The White Stick of Death (6.14.2008)

This blog is a good reminder of why I choose the life that I choose.  3.5 years cigarette free!

Off and on the past 20 years or so I have/had been a smoker.  I had always said there are two types of people in the world.  Smokers and non-smokers.  Don’t believe me? It’s true. Back in the day when you could smoke in a restaurant (I know right?) when you walked into the restaurant you were asked “Smoking or Non-Smoking?” Non-smokers are the first, or were the first to shout out non-smoking.  And if they were with their smoking counterparts, would look at that person to see if that was okay.  If it wasn’t, the smoker would quickly correct the host and say “We’ll have smoking instead”.


Think about it for a second, when you were asked that … what did you say?  Even if someone stopped smoking, they were still smokers. They were smokers who have temporarily stopped smoking. But they really haven’t quit. So I was doing some research on it and I found out that only 5% of people ever stop smoking permanently.  Five out of every hundred people actually are successful.  Not very encouraging odds if you ask me.


Many of my friends smoke.  My brother smokes. My co-workers smoke.  It’s very difficult to stop, even if you want to, when you are constantly surrounded by smoke. Temptation is at its worst and it’s hard, it really is.  It’s the hardest thing an individual can do … to stop.  I look back at 20 years of wasted life that I smoked.  I have stopped for short, and long periods of time, for a total now of SIX times.  Six times I let my own personal demons win in the battle and I have surrendered to the white stick of death. I would tell myself that this was the last time.  The longest I had stopped smoking was almost 2 years.   It starts off harmlessly.  “Just one cigarette .. it won’t hurt me.” And OHH does it bring back memories. And then slowly it becomes “I’ve had a really hard day, … I need this to calm me down”. And then it is just one a day and you’re back into the swing of a pack a day.  Trust me, I know how this works.  Been there, done that.  I think I tried every possible way of stop smoking there is.  Hypnosis, cold turkey, punching holes in my cigarettes, drugs (medicated of course). Almost nothing worked … almost. But I realized you can’t stop smoking until you admit to yourself that you really want to stop. And until that day comes, you will never stop smoking.  Smoking, like anything else, is a choice that you make.


So why am I writing a blog about cigarettes, which will now refer to as the white stick of death.  I am writing about it because I can proudly, and confidently say that I have stopped smoking. I don’t exactly remember what day it was.  I think it’s been about 2 weeks .. I’m not sure.   But I know it’s been quite awhile.  I did actually try to wean myself off slowly, cutting it down until I was down to just one a day.


So why did I stop?  Other than the myriad of health reasons? Well, for one because I am going to walk 20 miles and I needed to be in tip top shape to do it.  I hate the way smoke smells on me, one of the reasons I ALWAYS had some cologne with me somewhere.  I hated having to bleach my teeth more often that I needed to because my teeth were turning yellow from smoking.  I hated having to run to the store because I NEEDED a cigarette and I had already smoked my emergency cigarette.  Plus, it’s expensive.


They say that smoking is more addictive than any other thing out there, .. right up there with heroin and cocaine.  But I’m pretty sure that those people smoke when they are doing those drugs. One stone(d), two birds. It’s also habitual.  It’s a habit to have a cigarette right after _____, or before _____, or when I am ______.  Most people would say drinking, but if you know me, you know that I don’t do that either.  By choice.  I have an addictive personality.  Admit it, you know it. And because of that I am more prone to addictive substances.  It can be anything, drinking, smoking, drugs, video games, … even people.  So it was natural for me to have addictive traits along with my addictive personality.


So, now it’s the lucky number seven. The SEVENTH time I have stopped smoking.  I haven’t said “quit smoking” because I’ll always be a smoker.  Just like you can never be single again. You are only single once, and then … you’re divorced.  Single only happens before you are married. A smoker who stopped smoking.  And I am okay with that.  I have to be.  I feel pretty confident that I’ll stop this time. Seven is my lucky number. Numerology says my lucky number is seven. I am the seventh son of the seventh son. So be it.  Seventh time it is, and for the seventh time I have quit.  I have taken precautionary measures of course.  I am taking Wellbutrin twice a day, and have been for over two months now. (So maybe it’s been 2 months that I stopped smoking).  It takes the edge off of things, … makes things more tolerable. So things that would normally irritate me and cause me to want to smoke don’t bother me anymore. Rush hour traffic is no longer an evil to me.  It’s just another thing in life that I have to face and deal with.


So I know I haven’t written much, I’ve been super busy.  Seriously. The only break I get is the 2 hour escape at happy hour.  But now I’m not so sure I should be going … at least until I know I have kicked the habit.  It’s hard to be around people who smoke now. Sorry, it just is.  The smell of cigarette smoke is pungent to me and almost makes me want to throw up in my mouth. I know right? Gross.   So the only free time I have is me writing on a Saturday night here on MySpace, and I know I should be studying, reading or grading.  But at least now I know I am on the road to a much happier, healthier tomorrow.