Ours was a classic high school romance. We met one another at a young age and I was smitten. Cigarettes made me feel cool, like I belonged to an elite and discriminating club. We were inseparable; we went everywhere and did everything together. There was never any doubt that cigarettes and I would grow old together (probably not as old as non-smokers would grow, but relatively old). Then, a few years ago, cigarettes became abusive. I suppose it was easy to ignore at first because I loved cigarettes so much. I started to get winded after climbing a flight of stairs, I started coughing in the morning. This is just a phase, I thought. Cigarettes might not even be at fault! I would tell myself, “you don’t exercise regularly and you don’t have the healthiest of diets, right?”
But when I started wheezing at night, and needing my wife’s asthma inhaler, I couldn’t ignore the problem anymore. Unfortunately, you can’t just change your phone number or get a restraining order against cigarettes. And so, for about a year now, I’ve had a rocky, on-again-off-again relationship with cigarettes. For awhile I experimented with everyone’s newest darling, the e-cigarette, and found that while it helped me cut down on smoking real cigarettes, it was an inferior replacement and did nothing to break that hand to mouth habit that comes with a lifelong addiction to smoking. After I fell off that wagon I turned to the nicotine patch, and after a couple of months I was completely nicotine free. I stayed that way for a few more months, and was finally starting to feel like I was done with cigarettes for good. I was wrong.
I would still see cigarettes often, of course: they were hanging out at parties, having a good time with my friends. Eventually I decided to give one a try, for old time’s sake, and we had a wonderful time. The next day I was back to being a non-smoker. No harm done, right? I managed to convince myself that I could just see cigarettes on the weekends, while I was out having a few beers. We didn’t have to “go steady” or anything; we could just keep it casual. I should have known that a relationship like this with an old lover like cigarettes wouldn’t work out, and it didn’t. I was back to smoking full-time again after a few weeks of one night stands. The abuse started up again almost immediately. I couldn’t breathe at night; I couldn’t stop coughing in the morning.
Now I’m in a kind of “holding pattern.” I started the patches again, but I’ve still been seeing cigarettes on the weekends. There is a rational voice in my head that knows cigarettes will kill me if I let them, but often that voice is frail and feeble in the face of my addiction. I don’t think that using nicotine patches most of the time and smoking occasionally is a viable long-term plan, but it’s the best I’ve been able to manage so far with this cessation attempt. That has to change, so I’ve told myself that I’m not going to smoke this weekend.
Wish me luck.