As I sit here in defeat inhaling another puff I am overwhelmed at the power cigarettes have over me. In the last six years we have tried to quit at least a dozen times; our record is six months. The last few days were excellent for me physically. My nose was no longer stuffy and I could smell better. Not only flowers and scents but without the smell of old smoke clinging to me I smelt better. My mouth tasted great; clean and healthy. My lungs cleared up almost overnight and I could take a deep breath without coughing. Walking up the steps to enter the treehouse didn't leave me winded. Deep, expansive breaths soothed me. I was elated that a long awaited goal was no longer haunting me. I felt sure this was going to be it, smoke free for life. I had a lot more energy, almost felt like I was soaring. Plus, I felt wealthy because of the money we would be saving; not only on cigarettes but wine and coffee as well. I was on the road to becoming clean! Rethinking my dietary choices to include healthy options; foods that would heal my nicotine infused body, I ate with intention. For 28 years I have been a smoker. Nicotine permeates every cell of my body.
Like I'm making up for lost time I light another and instantly I feel calmer. My mind sharpens and I feel at ease, maybe I can even be creative today. The first 2 days, with a level 1 patch, I was able to deal with the strong cravings. I took deep breaths, walked on the beach, did yoga, drank a lot of water, took naps, I even got a massage. If it was too much I'd eat a nicotine lozenge that made me nauseous and gave me the hiccups. I told myself this was going to be difficult, expect it to be uncomfortable. The cravings are transient, they would come but they would go. I'm learning how to move differently in this world.
Dan and I are pretty good about arguing, we get along really well. When we do have arguments, they are passionate but resolved quickly. One of us apologizes; usually Dan because he is the peacekeeper and he'd rather be happy than right. No name calling, no personal attacks. This is how we are with each other on nicotine. Without, I am a psychotic, unstable bitch and Dan is mentally challenged. Our brains are dull, making it hard to form complete thoughts let alone sentences that make sense coming out of our mouths. Creativity is clunky, uninspired. I can barley type, my fingers not understanding what my brain is trying to tell it. We argue. Yelling at each other and snuggling deeper into our corners of the couch, we don't speak, won't even look at each other. Minor grievances so formidable they are not mendable.
Outside the treehouse an aura of negativity clings where the smoke used to and people feel it. I can allow for this with folks I don't know, I won't see them again. But friends, who don't smoke, who have no idea that every single minute can be a struggle with your sanity, sometimes forget. Without realizing it, they expect you to behave the same way you always have. It's mind over matter after all, you can do it! Just do___ or when you feel ___ do ___. All experts on how it can be done, much advice is given. Drinks make the situation worse as Dan and I abstain; fighting the temptation, our minds telling us to cave in. Pure delight would be to have a smoke and a glass of wine. No! We can do this!
More passionate arguments. More silence. More separation.
The fresh possibilities of a new day bring a recharged perspective as we head into our lives. I don't wear the patch because I am going to the farm and it will just sweat off; today is harvest. Besides, yesterday I didn't wear one because I went to the beach and then got a massage and I didn't cave. Four lozenges got me through the day. I can kick this thing! At the end of harvest, Jillian is justifiably upset with something I did. We talk it out, work it out, it's all good. Since it was uncharacteristic of me, we blame it on not smoking. The discussion has left a pool of adrenaline at either side of my neck. I don't like to make mistakes and I feel bad. It's fine, I pop a lozenge on the way home.
Mom and dad will be here Sunday. They want to go to Honolulu to see Pearl Harbor, a life long dream of dad's. I'm excited because I've never been. Dan has researched the flight options and relayed the information to them. We can leave at 6:30am and arrive back home at 10pm. A long day for my 80 year old parents. Plus, we don't want them to drive these island roads at night so we'd take them from the airport, to our house to get our car, all the way to their place in Princeville and then back home. Easily adding 2 hours of drive time and Dan has to work in the morning. They decide maybe we can leave Saturday, late morning and return Sunday afternoon, early evening.
Tonight I have a restaurant review at one of my favorite places in town. After harvest I come home and get cleaned up. I pop a lozenge after a light lunch and get to work preparing for the review. I research the restaurants website and write questions for the scheduled 5pm interview with the owner and chef. I casually ask Dan about the Honolulu plans and he tells me he has to work Saturday. I instantly redline. As it was he was only going to have two entire days off during my folks two week stay, now only one. I can't contain myself; psycho bitch takes over. We argue down the hill on our way to the ATM, even though we're not supposed to we want to leave tip money. He is angry and yells "I'm getting it from both ends" as he gets out of the car and slams the door saying he's not going. I sit there, tears streaming down my face. Another heartbreaking argument, I have a job to do (that I love at a place I love) and I feel like my folks trip is now compromised because his work is more important. Saturated in self pity I wonder if I can do this. Dan gets back into the car and we make our way to the restaurant. Totally pissed, I try to put on a happy face. The hostess isn't buying it and is almost rude to me. I can't blame her but I sit and stew anyway waiting for her to get around to telling the owners that I am here.
During the interview my anger fades as I settle into our conversation, my passion. Good food. Local food. Sharing information. The interview winds up and Dan snaps more shots while Gary, Jillian and Mieko show up. The charming outside dining and fresh coconut margaritas relax us. We enjoy each other, the light trade winds and the food. Each bite is reviewed as they give me great quotes I can use in the article. An hour in and full of food, the drinks make me crave a smoke and my anger resurfaces.
On the way home we cave.
This morning I had a panic attack, overcome with emotion my wind pipe closes up on me. Crying as Dan holds me I tell him I can't do it. There is so much on the line. Our marriage, relationships, work. My body relishes in the smoke free environment as my mind furiously rebels against it.