Sometimes lies are good

I’ve been pondering why it is that I couldn’t seem to quit smoking cigarettes, but quitting meth was easy. It seems weird. I mean, sure… there isn’t such a stigma associated with cigarettes, even though they can kill you through about 40 different cancers alone. And I’m at more or less the same point with smoking as I was with meth… it’s time to stop. It was time a while back already.

Then I remembered something I did when quitting meth that was different. I lied. I found a not so little white lie that helped me quite a bit. I had two reasons for lying:

  1. Day one of quitting meth, and I knew I was done.
  2. I also knew nobody would believe me. Fuck, I wouldn’t have believed me.

So I lied. I said I was already clean for a year. Then one year later at the start of September 2014, I told the truth. It was a shitload easier to say, “Hey, I lied a year ago when I said I was a year clean, but I am a year clean now.” Actually it wasn’t that easy – I was worried people wouldn’t believe me when I told the truth about the lie a year before. But nobody had a problem with it. That lie turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done. It took all the pressure off the beginning of my recovery. And by pressure I mean the stress caused by the expectations of others who knew my situation. The only people who knew were my mother and Megan, my ex, who were at home.

What I’m getting at is that lies aren’t always bad. That lie in particular helped me a great deal, and it allowed other people to have confidence in me, confidence nobody would have had if I’d told the truth. I am wary of anyone who deals in absolutes, anyone who insists that they despise lies, because that is itself a lie, likely a lie they believe. Everybody lies and anyone who judges you for lying alone is, in my experience, someone who should not be trusted. (For example, beware of a person in authority who claims to “value openness and honesty”. That’s code for, “Don’t lie to me but I will lie to you”.) I do prefer to tell the truth as much as possible, but lying itself is not always bad and definitely not always wrong.

Of course I can’t use the same lie for quitting cigarettes. I don’t have reason one as above. I don’t know I’m done. Why I don’t have that certainty with quitting cigarettes but I did with meth, I do not know. It sucks but that’s the way it is. Wish me luck then… I’m on day one not smoking cigarettes and I’m not gonna lie – I don’t know if I can do this.

Sometimes lies are good. But not this time.

This not smoking thing really sucks. Or maybe doesn’t suck, as the case may be.

Facebook notified me that readers of my page for this blog are missing me. (I only shared it with the first ten of my friends and then lost interest, but anyway.) So here is something short to remind you I’m still alive and kicking.

It’s been more than two weeks now, and I am still not smoking. But it hasn’t really gotten easier. The craving comes and goes… sometimes I forget about it completely and then it returns with such vengeance that I find it incredibly difficult to resist going to the shop on the corner and buying a single cigarette. So far I have resisted though. So far…

A few months ago, a Facebook friend stated I cannot call myself a former addict if I still smoke cigarettes. Maybe she was right. I don’t think it’s completely fair, because I generally refer to myself as a former meth addict, not a former addict.

Regardless, I am not going to declare myself a victor of this addiction just yet. I can say with certainty, at the same point just over five years ago when I reached two weeks clean time from meth, I already knew I had beaten meth. There was no doubt in my mind. It’s not the same with cigarettes. I don’t feel like I’ve beaten it at all. Instead I’m still fighting.

But fight I will, and hopefully soon report back that I am confident that I have this cigarette addiction beaten. Until then, I wish all of you compliments of the season.

It’s starting to look like I really have quit cigarettes successfully

Weird… I was about to write that I resisted mentioning this because my track record for quitting cigarettes is not great, but silly me forgot I mentioned it already.

Anyway, an update… Tonight at around 10PM will be exactly five days since I quit smoking. At this point, with each passing day it becomes increasingly unlikely that I will fail. The cravings peaked at around three days, and then started dropping off. In fact, at this point I only crave when I think about it. Which means I’m forcing myself to crave a little while writing this, but that’s OK.

Oddly, I found quitting cigarettes far more difficult than quitting meth, at least in the first couple of days, but then this has been a particularly difficult time. My mother died, and even though she died of complications trying to treat lung disease (most likely caused by smoking), my cigarette addiction did still give me comfort. It’s just Josh and I at home, and anything to help with the grief is useful, so in that sense, it made resisting the cigarette cravings difficult. Contrast this to when I quit meth five years ago – I’d done so when Megan moved back with a three month old baby daughter, Aishah. I quit exactly the same way then, on a Thursday night; but using meth over that weekend would have been completely impractical. I shared the room with Megan and the baby, and my mother slept in the next room. Thus I not only had motivation, but had company and this made resisting the cravings easy.

