Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I'm going to quit smoking.
I have a proven method. Quitting, though extremely difficult, is really the easiest part. This I think is misunderstood by those lacking firsthand knowledge, and forgotten swiftly by those who sucessfully banish nicotine from their lifestyle for an extended period. I know a hiking trail in the Appalachians that makes an eleven mile circle over remote, rugged terrain (actually if you have a mapping GPS, and you're an overweight, out-of-shape smoker, you will show a covered distance of nearly seventeen miles. Evidently staggering from one side of the trail to another in exhaustion significantly adds to the trip.) If I don't want to have a heart attack, I take three days to walk this loop. It's friggin' torture. Also, for some reason, it is my idea of a good time.
Three days without cigarettes, gives me a significant investment, and then making four, is easier. And then making five is easier. And so on. It is the staying stopped that proves my undoing. My life is littered with smoking people that I love and with whom I interact. About nine or ten days into a stab at quitting, I'll smoke a cigarette. Go figure.
Now, if I haven't had a cigarette in 10 hours, and I smoke a Marlboro, I catch a pleasant euphoria. It is mild, and brief, but Ive been doing this since I was 12. My body recognizes this old friend, and the pleasant associations imprinted in my recall. After a day or two this euphoria is no longer mild. As my system withdraws from nicotine and my tolerance is diminished, this euphoric effect increases in intensity, becoming so over powering it borders on unpleasant... Definitely an acquired taste.
Did you know tobacco was sacred, to Lakota (and possibly other tribes...I wouldn't know.) Indians? It is that potent. An old Indian I know will use tobacco in ritual religious observances. It is a powerful herb. After even a brief abstinence, it is a sledghammer blow of altered consciousness. And I love that. I always have. In any form (It made for an interesting youth).
So cigarettes become vice, with buzz as it's object. (An insidious drug, nicotine. Addiction is not so much about getting high...a chronic smoker like myself smokes to stave off that feeling of need, of badness, of wordless discontent that lurks behind everything in my life. It's always there. Soon, it will make me go outside. In certain company, I will be ashamed. ), It seems I have almost gotten two addictions for the price of one.
I begin to have a cigarette every couple of days. They're AWESOME. Somewhere in between booty and ice cream. If you have one with some good coffee, it moves leftward on the BIC scale. I think about the cigarette I'm gonna have that evening, or whatever. With my 30 year history of smoking, plus the additional conditioning I give myself, with these little nicotine trysts, I am painting myself into a behavioral corner. My psych text calls this a powerful reinforcer, as opposed to the normal kind, which is most every other time it is used in the book.
Of course, a bad day is coming. isn't it? A shit hit the fan day. Life is good, but these days are sprinkled among them. The wisdom of the years is slow coming to the likes of me, but some things do sink in over time. I know these days are inevitable, and five or six cigarettes into one of those Days, and I'm well and goodly hooked all over again.
I am afraid that these things will kill me. I am going to try again, during the fall break. I have tried patches, pills, lozenges, dip, gum. Everything. Nothing has ever given me that three day head start I can get by going for a walk in the woods. And since I'll be alone, I won't have to kill somebody. Cause they breathed.