Today has been rougher than I expected. I’m not exactly sure what I expected, except maybe deep down I believed the battle would magically be over after 5 days without a cigarette. Even though I’ve read about nicotine withdrawal and I know it can take up to six months for symptoms to disappear, I didn’t expect the craving to be this strong six days on.
For example, it took me ten minutes to write that first paragraph, because I kept daydreaming about smoking a cigarette.
I may have been overconfident. I’ve always considered myself a reluctant smoker for two major reasons. I know what it can do to a person, as I saw firsthand with my father. And cigarettes taste godawful. I mean, horrible. Unlike other smokers I’ve known and know, I never grew to enjoy the taste of burning tobacco. For those two reasons, I guess I believed quitting would be a piece of cake after the first 48-72 hours of unpleasantness.
I guessed wrong, because I really want a cigarette. If I stop and think about it I can feel my body reacting to the brain’s command to fulfill this chemical dependency. My head starts to ache and I begin to feel nervous for no obvious reason. I feel my body’s response to those nerves, a jolt of adrenaline that starts in my midsection and spreads through my body like little waves of lightning bolts.
I keep picturing myself on my front porch, cigarette in one hand, Kindle in the other. No, today’s bitterly cold wind would spoil that. The back patio, then, in the sun. Part of me wants that very, very much.
That part of me is not going to receive what it wants, because there are currently no cigarettes in the house as my wife took them to work with her. If there were, I think I would probably smoke one. Just one, because the awful taste and the unpleasant dizziness/queasiness will remind me why I don’t like smoking in the first place.
But I won’t, because I got this. A little nervousness? Pshaw! For some awful reason I feel nervous every time I’m in public, but that doesn’t stop me. A minor headache? Headaches end.
No, I don’t think I will smoke just one. While I may want one, I certainly don’t need one.
I didn’t need them when I started smoking regularly either. It was the summer of 2005 and I was working at Books-A-Million until the fall when I planned on getting involved full-time with the student newspaper. That summer was probably the greatest of my life.
I had just returned from a semester spent in England. I was in love with my future wife and though we lived in a crappy little apartment, it had the most amazingly large deck that was perfect for reading outside or having drinks with friends. And thanks to working at Books-A-Million, I made some pretty awesome friends.
It was because of those friends that I became a regular smoker. Or rather, it was because of my politeness toward those friends. Many of my coworkers smoked and would often accumulate outside for smoke breaks. I would join occasionally to give myself a break and get some fresh air, and inevitably bum a cigarette from one of my new friends.
Sneaking away and leaving Darcy, the nice, innocent eighteen-year-old or Jenny, a friend who didn’t smoke at the front counter became a thing between me and what were fast becoming two good friends. And after a week of that, I started feeling really bad about bumming a couple of cigarettes a night from these guys, so I bought a pack.
“I’m just doing this so I don’t become a nuisance,” I told myself. “Not because I need them.”
It’s as true today as it was then. I’ve never smoked a cigarette because I need one. And here’s to hoping I continue to refuse to smoke because I want one. The problem is I’m just beginning to realize that I can kick the habit, defeat the withdrawals, get it completely out of my system and I will likely always want one.