Except that I have smoke brain. I’m in a self-induced fog, the lesser of evils, to help me kick a smoking habit that has been kicking my ass for 30 years.
Smoking was cool, at least in the 70’s and 80’s. I remember when I first came home after college, emboldened by the fact that I lived in a different state, and got out of the car at my parent’s house with cigarette in hand. My mom came out to greet us (and I hear that was the last time she met us at the car, because we also reeked of contraband), and told me to “put that out”. I said,”no”. And that was that. I was just another smoker in a smoking family. No big deal.
But smoking stopped being cool when I was the only one standing outside at a party. It really stopped being cool when I couldn’t get anything done, because I always wanted to take a cigarette break. A break before a meeting, a break after the meeting. One before lunch, and one after eating. A cigarette in the car on the way to work, and a cigarette with my first cup of coffee at work. A cigarette before locking up the house at bedtime.
I’ve been tired of this for years. My brain…my addicted brain…almost had me convinced that once I quit, then I would get cancer. Then I might die. As if it were suppressing all the bad things that could happen. My brain told me that I was more like Jack Kerouac, or some other tortured creative soul destined to burn brightly at both ends and then extinguish early. Ah, how romantic to dream of being posthumously honored for things I hadn’t even thought about or done, but would somehow come true.
So here I am, trying to re-gain control, armed for a multi-pronged attack. I am in the middle of a 6-week support group class; two prescriptions – one for ‘the patch’ and one for Wellbutrin, whose street name is apparently the ‘happy pill’, and copious amounts of water.
I think, when you are trying to quit, that you become schizophrenic. Part of you wants to quit; the other half is hell-bent to derail you. The first day, the little voice in my head said, ‘hey, you know this gas station sells your brand.’ ‘hey, you could have a cigarette if you just stop at the store.’ ‘hey, what are you gonna do after you eat? You can ask somebody for a cigarette.’ hey. hey. hey. All day long, I was reminded of how close a cigarette is.
The second day, I was filled with anticipation. My first thought, upon waking, was ‘yea! you did it one day. You deserve a cigarette, don’t you?’
Day 6 and my brain has stopped pestering me every few minutes about how great a cigarette would be, and is now subtly suggesting that when I’m ready, however long that takes, maybe a month….so is my reward….a cigarette.
I am under attack, from the inside.
The thought of never having another cigarette makes me feel anxious, lonely and naked.
Not having a cigarette feels like not having a friend to talk to.
The possibility of having to fight off a daily craving for the rest of my life is overwhelming.
I know better than to claim victory only 1 week into it, because it ain’t over til it’s over. There’s no schedule. There’s no guarantee. But at least I have begun.