Of Cigarettes and Alcohol

I was recently asked by a coworker, apparently out of idle curiosity, whether it was harder to quit smoking or quit drinking. I told him it depends on how you look at it.

When I quit smoking it sucked right away. It sucked for me and everyone around me. I was nervous, irritable, and moody. I was hardly able to concentrate on anything at all. I couldn’t sit still, and I couldn’t stop talking. In short I was a severe annoyance to myself and others. For months after my last cigarette I would still pat myself down looking for a loose pack. In the long run though, it got easy. I would find myself standing in line at convenience stores staring longingly at the tobacco displays. At some point I stopped thinking about smoking, mostly. I still have those few moments where I crave one, but I realize how stupid that is and it goes away on its own.

Not drinking was pretty easy at first, I mean once I got past the actual not drinking part. It took a couple of days to really sink in. Then the internal dialogue began trying to talk me into giving in. It became an unsilenceable argument about how I could handle it and I was just out to prove something. A never-ending torrent of utter bullshit, that still crops up on a regular basis. The farther out I get from my last drink the more time seems to crawl. When I think about it I now I still get anxious. I find myself from time to time nervously walking through beer aisles at stores. The worst part is that now, approaching three years sober there is still this emptiness. Like a hole somewhere that I nothing else will fit into, no matter what I try. I don’t have bad days with sobriety, I bad have weeks and months where all I want is to get drunk.

Because it would be easier.

In the end I explained it like this; When I quit smoking I stopped carrying a lighter on me. I still have a bottle opener on my key chain.

That’s what’s been on my mind this past week.

Happy Monday.

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3 thoughts on “Of Cigarettes and Alcohol

      • Fuck yes, it is.

        And if it’s the writing that you’re going to do for now, then run with it. Burn it out. Let it heal you, or show you something new, or at least be the way you cope for now. I won’t claim to know jack shit about kicking booze — I kicked cigarettes, but only after a lot of tries and a lot of help, and frankly, if my wife still smoked, I’d be doing it too, no hesitation, right until I needed a fucking iron lung — so I can’t give much more than a ‘hang in there, guy’ but I do know that writing helps all things. All agony, all misery, all terror, all rage, all things — they become more solid, with words. And then you can dismantle them, if need be, and turn them into something else.

        Keep writing, Hip. Even if you think it’s ‘crap like this’ — it’s worth it.

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