Friday, 13 June 2008

Yes, I Still Smoke!


Since Richard made it clear in yesterday’s comments that I still smoke and how he feels about it, I thought I’d take this opportunity to give you all an update on my progress, or lack thereof.

I hate smoking. I really do. Sometimes I lay in bed despising myself for picking up the habit again and allowing myself to become addicted. Sometimes I cry with frustration and decide that I’m not going to light another cigarette but still I smoke.

I’m finding it damned difficult to quit. I suppose, as Richard rightly pointed out after discovering that I was still smoking - that I’m lacking in the necessary will power. It’s strange, because in some areas I have tons of willpower and refuse to let things beat me, but when it comes to smoking, I’ve never found it easy to quit. I tried enough times before I became ill but was never successful and if I’m honest, the only reason I quit after the damned things almost killed me, was because I spent the first month of my hospital stay tied to several drips with a rather large, open hole in my stomach. Quite simply, I couldn’t smoke! Once I became mobile again, enough time had passed for nicotine desire to have passed.

Now? I dunno. I called the NHS helpline and they suggested I ask my doctor to refer me to a stop smoking support group but my daughter made the same request over a year ago, was told there’s a long waiting list and has still heard nothing. It was also suggested I use nicotine patches, gum or one of the other products available but I’m a bit wary of those. I mean, you’ve still got to wean yourself off nicotine at the end of it all. Perhaps they would work though. I’ll speak to my doctor about it when I see him next.

What they also said is that very few people can ‘just give up’. For most it’s a long, slow process of cutting down whilst avoiding situations where we’d normally smoke. “You need patience“, they said. It’s difficult to be patient when others aren’t patient with me, though.

I was doing quite well when it comes to cutting down, taking just a few drags on a cigarette before putting it out. One could last me all afternoon. But it wasn’t good enough. I was still criticised and that just added to the frustration. I needed support, not scorn.

Eventually I went into hospital for the second time in a month and cut down to one, sometimes two, a day. It was at the point that the pretence began. I had enough to deal with, what with the weakness (I weighed just 47 kilos at that point whereas my ideal weight is 75 kilos), the thirst (for 2 weeks I was limited as to how much I was allowed to drink but was experiencing extreme thirst), the tests, nursing staff who were making too many mistakes because I was on the wrong ward and the rest (not to mention the bloody food!) and the last thing I wanted was Richard’s criticism for not having given up completely when I had the perfect opportunity. Also, because he’d been good enough to drop everything and come to Crewe in order to care for me when my health took a downward dive, I didn’t want to disappoint him.

When I came home, the pretence continued but I also started smoking more. In retrospect it would have been better if I’d come clean but once I’d started lying I had no idea how to admit it. Eventually, the truth came out.

No doubt he’d suspected it for quite a while but the proof surfaced on Tuesday. A huge argument followed, I told him to go back to his own house (he lives permanently in Crewe now), and we haven’t spoken since.

Lying isn’t good. It never is. One lie leads to another and before you know it, you’ve weaved yourself a very sticky web that’s difficult to get out of. I knew if I came clean he’d be mad for being lied to (understandably) and after a past relationship that was very bad (criticism was usually the forerunner to a couple of days of hell), I’m very wary of situations where Richard might criticise me, which isn't entirely fair because I criticise him too (actually, living with me can be hell on earth - I'm really not 'couple' material). I react badly and we end up shouting at each other, something I’ve had enough of - I can’t stand the stress of those kind of rows anymore so I try to avoid them as much as possible. I just want peace and quiet in my life. In this case that meant lying.

Things aren’t always as black and white as they sometimes appear. Giving up smoking isn’t always a matter or ‘do it’ or ‘don’t’. I do want to give up - my health is bad enough already and I know I’m just making it worse, but so far it hasn’t happened.

I know I shouldn’t have lied, but it seemed like the best thing for everybody at the time.

Sharon J xx


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Richard said...

First off, I apologise for seeming to go over the top yesterday. I was upset not really by the smoking but by the fact that you'd openly denied it when the evidence was all around you and then in the row, you did the smoker's thing and came up with a silly see-through excuse. Made me very sad because I care for you and seeing you hurt yourself more when you're already suffering just doesn't make sense. Man's logic.

