Thursday, February 10, 2011

Still Life

The news says the president has quit smoking. It's not easy and I congratulate anyone who achieves it. I did it myself once and it was so hard I haven't so much as taken a single puff since August 31st, 1991, because I never want to have to quit again.

I feel sorry for people who are addicted to cigarettes and I try not to be too hard on them. I remember feeling shame associated with smoking--you're sent outside to indulge in your habit. You can't smoke in civilized places and many people don't even smoke in their own homes.

To those who have never experienced addiction, the need is difficult to describe. The nearest I can come is to say it's like hunger. Your body tells you when you need food and if you don't get it, you crave it. The longer you go without food the stronger the craving gets.

The craving is the same with cigarettes.

The difference is, your body is lying to you.


J.J. in L.A. said...

I was lucky and met a man with emphysema when I was 10. He was 50 but looked 70, and on oxygen 24/7. I gotta tell you, being near him scared me so bad (that I'd end up like that) that I was never tempted to smoke.

Margaret said...

I applaud you for quitting. I remember when my mom quit. It was quite a struggle..

Petrea said...

Emphysema is an awful thing, J.J. "Lucky" you that you got to see it early.

I had help from Nicotine Anonymous, Margaret. It really helped to check in with a group of people who understood what I was going through.

Latino Heritage said...

Congrats to you for quitting and for not having gone back to smoking.
Both my parents began smoking when they were young and smoked until they were nearly 80. Then, following a car accident, they quit. That was very late in life but I guess it should offer hope to folks who feel it is impossible to stop if you've been smoking a long time.

Steven said...

You have slayed the nicotine dragon. Congrats to you. I quit a few years before you using hypnosis. It worked.

Petrea said...

It's not impossible, Roberta. You have to really want it, though. No one can do it for you.

I have a friend who's trying hypnosis now. I think the key is you need more than one treatment, right, Steven?

maria said...

i hear is tough a tough road. kudos to those who can do it and my thoughts are with those who struggle everyday to stop.

the photo is so beautiful Mz. P. I love the textures and colors. They are my favorite - I am an earthy kind of gal. This could be anywhere - Pasadena, Paris, Italy, Mexico. Bien fait!

TheChieftess said...

My mother started smoking at 14 and smoked daily until she died at age 89...she quit once...a few months before she died...I went to visit her and suggested we go outside so she could have her cigarette (our normal visit) she told my sister and I that she couldn't because she quit...she said it was the hardest thing she ever did....she thought about it all the time. I asked her when did she quit? "This morning!" I nearly choked and told my mom that at her age, if she wanted to continue smoking, there was no reason to quit, the damage was already done and if it gave her pleasure, go ahead and continue. She was relieved and went out on the patio and had her smoke.

I was the daughter who refused to empty ashtrays or wash them or get them their cigarettes...I tried for years to get them to dad did, twice! But my mom refused. Fortunately she only had a touch of emphysema. The doctor did think that it contributed to some of her dementia, but her dementia was not severe...all in all, she was quite lucky that she was as healthy as she was all of her life...she drank in moderation and smoked, but ate regular exercise other than working in the garden or cleaning the house. All I can say is Thank God I have healthy genes!!! (And I've never smoked a cigarette in my life!)

Petrea said...

Glad you like the photo, Maria. I'm fond of it, too. I took it outside Lovebirds Cafe on Colorado Blvd. Pasadena has its touches of Europe if you look for them.

It's a touching story, Chieftess. I'm glad you didn't take it up. I think it's hard for kids who grow up with parents who smoke.

Boz loves smokers, by the way. He's a rescue dog; I think he came from a loving home where people smoked.

Steven said...

Actually I only went through one session of hypnosis but the session was recorded on a cassette tape. I listened to the tape when the cravings were bad and it really helped. I never smoked again. Tobacco was invented by the devil.

pasadenapio said...

I quit in 1980 while on the road with my children from the Bay Area to Palm Springs to take a new job with Jones Agency (my late pal Jan Curran joined the agency at about the same time; we were senior account executives there).

About an hour outside of Palm Springs, I became inspired: new job, new community, new life -- I'm not going to be a smoker here.

My children could not have been happier.

It wasn't a horrible experience for me to give it up. The hardest moments (though I didn't given in) were in restaurants after a meal and at home in the evening.

But my heart sure does go out to those for whom it becomes a serious battle.

Trish said...

CONGRATS Petrea for staying quit! Am proud of you!

My mother smoked all but the first 14 years of her life. She "quit" hundreds of times, probably thousands of times. She just couldn't break the addiction and it is what killed her. She never got old enough for emphysema to set in. I too was the kid who wouldn't go get my mother's cigarettes for her. I knew it would kill her and in the end, I was the one who had to give the orders to turn off her life support machines.

I never needed to "take up" smoking, because I'd been surrounded by it forever. However, I have asthma and COPD because of mom's smoking. On days like today, where I've got shmutz running around in my lungs and I'm coughing (even tho I am not ill), I sometimes yell at mom---she's not here, she can't yell back. It may not serve any purpose but to help me continue to grieve.

L Barlow, AIA said...

My mother smoked like a chimney, too, and had her first stroke at age 50 and died at age 55, still scrounging smokes in spite of a total ban by my father, who never smoked. That stuff hooks you really bad, and back in the day all the moms smoked and had coffee in the morning (model's diet) and around the pool on summer afternoons. Suburbia circa the '50's...

Petrea said...

Amen, Steven. I mean, if I believed in the devil. Ahem.

