I quit smoking, after about a decade of engaging in it, on 1 January 2007. The smoking ban was coming in here in April that year, and I thought that would give me plenty of time to adjust to being a non-smoker before everyone was (in my view justifiably) forced outside to practice their lung-destroying habit.
It was a success. What worked for me really well was being absolutely decisive and certain that I simply would not smoke after that New Year’s Eve, to the point where I didn’t need any of the traditional aids that are recommended. I had bought some of that nicotine chewing gum, but (a) it was absolutely bloody rancid and (b) I was surprised to find that I almost never craved a cigarette at all. That led me to the conclusion that, in my case at least, smoking was more of a habit than an addiction.
I had had a smoking routine prior to quitting, that depended on whether I was at work or not. If the former, I got up, checked my email with tea and a fag, went to the bus-stop, smoked a fag there, got the bus, went to the coffee shop and smoked a fag there, went to work, went out for a smoke break with the others at 11am, went back to the office, went out for lunch smoking between one and three cigarettes, went back to work, smoked on the way back to the bus-stop, went home, had dinner, smoked a fag, went on computer, smoked a fag, had a cup of tea, smoked a fag. If I was not at work, I got up and sat at the computer for hours, with smoke after smoke on the go. Etc etc etc.
Yet, if I came to stay with A (I lived at Mum’s at the time), I would go for days without even thinking of the things. Mum and I even went to America for a fortnight once, and as we were staying with Aunt of Evil, we didn’t smoke the whole time…well, until we got back to the airport to go home anyway, at which juncture it all started again.
So yeah, it seemed like a habit, and a potentially controllable one at that and furthermore, one that I got very easily out of by determination alone.
Until late last year.
I don’t remember how I got back into smoking precisely. I could sit here and whine that therapy (and, in particular, the end of therapy with C) was difficult, and whilst that’s true, I don’t think it serves as an adequate excuse for lighting up again. I did it because…well, I don’t know why entirely. I think I just felt like it. Which is indubitably bad.
It’s funny; when I quit in 2007, I didn’t notice all those supposed health benefits people wank on about, such as being fitter and whatnot – but now that I’m back on the heinous things, I notice losing fitness. I have regained a smoker’s cough and am not particularly good with hills (which had been something that had been improving since I’ve lost some weight).
The weird thing about my recent re-foray into smoking is that there’s no pattern to it in the rote fashion that there was before. Some days I might smoke a lot, others I may only have one (or even none at all). This may sound more encouraging than sitting here chaining all day, but I don’t think is. I think I’ve developed a sense of complacency that I’d much rather I didn’t have; the unconscious thought process seems to be, “bah, sure you don’t smoke much anyway – why bother quitting again?” I don’t rationally think that, of course, but there’s something blasé at the back of my mind. When I was a frequent and/or heavy smoker, no such pseudo-ambivalence existed.
Of course, I have no money. In fact, I have less than no money – so the finances from the bastarding things come mainly from my ever-expanding overdraft. This, more than the health thing, is my main impetus to stop again – I mean, it’s through no fault of mine that I’m disabled from working at present, but I still think it’s a travesty that public money is going on this grotesque pursuit.
So, in light of this and related concerns, I had determined that I would quit again on 4 April – ie. Monday coming. Rather than celebrate this in the way I had when I had planned on giving up fags before, I’ve been sort of nervous about it. I know that the claim that smoking relieves stress has physiologically been proven to be false, but I think that in certain circles it is accepted that people psychologically gain relief from it, in much the same way that one might do with a placebo drug. And I have been under some stress recently – not much by comparison to times in the past perhaps, but not insignificantly nevertheless. Poor A has been under immense pressure at work lately, and it’s hard not to worry about him. Psychotherapy, whilst productive at present, is fucking hard work. I’ve also been completely obsessed that my mother is about to die, and have now got it into my head that the McFauls will find out the truth (not that they would believe it as the truth, of course), and that Paedo’s life will be ruined. I mean, as stated a million times, if the McFauls never speak to me again, that may be very vaguely unfortunate for me personally, but I’d get over it. I’m not their biggest fans, after all, even if one or two of them are OK. However, I don’t particularly wish to tar him with the brush of paedophilia this late in his life. I don’t like him, but I don’t wish him ill either.
So, I’m led to wonder – is this odd sort of “oh well” about quitting smoking related to my tendency to panic about not very much? When I quit in 2007, life was pretty reasonable. I had just recovered from a major breakdown (not at all as major as this one, but the most significant one to that point) – so much so that I was going back to work. Things were fairly good, insofar as existence can ever be said to be good. Now – life is not abjectly, unspeakably awful in the way it was a few weeks ago, and my mood feels stable-ish – but “what ifs” and a sort of low-level agitation can be quite independent of mood, I’ve found. I’m still on edge a lot, and up to my usual old tricks of perpetual catastrophising.
I went to see Mum, newly tanned from a holiday, yesterday – and was quasi-horrified to find that, instead of buying me some sort of tourist tat as she normally would have done (she and I tend to exchange crappy fridge magnets from our respective foreign trips), she’d brought me a big packet of cigarettes. Enough to do me for the next month, or maybe even more.
My pointless little story gets particularly pathetic here. I don’t want to not smoke them, because that would apparently be insulting to her given that she put the money, time and effort into buying me the bloody things. Rationally, I know that’s preposterous – she’d rather see the fuckers binned and her money lost than me not give up as intended (though apparently my intended date has skipped her memory, but she’s nearly 70 now so we can forgive her that). But I have this nonsense in my head now. It reminds me of certain circumstances that commenced way back before I started this blog: I’d randomly feel sorry for Any Old Thing, and then want not to “reject” it. In this case, it feels like I am vicariously rejecting my mother if I reject her present, which was purchased with every goodwill.
I am glad to be an idiosyncratic person in general, but I often wish I wasn’t in this sort of domain. What possible reason do I have for this stupid sort of – as bourach once put a similar phenomenon – dilemminating? In this specific instance, it’s particularly counter-productive and idiotic.
So will I actually stop smoking on Monday as intended? I hope so, but I’m really angry with myself that my intentions feel so vague, so wholly different from last time. It’s a disgusting, filthy habit – and as discussed in the comments of a recent post I wrote, it’s ultimately a more destructive method of self-harm than that which we traditionally associate with such actions. I am ashamed of it, more so than many things that are generally much less socially accepted. I keep worrying about Paul smelling smoke from me – yet I am quite happy to call myself a dirty whore and talk intimately about sexual issues to him.
I did get a “help with quitting” kit this time, and will indeed purchase additional aids as required (pricey, but cheaper to me and the British taxpayer in the long-run). I just can’t guarantee it’ll be this week, as planned. And now that I’ve admitted that, of course I feel like the big fat failure of fuckery that I am.
On an unrelated note, there’s very little to report. Monday’s therapy session was not one of those conversational ones that for some reason some of you seem to find enlightening; it was very introspective, but there’s probably something good in that. I’ll write about it in a day or two. Mood-wise, things are alright-ish – in fact A and I have have just been crying with laughter at this…
…but still, as observed above, a bit of anxiety and worry. Part of me is vaguely concerned that my increased dosage of Venlafaxine might be inducing a mild mixed state, but on the other hand, there’s lots of exhaustion – ah, insomnia, how I hast not missed thou. Boring all round, really. Part of me almost regrets getting so up to speed on all those weeks of therapy reviews, because now I only have one thing to write about. So I thought I’d do one of those weird speculative filler posts, ie. this one, that I sometimes write when I have nothing to say