August 04, 2004

One Month Down.

This is my No-Smoking anniversary. It's been one month since I quit--and you all were there for those harrowing weeks. Amazing, isn't it? Well, it is to me. Cold turkey baby. Took it like a man.

Except for the bouts of sobbing and throwing rolls of toilet paper at the mirror.

I went to group therapy tonight -- it wasn't until then that I realized I'd made it a month. Leaving cigarettes behind feels like many other losses for me--at first its absence assaults me every twenty seconds. Over hours, days and weeks, the assaults come less frequently, although they remain just as potent every single time.

It is strange being sick with a sinus/ear infection and not smoking. For someone who has never smoked, that must sound pretty stupid. How could any human being who has a head clogged with mucus want to inhale smoke? Where is the sense in that?

And yet, smoking, for me, was a comfort when I was sick. I may not have known how long the illness would last, how painful it would get, whether or not I'd be able to sleep at night, but I *always* knew my cigarettes were there to help me pass the time until I could run around at full throttle again.

In trying to explain it tonight in group, I realized how as a nicotine addict I adapted my every move--even my language--to eloquently justify what makes absolutely no rational sense. The funny thing is, although it's false, it's not really fake. You see the same people who are smart enough to create and pontificate rationalizations in this way actually believe them as fact. Or at least fail to recognize that it just ain't so.

My inner dialogue went this way... I would hear a message: "Smoking is the leading cause of death among women age X to Y," and would translate it in my head to: "Wshew, I'd better quit by the time I'm Y."

I would end up with bronchitis, which obviously doesn't take well to guzzling cigarettes, and I'd smoke just the same. As any smoker will tell you (if you put them on a bed of nails), cigarettes taste like shit when you're sick--especially when you have bronchitis. It's like smoking lit phlegm. Me? I'd rationalize smoking right through bronchitis this way: "Pretty soon when I smoke it won't taste like burning buggers."

It's a wiring problem, it's a trauma problem; it's all of that and more.

There is an upside to my quitting. Once I stopped being angry enough to pull teeth out of unwitting neighbors and family members, I began to realize and appreciate the nuances of the mind, the differences between my addicted thinking and my thinking now, the change in how I perceive myself and the world.

How amazing the human mind is, how flexible, how kind it can be, and how merciless.