August 19th, 2010

Me

The Hardest Part

The hardest part about this whole quitting process isn't the withdrawal pangs, because there really aren't any. I suffered far worse withdrawal when I was still smoking and had to go several hours without one. It's not the restlessness, either. I hate that it's keeping me from my work, but on the flip side it's helping me stay physically active, which is turning out to be a big help in getting though this. I haven't taken this many walks on the same day in a long time. I just bought myself some dumbbells, too. The withdrawal and the restlessness come with their own challenges, of course, but they're not the hardest part.

The hardest part is admitting to myself that I was a drug addict for twenty years. I was addicted to a legal drug, yes, and a mostly socially acceptable one, but a drug nonetheless. And like all drugs, nicotine creates its own demand. There was (and is) nothing my body actually needs from nicotine. My body only craves it because I introduced it to my system myself. It's entirely my fault. Worse, I then convinced myself that inhaling poison smoke was a good, fun, happy-making thing to do, purely because I was hooked.

I thought smoking relieved stress, but what I didn't realize is that smoking was actually causing stress. A long flight coming up? I'd stress over how I was going to make it without smoking, and if they were going to take my lighter at the airport and leave me unable to light up on the other side. Taking a vacation somewhere? I'd stress over whether there would be places to buy smokes nearby, or if I was bringing enough packs with me to last the whole trip. Hell, it even got to the point where I was stressing about seeing movies in theaters because it meant I might have to go more than two hours with a smoke. Holy shit, and I told myself cigarettes were relieving my stress?

There's this great line in Allen Carr's book that really hit home for me:

"I think the most pathetic aspect about smoking is that the enjoyment that the smoker gets from a cigarette is the pleasure of trying to get back to the state of peace, tranquility, and confidence that his body had before he became hooked in the first place."

Something tells me that's going to be important to keep in mind. Because really, the hardest part isn't even admitting that I was a drug addict for twenty years. It's having to remind myself, over and over again through this process, exactly why that was a bad thing.