Mowing down psychological tall grass and tangled weeds; clearing the field and planting new seeds. Thoughts lifted from my angry days, when someone asks my opinion and then denies it. If I tell you my favorite color, who else would have the "right" answer? Challenge it, oppose if you must, but to correct it is to erase my existence. If we all had the same thoughts, there would be no need for democracy. Cogito Ergo Sum.


Smoking is at the heart of my angst; and I've never smoked

It's just that so much of the misery I have seen in my life has come at the end of a lit cigarette.

Here's something I thought of when I woke up this morning and looked at the floor right by the side of my bed: I was going to post this in a "give up smoking" thread in another blog, but some of the people there don't like my negative-reinforcement style and it can get pretty ugly. So I did not post it.

But hey - this is my blog - and I'm not going to kick myself out. So here it goes.

My dad smoked from the time he was 12 until he died from "natural causes" at 69. He drank himself to death, while living in agony and misery for his last eight years after they cut out most of his jaw, tongue, and throat out in a surgery so barbaric that we called Saddam Hussein a war criminal when he ordered similar things to be done to his people. My dad had to make the co-payments on the surgery to the guy who cut his tongue out.

After he lost his tongue, he drank, but through a feeding tube in his stomach, since without a tongue he could never swallow again. (even the mucus from the smoking, which is another story).

He drank a lot. Like a BAC of 0.37 measured 24 hours after he could have had his last drink. We measured that in the hospital after his feeding tube had fallen out, after the alcohol rotted out the rubber tubing.

So lets just say he spent a lot of his last years in a drunken state of stupor that was so amazing, it's still hard to grasp. But he still smoked four packs per day, even when he had to hold his nose closed with his fingers to take a drag. (think about what you do with your tongue when you used to smoke)

I awoke this morning to see one of the familiar "landmarks" in my house, the house where he was born, and returned when he retired, and where he died; reminders that I see every day: a cigarette burn mark in the hardwood floor that's over one inch long . When he was in a drunken stupor - not really passed out, but far from coherent - he'd be conscious just long enough to get a cigarette lit and in his mouth, then he would pass out again with it still burning.

Many a night when I lived here with him during his last two years, I wondered if the house would burn down around me when I went to bed. There are seven burn marks in this room alone, not counting the three I found on the mattress when I changed the sheets, and there's more downstairs in and around his favorite recliner.

I'm a non smoker. Both my parents smoked when I was a kid growing up and I always hated it. But I was basically a smoker myself, as I remembered never being able to run more than the first 40 yards of the 440 yard races at school. They never called it asthma or COPD then, I just thought all the other kids were faster because I wasn't a very good athelete.

So this burn mark is here every morning to greet me, even though my dad will have been dead five years on November 15.

I want all of you to quit. Maybe I tell these stories to gain sympathy, but maybe I care about total strangers and I would not want a total stranger to suffer in the ways I watched my dad live in misery without his tongue, and all the subsequent agony that came with it as he medicated himself with alcohol.

I want to leave you with this:

I read in your posts about the sense of community you find here in your quest to quit. That means everything -- I know because I'm seeking a community when I come to Kos too. We all want to belong in a certain frame of mind. Some of us belong to groups out of spite or frustration that we can't belong to some other group that did not invite us or kicked us out.

And I wondered - even though the nicotine is addictive - once the "smoke nazis" started telling smokers where they could no longer light up and smokers were forced outside in the cold, and the rain, or forbidden to smoke at all - did you find yourself bonding with fellow smokers precisely because you felt community outside the community had excluded you?

I say that as a guy who has his own antisocial reasons for always avoiding the "normal" groups because there was always a reason I did not belong.

I don't want to say that smoking causes you to be antisocial; far from it. I just wondered if the bond you felt in a community that was being critized by the larger community was in itself a social bond that you found positive, just as you find the positive reinforcement here now that you're trying to quit.

it's just a thought.

And believe me, please, beleive me, If there is anyone on earth who may not even know you from the Pope but still wants you to quit because I just would not wish any of what I saw even on anyone, I send you all the support and encouragement I can.

Any way you can, I hope you quit.

Best wishes to you all. I salute you.


MWG said...

I'm so glad to see that you're blogging again!

Since your June posting, I've checked back regularly in the hopes that I'd see some more from you. Today I was rewarded.

Your anti-smoking posts are the strongest part of my front-line assault on my 18-yr old son's tobacco use. You have the ability to put into words what I would never be able to adequately express to him, and in a way that is much more direct and devoid of bullsh*t than what I could come up with.

Thank you!

MWG said...

snafubar, I tried going to your new blog, but I was denied because I was not invited.


amy grace said...

You're absolutely right, about the feeling of community with fellow ostracized smokers. It's a great icebreaker, when you're stuck out in the wind/rain/snow, huddled together to get a fix. Great way to meet people to whom you'd have no other obvious reason to say hello.

I turned 30 this year, and I hope to quit before New Years. I tried once this year and absolutely went bonkers (certifiably wackadoodle), and each failed attempt makes it harder to confront the next, but I am going to keep trying, every time I have the courage to try, until I've quit. Thanks for caring.

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