Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Twenty Years Ago Today

. . . I smoked my last cigarette. I remember where I went for breakfast that day: Dalt's - what I was reading: MR SKEFFINGTON, the movie I saw that afternoon: CROSSING DELANCEY. Getting dressed to go to a meeting that evening, I really wanted to smoke, and I thought, what the hell, nobody knows I quit today - I can stop off on my way, buy cigarettes, smoke this evening, and try again tomorrow. But by the time I was dressed and on my way, the urge was past.

I can't say that I had a lot of confidence I was going to make it, but somehow I did, and have continued smoke-free to this day. I used Nicorette gum for 4 days (available only by prescription in those days) and in the early days had the support of 12-Step meetings.

All addicts have a list of "Things I Might Just 'Use' Over" - they are the experiences of Life - death of a spouse or a parent or a pet, upheavals in lifestyle, etc.

Most of these have come to pass - I've lost both my parents over these 20 years, endured the deaths of several dear friends (one of whom I was with when he died), had to put two cats to sleep (I stayed with both during the process), as well as the death of a beloved aunt - at no time during any of these crises did I think about smoking a cigarette. For the past 3 years I've been dealing with employment problems. Some days it really sucks. I still enjoy watching people smoke, especially Bette Davis, though I can't say I care for the smell of it (when talking to people who are quitting smoking, I usually advise them against watching films from the 1930s through the 1950s (such as CASABLANCA and NOW VOYAGER) - they smoked like crazy in films during those years!

In all this time, only once have I actually been so close to lighting up that walking away from it took all my resolve: the morning of September 11th, 2001. I had moment of not really giving a damn. And then I thought, "If I smoke, it will be one more victory for them."

I didn't smoke. But the stress of 9/11 caused newscaster Peter Jennings to start smoking again - who knows? If he hadn't started up again, perhaps we wouldn't have lost him to lung cancer a few years later.

So, it isn't always easy. But today I'd have to choose between a pack of cigarettes or a gallon of gas - the prices of both have increased over 20 years!

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