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.