Looking back … looking ahead

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Before I started blogging I used to write for an online HIV magazine positivelite.com. I highly recommend this site it is always current and informative. I wrote for Poz lite for over two years and as I look back on the various articles and topics I wrote of there is this glaring truth that I wrote a lot on the subject of my many attempts at smoking cessation.

This will be the last time that I write on this subject.

It happened. After countless attempts, health scares and hospital stays I had my last cigarette on December 29th 2013. I miss it every day and wish I could have at least a drag … but I can’t and I never can again. I will admit to the herb and that is as much a daily ritual as it is a form of cigarette replacement therapy or CRT as I call it. I have smoked pot since grade 7 and probably always will. I smoke less now than ever, but still … that after dinner dooby will most likely be my leafy green dessert for all time.

I make no apologies.

I am no fool and have heard many a story of people who had quit for 2-5-10 plu5402545-ashtray-and-cigarettess years and started again so when I say I am a nonsmoker and that I have quit I would be doing my smoking brothers and sisters a great disservice to simply state that I quit. In actuality I addressed my 37 year addiction that was slowly but surely killing me. I work every day with a large population of folks where addiction is in many ways a huge part of their lives; and I came to the realization that we were not very different.

The simple fact that I could purchase my substance at the corner store was really the only difference in the grand scheme of things. All forms of addiction come with varying levels of stigma. What was happening to me, to my body, to my very life was addiction pure and simple.

Gladly gone was the early day misnomer that I had a bad habit. That one could “kick” this habit. This so called bad habit was robbing my body of health, my lungs of air and my children of the only parent they had left. You know you’ve reached a new low in life when your child finds your secret stash of smokes and what follows is a tearful confrontation followed by my lies that I would immediately quit. That scene which still lives vividly in my mind actually took place two years before my final cigarette. Even the tears of my child could not stop this.

What did stop it was me … although a close friend will tell you it was his incessant shaming that worked it was not … it was me.

I was awake one night with insomnia and found my stash dwindling so I braved a severe snow storm and crossed the street to an all-night gas station to buy more. That simple stroll in the snow across an empty street left me breathless and clutching my chest for air and for my heart to please slow down … I thought I would keel over right there in a snow bank. I got home and between 4AM and work at 9AM I smoked almost a whole pack. I smoked another pack before that day ended but something for me had changed. I will stop short of saying my life flashed before my eyes but what I felt at that moment was certainly akin to that thought process.

I set my plan in motion, smoked right up until bedtime the night of the 29th, had a ceremonial good bye smoke and tossed the remaining ciggies down the toilet and all ashtrays in the garbage chute.

I was done.

I am proud of my accomplishment and all too aware of the proverbial slippery slope that can so often face someone struggling in addiction. I don’t ever want to relive that time in my life, but most importantly … I don’t ever want to make my children cry ever again.

Robert Newman

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