In The Realm Of Nicotine

I thought I’d like to write something about cigarettes, leaving them, sneaking back to them, then struggling to leave them again.

A “quit coach” mentioned to me that I might want to journal what I’ve been up to, in the realm of nicotine. So...

Three days ago, I got this craving to buy and smoke cigarettes on the sly. That was the main attraction, the sneakiness of it all, knowing very well what the dangers are, and the consequences, the reactions from people if they found out that I was back on cigs—— again.

I’m interested in what motivated me, and how that motivation got to be like a weighty sin, in the course of three days.

There’s nothing anyone can say to me or anyone else, anymore, that we haven’t heard, about the deadly dangers of tobacco. For my part, I’ve heard it all, many times, maybe too many times.

I was saying to my quit coach, that danger can attract as well as deter. And I was attracted. It reminded me of what we tell kids, to keep them from touching things. Our words can become just words, and the kid wants to know *why*, and he/she wants that information first-hand. As in, why it’s important not to touch the stove burner when it gets red, why it’s important not to stick a darning needle into an electrical outlet, why it’s good not to lick a fire escape with your tongue in the winter. Etc.

Just on its own, nicotine is a sweet talker when you’ve been away from cigarettes for a long time. But in my case, there was (and is) plenty of nicotine gum for me to chew if I thought I needed a hit. And normally, I want the gum twice or maybe three times in a day. And, not the whole piece either, just a part of it, maybe one quarter of the chicklet form that it comes in. Also, I started the gum at 4mg, later I took myself down to 2mg. I did that on my own, no one told me to cut back.

Who knows, in time, it could have gotten to the point where I might have forgotten about nicotine entirely, if I’d kept to this kind of reduction schedule, even though it’s not actually a *schedule*, rather it’s just how things turned out over the last three years or so.

That’s where I was, these little bits of nicotine gum, a few times a day, and getting fewer.

But I’ve had down issues this winter. I had a serious falling-out with one of my siblings, over religion mostly. I’m an atheist, they are “born again”. Underneath tho, it was a sibling thing, and I was mad at them, and wanted to hit them over the head with words, because they thought they had the scoop on love and truth——— yet they loved their Christian romance novels. They probably still do. I don’t think there is any truth in those crappy books, and very little in the way of “love”. To me, a Christian romance novel is like 2 fairytales in 1. Two fictions. And my sibling had been indulging in both, for many years. Yet here they were, outraged at my book recommendation, and telling ME about THE TRUTH! :<

The book I told them about, is called Bible Stories For Adults. Instead of reading it, my sibling read a negative review, and was outraged at me. She wanted to know who could have got me interested in such an awful thing as that book— even though she never read the book, just the review.

I let her have it, with everything I had built up against her over the years.

The TLDR, is that a door was closed, and it looks like neither of us will talk to the other again. I certainly won’t go back on any opinions I expressed. It’s just that when you close a door, you are now alone with that closed door, along with your pride. I understand very well, what I lost when we had that fight in text form. I had my opinions, and the certainty that I was right, yet there was now one less person in my life. Still is, and will be for I don’t know how long. They have *their* certainties, too.

^^ That happened just after the new year. Another major bad event was on new year’s eve. I was hired to play guitar at a restaurant. I got upset over the noise, over where they had placed me, over what one of the proprietors said to me, when I asked for something.

I won’t detail that too much, except to say that I was offended because I wasn’t treated in the (royal) way that I expected, being the guitar player, it being a nice restaurant, and it being new year’s eve. I got myself mad and I packed my stuff up and called a cab for home.

Here again, I had closed a door, in a way that nearly guaranteed that I would never play for this restaurant again.

And it was a good gig— I had played for them before, on Valentine’s Days past e.g., but not this year, maybe not ever again. They *did* ask me, through a friend, if I would play for VDay, in spite of what happened on new year’s eve. I told the friend to tell them no.

I did my righteous stage exit, on them, but it cost me a lot, more than any money I might have made, had I stuck around for the whole evening.

I was now poorer, inside, and I felt it. But pride wouldn’t and won’t let me say “I’m less without you... please have me back in your life” I fear, if I said things like that, to my sibling, to the people at the restaurant, they would take it as a cue to condemn me and ball me out, in a way that I would totally dread. In other words, I feared they would use the same weapons on me that I used on them.

So that’s where I was when I got the idea (again) to take a cab at night and sneak into a grocery store and buy a pack of king-sized smokes, like I were some underaged criminal.

Those first puffs were sweet, made all the sweeter for being so wrong and dangerous and dark and underhanded.

It was that very wrong-ness tho, that started to weigh on me after three days. I felt dirty and sneaky, and no longer in a good way either.

I phoned a smokers’ help line. I knew I had to toss the cigs, but I needed a non-judgemental witness. I needed to be accountable, to keep my word. Alone, I’m sure I would have done nothing, and kept smoking and feeling dirty, until the landlord found out, and me and my cigs would be evicted.

This is a no-smoking building. Not even in your own apartment, are you allowed to smoke. There again, was the attraction, the high from the danger of being caught.

I would go into a back room, open a window, turn on a fan, have a few puffs, spray out the room, close the door, wash my hands and face, brush my teeth, and otherwise tidy up the scene of the crime. That was the cycle.

I couldn’t go on like that. Things were already bad enough, for other reasons, some of which I already mentioned here.

There is no closure. Life isn’t like that. No movie here. No noval. No ending credits. I can’t even say that I won’t grab a cab tonight, and hit up a 711 for some smokes. I just don’t know. Making vows only seems to make me want to break them, first chance I get.

Before I stop writing, I need to say this to non-smokers, re. how they treat smokers. I see people in the cold, the freezing cold, smoking. They have no warm place to go. And to me, that is inhuman. There is a vendictive kind of moralizing going on, when non-smokers, and born-again non-smokers take up against people who are still puffing. There’s no kindness, no compassion, no humanity. People seem to find any old moral perch from which to look down on the lives and the doings of others. “Coz everybody’s gotta have somebody to look down on” — Chris Christopherson.

What I mean, is that mostly, people use mean-ness to try to get other people away from bad habits. In this case, it’s smoking. There are too many cry bullies, too many correctness nazis around. In this thing I call the realm of nicotine, there isn’t a lot of mercy, mostly condemnation, as if that could reform people.

Why does it take an atheist like me, to say ‘be kind’, ‘help people’, ‘be human’, ‘warm up’, ‘have compassion’ ? As with most other questions, I don’t know.

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