Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weekend Whine (just say no to nicotine)



If you've never been addicted to something, what you're about to read will most likely not click with you but hopefully if you're a compassionate person, you'll be able to learn about addiction and feel compassion for those who become addicted to whatever it is they're addicted to. I know from my own personal experience that until recently, I was not truly compassionate toward those who are addicted to hard drugs... cocaine, heroin, meth, etc. Certainly my cigarette addiction wasn't nearly as dark or deadly or all-encompassing as those "real" drugs. I hadn't lost my job, home or family because of my Salem Slim 100's, therefore I wasn't even paddling in the same boat as the rest of those losers. What I've learned in the past seven weeks is that the addictive substance matters not, it's the process and control of addiction itself that holds all the cards, and that we are indeed all in the same boat.... we just have different captains.

Before I go any further, I will address those of you who will immediately say, "Well, if you'd never tried that drug in the first place, you wouldn't be facing this addiction." To you I say, (first... NO DUH!) but mostly I recommend that you kneel nightly and thank God that you were either strong enough to resist the temptation or led such a happy life that you never felt the need to find an easy escape for an hour or two. I agree that the most effective prevention of addiction is to never start, just as the most affective prevention of pregnancy is celibacy. It all looks good on paper, doesn't it? It all looks peachy and pleasant in a world where strong minds leave no room from those who are weakened or who've been less blessed. In fact, when my husband reads this, he's going to be the first one to call this post a bunch of BS because he is strong-minded and strong-willed. I keep reminding him that these are not traits that he's worked for or earned, but was however granted from God's mighty hand and he ought to be happy for that instead of judging those of us who haven't been quite as blessed in the department. Over 32 years, I've made a significant dent in his armor, although his biggest brag to this day remains "I just don't let things get to me. I let all that shit roll off my back." I roll my eyes and he knows immediately that it wasn't his back that the shit rolled off of, but God's. Good for him.

If you're still reading this, you're either extremely bored or you just want to find out if I've become a mass-murderer and where I've hidden the bodies. Go get a snack and I'll save your place.... swears. (just check your seat when you get back.)

THE HISTORY OF SMOKING FROM 1974-2011 (by Mags, recovering smoker and blogger who loves to hear herself type)

1974: I was 16 when I tried my first cigarette. Yes, I threw up. (See... this is where all of you smart people are shaking your head and wondering why I'd ever try it again! I'm stubborn and stupid and have no other excuse.)

1975: I was a Junior in high school and was smoking a few cigarettes on the weekends when the girls would go out partying. Remember.... cigarettes were still cool back then.

1976: My senior year. I can say that I was officially addicted at this point. I was hanging out my bedroom window at midnight smoking my last cig for the day. I was also smoking in the shower, thinking that the steam would get rid of the smoke. AND... let's not forget that incense was THE THING at that time and whenever Mom asked if I was smoking in my room, I lied through my Hell-headed teeth and said "No, that's my sandalwood incense becoming one with the smiley face stickers on my ceiling."

1976-1978: My college years. An associate's degree in Dental Hygiene (I KNOW... the IRONY!!) at a college where smoking was still allowed on campus in the cafeteria, gathering rooms, etc....and every bar, restaurant, and mall in town

1978-present: Married at 20. Confirmed daily smoker. And here's where I share my deepest and most shameful secret of all..... I smoked through all three pregnancies. I have no defense (I am a worthless, spineless piece of shit.) (or when I'm feeling more generous I merely call myself a selfish bitch.) Three healthy children later, I'm thankful.... although still ashamed.

Present day: Smokers are shunned lepers. What used to be a social activity has become a nicotine fix. Step outside 30 feet from the door in the freezing cold to get your fix. You want to know why I quit? It might surprise you that it had nothing to do with health reasons or money. It's because I couldn't handle "that" look from someone who walked by me while I was hiding in the shadows of some restaurant patio. I didn't like missing half the party while I was outside getting my nicotine fix. I'm still young enough to change my social behavior and I refuse to miss out on life because I have to remove myself from the party or worry myself sick at the airport or hide behind the bushes anymore because of a nicotine fix. The monkey will be off my back forever. I AM DONE.
I almost published this post without apologizing to my Indiana readers. Since I have quit smoking, you can expect your third grade class next year to not have new text books due to the lack of taxes from my unbought cigarettes. That's cruel, I know..... but I still have a bit of a chip on my shoulder.

