Thursday, February 02, 2006

There's No Smoke Without Fire

I seem to be surrounded by a sudden flurry of friends and work colleagues that are giving up smoking. A move which I applaud wholeheartedly. I've seen a bunch of people who have tried to quit, some with success, and I've seen how hard it is.

I don't usually hassle people about their smoking, but I'm quite strongly anti-smoking. My late Dad was a chronic chain smoker all this life, and even a quadruple heart bypass, an aneurism and a collection of small strokes wasn't enough incentive for him to quit. He'd been smoking since he was about 13, so I guess it was like oxygen to him after all those years. Before the awareness of passive smoking I can remember being trapped in a smoke filled car wherever we went, and having ciggie smoke be a normal thing around the house. I can't really remember my Dad without a lit cigarette in his hand. It's no surprise that my sister and I have both had a history of chest problems, given the smoke we were exposed to as children. My oldest sister was raised by my non-smoking grandparents when she was small, as my mother was in hospital for a bunch of years with polio, scarlet fever and tuberculosis. So I guess she missed out on the effects of passive smoke when she was little and at her most vulnerable.

My Mum was a vehement anti-smoker, which made for a source of tension in the house. She always resented the cost of Dad's smokes, and before I was born we had some lean income years in England and she would sometimes have to cut her own food budget to be able to afford his smokes. A concept which just beggars belief. It's cruel irony that the cancer which finished her off was lung cancer, although given that it was a secondary cancer from her breast cancer primary it might not have been directly related to passive smoking. Both my sisters smoke, something which even as adults they tried to keep a secret from Mum as they knew how strongly she felt about it.

I don't have an addictive personality, jokes about my DVD 'habit' aside, so I have never formed an addiction to anything. I used to enjoy drinking socially on weekends, but one day just stopped. I tried smoking to be cool when I was about 13, probably smoking about 10 cigarettes in total, and hated it. I resisted drugs of any sorts in my 20s, had a few mild experiments in my 30s but could count them in total on both hands. So I understand the physical aspects of addiction, and I think I have a fair idea about the mental aspects, but the mind set isn't something I can directly relate to. I struggle to comprehend how someone can do something that is that physically bad for them, and especially persevering through the early stages of smoking when it is pretty gross. I guess most smokers start young, when the peer pressure (or whatever motivation for it) is strong enough to overcome the discomfort.

So, those who decide to give it up, I salute you! Any smokers (or ex smokers) care to weigh in on this?


Bodhi said...

Yes, I have an addictive personality. Yes, I used to be a three-pack a day virtual chain-smoker for many years. Here is a rundown on things I have given up thus far:

July 1988 Drugs
April 1990 Marijuana
April 1990 Cigarettes *1
July 1992 Alcohol
Feb 2001 Coffee
April 2002 Meat *2

*1 OK, so if I am perfectly honest I still smoke a few cigars a year on special occasions. But in any given year I could count 'em on less than one hand. I've have never had a single puff of a ciggie since though.

*2 Not as if I was addicted to meat, but gave it up for ethical and health reasons anyways.

Why did I do any 'addiction' when I knew it would harm me? Because that was something I was perfectly willing to sacrifice in order to get what I wanted ...desired ... needed ... craved... just give it to me NOW ...

Umm, OK. Maybe you get the idea.

Drugs gave me aneasthetic. Marijuana altered my mental states. Cigarettes soothed and calmed me. Alcohol gave me oblivion. Coffee gave me energy. And meat just tasted kinda yummy.

Aside from meat, the easiest thing I found to give up was cigarette's. I know, I know, it suprised the hell outta me too. Most things I have given up still show the claw marks from where my last desperate attempt to cling onto them still remains to this day.

Booze, my drug of choice, was overall the hardest. Both from a physical and a psycholigical point of view.

Although, purely on the physical level only, coffee was suprisingly horrendous. Thats what you get for drinking 15-20 cups a day I suppose. And before you ask, I used to sleep like a baby.

The Other Andrew said...

Babies usually don't sleep that well, when you think about it. Don't they spend much of their time waking up screaming?

Or is that what you meant?


Bodhi said...

I did my fair share of waking up and screaming, but it was never over the coffee. It was usually for other reasons like mental anguish, middle of the night alcohol cravings, night sweats, loss of bodily function or sheer inner rage (I've put my fist through a few walls too).

Too much information?

The Other Andrew said...

Umm, do you think you might want to move out?

(Of course I really am joking, it's good that you have put all that behind you. You have right?...)


Bodhi said...

Absolutely, sweetie darling sweetie. Those days are long, long gone. Good indeed.