The Cigarette Diaries III: The Lure of Addiction
To some, this may be a presumptuous move, but I would like to dedicate this piece to a woman who has written her heart out and in turn, touched mine. Her name is Anne Lamott, and her books, "Bird by Bird," "Operating Instructions," and others have affected me deeply. She is candid yet kind, honest yet tender. Her writings have filled me with hope during times in my life that I had none at all.
In "Bird by Bird," she offers up a metaphor for addiction and recovery that prompted me to finally pen this third installment of "The Tobacco Diaries." Ms. Lamott writes:
"...getting all of one's addictions under control is a little like putting an octopus to bed...You get a bunch of the octopus's arms neatly tucked under the covers...but two arms are still flailing around...But you finally get those arms under the sheets, too, and are about to turn off the lights when another long sucking arm breaks free."
While I don't know if Lamott is a smoker, I do know she understands the complexities of addiction; she speaks freely of her struggles with alcohol. The octopus is such a wonderful way to convey an addict's struggle; it perfectly portrays the mighty battle undertaken to put the damned thing in it's place.
- The Tobacco Diaries I
While beating my brains out for a proper title for this hub, I came up with "The Tobacco Diaries," perhaps as a subconscious tribute to an author I have long respected and followed. Jim Carroll wrote "The...
- The Tobacco Diaries II
The Bishop city noon siren just blared, meaning it's been 5 waking hours since I last smoked a cigarette. I'll not count sleep since that seems like cheating. HELL YEAH! Pardon my outburst, but I am mighty...
One "Failure" to Acknowledge
First of all, I didn't quit smoking. I tried, mightily I am proud to say, however this devil weed still is in my life. Please feel free to check out the links to the right for a glimpse of the maddening process. What I do want to point out is that these particular foes-nicotine and tobacco-are the hardest substances I have ever tried to overcome. The tobacco barons are brilliant and greedy sons o' bitches and they've managed to outwit me so far. But I do believe that when I am truly ready, I will quit entirely-but readiness is the operative word. Now you would think with all the evidence we all possess about nicotine and tobacco use that it would be a cinch to quit the weed without a second thought. I've lost loved ones to smoking, for God's sake. And they were terrible, terrible deaths. Why on earth am I not ready?
- The Descent of a Lady
I was born in 1950s Los Angeles, California, where everything seemed oh, so, perfect. As I aged, I grew used to the unique palm tree-lined streets around our home once I was allowed to visit childhood...
High School Highs
Over the years I have been addicted to every drug imaginable-except heroin. I have always been afraid of needles, it's as simple as that. But now it's time to reveal what my profile picture may not expose, what my writings have barely touched on.
I have told of my first addiction to Darvon, a painkiller given to me by a well-meaning aunt concerned with the inevitable agony of menstruation. I never had any pain to speak of, but oh, those pills were magical. I was able to con my aunt out of Darvon for years, then I was sent 400 miles away to a girl's boarding school where we residents experimented in a myriad of substances, far more interesting than 'old lady' pills.
My high school years were from 1970 to 1974, a time of great social upheaval and cosmic curiosity. And boy, was I cosmic. I was intent on achieving nirvana by whatever means necessary. LSD seemed a grand vehicle and I indulged in it regularly. I listened to Sun Ra, Bach, and Cat Stevens while peaking. I danced on the circle of grass at my high school with others, grasping ribbons as we praised the chemical Gods. Nirvana still managed to escape me, but the glimpses were marvelous.
In my sophomore year, I began smoking cigarettes.
Marijuana and hashish were also regularly used and I felt absolutely glorious when with other, seemingly more cosmic, girls. They were the friends who I tried to emulate-the ones with the apparently perfect auras. Then such smokable ecstasy turned on me. Somehow THC suddenly did not agree with me and paranoia became the result of inhalation. It was time to try something else.
After the luxury and protection of high school, my addiction took a different turn-I wanted to escape myself. I spent much of my adulthood in search of substances that would change the way I felt inside. All of my nirvana quests left me cold, in all honesty. Cigarettes have always been a stress reliever, and a damned good one. But the twists and turns of life took me to stress increasing substances: methamphetamine and crack cocaine. The meth made me feel powerful, creative and endlessly energetic. The crack was, I suppose, a 'purer' addiction in that all I sought was the high. Nothing more. Those were what I call the 'Misery Years'-I seemed bound and determined to destroy what life was within me.
I had also become a drunk by this time. So when I quit the meth and the crack, I could at least depend on booze and cigarettes to get me through. And they did. Methamphetamine and crack were substances that almost led me to suicide on a number of occasions and I am honestly surprised I survived. My flirtation with those drugs is one I regret with all of my heart.
Successes to Write Home About
I stopped using LSD in the 70's, marijuana and hashish in the 80's. The horrors of methamphetamine and crack were history by the mid-90's. Pharmaceuticals are still a part of my life, yet I no longer visit doctors without telling them my history. I am an open book and proud to say so. My alcohol abuse came to an end in '08. All in all, I consider myself a walking, talking miracle.
Quitting cigarettes will simply have to wait.