33 comments:

Jessica @ How Sweet said...

I am so proud of you!! I read the entire thing, and some parts even twice. I know I have told you before that my mom smoked for over 40 years so much of this really resonated with me. My mom also smoked (and drank) through all 3 pregnancies, and I like to think that we all turned out great! Don't really beat yourself up over that - it was a different time (just watch Mad Men!). My mom once said that she loved cigs so much that she wished she could eat them. I never judge anyone with an addiction and am just so thrilled that you are staying strong.

ann said...

If it takes "dirty looks" from people to get you to stop, that's fine. You are doing great. It's hard to give up things that make us comfortable. Stay strong!

Barbara said...

I finally got that monkey off my back after smoking for 53 years, including my three pregnancies. The only thing I can look backward at and say I am ashamed of is that all three of my sons smoke. I really, really hate that. It frightens me. It was my choice to smoke, and I enjoyed it until I had a heart attack. Now I am just fat since I quit the cigarettes. I gained 55 pounds!I hate that part, too, but not enough to start smoking again. I hate the smell of the things so much now!

Moogie said...

Mags.... this is a very tough subject for me. My dad died of lung cancer and just a few weeks ago, my 62 year old brother.

I'm angry because they continued to smoke even though they knew it would cause cancer.

But after reading your post maybe I should try and understand an addiction so strong that they chose it over living.

Shelby said...

Good for you and yes, I read the whole thing! First of all, nobody is perfect. Not even our husbands (am I rolling my eyes now? YUP). So those dirty lookers can just get the imaginary finger (yeah, for the most part I want to do that but don't for fear of someone retaliating and shooting me). I'm super proud of you for having such self control. I'd have to say yours is better than hubbys because he doesn't have to exercise it as much as you do! Hope he won't hate me for saying that! lol. Love you Mags and if you didn't read my post that I wrote yesterday yet then when you do you will know what I say when I end with this quote. BRING IT ON.

Julie said...

Great post!! If you've never been addicted to anything, I think you just don't understand. I guess I am glad my addiction was only cigarettes, it could have been so much worse. Way to go! Keep up the good work.

Amanda said...

First of a all congratulations. I know just how hard it is to quit. I started when I was TWELVE. That's right. 12. I quit when I was 25. I'll be 44 this year. In an occasional drunken stupor I've had a cigarette and regretted it the next morning when my throat was hurting. My husband still smokes. For me, it's getting worse and worse. The smell alone makes me nuts, I don't even want to sit in the same room with him. I smoked during my first pregnancy. Sad thing is, that child, my oldest who is now 18, smokes. The first time we ever caught him was when he was 13 :( It's a choice, and it must be a choice to quit as well.

My mother died when she was 45, because of smoking. I was deprived of my mother from the time I was 23 onward. I had promised myself that if I ever coughed like her I would quit. That was my motivation and what ultimately helped me to stop. There has to be a reason for you to WANT to quit. If it took dirty looks for you then so be it, good for you!

My husband's father died in September from lung cancer. I was kind of hoping that would be my husband's motivation, but not yet. Maybe someday.

It was very brave of you to post this and I applaud it. Love you lady. :)

Design Wine and Dine said...

Write ALL you WANT...it's theraputic for sure! Good for you and keep going!

June said...

I think everyone's addicted to something...chocolate, coffee, soda's, negativity, procrastination ...whatever! The best part is that you made the choice to quit and you're doing it! I fear I'll be a procrastinator till the day I croak because I just keep putting off quitting.LOL I'm so very INCREDIBLY PROUD of you! Great post too!

Kat said...

