Thursday, January 25, 2007

Uses, using, used, used up, done.

Day two. I keep forgetting that I can't. For just a second or so, I think, oh, I've got to run to the store and get cigarettes. And then I remember I've quit, that it's not optional anymore, that I'm likely to die from the damage as it is, but I'm surely going to die sooner if I don't stop. Now.

I wake up on Day One with a throat and chest feeling like they've been sandblasted and lit on fire. It's as if I am constantly trying to swallow a tennis ball. My bones hurt. My skin hurts. My head is aching so badly that I can't focus my eyes. I can't quite stay conscious and every time I try to drift a little, to escape into sleep, the tennis ball causes me to begin coughing. I smoke a cigarette on Day One because I don't know, yet, that it is Day One. Every respiratory infection worse than the last. You're kidding yourself if you think you can keep throwing these off and keep smoking. Finally, I get to: It is absolutely time.

By evening of that day, I can't tell if I'm passing out because of withdrawals or flu. My body temperature is ricocheting up and down. First I'm shivering for hours and then I'm sweating. I can't stop smelling tobacco. Late in the afternoon, I'm almost hysterical thinking I'll never, ever get rid of the smell of it. I'll have to move. Or they'll just have to burn the building. It occurs to me that this might be a slightly delirious reaction. On Day Two, friends who are non-smokers assure me that it isn't so, but it's possible that they are being kind or have visited at a time of year when the windows are never closed.

I think I'm doing better on the second day, though. I shower and get dressed. I call the Scorpio.
He mentions that we are taking that break we've discussed.
"I'm glad you told me," I reply, a tsunami of tears suddenly storming the ducts, barely held back, "because I didn't realize we decided that and I'd have felt a little hurt by the time a few weeks went by." He laughs.
"We never decide anything," he says, "and you will never be the one to take a break when you need it, will you? Come on, admit it - you won't ever do it, will you?"
"No." He's laughing again. Very fondly.

The tsunami subsides. A saner part of my mind identifies the surge as a withdrawal symptom. I am not being abandoned, dumped or rejected. He's my dear friend. He has never been anything else. His motives are on the table - no game. I am just at the mercy of all the emotions I hold at bay by lighting up. I smoke to hold back fear, pain, rage, boredom. I smoke to celebrate. I smoke to comfort myself. I smoke to give myself a delay before I react. I smoke to help focus myself. I smoke when I talk on the phone, when I write, when I get home, when I finish a meal, when I'm nervous, when I'm sad...

And so, I'll have to quit a hundred, a thousand times a day, for hundreds of days. But right now, I'm using a tactic they use in AA, I'm telling myself that today I'm not going to smoke.


Mella said...

You can do this.
You can.

Anonymous said...

The opinion of an unrepentant hardass: use some of the money you would have spent on nicotine and call a homeopathic doctor. This kind of suffering is ridiculous and unnecessary and in does not, in any way, build character. If you truly want this, you will succeed, no question, no doubt.

-Hermit Queen

LJ said...

Thanks Mella, I believe so.

Why hello, Hermit Queen!! I was actually thinking that when I crawl out of the worst of it, I might go back to my wonderful Shiatsu guy. And I was also thinking about you today. It's not a bad idea - although I feel sort of like I'd like some less subtle help. Say...a sledge hammer to the head to knock me out for a bit?
Just kidding. Honest.

herhimnbryn said...

One step and then the next.......
Thinking of you lj.
Keep hydrated.

Anonymous said...

Never throw down that gauntlet... check and search their site for "nicotine" where you will find some advice on making tea with wild oat.

I use essential oils of lavender, geranium and juniper to help detox. Epsom salts are also good, as is dry skin brushing and extra vitamin C. The Superstore has little packets of Super C in the health food section that make flavoured fizzy drinks.

At the very least, all this will remind you that you can be gentle with yourself.

You know I don't take health matters lightly. The discomfort is temporary, and hardly a blip on the radar compared to the alternative.


LJ said...

Hi Herhimnbryn. Hydrating, I assure you. Cautiously sniffing a wonderful little packet/pillow of Australian woods I got in the mail today. What timing. I say "cautiously" because the "smell" of boiling water can make my nose run today, but that good little packet takes the tobacco smell away, so I brave it. Thank you so much.

Hermit Queen, I have detox tea from Great Ocean and I'm drinking it, along with gallons of water. I'm taking about 8 grams of C a day (natural source, timed release). I'm glad to know that some of my instincts are right. Today is better. I have the cough still & I'm very sensitive to smells - but the horrible throat is gone and the aches and pains. And I think the cough is a necessary part of clearing the crap away. The first three days are severe - but it will get a little better after that. In a way, it's good I got sick. It lessens the temptation a great deal and illustrates clearly the need to stop.
I'm being as kind to myself as I know how to be.
Many thanks for the support.

zhoen said...

Remember when you started smoking? When it first became your emotional crutch? You are still there, in part. You have to grow your coping mechanisms to keep up with who you are now. This is the insidious nature of cigarettes.

Good for you, for living smoke free, today.

(You never will completely get that smell out, though.)

beadbabe49 said...

It does get easier over time...and the first week was the hardest for me...beams to you, lj!

Teri said...

Reading this, I am SO right there with you...I went through that very same emotional wringer each of the many, MANY times I tried to quit smoking.

It's such an insidious addiction. I feel your pain. It does feel so good here on the other side. Eventually.

Big hug.

Anonymous said...

