bill plympton smokingIt occurred to me not too long ago, that it’s been a bit over two years since I gave up one of my favorite filthy habits in the name of breathing: Smoking. I shall pause at this moment and ask everyone reading this post to hold your congratulatory accolades. I’m not bragging or boasting of an achievement, here. I’m merely pointing out a fact.

I do, however, want to reflect on something that I wish to share with my friends and casual readership, something that I believe – after two years of being smoke free – you should understand. Especially those of you who have never lit up a cigarette before in your life. And also those of you who are contemplating dropping the smoking habit all together. Ready for this? Here it is:

THE URGE TO SMOKE NEVER GOES AWAY. Ever.

For those of you looking into quitting smoking, I’m not trying to deter you away from that (although, my dark side will rib you for doing so, but that’s just my loveable nature there). And there are many, many benefits to doing so, I’ve come to begrudgingly admit to, like getting my sense of smell and taste back, which lead to never being able to eat at a McDonald’s ever again. See? One healthy thing inadvertedly lead to another, there.

But, here’s the thing I’ve found out first hand. Though physically my addiction to the cigarettes has been broken, psychologically speaking my mind would love nothing more than to light one up and take a drag off of that sweet, sweet dark smoky teat once again. And they get me in my dreams. Like last night, I had one that, quite vividly, had me open up a pack that was half-empty, take one out and light it up, and as I was taking a drag my mind was thinking, “Hey, you threw away an entire two years of smoke-free living,” and the guilt pangs were strong let me tell you. These were my dreams, let me remind you.

So, to all of you who have never smoked a day in your life, I’m trying to let you understand what people like myself are still subject to. I quit cold-turkey, mostly due to not being able to afford those quitting aides. The prevailing attitude I usually encounter from you types is “Just quit, why don’t you just stop?” Oh, if it were that easy. I’m not even going to go into the residual withdrawal effects, or the resultant icky stuff that happened for months afterwards. Smokers, I’ve noticed first-hand, don’t get any of the so-called “grace” and “loving understanding” that normal sinners get. It’s like we’re a special breed of leper or something. But I digress. The point I’m getting at is, you don’t understand, you never will understand, and I pray that you never do get to experience any of this. Just, please be aware that, through these dark hours that come with this ongoing process of living, people like myself could use a bit more listening and understanding rather than empty platitudes and judgmental preconceptions.

Seriously, there was a reason I used to refer to my ciggies as “rage suppressors”. And now I’m off of them. Let that sink in for a bit.

And I’m not the only one. Though no one had told me about this, at least my Dad – who gave up smoking after many years in the year 1987 – tells me he still gets cravings once in a while. So, really, being only two years into this post-smoking life, I don’t feel too alone with what I struggle with. And it really does get easier as time goes on. But when it does happen, when my mind decides it hasn’t messed with me for a while, boy does it get to me still.

Like those nightmares I still get where I’m woefully unprepared for the College Final I forget to take. But that’s a different kettle of worms all together.

::END TRANSMISSION::

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