I could have wrote this story, only different years. I have been clean for 11 years now. I will still probably die from second hand smoke because my husband and son both smoke. Not allowed in the house but they have what I call a smoking tomb room above the garage, where they live until bedtime. If I want to see my husbanc, well, I have to go up there and expose myself to all the nicotine ladden walls, etc. (I think our big tv is going out because the electronics inside are covered with nicotine.)
Anyway, I don't know if you know this (you probably have been educated on this) that Nicotine is just as harmful and addictive as heroin. True. I know I used to need a fix every twenty miutes, on the dot.
You will be so glad a year from now when you can say that you are very grateful you quit. It is hard, very hard. But always remember to NEVER pick up that first cigarette, but if you slip, don't run yourself in the ground. Pick yourself up and try, try, until you get it right.
My life was planned around those things. Can't go here, because they don't smoke, can't eat there, OMG, how am I ever going to last on a 5 hour airplane ride?
Keep up the good work, and don't be so hard on yourself.
Sorry this is so long.

The Mom Chef said...

Bravo! I've never been addicted to any form of drug or alcohol. They've never appealed. I've even tried (and like) cigarettes, but the hook isn't there.

That being said, I refuse to say that I don't have an addiction. My addiction is food, specifically chips and Cheetos. I can't keep them in the house. If they're there; I'll eat them. I crave them.

People with the amount of self-control and discipline it takes to keep whatever monkey they had or could have off their backs are amazing. You're becoming one of those people with every day that you continue to say no. I am too with every day that I don't seek out something salty and greasy (I've even gone so far as to make my own hot chips...way yum).

Don't ever believe that addiction exists only in the form of drugs or smokables. Anyhow, I'm going to stop now. :)

I'm so, so proud of you.

Jenn said...

Ahhhh, yes, those looks. I had my last cigarette on NYE...not as a resolution, but simply because I didn't want to miss anymore of the party freezing my tuckus off and getting those looks on my way back inside. Then it became a personal challenge, and a promise I made to my son. 22 years of smoking a pack a day and 24 days without. 24 days of thinking, wishing and wanting...

Have you weaned off the eggs and m&m's yet? I can't bake a thing for fear of eating it all.

Trish said...

I have heard more than once that cigarettes are a harder habit to kick than the illegal drugs, including heroin. most people I am sure were not aware of the harm they were doing themselves when they startd smoking.

Have you ever watched the movie The Insider? Russel Crowe does an outstanding job of portraying a tobacco industry insider who reveals to 60 minutes how tobacco companies worked to make cigarettes even more addictive.

I have never smoked, but do have compassion for anyone addicted to anything. I know many sanctimonious people who look down on others for their cigarette or other addictions.
I also had a friend, a heavy smoker in her late 40s,who suddenly committed suicide after being ill with flulike symptoms for about a month. she was not outwardly depressed, or showing any other symptoms of mental illness, and I often wonder how much being treated as a pariah by doctors she saw during that month she was ill, and others, contributed to her actions.

Have some compassion people! In case you're wondering, I'm pretty sure that was a big part of Jesus's message.

Sherry said...

I smoked from 1967 until 2004, so we smoked the same number of years. I started at 15.

Did you find that once you decided to quit, and did so, that it wasn't as hard as you thought? I remember crying and crying as I thought about all those wasted years that I smoked before finally deciding to stop.

scrambledhenfruit said...

Good for you! When my dad quit, he said it was the hardest thing he ever did, but it gave him the biggest sense of accomplishment. You can do it!

MrsMe said...

I'm still proud of you. I could have written this post and the saddest part is that it took so much effort to get hooked. Throwing up the first time we smoked and we kept doing it because all our friends said we would get used to it. Haha, that is no lie except "used to it" is a nice way of saying addicted. I'm happy that you are a non-smoker. Hugs hugs and more hugs and a huge high five.

Leslie said...

