My last cigarette was slim, purple, and with a gold tip. Nothing less the best for the end of an era. I realzied that with this birthday I would have been a smoker for half of my life--a very somber realization.
It's not like I haven't tried to quit before--I have tried what feels like a million times. I tried cold turkey, with gum, with hard candy and the little patches. I tried giving up things like wine and coffee to get my head around the association--I tried using sex as a replacement, shopping for clothes as an enticement, even sleeping away my cravings.
Nothing ever stuck.
People who have never had to fight an addiction can only imagine what it feels like--what they're shown in movies and tv, what they read in novels and biographies, hear in the lyrics of the sad little songs. The thing is--addiction is nothing like that when it comes to most people. I'm not hookering myself out for cash, I'm not shaking on the floor, I'm not losing jobs or cheating on boyfriends for a fix.
But I have used old butts to string together a cigarette, I have counted out to my last penny to buy a pack, I have snuck out of events both work and social for my fix. I walked in the rain and smoked in the coldest weather to do this habit. I know how hard I have made things because of my smoking. I just want it to stop.
And the thing is--I have a past with addiction. I was a bulimic in high school--continued to binge and purge at points during college and even life in LA. I learned how to move beyond it, how to talk myself through those moments and how to exist without it. I worked through the reasons I have made those choices; the insecurity from my childhood and high school, the feeling that I would never be hot enough as a gay man, the feelings of lonliness and unattractiveness. I managed my feelings in a new way and while my body/food/mind/sex appeal will always be hard to understand--I know how to cope.
But with smoking--it has been much harder. Part of it is I cannot find the root of what it does for me. Part of it is the actual cravings but there is so much more to the experience then that. Part of it is how I use the smoking as a way to not eat, part of it is a way to deal with my social anxiety, part of it is a way to give space when I am upset or stressing or whatever emotion or situation I am choosing to ignore.
When I do try and quit and fail--it comes out of nowhere. Sometimes it's an obvious emtional trigger--something is stressing me out and I want that space and comfort. Sometimes it has been panic attacks and sudden anxiety. Sometimes it has been the comfort of an old friend and memories. Unlike my food issues I haven't figure out what to put in it's place. Maybe it should be words?
I don't know.
And what makes it harder is how the failure feels. I feel like so many people in my life have moved on from smoking easily--Nolan, Joy, Willie were all smokers on par with me and have each quick in seemingly easy ways. We have talked about it at various points but it always felt like their struggle was so not mine. And then there are the social smokers--the Lolas and the Kellys who would pick up the habit for a bit and then one day just stop. Easy and simply without even the appearence of difficulty.
I had to find a way. I know there are a million different possibilties. People with patches and gums, pills from the doctor, needles and massage, hypnotism. A million other ways to handle the problem.
All I know is I want it over. I'm tired of living like this--tired of feeling so out of control. I guess that is why I am putting it out there--to try and make myself accountable--not to you--but to myself in a new way. Hiding my attempts makes it easier to fail.
This makes me accountable.