Five More Minutes. That was my mantra when I quit smoking 8 months ago. I can make it five more minutes without a cigarette and counting down five minutes at a time I became a non-smoker after 30 years of being a slave to that addiction. I had quit and failed at least 5 times throughout my smoking life and in all honestly I never thought I would have the discipline or commitment to succeed.
I had a stop date in mind, but life kept happening and I kept extending that date to next week, and the next, and the next…
Life kept happening though and it became clear I would never stop smoking. This caused major conflict in my relationship, yet I could not give up my cigarettes. My cigarettes were not just cigarettes, they were a companion to me during times of deep and sorrowful loneliness, a comfort to ease the constant anxiety, an anxiety so great that it dictated my life, crippled my relationships, and crushed my soul.
During a phone interview in April 2015 I was walking around my house answering and asking questions and all of a sudden I was breathless. Walking and talking were not something I could sustain for 20 minutes without losing my breath. In that moment I realized that these companions, these aides, would kill me and I would drown in my own fluids. Not the way I wanted to die. And not the way I wanted to live. So I quit. On April 27th I quit cold turkey, no patch, no gum, no vapor pen, nothing. I wanted the nicotine out of my system and knew my fight would be psychological. I did it. I did what I never thought I would be able to do and became a non-smoker.
On this new day of this new year I find I have turned to my trusty mantra to get me through another addiction; the end to my relationship.
Past me would be in a ball on the floor howling like a wild animal – I would break, scream, yell, hit, hurt. Ugliness, plain ugliness. But it was all I knew and all I could do to run from that emptiness crawling and scratching its way through my mind. I just didn’t want to feel.
I don’t want to feel now. Every second I am stopping myself from ripping up photos, setting fire to the bed, breaking the memories of us until they turn to dust and blow away. I can make it five more minutes through this hurt. I can make it five more minutes through this loss. I can and will exhibit self-control, composure, and acceptance. I can. I must.
I smoked today. It did not make me feel better or comfort me in any way. Instead, I feel guilt and disappointment in myself that I would throw away all my hard work and injure myself over a man that isn’t worth it. Now I have to remember that returning to him would be like returning to smoking, a false sense of comfort.
We love our poisons. They do NOT love us back. The next five minutes will eventually lead to a new life and I know without doubt that I will look back someday and wonder how I ever felt despair over losing a man that I believed was the antidote but is in fact poison.