You go girl! I thank God I only smoked for 5 years during college. My mom died of lung cancer after smoking 30 years, having a lung removed, and living another 7 years with emphysema before they found inoperable cancer in her other lung and liver. I may have told you this already, but the sight of her in the ICU after she had her lung removed was enough to keep me off cigarettes for life. I had fortunately recently quit when I saw that 80% of the ICU patients were there for LUNG CANCER! Unbelievable! My mom always said cigarettes were more addictive than heroin. It makes me sad that I lost her before I turned 30 and that she never got to see me become successful and happy.

You are such a great writer and I enjoy these posts not just because they're well written, but because I'm glad to see an incredible woman do something that seems impossible. We're cheering you on!!! xo

Frieda said...

You....are...amazing! I read every word and every comment. Unbelievable. I have never smoked, as I am allergic (throat burns, asthma kicks in and I get a headache). I do so appreciate this post, as I am trying to understand why my 22 yr old smokes.

Debbie said...

Great and honest post. Quitting is hard. I smoked on and off for quite a number of years and quit when I just didn't enjoy it anymore. It is an awful, foul habit and the smell of smoke sickens me. You're doing great....

Sue said...

I'm so happy for you that YOU DID IT, Mags! Buy something fun and frivolous with the money you've saved:)

myfort said...

Gosh! You brought me back memory lane. Reading about the 70's and knowing I was with you, always has had me wonder why I never took up smoking too!! Thank heavens I didn't because I wouldn't have been as strong as you are being. It will get easier each day and you'll look back and thank God you broke your addiction.

Nanan said...

Great Whine! You are doing well, my friend.

Invizzible Ink said...

Auntie M, I love you. You are truely remarkable. Your perspective is appreciated and your attitude admired. Keep being you... you make this world a better place to live.

p.s. - my mom emailed me and said I "should read your blog if I haven't read it yet, it's a good one." - Duh, mom... It always is.

saltandserenity said...

Mags, congratulations. That is so wonderful. Keep up the good work. I am also an ex smoker. welcome to the club.

Anonymous said...

I read every word of this post - and went back and read it again. It was so well written. My oldest brother is an alcoholic, drug user and smoker. My middle brother is an alcoholic, herion addict and smoker. My father is an alcoholic. All three of them at one time or another have been clean and sober, but never without smoking through it. My middle brother is many, many time re addicted herion addict. He simply cannont stop. I don't know why I was spared the terrible torrment they have all gone through - but I do know this. I'm completely addicted to Diet Coke. I'm not being a smart ass, I'm serious. I LOVE it. Every time I've ever thought about my brother and WHY WON'T HE STOP? I think I would be a mess if someone told me I could never have another Diet Coke. It's my routine, my habit, my comfort. I never sit in any judgement of smokers or anyone else with addiction. I know you don't know me, but all the same I'm very proud of you. Keep up the great work and thank you for sharing.

Pam said...

I read every word of it and good for you! Way to go and keep strong! There's definitely nothing worse than an addiction.

Velva said...

Cheers to you! Your post was honest and real. I enjoyed reading it. Remember one day at a time.

Velva

P.S. thanks for your lovely Wordless Wednesday photo.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say "THANK YOU". I found the courage and willpower to quit smoking when I heard you quit. 12 days and counting...

Your favorite nephew,

Pat

Mags @ the Other Side of 50 said...

Pat: I couldn't be prouder of you. I'm praying for you every day. Stay strong!

Niece Denise said...

Not much to say that hasn't yet been said in your post or in the many comments.

Except that you might enjoy reading "Rachel's Vacation" by Marian Keyes. It is definitely chick lit, but I enjoyed it.

I'm proud of you and Pat both!

Katrina said...

What an honest, thought-provoking post. Thanks for sharing. And you go, Girl! Keep on quittin' on! ;)

Vice Girl said...

awesome post - good for you! found your blog through stumbleupon (one of your recipes) and loved it. i'm a native of indiana, so we have something in common. glad to hear you gave up cigarettes!

Kim said...

Wonderful! I quit because of health reasons so I am always thrilled to hear of people who stop before its an absolute matter of survival.. Good for you! Be proud! I have been off for 3 years and if I can stay quit, there is hope for all of us nicotine addicts! PS- Love your blog and those yummy recipes!