Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I Hate You, Philip Morris

I started my life as a closet smoker about five years ago. I had just come through a decidedly nasty bout of postpartum depression, and Miracle Man's health was in rapid decline from neurological issues. I had a preschooler, a newborn, an increasingly debilitated spouse, and a full-time job. I felt pulled in at least three directions at all times, and I guess I needed a substance to abuse to get through the waking nightmare. Nicotine is legal and easily accessible, so it won. (Actually, it tied with high fructose corn syrup, but that's a whole nother story.)

Regardless of my reasons for taking that first drag, the bottom line is that I was the idiot who started smoking in my 30s, when all my peers were trying to quit. And yes, I realize this life choice qualifies me for a dumbass badge. At the time, I figured one little cigarette a day wouldn't kill me. Then I figured two a day wouldn't kill me. I continued the rationalizations until I was up to half a pack a day, and extraordinarily unhappy about it.

I tried to hide my dirty little secret from most of the world. I would have clandestine smoke breaks in my car and in my garage. Of course Miracle Man knew, and eventually the chid'rens knew. They outed me to my parents and siblings. And when I realized how hooked I was, I even started 'fessing up to my doctors. The message I got from everyone was clear - are you NUTS?? Why did you start smoking? And why haven't you stopped???

The reason is simple: Nicotine is addictive as hell. When a nic fits hits I get all ragey and homicidal, like this:
Dangerous, Yet Still Adorable
Then I become steadfast in my belief that a cigarette is the only thing that will make me feel like this again:
Ah Yes. Much Better.
But the rational side of my brain knows that in the long run, I'm really just making myself like this:
Me In 10 Years
So I recently made my billionth attempt to quit. For two glorious weeks I celebrated not being a slave to the nicotine. No nic fits, no inconvenient yet all-important smoke breaks, no guilty conscience. My car started to smell less like an ashtray and more like Orbit Bubblemint gum. I was rather proud of me.

Then it happened. Life got hectic. My day job got crazy busy, my family's schedule got crazy busy, and I had failed to refill my Paxil before it ran out. (Is it possible to earn two dumbass badges?) My anxiety level was through the roof. Not quite off the charts, but getting there.

One fateful night, I ran up to Walmart to pick up a few things and somehow ended up with a pack of smokes. When I got in the car, I somehow found myself with an open pack of smokes. And wouldn't ya know it, I suddenly found myself with a lit cigarette in my hand. I honestly don't know how I ended up with this evil little flaming stick, but my theory centers around alien abduction and cosmic worm holes. Fo' realz.

So now the addiction is back in full swing. Hello, nic fits. Hello, inconvenient smoke breaks. Hello guilt. I have not missed you. And I want you gone again. The question is, how do I get far enough away from you to make you a permanent thing of my past?

I know the only way to get there is to keep on trying. Sooner or later I'll be able to hand in my dumbass badge and call myself a successful quitter. That may sound like an oxymoron, but I'd rather be an oxymoron (wait for it)... than the regular kind.

Get it? See what I did there? Ha! Ahem. Alrighty then... 

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