LJ, I've missed you (and your writing)! And, I am so glad upon stopping in to learn that you have given up smoking. It must be an extremely hard thing to do but it is so worth it in the end. There are people who love you and who want you to stick around for a while more. I was also thinking about the whole second-hand smoke thing.

My Mom gave up cigarettes about 14 years ago. I can remember that my sister and I were just little kids and we begged her to quit. We did not want her to die. Even way back then people knew that they were bad. So she quit. It took almost 6 months.

And she has never looked back. She hates even the smell of them now. I have lost family members to emphysema and lung and throat cancers. I always felt it was a silly way to go. So am I rejoicing for you. Giving you a high-five out here from the blogosphere.

Things are going well down here in Florida. I miss my family, but I realize I am a big girl now. I miss writing and have to admit that I have not done much lately. Perhaps someday I will find time to return to blogland. Right now all I do is work and work.

You have written so many wonderful posts lately and I wish I had time to comment on them all. The Accidental Shopper I thought was particularly beautiful- "Not pumping words into every silence
is a gift." How true that is.

Keep on writing LJ. It is a wonderful gift that you have. I send my very best wishes and strength to you that you continue to tackle the resolution you have undertaken.

Hugs and much love, Jamie (A Girl)

herhimnbryn said...

Glad the pkt got there safely. Although I should think the contents would agravate rather than sooth at the moment!
Take care.

Koru's Daughter said...

I can complete confidence that you already have the everything you need to quit. I know that you can reclaim the power that you unknowlingly surrendered years ago.

I am glad that you are writing again. I've missed you.

Call when you have a chance. I am in bed with the flu, the kitty and self-pity.

Minor Deity said...

There seems to be a plague going around... I've got it too, from the GF's son (we've both gotten it from him).
Good luck with quitting smoking. It seems like Hell now, but it'll get better. I think. ;)

Darkmind said...

Oh come on, you know you want one. Just one little puff is all. It will help take the stress away to ween yourself off. Its probably safer and easier than cold turkey. You can't quit overnight. Go ahead, LJ. You aren't a quitter are you? The smell isn't that bad. All that "damage" is in your head. Some people smoke until they are 100 years old. Go buy a pack, it will be your last pack, right? So what's the problem? Just one last pack, right? Come on...

Darkmind said...

Kidding!! BWA HA HA HA!!! Okay, I couldn't help myself! Good luck, LJ. You can make it.

Anonymous said...

one day at a time indeed .....

good for you! pluto hanging around the ic is powerful. not to mention saturn return :-)


Marigoldie said...

Do you want me to kick Darkmind's ass? Because I'll do it.

Sending strength, LJ. Pamper yourself to make up for what you're missing. XO.

goatman said...

Your on the right track. After awhile the impulse leaves; as does the smell in the house. But it may take awhile. I quit when my heart decided to "beat out that rhythm on those drums" and I did a lot of walking, even in the dead of winter, to work off the urge. Pretty soon you will lose the urge and, although the smoke of others smells damn good, you will be beyond the urge.
And plan something for all that money you will be saving.
By the way, what is the deal with Labrador? I was reading the latest Atwood and she had a story about trekking thru Labrador so I decided to look it up in the Atlas. Looks like it may be part of Quebec but is not itself a provence. Is it considered a territory or what?
Please excuse my blathering. I'll go now!

LJ said...

Thanks M. Lots of shifting in the astrological basement,I'd say. Not sure where it's all shifting to, exactly...

Marigoldie...thanks sweetie, but that's just D's sense of humor & I just get him, so he can say stuff I'd want to kill someone else for. But I very much appreciate the ass-kicking offer.

D. You are incorrigible. You really are.

Thanks Goatman. Newfoundland and Labrador are kind of a melted together province. God. Is Quebec trying to claim Labrador now?? Pay no attention. I myself plan to claim Prince Edward Island as my own kingdom soon. (Sorry. It's the lack of nicotine. To much air circulating through my system.)

LJ said...

Zhoe...some of the realizations about coping are starting to surface. It's interesting to see them more clearly. I started smoking around the time my mother became ill.
Thanks for the beams, BB!
Hoping to feel like I've joined you on the other side, Teri - and Jess (D'Zerts)gave me a great image to hold onto that's really helping. It just doesn't feel as hard this time, except for the few minutes here and there.
Jamie! I miss you too. Some stranger has taken your blog title and it was so weird to see someone else in your spot. Hope that you go back to writing soon, honey - and thanks for the good wishes.
KD & MD - have a kleenex. Settle in. It's a nasty bug, isn't it?
Thanks all!!!

Darkmind said...

You know, the universe is awash in chaos, but it strives to reach equilibrium. In a way, I almost HAD to make that comment. The comment section was becoming one sided, throwing out the balance of the universe. I find it fascinating that a tiny seed of temptation can carry just as much weight as all these people incouraging you to succeed (including me). The powers of good and evil are now on an even field. The only variable now is YOUR choice, LJ...

Good luck!

LJ said...

Actually, D - That little temptation conversation is precisely what goes through your addict's mind. It's like those old devil on one shoulder, angel on the other cartoons.
Your comment cracked me up. But then I have a weird sense of humor.

Jitender said...

Oh well. Hope you succeed in quitting.

chuck said...

Breathing is like smoking--only you inhale and exhale fresher air...

Fresh air can be a stimulant without adverse 'nicotinic' CNS (central nervous system) effects.

After six weeks of "withdrawal" from cigarettes, the 'going gets
easier'(in my experience).

Magdalena said...

Keep up the good work.