I have to keep myself distracted. When it comes to killing time during withdrawal, active is better than passive. I need something to keep the brain and hands occupied. Time to turn off the TV. Besides, all of television is a secret plot by Big Tobacco to irritate ex-smokers into smoking again. I'm onto their game.
Avoid 'Friends' marathons during recovery
Hey. Game. I'll play a game instead. I'll play a game that has never made me angry: NHL 2011.
I'm not a huge fan of hockey, but the game NHL 2011 for the Xbox 360 is one of the best sports titles I've played in years. However, since I don't really know the rules of hockey very well, I modify the game just a bit to correct what I see as some fundamental flaws in the game: namely, that it's kind of hard to score. I start by turning off all of the penalties. And boosting my team's stats as high as they will go to turn them into supermen. And increasing their height and weight to turn them into freight trains. And reducing the other team's stats to their lowest settings. And making them all tiny so my guys can mow them over. And crippling their goalie. And making them all prone to injury.
My entire roster looks exactly like this.
But even with all of these modifications, the computer scored a goal in the final 18 seconds of the game (I had pulled my own goalie so I'd have six skaters) making it 121 to one. The only thing that kept me from flinging my TV out of the second story window covered in my shit was the fact that my landlords were downstairs cleaning up the wreckage of my last shit-covered TV.
I have nicotine patches. Holding off on them, because they make me sick. Really, I feel like I'm keeping things on an even keel so far.
Got to get out of the apartment. Get some fresh air. While I was on the highway, I smelled a whiff of smoke, my whole body seizing at the scent of it. I realized that the guy in the car in front of me was smoking. A bit drifted out of his window, shot back toward me at 60 MPH, and my withdrawal-ravaged brain almost shit itself.
Later, I was in line at Walmart waiting for the person in front of me to pay and get the fuck out of my way. The cashier was some dorky guy who was obviously still in high school, and he was one of those people who attempted to make small talk with anyone who walked by, but he was just absolutely horrible at it. One of those guys who was probably pretty used to having rocks thrown at him. By his parents.
I picture all parents as Ogre from Revenge of the Nerds.
As he slid one of the customer's boxes across the scanner, he looked down, smiled and said, "Oh, strawberry waffles. Somebody's gonna have a great breakfast tomorrow!"
The woman, who happened to be on the same social level as the dork, replied, "I know! It's amazing what they can do with food these days."
At this point, I was piling my stuff on the counter, and he looked over to see the strawberry syrup I was about to buy so that I could make banana splits for my kids. He must not have seen me rolling my eyes because he said, "Hey, strawberry syrup! You guys should get together and-"
"Please. Please, please, please, just ring the shit up. I know you're trying to be nice, but I just quit smoking, and I just want to get this shit home. There is absolutely nothing interesting whatsoever about strawberry waffles or strawberry syrup or anything that a strawberry has ever been a part of. Please. Your mouth is forming a lot of words about strawberries but all I'm hearing is, 'I'm abusing my power as your cashier to make sure you won't get out of this checkout line unless you literally murder me. Go ahead. Grab this pair of scissors here next to the register and end my life, John, I beg you'."
Make it count
I don't actually know if I said any of that out loud. Did I mention that the worst cravings aren't on Day One? They can come anywhere from Day Two to Day Five. And then they continue from time to time until the day you die.
Using the patches now. There's no shame in it, pretending that you have to overcome chemical addiction with pure willpower or it somehow doesn't count is another bullshit trick of the brain. Oh, sure, you need willpower -- shitloads of it. But a nicotine substitute like the patch lets you scale it down in steps, training the brain to do without it. You use the tools available to you; you don't bring a dildo to a knife fight.
End of Day One. Trying to sleep, but I was an insomniac before all of this. Withdrawal makes it worse. You can't sleep with a patch on -- you wind up having these vivid, lucid dreams. Your body isn't used to night time nicotine because obviously before you weren't smoking when you were asleep (NOTE: IF YOU DO THIS, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM). So I had plenty of time to mentally give a hearty "fuck you" to all of those people and factors who helped me get to this point in my addiction:
My old middle school friend, Brady, who talked me into my first cigarette.
The mullet-sporting bowling alley worker who sold that pack to two 13-year-old kids without asking for ID (I handed him the money because I was tall and "looked the most 18").
My dipshit parents for not punishing me when they found out.
The cigarette machine at the gas station back in the days when cigarette vending machines were a thing and any kid could start a heroin-like addiction as long as he had enough quarters.
Movies for making it look cool. Denis Leary for making it funny.
Seriously, fuck you, Denis.
The asshole who made this GIF, reminding me that if I stay smoke free, I'll be 50-years old before my body is fully repaired. And high school health teachers for not cramming that information down my throat until I puked statistics.
The tobacco companies who've made it rain slow death on the human species for several generations.
And Johnny Depp for smoking those annoying clove cigarettes, but we digress
But I save the biggest fuck-you for myself. My stupid, teenage self for happily jumping into these killing addictions without one second of thought to the future. And then the older versions of myself in all the years since, finding excuses to never change despite family and friends begging me to quit all of this shit.
So I'm sorry, MTV, it's my own face I should be shoving my balls into. And I'm going to do that right now, on camera:
(VIDEO REMOVED - Ed.)
Update: John resumed smoking a few months after this article was posted.