I write this with the stench of cigarette smoke on my fingers. And how fitting; a late-March thunderstorm is rolling in, and the rumble of thunder is complimenting my mood.
I didn’t make it twenty-four hours without smoking. I have no will power, and I have just reaffirmed my belief that I can never finish anything that I’ve started. I’ll be all gung-ho about something, do great at it for a period of time, then falter and either lose interest or just stop altogether. Recent attempts include maintaining my fifty pound weight loss, exercising regularly at the gym, and my venture into vegetarianism, all I did with gusto and was successful at, then something in my mind says, “you’re doing really well, why don’t you reward yourself for your accomplishments by taking a break? Eat that bowl of ice cream, take a day off from the gym, and eat that hamburger.” Where am I now? Twenty pounds heavier, sitting on my butt, and a carnivore once again. I’ll have periods of “hey, get back on that weight-loss/regular exercise/omnivore train,” but they are fleeting thoughts, and soon I’m right back where I started. I can see I can add “quitting smoking” to this ever-expanding list. Fuck.
I started out my day optimistic for my new-found venture into being a non-smoker. I woke up thinking, “you don’t need to smoke. You didn’t smoke for 90% of your life, and quitting now will be difficult, but you can kick this thing in the butt (pun intended).” I drove to work without a cigarette. I got through lunch without leaving to smoke. Then, a harmless comment made by a co-worker whom is also trying her hand at kicking the habit: “man, I could really use a cigarette right now.” I hadn’t thought about smoking too much throughout the day, but that comment made me go “huh, yeah, so could I.” I thought I was stronger than this, and was determined to not give in to temptation. Plus, I’m literally penniless until payday, which is tomorrow, so it’s not like I could go out and buy a pack of cigarettes.
I drove home thinking of smoking, though. I was calculating in my head how much loose change I have in my piggy bank…I also had a few bucks in my wallet. Surely I could skrimp together six bucks to go buy a pack. I pulled into the driveway and was giving myself a mental pep talk–“don’t do it, E. You’ve almost gone an entire 24 hours without smoking. Just get over this hurdle. and it will get easier as the days go on.” I was starting to believe myself.
Then, I saw my mail.
About a week ago, before I made this decision, I got an invitation in the mail from a tobacco company for some coupons. I, of course, sent away for said coupons.
Guess what showed up today? That’s right: two packs for two dollars. Fucking perfect! I have two dollars!
But, I must also make a confession, and this is just disgusting and I’m ashamed to admit it, but the purpose of writing about my adventures/misadventures in quitting is to be open and honest with myself, and anyone who chooses to read.
Confession: as I unlocked the back door, I glanced over at the terra-cotta pot that is being used as an ashtray. Inside lay two half-smoked cigarettes–mine, not Corey’s. Like a fucking homeless, desperate bum, I fished those two butts out of the ashtray and smoked the remainder of them. I stood on the patio and felt like a complete jackass. How low I had to be to fucking dig what is essentially trash out of the ashtray, and light up. It reminded me of the time I was at a local coffee shop and saw a man doing the same thing to the ashtray outside–digging for the butts that were the longest, and putting them in the front pocket of his plaid shirt. I remember thinking to myself, “wow, guy. You’ve got to be pretty desperate to do that.” And here I was, doing the same thing.
Jesus christ. And then that’s when I came inside and saw my mail. I chuckled in spite of myself, thinking, “if I had just waited like, five minutes, I could have saved myself a bit of humiliation and degradation.” But I didn’t. I made the conscious decision.
Now, a person with more will power and can-do attitude would have seen this envelope from the tobacco company, realized what was inside, and torn the envelope into tiny pieces, and buried it in the trash can under the coffee grinds as to make it impossible to be temped to tape the bits back together. Not I. Plus, I proved my will power was basically non-existent by smoking trash. So, off to the store that I know sells this particular brand to buy my one dollar cigarettes.
Walking inside, I feel sheepish. I had my head hung low, eyes to the ground, certain that everyone in the parking lot and inside the store somehow knew I was “trying” to not smoke, and was doing a pretty fucking miserable job at it. I walked up to the counter and said in a quiet voice, “one pack of lights, please,” and handed over my coupon.
Because it’s me, I was talking to myself in my head: you’re okay, E. You’re okay. Everyone backslides when they attempt something as difficult as this. In fact, you read this yourself earlier. (It’s true. I have visited a website on tips to quit smoking and read that quitting is very difficult and most people find themselves smoking again within three months of first quitting. But shit, I hadn’t even made it one full day. I’m definitely doomed.)
I walked to the car, tearing the cellophane off the box. I got in the car and took a cigarette out. I laughed in disgust at myself and said out loud, “you stupid fuck,” and lit the cigarette.
I admit, it tasted pretty good. Much better than the used smokes I had earlier. I drove down the highway, window down and smoke in my lungs.
I could smell said smoke permeating my hoodie, my hair and fingers. My mouth tasted like tobacco and I kind of smacked my lips in a futile effort to get the taste out of my mouth. No dice.
I guess I write this as my cry for help. Goddamn, this sounds so fucking melodramatic, it’s just fucking smoking, not doing cocaine, for christ’s sake. I need more than just “Hey Erin, way to go, good for you!” I was joking yesterday that I need to hire a drill Sargent to whip my ass into shape, but I’m seriously contemplating this. I need someone to be mean to me about this, to fucking rip the cigarette out of my mouth, break it in half and tell me I’m a worthless piece of shit. I’m not kidding.
Like I said, I was on a website earlier that gave tips on quitting, and a friend also suggested this: set a date, and on that date, stop. I’ve been thinking about my due date, if you will. Either give myself through the weekend, so smoke this pack like a goddamn fiend tomorrow and use Saturday and Sunday–days I find myself outside nearly every hour, on the hour–or, April First, but I’m not fooling this time (insert laughter here).
Oh, and then there’s this whole thinking of where my life was at this time last year, which is when shit really started to get weird with my marriage (see the story “Not Her” on Fictionaut), and I’m trying to ignore it, but am not doing a fantastic job of that, either.
In a word, dearests, I’m a mess. Pure and simple.
Alright. Day Four is at a close. I can only wallow in this self-pity for so long. Tomorrow is a new day. I should pick myself up, dust myself off, and start over again.
Good night, friends.