I haven’t been writing as much because I’ve been struggling with my nicotine addiction. All sorts of things happen and don’t happen when I try to quit.
Sometimes I’ll spout off something about quitting on social media or whatever but lately I’ve just been keeping my struggles to myself. Because unless somebody was a daily smoker for over 30 years, they don’t really get it. I know people are trying to help but move along. Sometimes we just need to vent.
And then vaping made my addiction even worse because I could do it anywhere at anytime. I would vape at Maggie’s school during her recitals and in team meetings at work, too. I would use my vapor in the dentist’s restroom before I went in to see them.
When I go into withdrawal my ears will ring. Ring to the point that I can hear them in the next room. My head will start to hurt. Like I have a vice slowly squeezing my temples. It’s not a sharp pain but dull and warm and oh so intense. And when it’s really bad I’ll start to get lightheaded. Like I’m going to fall over. Detox always makes my stomach bloated and gurgly regardless of which drug it is. My intestines will fill with witches brew and putrid toxins.
I’ve not been sleeping that great at night which makes it hard for me to concentrate throughout the day. Concentrate on writing or whatever. And then because I’m tired I drink more caffeine. In the early evening when I’m dragging both feet I’ll make a couple cups of coffee because I’m missing my old smoking friend. I’ll jump from one drug to another. Trade this addiction for that one. I didn’t realize I was even doing it at first with the coffees because when you’re a drug addict the addiction is sneaky and silent.
I’ve quit smoking probably 20 times and generally end up smoking again because the physical pain gets to be too much. And I know that if I smoke or vape or whatever all that pain goes away.
And then I stopped this morning and bought a pack cigarettes because the hellfire withdrawal had been kicking my ass for the better part of two days. I’ll do that every now and then, buy a pack, smoke one or two and then throw the unsmoked away.
I never tell anyone when I buy a pack of cigarettes because everybody is always disappointed. Because I’m the poster child for success or something.
It was snowing this morning. In the middle of April. And as I was standing outside the gas station smoking, a guy came up to me and asked for a cigarette. He had to be at least 20 years younger and wasn’t wearing a winter coat. He was missing half of his index and middle fingers on one hand. He had a plastic grocery sack full of things he hadn’t bought recently.
He seemed reluctant to ask me for a smoke but he still did because nicotine is a powerful bitch. I gave him three cigarettes and he was more than grateful. I could see the look of relief on his face. I treated him with dignity and respect because all people deserve that no matter where they are in life. No matter what really.
He reminded me of my 19 year old self when I lived in Cedar Rapids with one of my brothers. No job, no money, and desperately needing something to fill my soul. Standing in the morning snowfall regardless of the cold, feeding my addictions however I could.
Somehow I made it out of that era with all my fingers and toes attached. But I easily couldn’t have. Somehow I made it out of that life alive and now have my own house, a career, beautiful daughters, a gorgeous girlfriend, and all that.
Somehow I made it over the hump and to the place where I have a choice in life.
Driving away I wish I would’ve given him the whole pack. I wanted to tell him that he could make it out, too. Make it out of whatever place he was in. That life is bigger than where your next cigarette comes from.
But I didn’t think about any of that until I was driving away. Plus, I’m suspicious by default.
Anyways, never underestimate the impact you have on people, especially strangers.