Thursday, September 27, 2012

Becoming An Ex-Smoker: Facing Down My "Mr. Hyde"

I am writing this ONE TIME ONLY blog post confessing that I have been a chain smoking fiend for more than a minute. It has been my crutch, my coping mechanism for stress, and the only means up to this point of keeping the inner demon/rage monster I call "Mr. Hyde" under control.

I am writing only one post about this just to get it out and release it. I know that from prior attempts to quit, when I had a period of success, friends would start to talk about it with me and talk and talk as if they had to share every pent up feeling of relief I finally quit. Well... all that talk usually got me fixated on thinking about a cig and somehow as if in a trance I would crumble. So, when I get over the next 72 hours I will avoid discussion of the subject as much as possible until I am on safer ground.

I started a while back as a response to my first real California earthquake experience. Growing up in Philadelphia, there was no preparation for what the earth shaking beneath your feet does to your psyche. That was my response, Yes it is not everyone's but it definitely was mine. As time passed, it became my crutch for every stressful situation that arose. When my best friend died, it became my reliable companion during that "dark night of my soul".

I have tried to quit many a time but who knew that suppressing one's fears and annoyances can transform them into a rather ugly rage monster? Go figure. I have never been a fan of my inner "Mr. Hyde". Like a werewolf he is ready to bounce and rip to shreds  anyone who sets me off. My usual happy go lucky self disappears or is locked away but it is not pretty for those first 72 hours.

Nevertheless, his reign of terror must come to an end.

I am in such a wonderfully happy place these days. I have made the choice to control where I focus my thinking. I believe your thoughts create your reality. Moments of seeming synchronicity have seemed to validate this belief for me.

As I move to embrace this notion of living in the present moment with a focus on the positive, I have heard the whispers of "Mr. Hyde" from his cage taunting me. He says, "If you actually believe what you say, then why do you need to smoke? If it is such a crutch, let it go. Give up the cigs, open my cage and set me free! I'm sure your positive thinking will keep me in check. Come on. Do it. I DARE you."

I heard those whispers in my head as I drifted to sleep last night. I decided to take the dare. Not 5 seconds after that mental declaration, my body began to twitch and spasm for literally 2 hours. It was like my body was having its own personal earthquake as the doors to Mr. Hyde's cage were bursting open! Sheer exhaustion is the only thing that got me to sleep sometime after 4 a.m.

I woke up this morning feeling completely lousy. I have started drinking green tea. I will probably consume a few gallons over the next week but I need some weapon in the battle I am about to face.

The fact is, I have been in such a fantastic mental state, I need to deal with this demon that has had me chained to a bunch of crumpled tobacco leaves for way too long.

I know once I get through this new "dark night of my soul", I will be able to more fully enjoy this amazing journey I am on.  



  1. Congratulations on your decision to quit...what a wonderful thing to do for yourself. I've never smoked or used tobacco, but my husband was badly addicted to nicotine gum. Just hang in there through the withdrawal; soon, the nicotine will be out of your system, and it's just a matter of one day at a time/behavior modification. I'm proud of you, Kevin!!

  2. Thanks, Helena. I really appreciate the encouragement! I am definitely focusing on the day by day approach. Things suck right now but they can only get better:)