Archive for October, 2014
Yep, I said it. The big A. I tend to not feel I can consider myself in the ranks of an addict, perse. Those are the people who confront cocaine, meth, heroine, etc… the “real” drugs. Those are the ones who become true heroes for combatting their addictions. They are the ones who can talk about this issue.
Logically, addiction is in everything and everywhere though. I had a family member who is addicted to QVC, the US seems to be addicted to reality TV, sugar and even food are huge sources of addiction considering the number of eating disorders and obesity in the world today. Addiction is a very real and everyday thing for most of us. Can you go thirty minutes without looking at your phone? Did I just make you look?
About four years ago I quit smoking. It was deemed a major hurdle I needed to tackle for health reasons. I didn’t want to. I enjoyed smoking. My ten minutes of cig-loving on the back porch was the sole reason my child survived the “I’m going to scream for no reason” stages of development.
I had my first cigarette at the age of nine. I thought I would die. I could not believe anyone did this and enjoyed it. However, at the ripe of age of fifteen, with the very new and current introduction of at least a pint of “beer,” I found out why the cigarette was the BFF of alcohol. It would be twenty years before I would contemplate quitting.
I had tried cold turkey once, that lasted 3 days 12 hours until a visit from family had me hiding in a closet chain-smoking. When I decided I had to quit (no excuses) I knew I would need help, I did some research. There was the hugely expensive out-of-pocket shot in the head. Someone I knew tried it with his wife, they both quit easily, but within about six months they had gone right back to smoking again. I wanted permanence. I was not looking forward to any of this and I did not want to do it at all, but I sure as hell was not going to do it twice, three times, four…Plus, what the fuck is wrong with you!? A shot?! In the head?!
Some did patches and gum with varying success, but I felt that, for me, it would just an excuse to drop the expensive activity of smoking to go to a more expensive hobby of chewing crappy gum and sticking stickers on myself. No.
Someone else I knew had tried this drug that you take, smoke while you’re on it, and then it will slowly disconnect the enjoyment factor. This sounded more like me. That and he said his dreams were so lucid that his inner prepubescent 12-year-old just came bursting forth every night he took it. Yep, definitely up my alley.
So I talk to my doc, get three months of the stuff and get started. I’m nauseated just a bit the first week, I read the literature, that is expected. It did subside. By week two, I finally get why you keep smoking. It becomes fucking awful! I would smoke half a cigarette and get sick of it. It gave me all the enjoyment of sticking cotton balls in my mouth and lighting them. I still took my religious vigil to the outside smoking area at the same times I always did (10, 12, 3 anyone?), but I was starting to smoke less. But the quit date I had to calculate based on the medication’s instructions was coming fast and I was getting downright panicky.
This is when it dawned on me that the biggest key to the addiction were the lies I was trying to feed myself to avoid the inevitable. It’s very strange to have such an intense internal dialogue as:
addiction: “Look, the weekend is coming right after your quit date, you’re never going to be able to tolerate that, just hold off until Monday.”
logic: “no. quit date is quit date”
addiction: “But what if you’re mean to your kid? You know, when detoxing, getting hostile is pretty common. You’ve watched TV. Are you going to handle being around your kid for two days with nothing to rely on? What if you hurt them?”
logic: “shut up.”
This kind of internal dialogue got worse the closer the date came. I was intensely on edge the day I woke up and knew I couldn’t have a cigarette. Now, I don’t remember much of it. I don’t remember if it was at work or at home. I know I sat my kid down and talked to them about what I was doing. My kid was really glad I was stopping because, “it’s nasty.” I remember also telling them that if I seemed grumpier or meaner than normal, then to please mention it. If I am aware of it, I could recognise and behave accordingly. My kid never said anything.
I remember looking up about day three of no smoking at work and realized I’d bypassed two vigil times that day without even realizing it. I migrated to the coffee station instead now. Decaf even. I felt like such a self-righteous yuppy. Maybe I would do “vegan!” Nah, fuck that…
I managed to wean myself off the medicine in about half the time I was given. Meaning, I had three months worth, but only took it for a month and half. When that internal addiction voice finally realized I wasn’t caving, it seemed to crawl in a corner and whimper a lot. The last week or so was actually me taking it only on days that I knew I would be around one or more smokers and I was feeling nervous. Otherwise, I felt like such a badass.
To this day, I still enjoy the passing waft of cigarette toxicity when outside. I can sit with a pile of smokers and feel no urge to join them. I still remember enjoying it. I think it helped that my last memories of it are so bad. I still cannot look at a cotton ball without feeling illogical animosity.
Mostly, I realized the biggest demon when it comes to addiction is ourselves. I was my own worst enemy. My addiction voice was using a twisted logic to gain favor and if I’d succumbed even a little, I would still be fighting with it. The world isn’t going to explode if you change, and that can be a terrifying thing to realize.
I suppose the biggest thing that helped me, is that I had this tiny person watching my every move and I was beholden to them to make good on my word. I HAD to be the hero on this one. I had to be the winner at least on this. I could trip on flat surfaces my entire life and knock my head on every cabinet in the house, but damnit I had to be awesome for this.
By the way, the dreams really were absolutely awesome! I haven’t had such vivid and hot dreams since…*sigh*
Happy Halloween all! Don’t get me wrong I love the idea of the holidays and all the warm & fuzzy moments. What overwhelms me is knowing the never ending lists of things to do in order to provide all the magic of these moments. I think the thing that annoys me the most is that growing up no one bothered to inform me that being born with a vagina would also make me the keeper of all the holiday magic.