21, my 47th birthday.
Not quite as poetic as it should be if you consider the scale of this quit: I have been smoking for almost 35 years.
I consider myself a professional, and I invested my life into it. It was a part of who I was and I still feel like it is ... like I'm trying to be someone I'm not by not smoking. But for today I'm just me without a smoke.
And yet I continue to walk around with a pack of cigarettes and a lighter in my bag. This helps me retain the old me in some strange way. It also reassures me that I can reach in and have one any time I like. Granted I now also carry around Nicotine gum and patches just in case a craving ever tries to dupe me into having ''just one''.
I realise how crazy this seems to someone who's never smoked and I know a lot of people will judge. That's perfectly fine.
A lot of people will say ''it's about time you came to your senses and quit''. But the thing with addiction is you already know what makes sense - it's not about that at all and just goes so much deeper ... You want to stop, and you know you should, and the logic is there, but the desire for the fix is greater than any good intention.
And all is not won when the addict works up the determination to overcome the desire for the fix. Because that's when the physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal will rear their ugly head; itching, headache, constipation, irritability and despair. That is exactly what 35 years of dedication will earn you.
To say addiction is purely physical is a gross oversimplification of a complex issue that has overpowered some very bright minds. My physical addiction was gone after 3 days. The physical cravings have dissipated. And yet thoughts of smoking, thoughts of never smoking again ... these thoughts continue to fill my head at least half the day every day.
But for tonight I am smoke free. I'm angry and I'm a little mean, though not quite as much as I've been the last week. I've had moments where I thought it might be better to go back to frying my lungs than torturing my mind. But for tonight I'm ok.
This is by far one of the hardest things I've done. And I may well fail; it wouldn't surprise me. But for tonight, I know with certainty I'll make it to Day 21.
Happy birthday to me.