I'm an ADDICT! HooRAY!
||Sent: 3/1/2002 4:35 PM|
Knowing this has been the most liberating, empowering thing. Last night, I go out for a bit of a session. I had no idea I'd end up at the one bar left in Santa Cruz County where they're famous for ignoring California's indoor-smoking ban. It's a California smoker's Mecca.
I'd been avoiding it since I quit. It's not my favorite place. But the gang we were out with wanted to go, so we piled into the cab, and whala! There I am in the smokiest room I've been in since 5am on January 5th. Out of about 40 people, there were probably 3 non-smokers, including myself and Tess.
MAN, did they smell enticing. I mean they really did. And my junky inside saw an opportunity, and started assaulting me with junky thoughts. It was different than the craves you get in your first month. There wasn't any physical component. Probably because I wasn't overwhelmed with anxiety at the prospect of facing the evening. These were the, "boy, wouldn't it be great to be smoking" variety.
But, while the junky was yammering away, the free person inside knew how to cope. Knew how to cope because I KNOW I am an ADDICT! I didn't know that in the past. I believed I smoked too much because I'd gotten in a bad habit. I figured that I could quit for a while, and then, once the habit was broken, I could go back, and have the occassional ciggie. I know that to be the product of a lack of education.
Because I know I'm an addict, I know that there is NO SUCH THING as having one casual cigarette. It's an impossibility. ONE = ALL, a fact that I've proven over and over to myself in the past.
So, as I sat there, knowing that I would choose freedom over dependency, but still pestered by the junky inside, I allowed myself to enjoy the smell. The manufacturers spend a lot of money putting spices, perfumes and other additives in cigarettes to make them smell good (at least the side-stream smoke). I couldn't pretend that they didn't smell good. They did. So, I acknowledged it, accepted it, and even appreciated it. I could appreciate it because I knew that by not putting one to my mouth and inhaling, I was remaining free.
I reminded myself several times of the OTHER cigarettes I'd be smoking if I puffed last night. The other cigarettes were part of the package that came with the one puff. There can be no separating the two. Just like they did with the Olympics coverage, where they superimposed two skiers who raced at different times on the same shot to see how they compared, I superimposed the cigarettes I used to gag on outside the liquor store, when I capitulated to my addiction nearly every afternoon, over the image of myself smoking the illusive "one happy cigarette" in the bar. I superimposed the ones I'd smoke at my desk -- not because I wanted them, but because I NEEDED them to stave off withdrawal -- over the "happy one" too. The last cigarette before bed that got my heart pounding so hard I couldn't fall asleep for an hour got thrown up on the screen as well. The picture was getting more accurate. They're all the same cigarette. There IS no differentiation. The "happy one" is also the gagging, involuntary, heart stomping one. Indivisible. The junky inside was getting frustrated.
We were playing pool, and a friend had her lit cigarette in the ash tray while she shot. I wasn't afraid of it any more, because I saw it for what it was. I picked it up, and looked at it. Saw the way the paper burned, and the way the gray smoke curled upward. Saw the brown stain on the end of the filter, where the poison enters the addict's mouth. I stared it down. I know what you are, I thought. Wasn't gloating; just acknowledging. I put it back down, and went and took my shot.
None of this was possible before I found Freedom, and the education I received here. I didn't know what that cigarette was before. I didn't have the ability to superimpose the many bad ones over the "happy one". All I would see was the "happy one". My eyes are now OPEN. They're open to the true nature of nicotine, and my addiction. Today, I celebrate the discovery of my addiction. This "addiction" -- the discovery and understanding of it -- has set me free.