Today marks my sixth week of being a non-smoker. It’s been a forty-two day long journey peppered with euphoric ups and debilitating downs. This is the longest I’ve gone without smoking in five years. Let me just say it again, I haven’t smoked a cigarette in six weeks. This is insanity! Ahem.
I’m noticing that even though all my resources say that I should be completely out of the nicotine withdrawal stage, I still feel the same sense of anxiety, stress, and emotional discomfort. I get headaches now, pounding in the right, back side of my head, which never used to happen, I want to believe it’s stress, but I’m no doctor. I’m always exhausted. I feel maybe a small fraction of desire to get out of bed, honestly.
I don’t think I was actually ready to give up smoking.
I don’t think I’ll ever be ‘ready’ to give up smoking, to be honest. I still want to smoke, often. I get cravings two to three times daily. Usually it starts off with a memory, I’m sitting in my car at a red light and think about all the other times I was bored in the car, sitting at that same red light and reached in the pocket of my drivers side door to grab a smoke. I usually look down at the pocket and see nothing then I remember that I quit… “or whatever”.
I remember when I started smoking heavily, I was living with 3 other people at the time in a cramped one bedroom living space. Finding a moment alone or a moment when you could coexist peacefully was rare and appreciated. It would be a quiet, humid, but still cool night sitting on our tiny porch smoking, when she would come outside and actually try to be kind. There were no snarling looks, passive aggressive comments, or straight up bitchery. We would just talk, about school, and boys, and our car/work/whatever problems, and funny things we saw on the internet. And we’d smoke cigarettes, one after another, after another, after another, go inside and grab a drink, or a bowl, share it, and smoke some more for a little while.
I’m sitting with my boyfriend at a restaurant table, outside- because I always like to sit outside. I’m about 2 drinks deep and I start to daydream about all the times I had sat outside at some other restaurant, somehow mysteriously going through an entire pack of cigarettes in about 4 hours, because for some reason, my peers and I just kept ordering food and liquor and smoking. About $150 later, for the second time that month, I knew my waitress loved us for a reason. Enough to bum us cigarettes as long as we kept eating and drinking, that is.
When I’m at work… mentally, I’m back working at Wal-Mart, when I was 19 and I desperately needed about three point five minutes to stop looking at the same stupid thing(s) I’d been looking at for four hours. I remember walking out of the stuffy building I had been trapped in, leaving the angry fluorescent lights behind me, finding a nice corner in the sunshine, and standing there, trying to smoke as slowly as possible to make those minutes I could find alone count. Then I snap back into it and realize I’ve been pressing a button on my computer for about 30 seconds and I probably totally messed up my number count.
These cravings and memories interfere with my daily life so much that sometimes I want to cry, sometimes I do cry. Sometimes I get so frustrated that I have to go to the bathroom and give myself a pep talk; something along the lines of Stop being a little bitch. You don’t want to have to explain to a stranger why you’re crying, do you? Cause that’s the direction you’re heading in. You don’t want to be ‘the weird girl’ at this job too, do you? Suck it up. Insert grossly repetitive knuckle cracking and a few deep breaths here.
Deep breathing sometimes works, but only long enough to dry my face until my eyes start tearing up again. Completely immersing myself in my work helps with staying busy. It doesn’t help my wandering thoughts. Trying to change my thoughts doesn’t work, ever, at all. The more I try to think about something else, the more I get frustrated with my surroundings. Then we go back to square one, and next thing I know, I’ve made six bathroom trips in the past two hours and I probably look extremely suspicious.
I don’t know how to cope with my anxiety and stress. Exercise is cool when I’m at home, but when I’m at work, I can’t just leave a place. Maybe I’m just making excuses because lately I’ve wanted to smoke. Maybe I’m just an addict and I’ll always be one. Maybe I just haven’t made it out of the woods yet.
Maybe I’m just disappointed because all my peers have repeatedly said that once I quit I’ll feel amazing, but I don’t.
All I can say with certainty is that I have come this far now and I don’t want to have to go through the re acclimating myself to nicotine, nor do I ever want to go through the physical detoxing process again.
I’m miserable at times, but I haven’t reverted back to self harming, drinking too much, or frequent drug use, so I guess you could say that I’m coping.