In this attic - memories - lots of memories. Some are sad, or angering or even frightful. Others, most, are happy, joyful, nostalgic. It may seem like junk for you but to me they are treasures and I try not to think about what will happen to all of this stuff when I pass on.
After getting over the unpleasantness of the first few disgusting sickerettes, I began to enjoy smoking. I often have good memories and associations with the times when I smoked. This pine cone reminds me of times smoking with friends while sitting on the grass at the park, this Farrah Faucet poster brings back hanging out with friends chatting about girls over some Kools, this cracked cup makes me reminisce about coffee with my God Mother rounding off her famous mexican guisados or flan with a "natural" Camel. Memories everywhere in this attic- too many to see at once.
Each memory robbed of the beauty of the moment because of the ever present pack of smokes. I see this stuff and the beautiful, exquisite details of memories and then I see - the smoke rings, the heaping ashtrays, the pack with it's personalized lighter.
Researchers say nicotine, the addictive component in cigarettes, "tricks" the brain into creating memory associations between environmental cues and smoking behavior. All of those memories bring back the "memory" of smoking. I can see the pack in my mind's eye, then the coughin' nail itself, I remember that lighter with the fondest of flashbacks. It's human nature.
But the treasure isn't in the green "fresh" Kools of my youth or the hard red "practical" Marlboro's. I refuse to let sickerettes rob me of my nostalgia, The treasures are the moments of sharing - connecting heart-to-heart with others.
Did you notice that my "smoking memories" are all associated with people - with places - and things? If I hadn't changed those 3 very important stimulants of memory, strung like beads on my favorite Mardi Gras decor, and purposefully, one by one, lifted the smoke cloud off of the treasures, they might have been broken forever in my need to live addiction free.
I didn't do this hard work of cleaning and organizing this attic of memories in the beginning or even after the first year or the second. I established myself firmly in the "never again" category first! Just like we can't go back to those times we are so fond of, we can't recapture those connections with people, places, and things,by continuing to light up! What we can do eventually is to conjure up the walks in the park, the buddy times, the best food in the world from the brightest light of our childhoods and neutralize the power of the smokes.
Sickerettes didn't make those connections - we did! I take each item in my memory out, examine it, laugh a little, cry a little, polish it off and find a special place in this attic to restore it. I think of my youth, midlife, and loss of innocence and I see the sickerettes but I don't allow them to tarnish my memories - mine!
What counts are the connections - the love, friendship, kinship, sense of belonging! Smoking is not required. It was there then but I just don't do that any more and I can put those dead leaves in their place - the past forever separate from what really counts!
What a marvelous, adventurous journey into recovery!