Ann, it wasn't hard for me at first. I took up shopping. When it became apparent that I couldn't do that forever, I took up eating. I dropped that and took up walking, which involved thinking. That's when quitting became really hard. However, by that time I was more determined than ever.

Second-hand smoke, Trish. There are some who refuse to believe in its effects. Addicts of all kinds will tell themselves all kinds of stories.

That hits home, Laurie, as I'm 55 right now (not for much longer!). I like to think 55 is way too young to die.

Ms M said...

Wonderful that you quit, Petrea, and have held to it. Very moving comments by everyone. Applause to all who have quit!
BTW, great photo!

TheChieftess said...

55 is waaay too early to die!!! I'm thinkin' that's just middle age!!!!

Petrea said...

This wasn't supposed to be about me quitting, but I'll take the kudos, thanks.

Ms. M, I agree, great comments today. And to those who haven't quit yet, I hope you'll keep trying. It doesn't take long to get to a point where you don't even think about it anymore. And it's so worth it. It's a whole new life.

Chieftess, I've decided not to be middle-aged 'til I'm 65.

Susan Campisi said...

Petrea, you're my hero, not because you quit smoking, although that is a great achievement, but because you won't be middle-aged until you're 65. I'm jumping on that bandwagon.

Speedway said...

When I was about 13, my father was diagnosed with TB, and was sent to a VA hospital to recuperate. Since the factory where he'd been employed shut down, jobs had become harder for him to find and he was usually only marginally employed. With him gone it was even harder for my mom to care for my brother, sister and myself. But there was always money for cigarettes.

When my dad came home, he found jobs here and there but they were, if anything, even more menial than before. A few years later, he had a recurrence of the TB and once again returned to the VA sanitorium. This time emphysema was added to the list of maladies, and it took away one of my dad's lungs. But still my parents smoked; no matter what, there was always money for cigarettes.

My dad returned home some time later, but could no longer work because of the emphysema, but he and my mom both kept smoking, even as my dad was drowning from its effects. He finally died in the VA hospital. Finally, he'd stopped smoking, but only because the hole in his throat for the oxygen tube kept him from doing so.

It was hard to see that proud man being destroyed by a disease caused by an addiction so strong he could not seem to stop, even if it killed him. It did.

A pack of cigarettes here now cost about $5 a pack, with cartons $50-$60. To me that cost represents anything from a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread, to almost a whole week's worth of groceries. It speaks to the strength of an addiction when one would rather spend for something that will kill you, instead of for food.

Trish said...

Petrea---it is about you---you took the pic, you posted the words. It's ok, take the praise.

Everyone I know who has stayed quit, went thru NA.

Speedway...amazing isn't it? No matter how "poor" we were, there was *always* money for smokes.

As an FYI, my mother was barely 51 when she died...way before she really got going in life and certainly before I was ready to say goodbye to her.

TheChieftess said...

My thoughts exactly Petrea!!!

My mother was quite lucky to have lived so long while serving her addiction so faithfully...

tracie said...

This is such a timely post for me. I quit smoking three years ago after I met the man who would become my husband. I wanted to be healthy just in case we ever decided to have kids. Somehow, I was lucky to quit cold turkey and stay quit. Now we have a gorgeous son, but all of a sudden I'm starting to have those horrible cravings for cigarettes again, even DREAMING about smoking some nights. =/

Thanks to you and every one of your commenters for reminding me of why I quit in the first place. I'm sticking around as long as I can so I can spoil the cr*p out of my future grandchildren!

Petrea said...

Tracie, I'm glad it was timely. I hope it was for others, too. You never know who's out there and not commenting.

That's the thing about smoking, for most people. It's not something you can just take up and put down. If you're like me, one or two cigarettes are enough to hook you and you end up old before your time, with the hacking cough and the skin that looks like untanned animal hide. And the misery.

Quitting smoking (at the age of 36, after 20 years of a pack a day) opened up my life. I was able to enjoy a conversation, a meal, a movie without thinking of my next cigarette. I could go anywhere, do anything. I could hike (after a while--I had to get in shape). And I could date men who didn't smoke.

Trish mentions that everyone she knows who stayed quit went through NA. That's Nicotine Anonymous, and they have a pretty good record. I had their help as well. If you can't find them in the phone book, try calling your local Alcoholics Anonymous chapter to ask where NA meets.

J+P said...

I quit 30 years ago, this year, & still I'd love a smoke after a meal.

Irina said...

Reading comments is a double pleasure here.
I quit about 8 years ago, do not remember year. I try to do every thing well, same with smoking, it was 1,5 pack a day for 14 years. Then smell, headache and forgetting how to make a deep from the lungs breath started annoying me. The book helped, Russian doctor and his system of diaries and self control. Though I think it was not the book itself but my belief that reading it would help me. Then I started eating and gained weight, 10 kilos (22pounds), but it was better then gray face).
Dad is almost blind because his blood vessels experienced tobacco for 64(!) years and his heart is like little dust rag.
Addiction. You win over one, you get the other. I do not go to casinos (realized during 3rd visit that I like them too much), I have complex relationship with the fridge, internet likes to eat my hours and at a moment we are fighting with it over the time of my life).
Do you know I have other blog, ? trying to be more open there in comparison to Moscow blog. Though dialogue in commenting suits me more then monologue in posting.
And photo. I have almost forgot)). It is great.

Petrea said...

Irina, you do not cease to amaze me. Your pictures are as wonderful as your comments.

Petrea said...

J, I didn't see your comment until now. Yeah, sometimes it seems like it would be nice to have one. But I think that would last about a second before I got grossed out.