A Couple Months

Blog Post created by cob321 on May 4, 2019

Good morning smober people. 


I am at 2 months today, or 61 days. As I have said before, time in this process is so strange and illusive. During some moments, minutes of struggle felt like they would never end. And now, it seems that 61 days have gone by pretty fast. 


A couple months in, I am so grateful to not be smoking. I am still working with NRT and titrating that - now on a lower dose and slowly beginning to use less and less. I'm still in the middle of a divorce and my heart is breaking every day. We're passing paperwork and filing things with the court at present. The life I had and loved is becoming a memory, and yet a new normal has not yet arrived. I'm in a double no-man's land: with the non-smoking and with the life transition. My awesome son over the past month as taken a job and got his license. So now weekends look like: "Hey Dad, I'm gonna go stay at my friend's tonight and then I have to work all day tomorrow, so I'll see you Sunday night around 9:30PM." I'm so proud of him and grateful for his life, for him being a good kid, and it makes sense that he's growing up, and I miss spending time with him.


I think the point is there's a lot of loneliness and emptiness, and that's a place where the friendship of smoking used to be a real comfort. I'm grateful that I am not smoking through this. I have gotten a lot of supportive energy and connection here from people I don't even know. Thank you, thank you! That helps for sure! Some days are getting a little easier if I'm honest (I think smokers like to complain about how hard it still is), and some days are still challenging and in new ways. The change of the seasons, memories from my partnered life, certain smells and songs, sadness, happiness... all good triggers. Staying as steady as possible in no man's land. 


I'm also aware of my body - some pain and shortness of breath. Medical field says I look okay, can't find anything. But the awareness of that is a good motivator to stay smober. I know smoking will only exacerbate any physical issues, and that probably accelerates each year with age. 


I was picking up some paint for my bathroom yesterday as I was parking, across from me in the opposite space a guy was pulling in in a white pickup. He had a cigarette hanging out of his mouth with about an inch of ash on it, Humphrey Bogart style, smoking wafting up his nose and into his eyes, just turning the steering wheel and finding his spot. From my vantage point, I could see he looked a little aged beyond his years and thought, "Wow, that could easily be me down the road, and with that one little habit of smoking, every aspect of suffering in my life - physical, emotional, life energy - would all be worse."


A few minutes later, I was at the paint counter and he walked up next to me to order paint. I noticed that he was tall - about 6 ft, and had longish, shoulder-length white hair, looked like at one point he was probably strong and handsome. I imagined decades ago, when he was youthful and working as a carpenter in Colorado, probably vibrant and a sure-draw for cute hippie girls, building homes and enjoying Colorado summer nights with a beer and a couple of smokes. I imagined how his moment of, "I have arrived" and all his life bliss complete with tobacco slowly over the years faded into necessity and have-tos, to make enough money, to fix the truck, to move out of the relationship, to downsize in a gentrifying community. All along, that stogie was his saddle rifle, dangling out of his mouth and giving him a tether to some sense of okayness. 


But as I took him in at present, I saw how his skin was brown-grey, if there was a young, strong man in there, it was buried under ash. His hair whitened way to early, eyes sunken into dark circles, and glassy and red. Even his stature was hunched, and his body and bones seemed to be crying, aching and weak; probably from finally giving in against a decades-long onslaught of carbon monoxide and other chemicals. It was clear that he had crossed the line, he was poisoned, tarred, pickled, never to be a cucumber again. Even with his nordic genes and gifted strength, I knew that one day not to far from now, he would succumb to a perhaps fatal collapse - loose his breath, his blood, his strength, and have to face his sorrows and regrets along with irreversible illness.


I felt so much compassion, sadness, and also gratitude for having be graced with the chance to stop inhaling the poison. I don't know why I got lucky enough to have that inspiration that one morning to not smoke. I could have easily have been him, and I was so many times, going to bed wheezing and fully committed to not smoking tomorrow only to light up upon awakening with no defense against the act. 


And it would be easy for me today, as I awaken to the reality of my changed life and the tears come again, as I approach empty nesting, as I age a little more, let go of dreams, walk through the twin no man's lands of grief and tobacco cessation, to feel sorry for myself. It would be easy to say this is too hard, I'm just gonna smoke. But as true as that may be, it's also a future lie. I would only find myself in some future time, perhaps just a lonely and smoking, maybe sick, wheezing again, coughing, hiding around the corner, running to the store late, getting out of bed when I have the flu not to eat, but to smoke! Yeah, there are always a million reasons to go have a smoke, and the problem is, on an emotional or psychological level, a lot of them are valid. But there's really one big reason not to: to live. And in that to live without being poisoned to death and suffering all the consequences that come. To live (and die) in freedom, not under the repressive domination of an annihilating addiction.


What do they say? There's never a good time to quit. In terms of all the circumstances lining up, that's true. And it's a trap. Because if you follow that, you'll never quit.


I think the best time to quit, given all the considerations, is now. You can't quit yesterday or last year, or before you got that illness or before you lost your marriage or before cancer, and quitting tomorrow or next year is a gamble because there's really no telling if it will be right timing - you don't know what's going to happen - it could be a lot harder in the future, and most of all, you can't be sure you'll be able to pull it off.


The best time to quit, and the best time if you have stopped to not smoke... is now. That's because it's the only time that we actually have, and the only moment where we can act. Planning to do something tomorrow is largely BS, we all know that. For me, I had to not smoke now, and now, and now, and now....... and by some miracle of commitment, support from all of you, being honest with myself about what I really want and the consequences, and frankly toughing it out or crying it out at times, I'm at 61 days. If I can do it, you can do it, we can do it.  


Much appreciation and love to all.