by: Art Rosch
The relentless struggle….
The last time I quit smoking I stashed a pound of tobacco up on a high shelf. I put my Supermatic cigarette-making machine next to the tobacco, and a box of filtered tubes next to the machine. I wasn’t fooling myself. I planned on smoking again. It was simply a matter of how long I could remain smoke-free before stress and sadness pushed me back to the bag of tobacco, the tubes and the machine. Any time I wanted, I could make one cigarette or twenty.
That box of secreted goods sat on the shelf for about six months before I took it down and eased myself back into the habits of a regular smoker. There is no upside to smoking. In America, people treat smokers like scum. It’s difficult to maintain social self-confidence as a smoker. And the health risks are so astronomical that one must be utterly insane to smoke. Yet there I was again. Smoking.
It was the wheeze that did it. It pushed me to the point where the stash of ‘baccy and the fancy rolling machine went into a foul dumpster, never to be seen again.
I wheezed so badly that I kept myself awake. My god! It was as if I had John Philip Sousa and the entire brass band in my upper chest and they were tuning up before a concert. Tootle tootle whooo whoo!
Ending addiction is tough. It isn’t the substance, it’s the emotions that lead to the substance that are so difficult.
I am frightened, frustrated and very sad. My immediate problem will be to survive the onslaught of suppressed emotion. Ending an addiction is like opening a Pandora’s Box of hidden feelings.
It is now September and I’ve been without tobacco since December. I spent most of January in a state of terror and despair. These are visceral emotions, they roil the guts and drain the energy from life. I can recognize the intensity of these emotions as the product of release from addiction. They had been stored in my psyche, but my smoking rituals had kept them at bay. Now I have no comforting coffee n’ smokes. No drive to work n’ smokes. No smokes, period. I have nothing but nicotine patches. There is no avoiding these excruciating feelings. Every day I wake up with a blue wave of terror emanating from my stomach. But after four or five weeks of this emotional sledge hammer, I began to feel a slight easing of the weight.
Another few months have passed and though I’m still frightened and sad, these feelings exist as bearable phenomena, like bad weather.
I can handle bad weather.