The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Let's go stand in the rain and cold and have a smoke

As some of you know, I am a former smoker. I quit almost 41 years ago (7/7/70). It isn't easy to quit, I know that as well as anyone who has tried. And I didn't just stop smoking one day on a whim. It was a process, as they say.

I started smoking when I was 12. Wanting to be cool, like the older boys and my brother. A stupid reason and easy to judge in hindsight. But a 12 year old isn't known for his mental acuity, is he? I just wanted to be cool and a little thing like a cigarette hanging out of my mouth made me feel like James Dean.
You really have to be a child of the 50's to understand that reference. Most adults just thought I looked like a hoodlum. Which, at times over the next few years, I was.

I never smoked a lot. Basically, I was a pack a day smoker. My sister was much worse, though she started later, at 3 packs a day. I couldn't figure out how anyone could smoke that much. I couldn't smoke in school (except out in the field during Phys. Ed. or the occasional tokes in the boys restroom... cue "Charlie Brown" by the Coasters), couldn't smoke at home, and while asleep. But after I left home, I didn't increase my smoking either. Not even in the Navy where smoking was not frowned on and cigarettes were cheap.

the Coasters - Charlie Brown

I tried to quit a few times even as a teenager. It never lasted more than 12 hours or so. I would quit in the evening, go home, wake up in the morning and head for school and habitually pick up a new pack of cigarettes in the morning. I would be 3 or 4 deep into the pack before I remembered I had intended to quit. I made no attempts to quit while I was in the Navy that I can recall. Until I was approaching my discharge date. Cigarettes were cheap in the Navy back then (may still be, I don't know) 10 cents a pack at sea, 20 cents in stateside ports. But in civilian stores they were 35 cents and going up. I'm frugal and that was incentive to me to quit.

As I rec all, I tried a partial quitting regime. I would smoke only on the weekends I was off. I would not smoke on base or on the ship or at my apartment on weekdays. That wasn't too hard to stick to. For a couple of months. And I even stopped smoking completely after getting discharged in October of 1969. For 3 months. I started up again the month before I got married for the first time. Right back to a pack a day. I blamed it on the stress. Now I know it was just a suicide attempt.

I tried to quit again after I got married. That was the beginning of the final process. I cut way back, almost completely. My wife smoked. My friends smoked. My co-workers at Southern Bell smoked. They got smoke breaks. They would go out to the stairwell outside the switchroom (where all the noisy equipment was) and take short breaks of 5 to 10 minutes to have a cigarette. I joined them because I thought it was unfair that I wasn't getting these breaks. They took smoke breaks, I took air breaks. But someone would offer me a cigarette and I would accept. After all, what's one cigarette in the vast scheme of things? So I ended up smoking 3 or 4 a day when at work.

But the night my son was born, I finally determined I would quit completely. Really, truly, finally, absolutely, quit for good.

If I remember correctly, I have smoked 3 cigarettes since then (in the years 2-5 after quitting)and finished none of them. They felt odd, alien, between my lips. I didn't feel cool or sophisticated. I felt ashamed of myself for giving in. Each one of those reminded me that I did not want to smoke, that I did not want to be a smoker.

I am not preaching here. I am not saying everyone should quit or that you are weak or stupid if you don't or feel you can't. I know how hard it is. I know that the urge stays with you for years. I still had the urge 5 years after officially quitting. Though it got easier, it took a long time before it was no problem to ignore.

There are many benefits to quitting, of course; you don't reek (which as a smoker you do not realize anyway), your nose starts working again, you don't find yourself outside in miserable weather huddled with people you would otherwise avoid, you are no longer treated as a leper, and food really does smell and taste better. But these are minor things, aren't they?

Forget all the Quit Smoking aids and prescription drugs. Forget hypnosis, forget group therapy, forget negative or positive reinforcement. Do it yourself. You can. I am about the weakest person you will ever meet. I rarely finish any project. Yet I managed to do this. And if a schmuck like me can do it, you can do it too.

I'll shut up now.


FTell001 said...

I was a 3 pack a day smoker....sad but true. I quit 2 yrs 3months ago. The craving has mostly disappeared though I do miss the social aspect occasionally. Ditto on the smoking in the inclement weather, be it rain, cold or heat! I smile every time I see people huddled outside getting their fix and know I don't have to do that any more.

Sightings said...

Good story. We all have our quitting histories. I, too, quit many times. I was a "cheater" for many years, smoking half a pack a week (to take a break from a particularly stressful time at work, or at a party), but eventually went totally clean about 8 years ago.

You are wrong only about one thing:  Everybody should quit.

Rebecca Joseph said...

Wonderfully said,my friend. I quit too. I smoked a pack a day for 35 years. ( Its only been three months since I quit smoking) I know if I can do it, anyone can!