Updated June 08, 2015.
'Just one', I pleaded, 'I won't start up again, I don't even like it anymore, it's just that this is so stressful, you know?'
Not knowing then what we know now, he reluctantly acquiesced and handed me the cigarette. I remember placing it to my lips and drawing deeply the toxins. Sad. Because at that point, I had been successfully quit for over ten months.
Being uneducated in the process, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, or how it would affect my future.
I had not a clue that I was resurrecting and feeding an all but dormant poison in my system. I was doing not only physiological damage immediately, but also - psychological, because now my pysche was being told it could not handle trauma without this poison.
Upon my arrival at my Aunt's bedside, I knew immediately that things were dire. I was so grateful that I had the chance to hold her hand, to kiss her tired cheek and tell her I loved her. Her eyes, bright with pain, sought mine. And then her nose crinkled.
'I thought you said you quit.' She admonished. 'I have, Aunty, truly I have. I just had a couple of puffs before the flight.'
Yes, in her sterile conditions, in her excruciating pain, she could still smell the odor of smoke on my personage.
'You'd better quit.' she said, ' This is not worth it, this is not worth all of this pain.'
'But I've QUIT Aunty, really I have! I'm only having a couple now, but it was easy, I wont have another one. Don't worry, just rest.'
She kept shaking her head vehemently,
'This is so painful, this is so very, very painful' she whispered, 'Please quit.' She did not make it through that night.
Devastated and beside myself with grief, I stayed to comfort and seek comfort in, friends and relatives before my flight home. I couldn't quit now, this was just too sad, too depressing.
I knew she had died from the affects of this horrible addiction, but I was hooked again. And somehow, hooked more strongly than ever before. The funny thing is, I didn't ever feel a sense of 'relief' from smoking. In fact, they tasted horrible, and I recall having to in effect retrain myself to smoke again!
I was defiant in this start - I had started smoking at 15 when my mother died, and would start smoking again when Dorothy left. Through the grief, it somehow seemed appropriate. It would be years, it would be now, that I would quit again - with an entirely different and far more difficult process due to - I believe - the many years of associations and illusions I now had to break. As much as I wish I had remained quit, I try not to focus on the past. (If you're looking at the wake, who's driving the boat?:) I am grateful that I am quit NOW. I could have saved myself thousands and thousands of dollars. Maybe I'd have a few less wrinkles. And though my breathing has improved immeasurably since I quit, perhaps I wouldn't need asthma medication at all.
Think long and hard about what that one puff, that one cigarette really means to you. Is it worth setting yourself up for being re-hooked again - possibly for years? I am learning that an addiction is an addiction is an addiction. Like alcoholics who say, 'One drink is too many, and a thousand is never enough', so must we adopt that attitude about this very insidious and lethal addiction.
As mentioned before, life does indeed happen. Personal tragedies, loss of loved ones either through death or different choice of path. Smoking does not change these things, it does not inherently ease our pain. And if by change it actually did - who wants to not feel anyway? And who wants to pay the price of that brief respite by not only going through so much more pain and illness, but allowing the ones we love the absolute most to writhe right along with us in helplessness and empathy?
NOPE. It's the best mantra on the block: Not One Puff Ever.
N.O.P.E. Part One
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One Full Week