Friday, March 11, 2005

# 4 TRUTH IS STRANGER THAN FICTION

Truth is stranger than fiction. So strange in fact, that if you told me this story, I wouldn’t believe it for a minute. But I am in this story, part of this story, so I know it is true.

Last week I came to a decision. It was time, I decided, for me to quit smoking once and for all. This is not my first attempt. This is one of many. But this time I am taking the whole business more seriously. The really dumb part of it is I still haven’t got to the point where I really want to quit. A point that is apparently critical to success, but at the same time, I enjoy smoking and if I wait until I want to quit, quitting is unlikely to happen in this lifetime. But, at the same time, I have noticed I am having more frequent episodes of apnea at night and I notice that I am much more short-winded than I should be for my age. So whether I want to quit or not, the time has come.

So here I am dumbly trying to quit something I haven’t yet learned to hate and despise. That’s about as dumb as my attendance at two stop-smoking seminars a few years back that were moderated by a woman that had smoked for a total of two weeks in her lifetime and the other by a man who had never smoked at all! What did they know about the addiction? About the struggle? About the urges? About the pain? Nothing. Bloody nothing. It goes without saying, those two sessions did something for these smug moderators’ egos, but they did nothing for my stop-smoking-endeavors.

So now two weeks ago when I ran out of smokes I decided that was enough. Not because smoking is bad but giving such an incredible amount of my income to government taxes is what I hate. So I decided it was time to put a stop to such a wasteful expense. So with my stash of smokes depleted, I roamed the house mourning the loss of that ritual that for more than 30 years has comforted me when I was sad, forgave me when I was bad, cheered me when I was mad, and celebrated with me, when I was glad.

Within five hours I found myself morose and anxious. An hour later I found myself emptying ash trays in all the vehicles into a can. Soon I was pulling butts apart and re-rolling them. Next day I resurrected a can of butts from the basement, ripped them apart, gathered up the powdery tobacco that was nothing but dust, sprayed it with a spritz of water and rolled it into smokes. And the next day I ripped those butts apart and re-rolled them mostly with just an ‘ash’ content.

Then this morning I had to ultimately face reality. No butts in the cars, the basement, the garage, or even the shed. No butts left. None. And then the need for a smoke hit me like a frigging freight train. I puffed on my nicotine inhaler to no avail. I raked my fingers through my hair and thought about how much I wanted to weep. (and how much I wanted to go to town and get some cigarettes). But I just refuse to give the government all that tax money!

I went out in the yard to pace about and think about my dilemma. I looked down and nestled in the soggy grass I saw a cigarette butt. Now I think it is a disgusting thing when people stub out cigarettes and toss them on my lawn. A habit that I’ve always considered totally rude and ignorant. But in a flash I was down on my knees combing the lawn for more soggy butts. I whispered a blessing for the ignorant kindly guest that had tossed them there.

So that find was recycled into a short fresh smoke. Now where do we go from here? Tonight I had another miserable attack. This time I went through all the coat pockets that I normally carry cigarettes in. I looked for the smallest flecks of tobacco. Nothing. Then I pulled out all my old purses and with a long handled artist brush I gently brushed any tobacco remnants from the pockets and linings of those old purses into a folded paper and poured the stuff into a cigarette tube. This smoke was a less-than-appetizing blend of pocket lint, peppermint dust, household dust, some pansy and poppy seeds, some tobacco dust, dead skin cells, dog milkbone debris, and kleenex lint. One of those self-righteous non-smokers in my neighbourhood often tells me he would sooner eat hard-boiled shit than smoke. I can’t imagine why. I know how to make a cigarette that tastes the same as hard-boiled shit. Remind me to offer him one next time he comes.

Now I’m not telling you this so I can whine and force you to feel sorry for me. I am telling you this so people will realize that addictions come in different sizes and at different levels. I recall now how unfairly judgmental I was when a friend of mine confessed to me the intimacies of her addiction. She was addicted to drinking coke and when her requirements reached more than eight cans a day, she decided it was time to quit. It was very difficult. She was as lost and miserable as I have been this week. And then she confessed to me what it had forced her to do – this addiction of hers. When she found an unopened tin of coke in a pile of rubbish by an old fence that had probably been there for more than two years, she opened it and drank it! It was Gawd-awful but she drank it anyway. These are addictions that cannot be overcome by attending seminars moderated by someone who has never been there.

Mostly my efforts this week have made me truly sad. I hate the feeling that so frequently hits me that makes me want to weep. My sister-in-law said to me the other day. "There are going to be days like that. So go ahead and weep. Weep if you have too." If it would comfort me, I would. But I have found that when you get older, weeping is no comfort. Not at all. By the time you are my age, you have been so hardened by difficulties and sad times, that you have totally lost your faith in the healing powers of a good cry. (*sniffle, sniffle*)

4 Comments:

Blogger Blaise said...

Love the new blog!

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Roberta S said...

Hi Blaise. This blog designing comes so easy for some, but not for me. The only part I found relatively easy was painting a picture of myself to hang on the wall. And a did paint it myself although I have to admit I used a pencil template designed by my Granddaughter.

11:21 AM  
Blogger Blaise said...

I always use the designs others kindly make for people like me who haven't got a clue where to start :-)

The self-portrait shows real potential though!

12:33 PM  
Blogger Desiree said...

Great to see you are attempting to quit the sticks, it is not at all easy as ANY former smoker can tell you. It is a journey that one must take one day at a time, each day you get by without smoking you can still relate back to your stop day and say I've been a non-smoker for XX number of days... till you find one day that the number is just getting too long, so you quit counting and know that you have made it.

Nice new digs. I think you could have replaced the template in your abbreviated site within the blogger dashboard. ... but, too, the fresh new name is something you can enjoy by changing blogs completely. Enjoy!

11:52 PM  

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