Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Minute by minute

D-Day is less than 2 hours away. I’m in the waning hours of my last day as a tobacco chewer.

I hope.

I know I should be more positive about this. Not leave room for doubt, but I also know that this tobacco addiction is a powerful thing. It’s going to take a lot of inner strength to beat it. I want to beat it. I plan to beat it. But I also know that not all things go as planned.

I stopped off after work today and picked up some stop smoking aids. Nicotine gum. Regular gum. Hard candy. Breath strips. Things to put in my mouth other than tobacco.

There is the habit of chewing, and the nicotine addition that I need to overcome.

For more than 21 years I’ve gotten used to having something in mouth, tucked down between my cheek and gum, at virtually all times. Yep, all the time. Except when I eat or when I sleep or when I’m involved in some intimate activity with a member of the opposite sex. Unfortunately, there are only so many hours a day to sleep, only 2 or 3 meals a day, and most unfortunately, there has not been a lot of intimate time with a woman either for long stretches.

The last time I was able to kick the habit started four years ago. I was single, but it was a woman that pushed me over the edge and back into the can.

I had gone for several months without dipping and started spending some time with a young woman I met at work. I had a major crush on her, but it was an ill-fated relationship from the start. She had moved to town from the Midwest.

I found out fairly soon that the reason she moved is because she was divorced. But not too long after that, I found out that she was not actually divorced, just separated. And the reason she got separated was because she got caught cheating on her husband.

And not long after she was telling me that she wasn’t going to be able to see me much because a friend was coming to town. She later confessed that the friend was actually her husband.

For a while, she was just unavailable. Out when I called. Maybe this weekend, she’d say. But then the weekend came and went. Then she cut off contact completely. Wouldn’t return phone calls, wouldn’t turn e-mail. It took me weeks to realized for sure that I had really been cast aside. Every time I pursued some contact just to find out for sure, I was ignored.

At the time, I was paying about $35 bucks a pop for nicotine gum 2-3 times a week. And I wasn’t exactly heart broken, but I was bruised. My crush was crushed. And I made a decision to control the one thing I could control at the time. I could control how much I was paying for my nicotine. I could cut my costs and just buy a can of Cope. And I did.

I still remember the feelings I experienced during and after the Great American Smokeout 2001 when I started my long hiatus from the dip. The physical and emotional reactions were intense. I felt like a starting man deprived of oxygen. The cravings gnawed at my guts, and my mind was in a fog. Like I had been sitting on a carousel had spun far too fast for too long. I couldn’t get my bearings. I was dizzy, disconnected. I couldn’t hold a thought in my head for more than a few seconds at a time. Well, except for the omnipresent knowledge that I needed nicotine.

Every second without it felt like an eternity. Every single fraction of a second was palpable. Like a clock ticking in my head. I wasn’t sure I could last a single second longer. But somehow I did. Second by second. Minute by minute. Hour by agonizing hour.

I’ve only felt anything at all like it once. And that was the pain of a broken heart. The pain of craving the one thing – or the one person – you don’t have. But I got through it. Second by second. Minute by minute. Hour by hour. Day by Day. Week by week. Month by month.

And maybe that’s why I think I’m finally ready to try to kick nicotine again. I survived the broken heart. Not that there aren’t still some occasional pangs of craving, but they pass quickly and virtually painlessly.

I know kicking nicotine won’t be easy. And I’m not sure I’m completely ready. But I wasn’t ready to deal with a broken heart either and somehow I did. So I intend to use some of the same things I learned there to help here. I plan to turn to friend for support when needed. And I plan to get through it minute by minute, hour by hour, and hopefully day by day and month by month, until the craving is but a memory.

In the meantime there will be a lot of gnashing of teeth and chomping of gum.

And so it begins.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You go, G-man! You can do it, just one minute at a time, and remember that the hard time will pass and before you know it you'll feel like a whole new man. You've definitely got my support!

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