Some of that timeline is a bit squiffy you know. I didn't know that either of you smoked until the day before I returned to Crewe on Good Friday.

There's a lot of guff about it being difficult to give put out by the patch companies. I'm not the only one who found it easy without patches so why not look to our examples instead of the negative ones? Choose to believe it's easy rather than difficult; ban LM from smoking in the house all the time, not just when I'm there, as it will help her as well.

In everything else you've done you've come up with a structured plan of attack except smoking. What are you scared of? You managed 4 years without one and there's even less pressure about to smoke now than there used to be so it should be easier now. Use all that positive thinking stuff you've written about and practised in the past. It's just a habit that in your case you're hanging on to by the flimsiest of threads.

Above all, don't wait for a magic bullet because there isn't one. You CAN do it.

WebSmith said...

Stress will increase your smoking and cause other health problems that may kill you before the nicotine. Relax and enjoy your cigarette. You may be able to make a better decision.

Sharon J said...

Thank you for the apology, Richard.

First of all, I've already tried convincing myself that giving up will be easy but it hasn't been. And to be perfectly honest, I think the fuss you made about it actually made it worse. I know that sounds as if I'm blaming my lack of will power on you but when you were constantly telling me that it should be easy while I was finding it anything but, it just made me feel hopeless and that DIDN'T help the situation. As you claim to know me so incredibly well, I'm surprised you didn't use the one thing that may well have worked. If you'd said you didn't believe I could do it, I'd have been "Oh yeah? You just watch me, mate" and gone flat out to prove you wrong. Too late for that tactic now though.

As for a structured plan of attack, I've never really had the chance. While I was very ill I was hardly able to think straight, then you came back (for which I'm grateful on many levels) and stayed here for a few weeks, everything became cloak and dagger. Even when you knew I was smoking, I still felt I had to sneak a few drags so that you wouldn't see me (you made it clean it would hurt you to see me smoke and I did my level best to respect that).

Nicotine is a very strong drug. You and certain others may well have found it easy to give up but that DOES NOT mean that the whole smoking world will find it equally as easy. Apparently nicotine is as addictive as heroine and cocaine. Are you saying that anybody addicted to those substances should find it easy to quit. Some do, most don't.

There's some information here about supporting those who are trying to quit. It might be worth looking at.

I will quit, Richard. But it will need to be on MY terms and in MY own time.


Wordsmith. My smoking did actually increase while I was trying to keep it hidden, which I found strange. Maybe it was the stress causing it. I know I need a clear head and to feel less guilt if I'm going to manage to quit so thanks for the support.

Pat said...

I've been trying to kick the fags for years and am still on 20 a day so am also one of them who doesn't find it easy.

All I can say is good luck and don't beat yourself up because that won't make anything any better. You'll just end up getting depressed that way.

Sharon J said...

Depression's the last thing I need right now, Pat, so I refuse to beat myself up about it. I know I have a problem but only I can sort it out and, as I said to Richard, that has to be in my own time and done my way.

Hopefully you'll also be successful one day. I have a friend who uses patches and has stayed off them for quite some time now. Another friend has just given up 'freestyle', so to speak. I think it's a matter of whatever works for the individual.


Richard. Just one more thing. I've given the matter some thought and am going to try patches as I think a lot of the problem is the habit as well as the nicotine addiction. I was addicted to morphine patches but managed to get off them (even though that was pretty hellish) so if I can break the smoking habit, I'll probably stand a better chance of getting off the nicotine.

R said...

I've given up lots of times for other people and gone back within a month or so and lied about it, this time I have gone for hypnotherapy off my own bat and so far after 2 weeks although it is utter hell at times I feel like I can manage it this time - but that is because it is on my own terms. When YOU make the choice for your own reasons it will more likely be successful for you

Lets face it - it doesn't matter how much people talk about the health reasons etc why we should stop, but smokers have an amazing knack of blanking such realities

Of course knowingmeina couple of months I'llbe commentingback here with a very hangdog expression! Still, as I said before all we can do is not quit quitting!