February 09, 2007

A Tad Haggard, But Back Fo Mo

Has it been forever or what? Phew.
Well I'm here - in spite of myself and of life ... I'm here and willing to spew more ponderings every now and again .

Some days my desire to write is so strong I can barely stand it. Everything comes to mind and yet nothing lasts along the journey from brain to fingertips. It truly pains me in places many people don't know they own.

Today I sit as comfortably as possible; hot tea at my left side and to my right, nothingness replacing the spot my ashtray once occupied. I have quit smoking and sometimes I wonder "at what cost?" It has been six weeks since I've tasted tobacco. I miss it so. If you cannot grasp that concept, read no further ... nothing I'll be writing today could interest or touch you in the least.

My smoking habit was both my worst enemy and best friend for nearly 23 years. The release it offered me was almost indescribable. I could be stressed to the max or so low that crying didn't even feel worth it - but light up a cigarette and the darkness started to lessen up a little bit with each toke - or at least, that's how it seemed. For me, what it translated to was a cross between, "I can handle anything that comes my way as long as I know there's a cigarette in it for me at the end" and "Oh yes! I deserve this marvelous treat."

There were cigarettes in between the stresses too. I mean, who could survive twenty three years of uninterrupted tension? Impossible. And so, I freely admit that many of the butts I smoked were wasted on physical habit. Many. Oh the dollars ... I can't begin to think along those lines ... I could drive myself mad!

I clearly recall dozens, no hundreds of times ... maybe even thousands of times when I was actually bothered by the smoke from my own cigarette, or the fact that I had one less free hand at the moment; the fact that I was forced to freeze my ass off so that I may enjoy my habit of choice. Still, it was worth it.

I cannot tell you that my cigarettes tasted particularly good, yet strangely, if I couldn't find my brand, I wasn't easily satisfied with another. I didn't like the heaviness in my chest on cold days or anytime I had to exert myself. But a silly thing like my lungs wearing thin or my heart aching for calm wasn't going to stop me from giving in to my need for a smoke. Uh uh.

One of those annoying non-smokers once asked me why I wanted to punish myself with this self-destructive habit. The great irony is that I felt it would be even worse than self-punishing to give them up - but try explaining that to someone who can't see beyond their life's windshield.

I referred to "annoying" non-smokers so I might as well stop here to offer explanation. With as much tenacity as I have vowed to quit, I also vowed never to become annoying about it. I hereby claim the following types to be "annoying" and will stand behind this claim for the remainder of my days:

* Any FORMER smoker who has successfully quit and claims "If I could do it, anyone can." To them I say ... how DARE you presume to know me. You don't walk in my shoes or live in my soul - you have no idea what motivates me or what drags my ego through the mud. It's lovely that you were able to quit - it's absurd that you figure your own success to be some sort of warped, official guideline for others.

* Any person who is an alcoholic (either admittedly or in denial) - who has a dependency on pharmaceuticals - who has an eating disorder, particularly those who are clearly obese - or who is reliant on any other form of evil habit and still has the audacity to tell me smoking isn't good for my health. To them I say ... people who live in glass houses should always wear clothes ... or ... where's your self control? ... or ... Show me da money, bucko.

* Anyone who has never so much as entertained thoughts of holding, no less inhaling a cigarette - yet feels they can dish out quitting tips - or suggests that quitting should be easy ... "After all, it's not like you need it." To them I say, you wanna make a fuckin bet?

As I sit here now, I strain against the urge to watch my smoke curl its way up to the ceiling ... I strain against the urge to reach and toke. I strain against the urge to pause - rereading and checking my writing as I move along - and to enjoy a couple of hits off a glorious, sexy and comforting cigarette. Good Christ, this is such a test.

Do I seek a pat on the back? Why yes, as a matter of fact. I do. I've gotten several since I stopped enjoying cigarettes and I feel they are well deserved not to mention soaked up like a dry sponge to spilled milk.

I'm still waiting to feel some sudden rush of great overall health; it hasn't happened yet.

I'm still waiting for the after-dinner yearning to lessen; that one is far and away the strongest, and the bad news is that my father who quit around 25 years ago claims he still gets that particular nicotine craving on occasion.

