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Quitting smoking is still hard after 3 months; nightmare

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

I quit smoking a bit over 3 months ago. It’s been very difficult, but it got a little easier after a month and a half or two months. However, the past couple of weeks, it’s been getting harder again. I’m not really sure why, but I think it’s mostly stress-related. Stress about my immense debt due to student loans that only paid for two years at Northwestern — which in some cases I’ve forgotten about and never contacted to make a single payment until it’s been handed over to a collection agency.

Then there’s stress related to missing my grandparents; this holiday season is particularly hard because it’s the first one without either one of them, and the first one after I moved back to my hometown. I wish I’d moved back sooner, or they’d held on a little longer. I really could’ve used a year or two of seeing them weekly or more often. I’m also not good at dealing with grief; I deal with it for a while, set it aside in my mind, and wait for it to come up again (it always does). I doubt it’s the best way, but it’s the only thing I know how to do. Of course, there are other stresses, too, some other family-related stress and work stress.

Not only that, my main coping mechanism — riding my bike — has become damn near impossible lately due to the weather. I need to get out and do some road rides, because the trails aren’t in good shape right now, and I miss that outlet. I miss the exercise and the complete focus on what I’m doing. I miss the way the rest of the world seems to slip away, out of mind, leaving me feeling peaceful — even if only for a couple of hours. I miss the feeling of freedom I feel when the bike moves naturally beneath me and I float over the terrain and obstacles and around turns.

Last weekend, I cheated and smoked a cigarette. It tasted absolutely disgusting — but in all honesty, it felt great. I was extremely upset, and it was the only thing that could calm me down. I’m not making excuses, just being honest. I still shouldn’t have smoked that cigarette, and I wish that I hadn’t, but damn, it felt good.

Of course, the flipside of that is that not smoking has gotten harder since then. I crave cigarettes more often, and think about giving up, even though I won’t let myself do that. I can’t. The biggest reason not to give up is that I’d have to go through this all over again, and I just don’t know if I could do that.

I had a nightmare last night. I dreamt that I was at a summer camp, or something similar. There was a natural disaster, I don’t remember what, maybe a fire or a tornado. Most people got out safely. I was trying to help this girl in a wheelchair get to safety, but I couldn’t carry her. I felt like I should have been able to, she wasn’t terribly big, but I guess I was just too weak. Later on, they found her body, clutching a pair of origami cranes like I used to make as a kid. I’d make them as two cranes, joined together at the wing — hers was just like this. At the funeral, one of the other people there said “They found her with this,” and I explained, “I gave it to her. I wanted her to feel comfort as she took her last breath.” I placed it in her coffin, and it was over.

4 Responses to “Quitting smoking is still hard after 3 months; nightmare”

  1. Sarah Says:

    1. Don’t give up, handsome. You’re doing great. Doing great doesn’t mean it’s easy. Hang in there.

    2. I’m not good at dream interpretation, but I think both of your grandparents felt comfort. Your grandma was with her husband, and your grandpa was about to be reunited with his wife. That doesn’t make you miss them any less or make the holidays without them any easier, but they’re up in heaven, together all origami-wing style.

    3. You definitely need to bike it up soon. You definitely should on Saturday when I’m all cookie partying with your mom. 🙂

  2. furiousball Says:

    I quit six years ago and yes, it is hard. I quit because my wife was pregnant and couldn’t stand the smell of it. I found something that would make biking easier in winter.

  3. Marty Says:

    Those types of dreams suck because then they hang on you all day … And I’m with Sarah, you need to grab that bike and ride through some puddles when the need for a cigarette hits.

  4. Bud Buckley Says:

    I quite many many years ago. It wasn’t that hard for some reason. But I’m totally sympathetic to what you’re going through. None of the stressful stuff will be fixed by smoking, is the way I’d have to look at it if I were in your spot. When the weather is bad, I take my iPod to the Y and get on every cardio machine they have.

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