Day 44 no man's land...

Blog Post created by Lasttimeagain on Oct 27, 2018

I have been smoking since I was 14 and used my lunch money to buy a my smokes. I used to smoke with other kids outside the high school entrance and on cold winter days or rainy days we smoked in the entrance way between the outside doors and inside doors on the steps. Other kids walked through the smoke cloud to enter the school and the security guards told us we should quit, though sometimes I asked them for a light and they obliged. This was in new york city in 1989! Not that long ago. You'd probably get arrested today. Anyhow I quit smoking for two years in 11th and 12th grade and then started again the first day of college...then quit again for two years at the end of college and then started again the first week living in Asia where I lived the next 18 years. Packs of cigarettes were only $1 when I got there and they gave them away for free in bars and night clubs. However by 2016 they were banned indoors and the price had gone to $5 a pack. Throughout that time I often quit for anywhere from a few days to a few months and even 6-8 months several times. I always ended up smoking again when i was drinking, usually. This went on for years  Quit, get in shape at the gym, then get bored, go out drinking and end up smoking. After I got married and had kids, I would end up failing a quit either due to drinking, having had an argument with the wife  or a combination of the two. In 2016 I moved back to the states with my wife and three kids. A new place for all of us. I quit smoking soon after moving here and got into great shape, and was feeling great and then I got into a big argument with my wife and I barged out the door and to the store and smoked a pack and went right back on to smoking again for the next 14 months after a solid 8 month quit. Here I am again, now, 43 days into a new quit. This time, I'm really going for this being the final quit. This time things are a bit different, though. I finished my doctoral dissertation and quit the day after my defense .I figured I should be smart enough to quit now that I'm a "doctor". Anyhow  the real impetus was that I'm just so tired of hiding it from my children, parents, and colleagues at work. I'm tired of squatting behind the trash bins on the side of my house and behind a bush at work, running out to have one before and after anything I do. Making decisions about spending time with my kids around smoking. This time I'm really committed. But this time something is different about the feeling of the quit. I am doing the same things as in the past. Not smoking, going to the gym often, starting to slim down again and not really having craves to smoke. This time I am aware of my biggest triggers - fighting with my wife and boredom. Smoking, I realized has become my coping mechanism for the pressures of marriage and children. I don't do much for myself as I dedicate so much time and energy to work and then playing with the kids that there isn't much left for me. Smoking is my personal time, it is the time at the end of the day that I can look forward to doing my thing and as much as I want after the kids were asleep. It was emotionally a return to my more youthful and free days, days of carefree self absorption and adventure and discovery. Perhaps the last inkling of all of that. Strangely while I often sense a feeling of being a slave to smoking, it also has provided a sense of freedom to do what I want for me irregardless of what anyone else wanted of me. It has been a personal and private place. But this time, it has to be different. I'm 43 days quit and 43 years old. This time I feel that the quit is more of a chore than in the past. I'm not as excited about it nor do I find it as difficult. This time, however, I feel that I'm discovering how much my identify has been influenced by smoking. I realize how psychological the addiction is and how it really isn't about physical withdrawal at all. It is a psychological addiction where my sense of self and my way of being in the world has been constructed with cigarettes at so many different levels. A reward for every hour of work I do. A place to go and have some time for myself, even if for just a few minutes. A place of freedom, a place of rebellion, a place of solace as well as a place of self loathing. A social place as well as a place to flee to when that fight or flight response is activated with an adrenaline rush. A place and time to look forward to at the end of a long day.


What I realize is that I need to not just stop smoking, not just not smoke, not just exercise and get in shape and revel in breathing better. I need to actually return to that point where I was at 14 and face the world and define myself anew, without cigarettes. I need to learn how to deal with stress differently, find my personal space,  reward myself, socialize differently, define my freedom again, and so on and so forth. Having started smoking at a young age, I realize that I never fully developed as a non smoking adult. I see people describing wanting to feel normal again. But I don't know that I know how to feel normal without smoking as an adult, or at least not as a middle aged adult who is also facing so many other existential issues. This time is different  I cannot return to a previous non smoking identity but rather must define a new normal. So, this no man's land is different than past quit attempts.


Well  I have been a voyeur of posts others have made for years whenever I have quit  This time I decided to give the community a shot. So here I am making my first post ever .. And rambling quit a bit.