Thursday, July 26, 2012

Eminence Front

Well, I've gotten myself into another fine mess. 

Depends how you look at it really I suppose.

I quit smoking. 

I know. I know. Yay! Right?

Yes, mostly. I suppose. Don't worry I can hear you saying "Mostly"?

Yes, it is definitely a good thing that I've quit. I've gone and done it all public like too. I posted on Face Book something like - "Transdermal nicotine patch. Day one". A bunch of my FB friends were very supportive. I appreciate that more than I can say. I'm sure if I contacted any of them for moral support they'd be more than happy to help me out.

For those of you that smoke, or have quit; you may want to skip the next paragraph or two, or five. Oh heck. I don't know if this whole post is for you. I just want to talk about what smoking is for a lot of people and why it's so hard to give up. Pretty boring stuff for current or ex-smokers I suppose. I mean, you already know the ropes.

Why is it so hard to give up smoking? It's only nicotine right? Once you're past that it should be easy as pie. Once you're past the cravings and have found a strategy to not smoke any more, what's the big deal?

Well, it's a HUGE deal. Why can't some people stop smoking? Like the person who sees the TV commercial of the people with throat stomas and lights up any way. Or the person who ignores the smoker's cough. Or my brother who begged me for a Marlboro on his death bed. 

Who's always there just within reach? Waiting at your beck and call. Who goes to bed, wakes up, finishes meals, and takes breaks when you do? Who is at your side through good times and bad? After that argument. Before a job interview. And those long car rides. When you hate yourself and when you love yourself. It's the lowly, gross cigarette of course.

Why is it so hard? Because like so many addictions I suppose it's not just about the addiction. It's about changing your life. It's a death in the family. It's a divorce. And you have to CHOOSE to do it. You have to choose to ignore the siren's call for the rest of your life. I know it gets easier to ignore, but you have to kick that constant companion to the curb. That's hard for a lot of people. Especially when they don't see the ill effects of smoking. Or just choose to ignore them.  

Smoking is not illegal. There are no tests for cigarette use when applying for a job. The smoking bans in some areas are for many just another cross to bear to be in that cool smoking club. And it is a club. You pay dues every day. You hang around a special crowd of people. Your loyal to your brand and your clique.

Know what though? It's not worth it. It's not worth the constant stink that hangs around you. It's not worth the blunted senses of taste and smell. It's not worth the money. Not worth the hacking cough or the gasping, labored, suffocated breath as you lay dying in hospice. And I'll tell ya why.

Now I could be wrong; I have no title or piece of paper saying I know what I'm talking about, but isn't the basis of most addiction a low or nonexistent sense of self? I mean think about it. Most smokers will tell you straight up that they know smoking is bad. That smoking can kill. Many will tell you they wish they had never started. But they smoke anyway. People stuff their feelings back down with every puff. Just as the morbidly obese continue to eat when full. Eat when they know they shouldn't. For comfort. Self destructives all over the world will glibly tell you that it's one more nail in the coffin as they light up. Or laughingly refer to cigarettes as cancer sticks. It's all bravado. It's just a way to show defiance. To keep smoking. If you smoke and examine why you smoke I bet you'll find that it's all a front for not dealing with your real feelings. Some real issues.

And what of ex-smokers? Most smokers really hate the ex-smoker who is a fanatic over quitting. Sometimes they try to get others to quit. Sometimes it's the loss of a smoking buddy. Hearing the perils of smoking from an ex-smoker is like nails on a chalk board. Or whatever makes you shudder. 

Why are ex-smokers so adamant? Why the eminence front? A person who has recently quit smoking has to start toeing the line of a different life. Almost has to start preaching the word in order to have it stay rooted forever. I can't remember if it's seven or twenty-one days to break a habit. Smoking takes a lot longer though. If you're actually going to do something like this for yourself - yes, you must quit because you want to - you should feel good about it. You should be proud and tell the world. 

What happens if you do have a cigarette while you're quitting? Or overeat when you're trying to lose weight? Or anything for that matter. Well, duh! Just keep going. Don't tag yourself a loser and give up. Pick up where you left off and keep going. Every stumble is a chance to succeed. Don't use frustration or a mistake as an excuse for giving up on yourself. 

Just keep having faith in yourself. You deserve all the love and patience you can muster.

How 'bout I give you a break this time around? I'll let class out early just this once.

I'm pullin' for ya.


  1. So, according to several miscellaneous sites who couldn't cite a source, it takes 21 days to break a bad habit; however, according to a University College London ( study, it takes 66 days.

    I don't know why ex-smokers are so militant. I don't know if I agree with your speculations. I know watching someone else light up or smelling someone else's smoke can trigger my desire for a cigarette, but I recognize it for what it is and tell it to shut the hell up when I am serious about quitting.

    I don't tell people around me that they can't/shouldn't smoke around me. It's my issue, not theirs. If I know someone is trying to quit, I'm not going to ride their ass if they decide they want a ciggy. I might gently ask if they had quit or not. I might ask, in the future, if it's really wise to rip off a nicotine patch so you can light up. I think there are adverse effects from doing that. Maybe not. I'm not a doctor nor do I get to play one, on or off tv.

    The only other thing related to this topic that I've got is the phrase... "I am quit for x days." and all of it's variations. Who decided that awkward phrasing would suit the situation best? I quit, you quit... it's something we may or may not have done, not something we are. I haven't had a cigarette in 30 days, I quit smoking 47 days ago, I got my lungs back 3 weeks ago... all seem a lot more grammatically correct. I am smoke free. I am not quit. I will never be quit. I might be fresher than a daisy, happy as a clam or fit as a fiddle... I think you catch my drift.