Unlike those days, these when I quit smoking have involved more stress and more time alone. Starting tomorrow, Josh will spend three days with my brother, making it slightly more difficult, I imagine, since I’ll be alone. The other relevant detail, I think, when it comes to quitting smoking, is that there isn’t that sense of it being an immediate achievement. Quitting a hard drug like meth is notable; after quitting one is immediately noticeably different due to not being high all the time. Cigarettes cause many different kinds of cancers, but quitting smoking is a long term reduction of risk. The immediate benefit is not obvious, and so it doesn’t feel like as significant an achievement.

The other difficulty with quitting smoking is that immediately after quitting, I have lots more time. I’m used to going for several smoke breaks at work, and at home. Suddenly those breaks aren’t happening any more and that takes adjustment. It’s worse after each meal, and at certain times of the day at home when I had regular cigarette breaks for years… like last thing before going to bed and first thing waking up.

Anyway, it is starting to look like I might just have finally quit the cigarettes for good. It still leaves me sad… I can hear my mother saying, “I’ll never smoke again”, but it was too late. I was much older than her when I had my one and only child. In order to be there for him, I need to try and get healthy and try to live to around 80. That might be possible, but is probably not, and especially not if I continue smoking.

To end with two positive notes… I hope this can encourage others. I’ve smoked for years and didn’t really think I could quit. Now it looks like maybe I can, after all. And if I can, so can you. Also, there is another point to this: I have always maintained that I don’t know exactly how I managed to quit meth successfully. But come to think of it, I do know and I am using the same technique to quit cigarettes. If this works, and I think it will, I do have a formula after all – one that I can use to advise others and that I have reproduced myself.

It’s time. Time to quit the cigarettes.

At the start of this month, I decided that my carton of cigarettes purchased with the monthly shopping would be my last. But as I’ve edged towards that target, the doubts have crept in and loomed large. Now I’m almost there – on my last packet of cigarettes. I hope I can do this.

You would think that someone who quit meth could also quit other addictions? But up until now, my excuse has gone something like this… Cigarettes are more than just an addiction; they are a significant portion of my lifestyle. I get up in the morning and have a smoke, then I bath, eat breakfast and have another. Then off to work, get out of my car, and it’s time for cigarette number three. Then several times I day I have smoke breaks. In all those times, it’s not just about the smoking. It’s about stopping and thinking about my work, or quiet reflection on life, or something else. Always something.

I started smoking when I was 19. Now I’m 46, whereas I started smoking meth in my mid thirties and quit in my early forties. But when I think about it, the two addictions are not that different. I used to start the day with a hit of meth, and end it the same way. When not at work, I used all the time. And it wasn’t always about the meth. It was about the state of mind it left me in, and about doing stuff in that state of mind. (Tweaking.) On meth, I was under the influence every day, all the time. Cigarettes are similar. I’m never far from my next hit of nicotine, and I’m never really free from it.

Besides all the other reasons I quit meth, I found I’d reached the point where it just wasn’t fun any more. I continued to use it out of habit. But the high wasn’t good. Instead, I found myself trapped in my own head, listening to voices that weren’t real, detached from the world and really not liking being detached. I wanted and needed to be a part of the world again. When I quit meth, it was time. And now, I find myself smoking cigarettes but not enjoying them any more. It’s just something I do, a stinking habit that will be the death of me if I allow it. There is no pleasure in smoking any more. So once again, it is time.

I dread it though…the process of quitting and then craving. I don’t crave meth any more, and haven’t for a long time. I wish there was a faster way to get to this point, of it being a vague memory with no interest in continuing. But there isn’t a fast way… I know that this comes with time after simply quitting the habit. And cold turkey is the only way to go, for me. No cutting down, no alternatives, and absolutely no fucking vaping. I’m not interested in quitting cigarettes and then smoking something else. This is it! But I still don’t know if I can do it. I hope I can…