I'm still waiting to be able to sit comfortably at my familiar old computer desk in my familiar old room where smoking was my warmly welcomed and openly invited guest and where it was most often greatly enjoyed; this hasn't happened yet either. I'm still pretty uncomfortable in here.

BUT ... the good news is that my hair smells delicious, my blood pressure has gone down some, my clothing smells like softener, my morning mouth no longer tastes like skunk-funk, my skin feels a little softer and I now get to eat all the shit that will probably kill me in an altogether different way than would the frigging nicotine. Hm, wait ... An excuse to gain weight ? ... second to pregnancy, this is the bomb!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome back chuck, it's good to see your'e still kicking ass!

As one of those former, now self-righteous non-smokers, I can tell you that 6 weeks is proof enough that you can continue to see this through to it's desirable end.

Here's a challenging thought: the differences between us as human beings may be less than the similarities. Maybe that's why others dare talk as if they've walked in your shoes. Otherwise, how is it possible we can talk to each other with understanding?

Another great post, and I look forward to many more.

Your friend, Don

5:49 PM  
Anonymous happy and blue 2 said...

Congratulations on quitting smoking.
I am really glad you are writing again. I have missed you..

7:06 PM  
Blogger brooksba said...

I am so excited to see you back! I have missed you sooooo much! This was a great post. I give you a hear! hear! for your words and agree whole-heartedly.

My mom quit smoking 11 years ago and still has moments when she reaches for her purse, searching for the pack and lighter. Congratulations.

Oh, I'm missed you.

1:59 AM  
Blogger Johnny Virgil said...

congrats to you. Stick with it. And welcome back!

12:54 PM  
Blogger Walker said...

Welcome back.
Congrats on quitting smoking. Hard saying goodb ye to a friend who has been there for you for so long throught thick, thin and cough.

Have a nice day

9:44 PM  
Blogger The G-man said...

Bravo on your progress giving up cigarettes. Nicotine is indeed a cruel master, or mistress, to shed and I have never been successful at it. I keep looking for the "secret" but know there is none. It is a moment by moment, day by day struggled. I admire anyone brave enough to even attempt it. And am profoundly jealous of anyone who succeeds -- for an hour, a day, or a lifetime.

3:09 AM  
Blogger Wicked H said...

Haglette!!!! Welcome back!

Also, congrats on the kicking the smoking habit.

Geez, I (we) have missed you.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Alisa said...

Congrats :) Glad to see you are back!

10:48 AM  
Blogger Dave Morris said...

When I saw the (1) sign behind your blog name in bloglines, I thought I was having a malfunction.

Great to see you back! Gosh I've missed you, your outlook on things keeps me going.

As for smoking, it's great you've made it this far. I occasionally smoke a cigar, but it's nothing I'm addicted to... so I really have no point of reasonable reference to empathize. But it's great you're hanging in there.

How's Ed? How's the weather? Drop me a note.


4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you're back! yea!
you should be proud for going this long without a puff. it is hard, but stay strong.

you can always choose blogging over puffing, you know!

9:11 AM  
Blogger Frustrated Writer said...

I am a cigar smoker on occasion, but typically not more than one a week so I don't feel any addiction. I empathize with you though because of my blogging addiction which I keep telling myself I can quit at any time. I admire your resolve but more than that, I admire that you have come back to us! Great to see you!

10:53 AM  
Blogger MYSTIC said...

I had all these nice things to say to you about your return but most of my thunder has been stolen already....so I'll say this: DID YOU GO SOMEWHERE? I could say all kinds of nasty things about you being gone so long but the pain you are suffering from withdrawl is enough pain to endure...
I am pleased that you are back, I missed you and your wit. The only advise I can give you about quiting the habit is keep telling yourself that YOU ARE A NON SMOKER. Trick your mind into believing that...If you tell yourself that you are a quitter that is what you will be also...So welcome back you non smoker you..

3:15 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Welcome back Carol! Congrats on giving up, reformed smoker here ;o)

10:11 PM  
Blogger oregoncelticlady said...

woohoo! woohoo!!! Happy, happy dance!!!

2:45 AM  
Blogger Swathi said...

wow,u r sooooooooo back.
boy! 'am I glad or what to have u back - smoking n all.

5:57 AM  
Blogger Justine said...

