Wednesday, December 29, 2010

GA and Quitting Smoking

Okay--the quitting smoking story...get comfortable...grab a cup of coffee or tea and here we go.
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I started drinking, swearing, and smoking grass after I was raped the summer of 1968. It's a strange thing how being beaten and raped by total strangers and then treated like it was your own fault, even by the police, can truly bottom out what little self-esteem you may have had. I believed I was worthless damaged goods and had somehow brought this upon myself and deserved it.
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There is a funny part...at least to me. I learned to smoke grass that summer, but decided that sitting around giggling and feeling a bit zombie-ish just wasn't for me. That fall I started at the Junior College and discovered that they had a cigarette machine right down by the cafeteria. They assumed everybody was 18, but I was only 17 (had been a year ahead). So I could buy cigarettes any time I wanted! I might be wrong, but seems to me they were 35 cents a pack.
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Anyways, I bought a pack...thinking it would make me look older and cool...go to smoke one...and I automatically toked it! Held my breath and almost choked to death!! So funny! I had to be taught how to smoke a cigarette vs. toking a joint. (Don't I sound street wise for a suburban Minnesota girl?!) The occasional experimenting with drugs lasted off and on for a couple of years, but the cigarettes stayed faithfully with me for 21 years. Alcohol returned about a dozen years later. Quit that, too, shortly after the cigarettes.
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Over those 21 years I had tried to quit many times--cold turkey, One-Step-At-A-Time filters--(this was before the nicotine patches)--even acupuncture. I had never been able to do it. I couldn't think straight, got shaky & nauseous, and even snappy to people. Finally I'd be in tears...and lighting up.
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I had gotten an inflamed ribcage one winter. (I know--who ever heard of such a thing?) Viral. Hurt to breathe. Couldn't lift the coffee pot. Had to sleep sitting up in a chair. Took about 4 months to run its course. But I still smoked, of course.
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It came back another winter...and another. The doctor told me that once I had this I was just susceptible to getting it again--kind of like how some people get pneumonia easily. The only thing that could probably help is if I quit smoking, of course.
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The pain always started at the bottom of my ribcage on one side or the other. The winter of 1989 Dagan and I were living on the farm with Roger. (Didn't farm--rented the land out.) Roger was a produce merchandiser and was on the road usually three weeks out of the month and home on weekends. Dagan was upstairs sleeping. Roger was gone for the week. I was sitting writing a letter at the kitchen table. The pain had been there...again...on my left side. I had been hoping it would go away...that it was something else...a muscle strain or something...but that night I knew it was back. Not again!
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That would make 4 out of 5 winters! I remember I got up and started to pace the floor...feeling like I was going to scream! Or cry!
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No amount of mental wrestling with it could help me. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. I remember feeling totally defeated and so very angry as I threw myself into bed. Tossed and turned--thinking about the whys and my soul's bumpy path and what a failure I was...
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And I got to, shall we say, discussing this with GA (my laughing, butt-kicking, God's-representative guardian angel). I was soooo angry. I was angry that it would be another horrible winter of pain. I was angry that I couldn't quit smoking. That I was soooo pathetically weak. I was angry that my relationship with Roger was on the decline and that I couldn't succeed in love, either. That I tried so hard to be a good person and to improve my soul but never seemed to get anywhere. Maybe I was a lost cause...
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This "conversation" went on and on. Totally one-sided. No response from GA. But I was too angry to listen, anyways. I wondered aloud about my worthlessness. I had such faith in God being there for anyone else. Whenever a person or animal was in distress--if I asked to be used as a conduit to calm their fears--He was there for them--always--no doubts. Yes--I was grateful for that--but what about me? (Self-pity is an ugly thing.)
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I probably would never find that soul mate--never be loved. I wondered if I was a good enough mother. I still had no clue as to what my life's purpose was. I might have to start my life all over again. (Roger and I did split up the following spring.) I was looking at another long winter of being sick. And I couldn't even quit smoking. I could not do it. I had tried and tried and tried--but I was too pathetic and weak. I never asked for help for me--knew I didn't deserve any--but I dared GA--cried out in the darkness. "If you are really there--if I matter at all to you--prove it to me! Prove it to me!!"
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I expected to hear something--loud and clear. Nothing. Silence. I cried myself to sleep.
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When I woke up the next morning I didn't even notice at first that I wasn't smoking. I hadn't grabbed my pack and lighter first thing. I had no cravings. No dizziness, nausea, and I felt perfectly content. Had absolutely no desire to smoke!
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Haven't smoked since.
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I feel like it would be an insult to God if I ever did.
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So when I tell people I quit smoking I always add that I had help. Divine intervention. I wasn't able to do it on my own.
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Being important enough to GA/God to be personally answered and blessed (despite the petulant, whiny, nasty manner of asking for help)--well, it is still sinking in. But it started me thinking that maybe I wasn't worthless after all. :)
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Oh--and the pain in my ribs was gone that morning, too, BTW.

2 comments:

Kathryn Grace said...

I'm new to your blog. Dee Ready pointed me here, and the first word that comes to me after every post is "Wow." Just wow.

Rita said...

KathrynGrace--I am so tickled that you have read so many of the posts in my stories blog! Wow! I don't think too many people come to this one. It is wonderful to get some feedback, you know? That somebody hears.

Dee is such a sweetheart. I am so glad she pointed you in my direction and I am following you now, too. :)