Sunday, December 7, 2014

Remind me again why this is a good idea

A couple weeks ago, sort of out of the blue, I decided to sign up for QuitPlan. It's not that I wanted to quit smoking, or that I had been trying to quit and failing, but I'd come to realize that I was--or am--seriously addicted to nicotine. That, and I had over the course of the past four or five months developed an unpleasant, unhealthy and persistent cough, which was a pretty good indication to me that I'd had enough.

I've never been a "serious" smoker.  Smoking a pack a day, much less two or three, is practically unimaginable to me. But in recent years I'd come to know and depend on nicotine in ways I never thought I would. It's a fascinating and powerful drug, and despite smoking's many (non-smoking and often vociferous) critics, there are some pretty great things about both smoking and nicotine. I would go so far as to say that, under certain circumstances both internal and external, cigarettes can not only be pleasurable, but also beneficial. This obviously isn't a popular opinion, and it's a hard one to defend in some contexts, but as a lifelong aficionado of sociology, psychology, herbalism, dreamtime, riff-raff, fire, stories, spirituality and ritual, I can say that I've learned a quite a lot from the genus Nicotiana (as well as from the entire Solanaceae family, but that's another story, or several), and I have a degree of respect and gratitude for that knowledge and experience.

Nonetheless, the time has come to call it quits. The truth is that I would rather not quit altogether--I find nicotine to be a powerful ally and a pleasant companion, from time to time--but I just can't seem to moderate my use of it, or perhaps I had afforded it too prominent a position in my day-to-day existence. This habit seemed to be occupying an important space that should be filled by something, or someone, else--even if that was "only" me...

I'm not sure what prompted me to visit the QuitPlan website on that particular day, or why I signed up for the program. I'm not much of a "joiner", and it wasn't something I did with great intent or expectation, it was just a side note on an otherwise hum-drum day, or so it seemed. Oddly enough, after signing up, I told a couple people that I had done so, as if to announce my intentions, but without really feeling any, if that makes any sense... I've done this enough times, and my attitude about it has evolved to the point that it doesn't seem like a huge deal, and it doesn't really matter to me if I change my mind, or relapse or whatever they like to call it. As long as I'm not destroying my health and a slave to habits I don't really control, I'm okay with having a smoke now and then, and I likely will. 

Anyway, on the day I actually did "quit" (or at least my first day without a cigarette in quite a few months, if not a year or more), I got a call from a number I didn't recognize, which turned out to be the QuitPlan folks. I hadn't set a quit date, so it was just a coincidence that they decided to call that day, but the timing was serendipitous.

I've been smokeless for five days now.  On the whole this has been tremendously easier than past attempts, without the obliterating emotional meltdowns, for the most part, and without the absurd and futile ransacking of house and home for cigarettes that are not there, or the nail-biting or the paranoia or many of the rest of the very long list of seriously bothersome and challenging withdrawal symptoms. Even so, I've had many moments, including right about now, that I find my mind wandering toward the back steps, to stand under the stars for a moment, and take a few deep breaths... 

And all these words were mainly just to say that it's actually been incredibly helpful to have someone, however anonymous and remote, offering me some support during these past few days. I wouldn't have guessed that an automated text or an unanswered phone call (from an actual human being) would make any difference, but it really has. It's been truly helpful, at just the right times, and even though I'm used to doing somewhat difficult things on my own, I've needed and appreciated the encouragement for this one. So thanks for that, whoever you are, even if you're just doing your job. It helps.


Anonymous said...

We can't do it on our own.

fremenine said...

True... we never do anything on our own, really. One way or another we are connected, always.

Appreciate your acknowledgement.