Not much scares me anymore. Even with my official quit smoking day (Q-Day) this past Friday, I’m not afraid of quitting. I am afraid of failing. As big and strong as I think I am, I’ve taken the steps to prepare for this…we both have. But now, it’s hand-to-hand combat. Me and the Beast. I’m ‘in it’.

Writing gains me my freedom. It’s Saturday and I post tomorrow. I’ve got the time. What I don’t have is a cigarette in my hand. Why can’t I concentrate. I’m caught flat-footed being confronted with the hard truth that smoking isn’t just one habit. Echoing whispers of Hemingway or some other questionable romantic literary ethos, I have slipped into smoking when I write or do much of anything remotely creative. A quality essay can easily take 6-8 hours, Much easier to rationalize ‘quality’ than it is to close my eyes to an ash tray overflowing with bent over butts.

I held the prescription my doctor wrote several weeks ago like it was a pharma shield to ward off the coming agony I knew was part and parcel to withdrawal. But for all my care in selecting the drug that wouldn’t turn me into a raving maniac (like others I’d witnessed when they tried to quit), there was no shield. The cure was worse than the habit. Verbally vicious at home, aloof and stoic at work and uncharacteristically aggressive in traffic, I didn’t know who I was.

My induced insanity even interfered with our social life. We’d been invited to hear some friends of ours perform in their jazz combo ‘under the Bean’. What a cool thing, right!?! But it didn’t matter. The real-me knew the last thing I should be doing was going out in public. The fact I didn’t care what I was saying or to whom freaked me out even more. I ditched the pills. Q-Day was approaching, but I was going to have to do this cold. Anger grew three-sizes that day.

Just poured myself a brandy over ice…a most uncommon luxury for me. I heard my newest smoking coaches’ mantra, ‘Be good to yourself’. But no sooner had I taken a few sips did the urge to light up strike here too. Drink in one-hand, what is in the other? I should have seen it coming.

I don’t want to talk for fear I’ll spew more hateful speech. What’s the point in calling the helpline…at this point, the polly anna cliches of my smoking coach just enrage me. Rick is here for me, but I can’t be around anyone else in this moment. I’m feeling really alone. It’s all I can do to get myself over to the bed and lay down on top…just a few minutes of calm. Breathe.

If all I do while I’m laying here flat on my back is nothing, than I’ve prevented myself from lighting up. I don’t adjust the pillows or even think of getting up to go get a smoke. Odd how the only defense I have left is coming to a full stop and watching my addiction writhe on the floor beside the bed. I wake up. It’s been six-hours. The afternoon is long gone. It’s 8 o’clock. No more writing happened while I retreated into my sleep fortress. But now, I owe it to my other half to check back in with him…have at least a few hours of time before it’s time to go back to bed. 11 o’clock and I pop two sleepys to insure I’ll sleep in spite of my marathon nap earlier that day.

I’m back. It’s early Sunday morning. The very next thought has to do with finding a smoke. I go nicotine gum instead. Even ten-minutes seems like an eternity. I start breaking down time into 30-second increments…just say no for thirty-seconds…now, another 30-seconds. Don’t worry about later today or even forever…just 30-seconds.

Still tough to pick up the pen without wanting to light it. I sit down to the brunch plate that’s been prepared for me. I’m done eating. Guess what I want to do? Damn linkages. More gum. Another 30-seconds and new revelations about just how intertwined my smoking has become with just about everything I do. It’s really weird to not have them be the first thing I grab on my way out the door. A week or two ago, I clipped a linen scented air freshener on the vent to de-smoke the car. But this morning when I climbed in to go to the store, I smelled Marlboros. I want one. No. Just 30-seconds…now, good. Again. 30-seconds.

Back from the store, I’m writing again. My pen comforts my hands as something to hold besides a cigarette. I’ve found myself putting the pen to my lips on more than one occasion.

Suck it up, Dan. No one wants to hear you whine. Focus. Sit and be still. Remember why you’re doing this. Tell the next urge, “Not today. Not this 30-seconds”.

I’ve always believed that things – anything – gets better for having gone through it – straight through it and into the very core of the darkness. It’s the only way out to the other side.

Is there another side? How much do I want this? I hear the Cosmos demand, “show me”.

I just realized I’ve had the head phones on the whole time I’ve been typing…no music on. I meant to…too distracted. Too funny. We’re both laughing at my goofiness. A light moment. 30-seconds moves to a few minutes further further from Friday.

One more. More won.

To be continued…

Banner Coastal Redwood Forest by Eric E Photography is used with permission.

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Butts to the Curb – Sourced from:; Performing Under The Bean – Chicagos Cloud Gate from another WordPress blogger:; Smoking After and Before – Source for Closing Pic –×348/Here-Is-What-Happens-with-Your-Body-When-You-Smoke-in-Gruesome-Detail.jpg


If you or someone you know is in the same boat I’m in, this link can help you find a way.

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