One of my biggest vices (of which there are many) is smoking. Right now I’m in the middle of Serious Quitting Attempt Number Three. I say “serious” because there have been numerous other attempts, but both I and the guy inside my head who whinges a lot knew that it would not last a morning before we’d even started, so we don’t count them.
I don’t know if you know this, but quitting smoking is rather hard. I mean, if you take away the increased possibility of heart and lung disease, the expense, the yellowing digits, the disposing of cigarette ends, the waking up with a mouth like a camel’s arsehole, the smell on your clothes, the having to go outside in the pissing down rain and wind that could freeze your knackers in two seconds… smoking is quiet pleasant actually.
Smoking guides you through a bad day and makes the good ones better. Waiting around is no longer boring, as you have your white and gold little friend to make everything ok. Is there a problem you can’t solve at work? Go outside for a smoke and you’ll have an epiphany! Feeling stressed? Smoking will take away your worries far away on a hazy trail, dancing on your eyes. I can hear you sternly telling me that it’s just my subconscious associating relief with smoking when, in fact, it doesn’t do those things at all. I know this. I know it is just my mind making attachments. But you know what? You telling me that is as helpful as kicking me square in the nuts. There is nothing worse than non-smokers trying to advise you on how to quit. I’ll take guidance from ex-smokers because they’ve been there and done it. But non-smokers?? “You don’t know man! You weren’t there!” If anything, it creates a me-against-the-world mentality and is more likely to get me smoking again as a way of saying “Fuck you!”. Childish? Maybe. But so is your face.
Smokers only have one person who can really help them quit – themselves. They will only succeed or fail because of their own will, and nothing anyone else says or does will guarantee the outcome. In fact, a smoker will know before attempting to quit whether they will succeed or not.
I wasn’t always this way. Up until the age of twenty I was the most vehement anti-smoking lobbyist, and would chastise my chain-smoking parents every chance I got (high and mighty little sonofabitch that I was). But then, like an idiot, I tried one on a night out and that was that. Sure, I tried to pass it off as “Oh I’m only a ‘social’ smoker!”, but that quickly turned into “If you don’t give me a cigarette right now I will kill you where you stand and smoke your corpse.”. Once I became regular it affected everything. I had less money, I stopped going to the gym and I stopped boxing training. When your lung capacity is halved, exercise is a real bitch.
So right now I want to stop. I’m two weeks into the latest stint and so far it’s been ok. I have had one relapse but if anything that has steeled my resolve. Last time I made it three months, this time it’s going to be forever.
P.S. For anyone who doesn’t smoke and who may be tempted to try. You see all that shit I’ve written above? That’s how hard it is to quit once you’ve started. So if you don’t start smoking, you don’t have to quit. Keep that in mind!
I have a job! I was called about it on Tuesday, interviewed Wednesday and started Thursday. And while it’s only a temporary position, I couldn’t be happier.
It’s probably a good thing that it happened so quickly. I was becoming increasingly concerned about how I was going to get back into the mindset of the daily grind. Prolonged unemployment seems to put you in a funk, and once you get there it seems hard to get out. So as it transpired over 48 hours, it didn’t give me a chance to dwell on that, I just had to do it.
Another thing that unemployment does to you is it makes you doubt yourself. When you’re just out of work, you look at your CV, you are happy with it and you’re sure that you’ll be employed right away. Over time, what started as confidence quickly turns into doubt over your CV. Have I enough experience? Is it varied enough? Is it even formatted properly?! This then turns into “No-one should give me a job because I’d fuck everything up! I can’t do ANYTHING!!”. What was once routine and mundane, those tasks you did naturally, suddenly become a daunting mountain that you think you can’t possibly scale again. For anyone that is unemployed right now, I would say that it very quickly comes back to you. It may take a morning to shake off the rustiness, but after that it again becomes second nature.
I feel invigorated. I maintain that man was not put on this earth to work in an office all day every day, but social thinking makes us believe that jobs define us and give us acceptance. My feeling of worth has sky-rocketed, after only two days of being back at work! I feel that maybe life isn’t one constant shitcloud which rains upon us.
I will never complain about any job again. Of course it’s never good to stay in a job you hate, I’d make sure you were guaranteed something to go to before you leave it, and definitely don’t burn any bridges. Like all those Eastenders actors who decide they’re too good for the soap and head off to Hollywood before returning six months later asking for their character to return from the grave or come back from “up West”, make sure you keep your options open.
I’m still looking for a permanent position, obviously, but having something, anything in the meantime gives me optimism I haven’t had in a while.
Seriously, it does. It doesn’t change to purple or red or anything like that, but it changes from brown to grey and back again. I found my first grey hair when I was 13 years old. Pretty harrowing for a teenager who clearly worries enough as it is. Down the years, that grey hair brought round many of his friends to have a party on my head, get pissed and generally upset the brown hair establishment. I think that’s as far as I can push that metaphor. I worked out that they were very stress related, the more stressed I was, the more greys I’d have. And if I had no worries, those greys would grow out and be replaced by brown.
I mention this because a few weeks ago I was starting to look like someone had poured a can of Dulux white gloss on my head. This time last year I was in an entirely different place. I had a decent job, earning decent money. I was in a relationship approaching it’s seventh year. I had a nice car and a nice house, filled with all your mod cons and luxuries. My life was simple. Work, come home. Watch some football in glorious HD. Go out at the weekend. Repeat ad infinitum. No stress. But I was deeply unhappy. It felt like a life unfulfilled, and when I realised that I would be doing the same thing over and over again for the next 40 years before I’m then carted off babbling to a nursing home, I decided some changes had to be made.
No-one can change everything at once. I wanted to do it gradually and let it all hopefully piece together by the end. The first thing to change was the relationship. My heart wasn’t in it and it wasn’t fair on me or her. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life, and probably ever will. I haven’t told anyone before how hard it was for me to do it. I had to be the callous one, otherwise it’d be too easy to slip into old habits. Hopefully one day she’ll forgive me, but that’s her right to decide.
Next up would have been the job. I’d started looking elsewhere because I was in a rut and needed a change. Before I could do that, a whirlwind of shit happened. The next five months went by in a blur, but by the end of it I’d found myself out of that job but not in the ways I’d expected, I’d ventured into a new relationship and I’d moved to another country. By anyone’s yardstick, that’s a lot to happen in a short space of time. Especially when my head had been up my arse for the most part. So, when I was visiting home last month, I thought I’d had an epiphany. All that happened came to slap me in the face and the realisation nearly pushed me to a mental breakdown. What am I doing with my life? Am I making the right choices? So I made the decision to stay at home and be around friends and family, for my sanity. This meant hurting someone I love in the process, but I thought I had to do it for me. Then ANOTHER epiphany came to me and I realised I couldn’t be without this person, so I came back to her and committed to her fully, which I realised I wasn’t doing previously.
This leads me back to the hair. It’s now returning to a healthy shade of brown. I can only assume my hair is like a groundhog that predicts the winters. It’s a very visible marker of my wellbeing, so I think this means I’m doing the right thing. If you see me walking down the street and my head is greyer than the British sky, make sure you cross to the other side!
P.S. I got a call about that job. They offered me part-time. Goddammit.