You see, I had a friend that stayed with me for most of my adult life. I kept this friend close to me, always within reach. This friend, however, was weighing me down - a monkey on my back. I finally decided to let go of it and the intense love-hate relationship I had - with a cigarette.
To save face a little bit here, I was a courteous closet smoker, not one of those types who walk and talk with a cig stuck to their bottom lip, dropping ashes all over. Always, my designated area was outdoors where I ducked around corners to be out of view. Most people who know me casually didn’t even know I was a smoker. And, I spent lots of time popping breath mints and washing my hands to hide what was killing me.
There have been family, friends, and complete strangers who chastised me publicly about my habit. They spoke out of concern and made good sense, but boy, did I want to flatten them. Yeah, right out there in public view where I always took their jabs. Did they think I was stupid and needed repeated lectures? Whether I smoked five or twenty a day, it was too many and I knew it! I acknowledged my addiction.
The question I still struggle to answer is why I continued to jeopardize my health and didn’t stop smoking sooner than later. A tendency towards self destruction and addictions are subjects too deep to talk about here; however, having Quitting on my mind often, the first reaction was, “It’s too hard.” Second thought, "I might fail. I will fail.” Believe me, nicotine is a monster drug. It’s the bomb. It claims you.
I remember where my Mom’s lung disease took her during her last decade. Oh, she suffered a great deal and was near death a few times. In late April 2006, we had our last conscious conversation in a coronary care unit. I remember every word, how she looked, and the way she looked at me. The wonderful nurses in the CCU had rolled her, bathed her, changed her gown and bed linens, and reattached her syringes, tubes, and breathing apparatus. Everyone constantly watched her heart rate and blood gases on monitors behind her bed. We could talk and hear each other above the noise that horrible oxygen mask made, covering her mouth and nose, forcing air into her lungs to relieve her stressed heart. A few of our last words spoken,
“I’m comfortable. Those nurses wore me out. (smile) I’m going to take a nap now, Mary. Go home and check on Daddy.”
“Ok, Mom. Rest.”
“Don’t forget to quit that smoking.”
A few weeks later, she died in the same hospital unit.
Almost three years later, I’m keeping the promise I made that day.
Four days ago, I buried my last cigarette butt in a bowl of kitty litter, looked toward the sky, and saw Cedar Waxwings overhead.
She sent me Cedar Waxwings.
Because I’m in "rehab", blogging will wait but I'll be back in a few days. I’m all out of sorts. The first week is the toughest, dealing with those habitual triggers. In several weeks, I’ll wean myself from the Nicotine gum that helps to keep me awake for all the buzzing around I do. Can’t be idle.
I’ve been nice and even-tempered this week, only slightly irritable, often off-task and lacking focus, but still laughing and feeling good. At a dreaded budget meeting on Tuesday morning, I did, however, pretend to light up my pencil and puff on baby carrots.
I’m winning :o)