Saturday, September 01, 2007

1000 Days and Counting

As of 12:00 am this morning, it's been three years since my last cigarette.

When I mentioned it to JP this morning, she asked if I still get cravings. I do, especially when one of the neighbors is smoking outside (we have smokers on both sides and directly across the street), but they're nowhere near as strong as when I first quit. I think, more than anything, that today's cravings are related more to emotional memories of smoking, as opposed to actual physical benefits.

Every so often, JP asks me (in all seriousness) if I've had a cigarette recently. She always asks nicely, as if to suggest that it's fine if I have had one, but it surprises me each time. Perhaps there's some behavior I'm modeling in those moments that reminds her of my smoking behavior.

For a time, I had very vivid dreams of smoking. I could smell and taste the smoke and feel it in my lungs. I would wake, afraid and ashamed that I had relapsed, only to realize, grateful with shame and relief, that it was only a dream.

It's kind of funny, really, being a "former" smoker. People have this brief reaction when you explain it to them. I recently visited my doctor's office for a check-up and the intake nurse (who was new) was running through the standard list of pre-visit interview questions. She asked if I was a smoker and I said, "No." She then asked if I'd quit or if I'd never smoked. When I said I'd quit, a strange expression flitted across her face, like a frisson of distaste. She squelched it rather quickly, but I found myself saying, rather defensively, that at least I'd managed to quit.

Quitting smoking was the third hardest thing I've ever done. But I am proud of the fact that I managed to do it and that, in the last three years, I've had zero relapses. Temptations? Yes. Cravings? Oh my, yes! Close-calls? Very. But relapses? No.

I'm not sure if I really have a point to make in this post. I guess that with this "anniversary" and B's recent release and near-immediate disappearance, I've been thinking about the dynamics of addition, withdrawal, and recovery.

It's a hard thing to go through and it's a hard thing to watch someone else go through. My heart goes out to JP and to anyone else living with similar stuff.

Photo credit: Me...and, no, it has absolutely nothing to do with smoking. It's our Mr. Tramp, showing his usual look of sleepy contentment.