Another smoker risks pain and suffering to be done with the inconvenience, expense and stigma of his identity
Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief Ω
I said I wasn’t going to write this column.
I’m serious. It was actually suggested to me a couple of weeks ago, but I said, “It’s already been so overdone. I don’t need to add my own story.”
I was thinking the other day, however, that most of the stories you hear about this aren’t like mine. Hell, nobody’s got the same story as anyone else in regards to any topic, so how would quitting smoking be any different?
So I’ll share it with you this week. I don’t have much room, so it won’t take long, but here are my thoughts on it…
Is it weird that it makes me a bit sad to be quitting smoking? Is it wrong for me to want to hang on to some nostalgic aspect of what being “a smoker” meant to me all this time?
Well, if you think so, I ask you this: Have you ever given up on something that was intrinsic part of your identity for almost two decades?
This is what I’m doing.
If you play guitar, or paint, or play a sport, or garden, or have any other aspect of your life that you’ve done “for as long as I can remember,” or that you identify as being “just a part of who I am,” then picture suddenly NOT doing that thing anymore.
Oh, I know it’s not exactly the same, because what I’m giving up is terrible for me, and it’s expensive, and it’s pretty gross. But that doesn’t make it any less a part of who I am and how I identify myself.
In fact, I’d argue that it’s MORE a part of me than your thing is of you.
You see, my thing literally has a physiological emotional hold over me. It’s not just a metaphorical “part of me” like the fact that I play guitar or enjoy golfing.
According to Health Canada (and I can vouch for this personally), “Nicotine causes chemical or biological changes in the brain. This effect is called psychoactive and although it is less dramatic than heroin or cocaine, the strength of the addiction is just as powerful.”
So, while I’m giving up something that I’ve associated as being an intrinsic part of my being for the past 18 years (that’s right), the process for giving it up causes me physical and emotional distress on a chemical level within my physiology.
I’m likely to become depressed, anxious, irritable, nauseous, and hungry — all at the same time.
I might also become sweaty, have random debilitating headaches, insomnia (like I’d even notice a change, there) and intestinal cramping.
This sounds awesome, right?
You see, since I started smoking there has been a steady, inexorable march within society to demonize smokers and force us to the fringes. We didn’t used to be outsiders to be shunned and pushed into out of the way corners.
I’m done with that.
I don’t want to be the one who makes the driver pull over at the rest area while on road trips so I can get my fix, or makes people pause a movie so I can go outside for a few minutes.
I don’t want to spend $400 per month to make myself smell bad and shorten my lifespan.
I want to see my son graduate, and I want to be able to breathe on my own while I’m watching it happen.
So I’ll put up with these physical and emotional difficulties, and I’ll reassess what it is to be me, since “I’m a smoker,” isn’t something that will reflect me anymore.
And all you had to put up with was one rambling diatribe from a sweaty, anxious, irritable and intestinally uncomfortable newspaper editor.