Friday, May 15, 2009

i quit -- again!

i'm trying to quit smoking again. yesterday i was sitting here writing a rekkid review when the blue cross wellness connection called (i'm covered by them through my sweetie's work) and i wound up talking to a nurse for 30 minutes about quitting. i've said that a bunch of times over the last 10 yrs, but this time i think i'm gonna do it for real. a cat i worked with who had emphysema checked out the day before i got sick last week. i found out about it when i went back to work. my boss told me, "he opened the store with us. he used to be just like you -- energetic and funny." i don't think he was much older than me; who knows -- he might actually have been younger for all i know.

i started smoking cigs the first time when i was 15, mainly as camouflage for smoking weed. i quit cold turkey right before i got married the first time. the night before we were going to noo yawk to get married, my future ex-wife revealed to me that she'd taken up smoking because driving made her nervous. when i told her how stupid that was, she reminded me that i smoked two packs of pall malls a day. i started smoking cigars briefly after my second dtr was born. at the time, you could still smoke in government buildings, and i officed with a cat that smoked cigars. while i still hate anti-smoking nazis, that room must have been like a fucking gas chamber to people who didn't smoke. i put down again not long after. my sweetie recently observed that my military service (which led me to start running and biking) probably prolonged my life.

i picked up again a decade ago, when my corporate job started stressing me out. i've tried to put down intermittently since then, but part of the problem i have is the linkage in my head between the creative process (writing and playing music) and smoking. also, drinking and smoking (or let's just say the social side of bar culcha). i stopped buying cartons of cigarettes years ago, but since then, i've become an inveterate bummer, or paid by the pack (i always refuse those multi-pack deals because i know if i have 'em, i'll smoke 'em as fast as i can). it makes me dislike myself when i'm a slave to those cravings and a perpetual scrounge. if i don't smoke for a few days, i feel better; if i have one cigarette, i can feel it in my chest the next day. when i don't smoke, ppl who do smell like ashtrays. i remember how my gear and my leather jacket used to stink when i wasn't smoking and playing in clubs.

i don't delude myself that i'm gonna live forever no matter what i do, and again, i hate the smoking ban in bars that's made places like midtown manhattan seem even more like a pale, disneyfied shadow of their former selves. but i'd like to have as much time with my sweetie as possible, and to be a better example for my kids (all of whom smoke, one of whom has intermittently been trying to quit). lifelong smokers i know all seem to have health issues that i wouldn't want to be burdened with, even if they don't die from cancer or emphysema. my pop burned four packs of smokes a day for 40 years (maybe smoked two) and he still sounds like a heavy smoker although he hasn't burned one in 20 years.

i reject the nicorette route because i'm not into the whole "i used to be a heroin addict and now i'm a methadone addict" thing. i plan to do deep breathing for relaxation (the blue cross cat told me that if you do deep, slow breathing, it raises your carbon dioxide level in the same way smoking does) and try and find something i can do with my hands in situations where i've habitually fired one up. (think of the absurdity of lighting a cigarette while playing gtr!) and i also know to avoid the festival of self-loathing if i backslide; just wake up the next day and get back on the horse.


Blogger Molly said...

You're not *trying* to quit... you're QUITTING. Say it. "I am quitting smoking." Words have power, and saying "trying to quit" just gives you an excuse to fail.

I smoked 1.5-2 packs a day for 10 years. I just celebrated my 5th anniversary of quitting. I only "tried to quit" once. Beginner's luck, I guess... At the suggestion of a friend, I just did it, and took it one minute at a time. (And ate a lot of Twizzlers.) It was hard, but not the hardest thing I've ever done.

You can do this. You ARE doing it. When you want to light one, remember how far you've made it. "It's been ___ hours/days/weeks since I smoked, and I don't want to mess that up and be back at zero."

And yes, think of your kids. My dad quit smoking before I did, but he went back, and it breaks my heart every single time I see him light up. I love my dad and I don't want to lose him.

4:37 PM  

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