Okay, I’m So Hot Thursday huh?
Up a pound and a half today, 148.5. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
Last night, I had a smooch of a breakdown. Just a little smooch of one.
All that ranting and anger from yesterday doesn’t just melt away into thin air, its got to get out somehow, and after the company party, where no book was received, a drink or two was consumed and a cold walk with the dog, the tears started to fall.
You know those times when you know all you need to do is just…cry a little? This was one.
Going into this fourth week of not smoking is by far the hardest. Again, not in terms of “cravings”, yeesh, I wish I had cravings. My addiction with cigarettes has nothing to do with cravings. This whole time, advice like “Keep your hands busy!” and “Eat peppermints to keep your mouth busy!” all have nothing to do with me. It’s not that kind of addiction for me. It just isn’t. Eating a peppermint to keep my smoking addiction at bay is like eating a beet when you want a Snickers.
They say that stopping smoking is as hard as quitting heroin right? I suppose in some far off way this is true, maybe the rate of relapse or something? I definitely don’t feel that way; quitting smoking cannot be as hard as quitting heroin, maybe in theory, but not in reality. BUT, like true drug addicts, smokers have chemically screwed up their natural reward system in their brain:
“Smoking causes an increase in the dopamine levels. The actual mechanism is debated, but MRI studies confirm the increase occurs. As you continue to smoke, the dopamine levels remain high and the brain starts shutting down some of the reward centers in an attempt to return to normal. This causes the smoker to require more, which raises the dopamine levels, which causes the brain to shut down even more reward centers. A balance is eventually reached, typically at the point of a pack per day.”
So essentially, it’s not just about quitting nicotine, but literally retraining your brain how to reward yourself (without using food, ahem). We have to rebuild our brains just like other drug addicts do, yet…where is my group therapy? Why can’t I go away for a month and detox? It’s just not like that for us, nor should it be. I guess what I’m trying to say is, quitting smoking is turning out to affect so much more in my life than just some cleaning out of my gums.
I’m forging new relationships with things, and even people. Will the feeling that I don’t want to hang out with my smoking friends go away? Will my relationship with alcohol continue to change? Will my relationship with all of the annoyances of my body keep changing?
I feel…so…wrecked. Don’t get me wrong, I still love not smoking (someone last night at the party told me how warm my hands were, hee), I love not feeling endlessly guilty by my actions, and I’m trying to handle this whole “quit” with ease and grace. Well finally, last night, this week…I just can’t. My god do I know with every bone in my body that these things I’m feeling, almost subconsciously, would not even come close to feeling better if I smoked. But that doesn’t change the fact that I feel mentally…pained.
Quitting smoking doesn’t just change “what I do with my hands”; it changes…well…everything. It’s changing who I hang out with, where I go, how I get there, what I do with my free time, how I feel about myself (sometimes proud, sometimes horrified), how I feel about other people, how I handle stress, how I reward myself for a job well done, how I work, how I write…
No, it’s not the same as quitting heroin, but that is not to say that it’s easier either.
Luckily, as Rachelle guessed in the comments, I have an amazing support system living with me. John sat with me last night and let me ramble, but stopped me with kind words when I needed them. He validated all the things I was feeling and inserted encouraging words in between. His understanding and support of me is unwavering. I have not been fun to be with this week, and I know when John says that this is all part of the battle -- that coming out the other side of this is the payoff – I know he’s speaking the truth, and that sometimes I just need to hear it.
Also, and this may sound stupid, but sometimes, books come along at just the right time. Right now I’m reading another one of my Pulitzers called “The Edge of Sadness” by Edwin O’Connor. I’m about a third of the way through this most amazing book. The protagonist is a priest who so far, is so gentle, that I believe I am actually comforted by him. There have been allusions to some sins of his in his past, his own addictions that he had to battle. People keep asking him if he’s “okay”, if this day went by “alright”. I can relate to my gentle priest and look forward to living in his world 40 minutes a day rather than my own.
And one more thing that comforts me? This little fellow does….without even trying.