Last night was the most difficult night I’ve had since leaving rehab. So difficult in fact, I forgot how afraid I was that first night out, or leaving the graduation ceremony, or the first night in my new Hollywood apartment, last night seemed to negate any struggles I’ve had this past year and broke me down into a small, helpless child.
I am powerless over nicotine and my life has become unmanageable.
I smoked a pack and a half yesterday, finished a pack right around bedtime, and then smoked two cigarettes from the last pack in the last carton. After the second cigarette I thought, perhaps I should stay up and smoke them all. Smoke the remaining 18 so they don’t go to waste. I sat with Mr. Man in his backyard, who fell silent for these final drags, as I spoke about all the good times I’ve had with cigarettes. All the bad times. All the times where I felt alone except for twenty ridiculous tubes packed like sardines in a cardboard box. I told him at 15, when I started smoking consistently, I never imagined that at 27 my life would revolve around when I can and can’t smoke. I told him about the cruise I nearly cancelled because it was a non-smoking ship (turns out there were designated smoking areas…). I told him the majority of restaurants I frequent allow smokers their one true delight. I told him how afraid I am of failing, and even worse, how afraid I am of succeeding. He held his hands in his lap, silent, nodding here and there. His presence support in and of itself.
I set my pack on the bench and said aloud: “God, please take these from me. Please take them as a gift for my sobriety. Please remove the obsession from me. Please help me let these go. Please help me.”
I turned the pack over the Mr. Man, asking him to find a good home for them.
Mr. Man: “Are you done?”
Me: “Yeah. I think so. I’m just over it.”
We went inside and he placed them on top of the fridge, out of my reach and direct eye line. Crawled in bed, tickling each other and laughing. I was riled up. Full of nervous energy. I repeated my prayer, facing him in bed. He whispered to say it again, but softer. I did. And then softer again. Until he…. SCARED THE LIVING CRAP OUT OF ME. I laughed it off at first, turning into the corner and burying my head under the pillows. So he spoke to god… and as one of my character defects is playing god, I decided this is the perfect moment to rise to the occasion.
Mr. Man: “God, please tell my girlfriend I love her and I wasn’t trying to be mean or scare her…”
Me (in my best god voice): “Well, Mr. Man, that was an A, B conversation, you should C your way out of it.”
Mr. Man: “God, please help my girlfriend not to be mad at me. And if she is mad at me please tell me how to make it better.”
Me (Even better god voice): “Well Mr. Man, you must build her the ultimate pillow fort for your sins and…”
Before I could finish he had taken all 8 pillows from the bed, yes I know the insanity of 8 pillows, and ran to the living room to build a pillow fort for me. For some reason it never occurred to me he would actually build me a fort. I thought he’d banished himself to the living room, taking all the pillows as punishment for me playing god. I curled up into a ball and then became angry, spreading myself out like a starfish. All the way across the bed. He came in and saw there was no room left, asked if I really wanted him to sleep on the couch, to which I replied.
Me (in my regular little girl non-god voice): “You’re the big meanie that scared me and banished himself to the living room.”
He left for the couch again and I called Saucy in to bed, the ultimate punishment. He returned. Asked again.
Me (in the biggest voice I could muster without crying): “No. No I don’t want you to sleep on the couch. I want you to snuggle me.”
He came back in and we curled up next to each other, face to face, nose to nose. I told him again how hard this is and how I don’t want him to make a joke of it. He apologized, saying he never meant to hurt my feelings and he will do whatever he can to be supportive. I cried and told him I just want this to be easy. He touched my hair, and said he knew.
Today, with Jill, after an insane morning of nicotine free panic, craziness which only subsided once the tingling from the patch worked into my fingers, I told her the story of Mr. Man, of me playing god, of the beautiful pillow fort I refused to go see and the heartfelt conversation about my wishes for this struggle to be easy.
Jilly: “Quitting alcohol may not have been that hard. Or pot. Quitting porn was really difficult. And quitting cigarettes will be even more. Before, you had cigarettes to get you through the good times and bad, as long as you had them you were okay. But in this past year, you’ve developed something else. You have faith now. You have faith that you will be okay. Faith that it gets easier as long as you do the right thing. Faith that you will not die if you change your life. Faith in your higher power and faith in yourself. That’s something you didn’t have a year ago and you still made all these changes. Think of how much easier it will be with what you have now.”
And she is right. I know it’s going to be okay. I know I won’t die from nicotine withdrawl, and if I allow myself negotiations with my addict, whether it’s addicted to booze, sex, drugs or smokes, I will lose because addiction is fucking tricky. So I cannot argue. I cannot engage. I cannot will myself not to smoke or think of smoking. I can only have faith that if I make it through today, tomorrow will be easier. Even if parts of it are hard.
Today is Day One, no cigarettes, and Day Three Hundred and Sixty Five without porn, booze, drugs or pot. I’ve never felt better on one hand and I’ve never been more powerless in the other. I suppose if I hold both hands out, and can find myself someplace in the middle, that middle is a good place to be. Right where I should be.
Thank you all for your support and love. I could not have done any of this without you.