Freedom my friend, freedom…

I wake up in the morning. My eyes are still heavy with sleep and I sleepily stumble to the living room. There it is, every morning, my trusted 8cm, tobacco filled friend. Before food, before water, before shower, before anything really, the two of us need to have a serious conversation. Why? We haven’t spoken for a while, 8 hours average. Time to catch up. My friend is never absent, because I make it so. Now comes the ritual of flipping open the pack, sliding out a cigarette, searching for my lighter and stepping outside. I curl my legs onto the camping chair where we usually meet and I light him up. I give him a voice.

What do we talk about? Well I talk, he listens. I think, I hope. I take a drag and I am relieved, or am I? Not sure, my heart is beating a little faster. I go through my day, things I need to attend to, things I’m not in the mood for. I need to remember to buy another pack before work, don’t want to run out of smokes later today. I might meet up with Melissa (we’ll call her that for the purpose of this article, she is my best friend who smokes like I do, constantly) and when that happens I always need more. I stub out the cigarette bud and head to make a cup of coffee, lazily lounging about until the water comes to the boil. I pour a cup, mmmm a cigarette would be good with this. I head out to the camping chair again. I greet the neighbour who waves back at me with a smoke dangling between her fingers. See, I’m not all bad.

After a hour I am ready for work. I have another one before I head out the door. When I am in the car, I double-check my handbag to make sure my cigarettes and lighter are firmly in their place. Great, cigarettes, wallet, cell (notice the order). I leave for work (a very casual working environment) and have another one outside before I go in. ‘Hi, Hi, Hello all round, what’s up, what’s been happening’, etc. is what I say. I boot up my computer and it’s time for another coffee. I make one. I check my emails. One says that someone might be interested in purchasing a property (oh yeah, I’m a broker), I get excited, I tell my boss then go out for a fag, because I’m excited you see.

Melissa calls me and arranges lunch at our favourite restaurant where smokers are not frowned upon. The food isn’t great and the place smells like back alley but hey, we can relax here, we can smoke and chat and bitch and moan. So before lunch I have probably another 4 cigarettes, after replying to that exciting email of course.

Now it’s time for lunch. I am there first. A smoke because I’m waiting, I am not sure what else to do. She arrives. We are at that restaurant remember? The one that smells a little foul?  We light one after the other, unable to REALLY taste our meal, but it really doesn’t matter, because we are having a glorious time. We cough in between sentences and get serious about quitting these bad boys. ‘We really have to quit. Yeah, you have to be READY though. I just can’t do it now with the shit at work and all’. Blah Blah Blah

We discuss, AS we are inhaling the toxins, how much better we would be able to work out if we quit, we would be able to breathe better and have more energy. Then we fall back to talking about movies, or actors, or the book I’m trying to finish. Then we agree that most people who are creative have a horrible vice, all great artists were drug addicts (sometimes the news proves us right). So now we pay the bill and I am lucky enough to not have to work from the office so I head home.

I do some work online, have a smoke and head out to gym. I am ready to face the beast with a wicked playlist in hand (INXS, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Annie Lennox, Mumford and Sons). On the treadmill things go okay at first, until I turn it up a notch. I struggle to breathe properly so I find it hard to get a rhythm going, I turn the speed back down and convince myself that walking is better for me anyway. I don’t really have the energy to do a full session so I stay 20 minutes (that’s not bad right?) and head home.

I have to write. I’m only on chapter 3 and I WANT to finish this book in the next three months. I have a smoke and think about the book, the characters, the plot. I write a little. I go to the loo and check myself out in the mirror, my face specifically, or even more specifically, the lines forming around and under and between my eyes. What the $^#&, I’m only 30! I have a smoke.

I’m done with work and decide to turn on the television, Crime Channel (my favourite, and inspiration for my novel, weird I know). I watch, I smoke, I think about my book. I need to write but I’m not completely ‘in that space’ now and I need to see who murdered this old lady, what a psycho. I wonder what’s wrong with some people. I think about all the evil people out in the world. It didn’t matter whether we wanted to believe that everything and everyone is sweet good goodness, that just wasn’t the case.

My evening is spent drinking coffee, smoking and reading. I read a lot. I enjoy sitting on the balcony on my camping chair with my smokes and my coffee and my book. Me and my 3 Goodfellas. I love reading, I adore it, I cannot get enough. It’s around 10pm and I need to brush my teeth. I do that, then have another smoke, standing out on the balcony, the wind throwing branch shadows from the trees onto the opposite wall. It looks and feels scary but I like it for some reason. The wind makes things come alive. I don’t want to go to bed yet, I’ll have another one.

For about ten years I have smoked roughly 20 cigarettes every day, more when I went to a party. At roughly 10 minutes per cigarette that makes 200 minutes per day (3.3 HOURS) of being unproductive WHILE killing myself. What a combo! Even though it didn’t seem like it, I was desperate to quit. Desperate with absolutely no faith in myself.

I have been smoke free for almost three weeks now. Granted, I had assistance (Champix). More than the health benefits, the thing I am happiest about, the biggest gain for me, is the freedom. I can go to any restaurant, I don’t need to freak out if there’s only one left. I don’t dread going for dinner with that couple because they don’t smoke (yeah, ridiculous). I don’t lie in bed at night worrying about cancer (I often did and it killed me, haha). I don’t need cigarettes to be creative. I don’t need cigarettes to have a conversation. I don’t need cigarettes when I’m sad or excited. I don’t need cigarettes to feel confident or sexy or busy. I DON”T NEED CIGARETTES!

So, I know, it’s only been 3 weeks, don’t count my chickens. All I wanted you to know, if you are still trapped, is that the FREEDOM is the KEY. The FREEDOM is the pay-off. The FREEDOM.

“You have freedom when you’re easy in your harness” – Robert Frost

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