Nice job!!
All those people who don't get how hard it is can go jump.

8:00 AM  
Blogger kenju said...

Aaaaah, my prayers and longings have been answered! I got here a day late, but you are the Valentine I hoped to get! Thanks for coming back, and thanks for detailing the chore of quitting smoking. Been there - done that - and I AM self-righteous now, even though I also vowed never to be. I just can't help it.

Six weeks is a milestone, but it is not long enough to feel healthier or fully realize what a wonderful favor you have done your body (and your purse). About 5-6 months, you should begin to realize how much more energy you have now, your coloring will be better, sleep and food and everything will be better. It was for me, and I hope it is for you.

I have changed my digs since you were here last; come see me, Carol, and welcome back!

12:31 PM  
Blogger Justine said...

I also have a hot cup of tea to my left, today. At my right, a cordless mouse. This is a reasonably new thing for me - I like how I don't ever have to tug it. On the downside, I do have to change its batteries once in a while.

6 weeks is practically 2 months.

Thanks for your nice comments at my place. I seem to be feeling better today :-)

7:40 AM  
Blogger PBS said...

Congratulations to you and the no smoking! And I'm so happy to have you back again, I've missed you! I'm very lucky that I can take or leave cigarettes but will never, ever get down on someone else because they can't. Food is my addiction and I'm one of those who obviously needs to lose weight, and I swear it's nearly impossible! Yet, like you with the smoking, I don't really want to hear stories about courageous people who have lost huge amounts of weight! It just makes me feel angry, sad and bad about myself. It's an ADDICTION and a private battle for me!

11:26 AM  
Anonymous John said...

Welcome back, Carol! Glad to see you on your site again, and three cheers for giving up the ciggs. I had to quit when I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure in 2002.

I don't miss it, and since it's been six weeks already, you know you can kick that damned habit for good.

I've changed my URL and glad to see it's already listed on your sidebar. Have a dandy weekend Carol, go smoke free!

1:07 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

welcome back, i was beginning to wonder

10:27 PM  
Blogger Floridacracker said...

Welcome back. I missed your wit and as one of those sort of annoying nonsmokers,I have to say, CONGRATULATIONS ON BEING SMOKE FREE!!

9:14 AM  
Blogger Lyvvie said...

Hooray!! You're back!! I'm so happy - yours was always one of my faovurite reads because you are so damned smart and funny! And now you've quit the dreadxed weed - but I know how you feel! I KNOW! I quit a few years ago when I fell pregnant with Shorty and hadn't bothered to pick it back up again.

I miss it, a lot, even three years later. I loved to smoke. The thing is now, though I hate the smell of it, and when I have had a sneaky puff here or there, it was disgusting! The niceness is all gone once you quit forever, but the longing for instant release never comes back.

I found sucking on tic-tacs while sucking in icy cold air from my freezer helped a lot - gave me that fill of the lungs feeling that "deep breathing" just can't match.

Be strong, it's for the best, both for you and those who love you.

So glad your back I could backflip a few times.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Merci said...

Congratulations on such hard won success! My lifelong battle is with food, so I understand oh so well. If it's anything like losing weight, it takes awhile to really feel better, but it's worth it when it happens. I wish you good luck and calm days.

5:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One pat on the back for being brave. Pats on the back for each day you have not smoked. Another pat on the back for a nice read. Another pat on the back for being able to get through the blog without a ciggie. And finally a pat on the back for visiting my blog...you made my day! Does your back hurt yet?

Signed Tabor..too lazy to login.

9:40 AM  
Blogger typerwonder said...

Congratulations on being able to quit smoking. I am not a smoker, but my son is, so I can understand the fight. Your site is lovely; your writing is a joy to read. Keep up the good work, you have a lot of support.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Coll said...

First, let me say.. I am so glad you are back. I have missed you. :-)

Secondly .. way to go with the not smoking. I smoked like a chimney for at least 30 years.. I know how difficult it is to quit. Come this July it will be 5 years since I had my last cigarette.

For the life of me.. I am not really sure when it first happened that the day passed with out me thinking of or wishing for a smoke.. but somewhere on the journey it did happen. With that came such an overwhelming sense of freedom.

I wish the same for you.

6:40 PM  

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