BY LAURA JANE (ILLUSTRATION BY JEN)
I quit smoking one week ago yesterday. It's true that cold turkey's the only way to go- if you really want to quit smoking, you'll be too fed up with smoking to fuck around with quitting smoking aids. If you want to quit smoking, there's nothing you can do to stop yourself. It's really cool and easy.
Last Tuesday, I showed up to therapy and said "Today I only want to talk about smoking" and so we did. Forty minutes into the session my therapist asked me why I always insist on drawing a black line straight across the painting of my life and I started to cry and I'm crying again just thinking about it. She asked me why I was crying and I told her "Because I don't want to do that anymore." She told me to quit smoking that afternoon and I told her there was no chance that would happen but when I walked outside I pulled out the pack of Marlboro 100s Liz had sent me and there was only one left. I lit up and thought about how the rest of my day would unfold and since I was now out of cigarettes started wondering when and where I could fit in buying a new pack, and then I thought, "Am I really going to go and buy another fucking pack of fucking Belmonts?" and I realized that I couldn't. That was the moment.
The last cigarette I ever smoked was a Marlboro, in the rain, wearing leopard-print- so that's cute. While I smoked it I tried to remember why I'd once thought I loved this but all I could focus on was "This is nothing" and tossed it away- I didn't even smoke it down to the quick. I started crying tears of joy and bought myself an iced latte and breakfast sandwich to celebrate. Hours passed and I started feeling weird- nicotine withdrawal- but I toughed it out. I looked forward to the withdrawal period passing so that I could go back to being my normal self again, my normal self only even BETTER because she wouldn't smoke then!!! That's me today. I woke up the second morning and the withdrawal symptoms were so vicious I thought I might vomit but I got through it. Work was crazy-busy that night and it distracted me and by the time I got home I was in the clear. It stopped being hard.
I had my first really difficult day a couple days ago, on my sixth day- I was feeling anxiety about a number of things and it made me think I WANT TO SMOKE A CIGARETTE NOW, since I'm used to lighting a cigarette anytime I ever feel anxiety about anything. But then I thought of all the times in my life I've smoked to alleviate anxiety and asked myself if a cigarette had ever really fixed it, and the answer, of course, was "Of course not."
My dad told me that when he quit smoking he kept a full pack of cigarettes on his bookshelf and derived strength from his being able to ignore them. My therapist told me to stick a twenty dollar bill in a jar every couple days so I can watch all the money I'm not spending on my own death and chemicals add up and then treat myself to a facial or whatever. I thought about maybe doing both of those things but the thing that became mine happened on its own- I've left my shitty old tin Canada flag ashtray out on the white plastic table on my patio. Every time I come and go I look at that empty ashtray and think about the shame I used to feel every time I noticed how fast I filled it up. Now there's no cigarette butts in it ever, because I don't smoke cigarettes.
I really have nothing else to say about this. Before bed I sit outside and feel the air and hear a song. When I walk down the street instead of hunching into my cigarette I look at the clouds and the buildings. I hate smoking and I hate cigarettes; I quit smoking because I smoked until I hated smoking and then I quit. The Allen Carr book didn't work for me and neither did cutting down and I didn't take Zyban and I never had a patch or chewed Nicorette or smoked an e-cigarette. If you want to quit smoking, you'll quit smoking, and if you don't want to quit smoking, don't force yourself. It'll either happen or never happen and that's your story. This was mine, and this is how it went for me, and now I'm bored of writing about it.