Wherein I Come Clean About Smoking

I quit smoking toward the end of December this past year.  For the most part, I did pretty well, considering.  I had a few slip-ups, but nothing major.  I struggled, fought, and pretty soon it became easier, if not just plain easy some days.

I reveled in the non-smoking life.  I could breathe, I wasn’t coughing all the time, my hair smelled good.  I could smell a cigarette at 50 yards and, at times, I could have sworn I was allergic to cigarette smoke.  The secondhand smoke just affected me that much.

Toward the end of January, things started getting difficult.  DSB’s health was to take a turn for the worse, and that stress-free life I so enjoyed was over.  I had become complacent about my quit, too.  Not changing my patch when I should, not popping a lozenge when my brain told me I wanted a cigarette, not blogging about the struggle.  I lost track of the fight within me to stay quit, and I got lost somewhere.

It started out with just stealing a cigarette here and there.  Within the last two weeks, I’ve been buying a pack here and there, smoking a couple, a dozen, the whole pack here and there.  Cigarettes are an addictive bitch, and I’m not talking about the nicotine.  For the past two days, at home with an immobile DSB (health problems out the ying-yang, oh yeah!), waiting on him hand and foot, doing nothing but trying to run this house all by myself, I’ve smoked regularly.

And my body is pissed.  And I am pissed.  I’m coughing and hacking and I reek of cigarette smoke.  I started to think about how great I felt in December and most of the way through January.  How good it felt to be quit, how nice the air was moving in and out of my lungs, how my wind was better, how I had more energy.

They are absolutely fucking right when they tell you that quitting smoking now will greatly reduce serious risks to your health.  And you feel amazing.  I think the Surgeon General should put that on the pack, too:  If you quit, you will feel amazing.  Part of it is that you’re not smoking and part of it is that you tackled a huge beast and you are WINNING.

I’ve been lying in bed reading The Orange Buffalo by Grayson Queenwhich so far has been amazing, and he is writing about (in this particular section) about drinking and disillusionment and the quest for perfection, and Grayson Queen helped me (about 15 minutes ago) to have my own personal epiphany.

I do NOT want to smoke.  I do not want to be a smoker.  I want to quit and have healthy lungs and live to see my nephew grow up and get married and have kids of his own.  I don’t want to sneak around with cigarettes and lighters and be a smelly, smoky mess.

The other part of this personal epiphany, is that, yes, life has become quite stressful and that I, however, do not have to feed it.  I can deal with it, I can manage.  Without cigarettes.  And without a bipolar meltdown.

My personal epiphany:  I am happier without cigarettes.  I feel empowered when I don’t smoke.  I like the non-smoking Rosa better than the chain-smoking Rosa.  And I definitely like the not-sneaking-around Rosa better than the sneaking-around one.

I have come to far to start telling lies again.  I have come too far to give up this quit.  I’ll be restarting that fight, effective 23 minutes ago.  I will wake up in the morning, and I will not smoke, no matter what.  I have patches and lozenges and I will use my tools.


Orange Rosa

When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is set Mr. Coffee to brew and park myself in front of my computer until it is done.  Some days, I go immediately to looking through my email WP notifications, other days I have to sit and stare at the blank screen for awhile.  This morning, I just so happened to wake up bright-eyed and opened Rara’s, My Orange Report.

She had written a lovely post in a question/answer format based upon her husband, Grayson Queen’s, book, Orange Buffalo (which, BTW, he has made the e-book free on Amazon through the 23rd of this month).

I loved Rara’s post and then I read another take on it at Sheena’s blog, Not a Punk Rocker.  And, of course, I loved it, too.  And then I had a moment in which I thought that I, Rosa of all people, should partake in this fun.  I had a slightly briefer moment in which I thought that Rosa might not be cool enough to play with the cool kids, but then I got over it.  Without further adieu:

1)  In the book, Orange Buffalo by Grayson Queen, the orange buffalo is a legend.  Tracking a regular brown buffalo is a feat of skill.  A rare white buffalo thus represents the nearly impossible hunt for something, whereas an orange buffalo represents the search for something that simply doesn’t exist.  Have you ever searched for an orange buffalo– a truly false or impossible dream?

Growing up, I knew I would grow up, get married, and (probably) have kids.  I’m 32 now and I know that isn’t going to happen.  I am (depending on the day) torn about not having children.  I know I couldn’t financially/mentally/emotionally give them a life I would want them to have and I know, chemically speaking, that it would be a death sentence to go off medications with the very slim hope that DSB and I could get pregnant.  It’s not going to happen and that is my orange buffalo, that is my impossibility.  I’m not saying that people with mental illnesses can’t have children and give them a great upbringing.  I’m saying that, I, personally can’t.

As for getting married, that’s probably not going to happen either.  I’m never going to wear a white dress and walk down an aisle and have some grand reception.  Do I want that?  Yes, terribly.  Circumstances being what they are, it’s not a possibility.  Just like with not having children, it might be possible for some people in my situation.  For me, it’s not.

2.  What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from a break-up?

The greatest lesson I’ve learned is that, if you give and give and give, and get nothing back, then it might not be worth it.  If you’re not getting anything positive out of the relationship, it might not be one worth having.  As my mom (quoting Ann Landers, I think) says, “Are you better off with him, or without him?”

3. Do you remember what you wanted to be when you grew up?  Did you get there?  If not, what happened?

As I was growing up, I always wanted to be a doctor.  I took that thought with me into college, and after almost failing out of honors biology and honors chemistry in the first semester, I realized that plan wasn’t going to work.  I went into psychology and thrived.  I then planned on getting my Ph.D. in clinical psychology with a forensic emphasis.  That dream died with an extreme manic rush and crash and burn into depression midway through my senior year.

For almost ten years, I worked in the mental health field.  Doing basically social worker-type work.  It was incredibly stressful.  I both loved and hated it.  I left both jobs I had during that time on FMLA due to mental health issues.  I just couldn’t handle it.

Now, I’m on SSDI and I work part-time at my parents’ bait shop.  How far we fall, I used to often think.  But my life is rich and full and, while I am grateful for all the life experiences I had, I am much happier now, living a simple life.

4. Is there something in your past you’d like to do over?  How do you think it would change your life if you had the opportunity to do so?

For the most part, there is nothing I would go back and change.  I firmly believe that all that suffering and strife brought me to where I am today, and I’m happy with today.  I really do think that I would be a different person in a different place if I changed something in my past, and that’s not something I want to do.  If I could choose one tiny thing, however, it would be to learn how to stop lying and being dishonest at every turn much earlier in life than I learned it.

5. In the novel there’s a repeating series of lines, referring to society’s predictions for the main character– the good and bad.

What a nice boy, a good boy, so much potential. He’s going to grow up to be president, a novelist, a hypocrite, a sellout.”

Write your own.

“What a kind girl, a fun girl, always with best of intentions.  She’s going to grow up to be an auntie, a friend, a manic mess, a depressed wreck.”

Want to give it a go?  Head over to Rara’s for the details and make sure to link up!

(and don’t forget to get the book!  I just picked up my FREE e-copy!)