In the 5 years since my last attempt, I discovered a need to quit drinking. There again I made numerous attempts to curb it and one serious attempt to stop, to no avail. I finally admitted I had an addiction and was ill-equipped (knowledge, power etc.) to take it on successfully without help. So on March 23, 2004, I swallowed real hard (felt at the time like the last ounce of pride I had) and went to AA once a week for about 6 months and found those lost (misplaced) pieces of the person I had always thought I was...the one who had gotten lost in a fog of alcohol and cigarette smoke.
Confronted with the prospect of never taking another drink I was petrified, scared to death. Never in my adult life had I socialized without my trusty sidekicks, alcohol and cigarettes. Conventional wisdom said get rid of all the booze in the house, pour it out, but I rationalized...
- "The store ain’t that much further than the fridge and if I can drive by the liquor store, or push the grocery cart past the beer cooler, then by God, I can open my own refrigerator without extracting a beer...if I’m going to be whole again someday…I have to be able to do this!"
Was it hard? Were there times I wanted to scream and cave in, make the pain go away? Were there times I thought of myself as a complete failure, failed my wife, our three beautiful daughters and our increasing number of grandchildren? Only those times when I was by myself, with someone, or asleep.
All this time as I lit each successive cigarette I would tell myself,
- "You know you have to quit these nasty things, you know you don’t enjoy them, you know they are killing you, you know they are the reason you have trouble breathing and an increasing difficulty getting over a bad cold without antibiotics. You lie down at night and have trouble breathing...the Dr. told you 5 years ago you had the beginnings of emphysema. How bad is it now? How bad does it have to get?"
By Friday September 1st, the Saint who is my wife had to deliver me to the ER because I could hardly breathe. Four hours later, fresh off the breathing treatment, chest x-ray, blood work, and armed with six days smobriety, she’s driving me home and we’re having "that talk" that a couple married 37 years can have...the one where you are just reaffirming the conversation each has already had silently to themselves and the words need not even be spoken. It’s just comforting to hear you’re both on the same page and something that has been a bone of contention for a long time is finally put to rest!
It was pretty easy staying smober for the next few days, until I started feeling better and the mental struggle began overwhelming me again. I would look at the almost full pack of Marlboro’s sitting on the mantle untouched since 9:00 am August 25th, and the 9 packs left in the carton in the cupboard in the garage where I did most of my smoking while I worked. I could have ONE to get me through this tough spot, there’s a big enough supply that no one will notice. Wait a minute, is there an echo in here? Haven’t I heard this song before? You bet I have and I know it well. What about the next tough spot...and the next...and the next? How many last cigarettes do you have left...190 some? What then, go buy another 20? Or another 200 to keep the cost down?
Sooo, you’ve heard the song before, and you know how it ends...unless...you educate yourself like you did before and don’t try to shoulder the burden yourself. Ask Him for help and find out all you can about this addiction. And that, my new found friends, is how you came to be reading my story!
If You Only Knew...what a huge help each and every one of you on this forum have been to me. I’ve spent countless hours here, and not one minute wasted. It’s as though I’ve gotten to know most of you, so thought it was time to let you know you have yet another admirer, and yes, a fellow traveler. My health is improving, though not as fast as it was even 5 short years ago…seems the penalty increases exponentially the longer you stay in the fog!
If You Only Knew...how grateful I am for this web site, the forum and the wonderful people who make it so effective.
If You only Knew...how many times I wanted to…should have, jumped in because I had something to offer that might have helped someone struggling as bad or perhaps even worse than I was. Maybe it was my way of protecting a state of vulnerability, regardless, here I am hoping someone may find a bit of strength or encouragement in what I write, as I found in what you all wrote when I was at my weakest...Thank you!
Larry's One Year Smoke-Free Milestone