I could have titled this, “why i need to quit smoking,” but I didn’t. Why? Simple answer to this one. I’ve known smokers who had emphysema. They’ve come into my work and I’ve sold them cigarettes. No, it wasn’t great for my soul, but when you work at a gas station you don’t really have the luxury of choosing, do ya?
The bottom line is that you rarely need to do anything in life. You don’t need to take care of yourself. You don’t need to be kind to people you care about. You don’t need to go to work or function in society or remember to respect yourself or someone else or anything.
People want to do these things because, let’s face it, people are actually mostly good. Nobody really wants to suffer. Suffering may be comfortable at certain times and to certain people, but strip that element away, and you find a place no one truly wants to be.
Where am I now?
I’m in a place I don’t want to be, and cigarettes are putting me there. My reason for wanting to quit smoking has changed over the past couple of years. At first, I wanted to quit smoking for superficial reasons. I wanted to smell like a human again, instead of an ashtray. I wanted my money back, all the hundreds of dollars I spend on cigarettes a month. (The money pit that is my habit sucks about $150 to $300 a month outta my wallet, and that’s just not cool.) I wanted to be free of addiction because I’ve had addiction shape me from outside influences, and I just didn’t like the idea of it.
What I didn’t have was a clear conception of how it affects me physically and emotionally.
Fast forward to about a year ago. I somehow managed, by the grace of God, to quit smoking for a month and a half. It made me episodic (I manically furnished our entire studio during that month and a half and bought maybe half a dozen wallets, which is half a dozen too many for my tastes and needs.) It didn’t last. My mom fell sick for a minute and while I didn’t have to pick up a cigarette—nobody was forcing my hand—it was a very convenient excuse to reacquaint myself with a dear, old frenemy.
Things just haven’t been the same since.
My body adjusted to not smoking very quickly. The withdrawal didn’t last more than a few days, and the urges became mere curiosities pawing over memories. When I started up again, things were much worse than they’d been before I quit. The tickle in my throat that I’d grown used to became a hellish postnasal drip, and I was suddenly overwhelmed by the sensation that I was constantly choking on myself. My lungs tightened, and breathing became difficult. I became more sensitive to the smell of my cigarettes as it clung to my favorite jackets.
It’s been almost a year that I’ve been choking, breathless and pungent. I’ve had moments where I was able to quit for a day, here and there, and the relief was almost instant. I could actually breathe when I woke up the next morning. I had time to myself again, instead of time devoted solely to carcinogens. I felt great. Until I was crying, tears rolling down my face—because I remembered that I was really addicted to cigarettes, and felt those sudden, overwhelming cravings for a cigarette, my poison pacifier.
What are my options? Well, I feel a little trapped some days. Damned if I do and damned if I don’t. If that’s what it boils down to, I choose my long term physical health over something that calms me down short term and makes me feel crumby long term.
I think it’s time to quit again, this time for good.