Category Archives: Addiction

One Year Smoke Free

key dateMy Korean Air flight from Seoul was about to land at Denpasar in Bali when the clock ticked over to midnight and April 19 began, and thus I achieved my one year of smobriety. (The term “smobriety” is one of many helpful tools hopeful quitters will find on About.com’s smoking cessation forum. I’ve never been a bumper sticker kind of person, but quitting is hard, and sharing it with others helps a lot. If you’re ready to try, that’s good place to start.)

So we had done it. After a lifetime of poisoning ourselves, one year had passed without me inhaling a single puff of expensive, stinky, life destroying tobacco. According to the forum, only 7% of quitters make it through the first year, so I figure that’s something to be pretty proud of. (See what I did there? That’s called an “understatement”.)

I could go into all the stages of pain it cost but instead I will share two pearls of wisdom I learned the hard way that might help people who want to quit.

Pearl 1: I used to get annoyed at people who referred to smoking as a “dirty habit”. As a smoker, it doesn’t seem all that dirty, but for months after quitting, I would sometimes grab a sweater I hadn’t worn in a long time, pull it over my head, gag, and toss it into the wash.

And habit? Nah. It’s an addiction. People who haven’t experienced addiction can’t begin to understand what it is. But then I quit and realized how right they were. The addiction is hard, but the habit is so much worse. Smoking becomes not just something you do; it becomes something you are. You spend all day every day thinking about when and where you can have your next smoke, and it only got worse as the world became more and more anti-smoking. Plus, no matter what the world throws at you, your dear friend Mr Cigarette is always there, happy to provide a screen for you to hide behind. But take away that screen and the world is still what it is. The smoke doesn’t change anything. It all comes down to learning the difference between needing and wanting. Once the need is gone, the want can be dealt with.

Pearl 2: Denial. I used to say, “I like smoking. I know that I’ll never be able to quit because I like it.” That was complete and utter bullshit. I hated it, but to admit that I hated it was to admit that I’d been a smelly dope for longer than I could face. The longer I stayed quit, the more I realized there is absolutely nothing, not one good thing, about smoking. Even this: Smoking is a great excuse to go outside and get away from the people at work for a few minutes. But you know what? You can do that anyway, and people are a lot more sympathetic when you tell them you need a breath of fresh air than a lungful of poison.

So there it is. We did it, and as long as we don’t let ourselves romance the smoke, I think we can stay quit. Cheers and gratitude to all those who have been so supportive and special thanks to Rumiko for this, a happiness tree that symbolizes two burning cigarettes, yet costs only water and produces only oxygen.

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERA

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Day Five

150204_1027~01Coming down the back stretch of this filming marathon, she’s intent, engaged, fully absorbed in the job. She’s taking this seriously, her professionalism a gleaming example for all who will come after.

She’s not thinking about Candy Crush or constantly checking Facebook. She’s not visiting the snack basket and stuffing herself with almonds swathed in creamy, smooth chocolate. She’s not getting the puppet people to take silly pictures of her and then writing in her blog.

Actually, every “not” in the second paragraph should be moved to the first one. What she’s really doing is all of that plus fake yoga in a fake chair.

150204_1027~01Things are not always what they seem.

But one thing in the first paragraph is true; I am more engaged. I’ve arrived at just about 300 days smoke free and all sorts of things are changing. Instead of dashing outside for a smoke at the first hint of a break, I sit calmly. I talk to people, commiserate, build relationships. I am more a part of the moment. The process of rebuilding my life, rebuilding me, means not only me looking at the world in a different way, but also me finding a different way to fit into it.

The more I learn about smoking, the more I’m coming to understand that the physical craving for nicotine is only a small part of the overall addiction. I am unlearning a whole slew of knee jerk reactions and defense mechanisms that I’ve come to realize I never really needed in the first place.

Doing this kind of work is a lot like quitting smoking. It takes patience, dedication, patience, endurance, patience, patience, patience and patience. I just need coping strategies. For this job, I have to leave my house and ride trains seemingly forever to get to the studio, then turn around and do the reverse, six times each, for a total of 12. Coming here this morning was trip #9; going home tonight, if we ever finish, will be #10. Tomorrow I get to complete the dozen. They say that only 7% of quitters make it through the first year, but 80% of those fabulous people make it through the second. This moment is significant because I am at the same point in the dozen as I am in that first year.

One more day; two more months. See you at the finish line. I know I’m going to make it.

The Tale of the Little Green Monster

I’ve never met most of the people who read this blog, so you can’t know this about me, but I was a heavy smoker for more than thirty years, Rochi even longer, both of us for our entire adult lives. I’ve always been careful not to mention smoking here, fearing people would think less of me because of it. (Yes, I’m that much of a weenie.) Add that to the lengthy list of reasons to quit.

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAAnd quit we did, just over a month ago. I have a lot to say about that but it may take some time before I’m ready. The little green monster who lives behind my left ear still jabs my brain with his pointy pitchfork every now and then, giving me a “Ka-Pow!” moment. I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and send out thoughts of gratitude for dopamine replacement therapy.

Wish me luck. Or better yet, wish me strength.