One of the first blogs I started following was MadMeg’s Musings. Basically, she is the female, slightly more mature, Canadian version of myself. We get each other.
The tag line to her sight is ‘From a mind who may or may not be lost…’ If that doesn’t draw you in I don’t know what else will…
So, I finished Allen Carr’s book Easy Way to Stop Smoking and apparently I’ve just been brainwashing myself the wrong way my entire life. I say ‘entire’, because I can’t really recall a time when I didn’t have an addiction hanging on my back like a horny monkey. I’m sure there was a time, I just don’t remember it. Also, out of all of my addictions, smoking is clearly my favourite. Cocaine is a close second (although, they usually go hand in hand. Trust me on that.) I have given up quite a few vices, and when I say ‘give up’ I really mean I went kicking and screaming, biting and cursing all the way, not wanting to ‘give up’ shit. So, after what feels like a gazillion years, I finish the book and WHAM. I really, really don’t want a cigarette. What I want to do is paint, colour, write, cook…..and go grocery shopping. WAIT? WHAT? NO. No….no no no I don’t want to do that…but I have to. Fuck, life is so grand, isn’t it?
Here I am, walking down the isles of the grocery store, husband’s bank card in hand, (because I may have given up some vices but I still suck at money and my bank account will tell you this) trying to figure out what to make for dinner. I’m down the pasta isle remembering I have steaks at home but being -11 Celsius outside, the BBQ is about as enticing as Saturday night karaoke with parents from the PAC committee. I stop and stare at the jars of Ragu ‘pasta’ sauce and just that fleeting thought of putting steaks together with pasta sauce makes me sick to my stomach. I push it out of my head immediately and turn up the music on my phone (the only way I can shop without killing someone is Spotify blaring in my ears). No, I’m not nauseous from the thought of steak with fake-ass red sauce. I wish it were that simple. No, I was suppressing one of many memories that should be fond or even basically, void of any emotion. But these seemingly benign memories are followed by others of being slapped, choked, (not in the naked kinda-fun way) and punched; I had to swallow hard, walk fast and bury that shit as quickly as it came up, like vomit in the back of your throat after one too many tequila shots. You’re probably wondering if it worked. Damn straights it did. I’ve been doing it since I was at least 19 years old; at almost 43 you can say I’ve gotten real good at compartmentalizing shit. Any shit. Memories of a TV narrowly missing my head? check. A friend shooting up Jack Daniels because he didn’t have any dope? check. Meeting a kid in an alley so my ‘friends’ could shake him down and take his money? Check. Vomiting off the 19th floor deck of my apartment immediately after taking in the biggest ‘ringer’ of crack cocaine and then doing it all over again? check. Double check. For a brief time I lived the rockstar lifestyle without any of the rockstar talent. Or even a quarter of the money, although that’s irrelevant because we all know alcoholics and addicts will always find a ride to the party.
The list could go on, the pages would not end for a while, and I’m sure none of you want to really hear about it (I know I don’t want to fully recall it all, either). But do I regret it? No. That I can say with utter and complete honesty. How can I? All the stupid shit I did and all of the stuff I witnessed other people do, whether I was complicit or not, is part of who I am today. and who I am today is…well…basically, just an older version of myself. I’d like to say wiser, but that would be an unhinged lie. Seriously, ask my husband about my life of bullshit and transgressions and he’d ask if you packed a lunch for this history lesson; it’s gonna be a long day, people. You may or may not get your money’s worth. I don’t do all the crazy stuff I did before, because quite literally my body and brain just won’t allow me to. I didn’t stop because it wasn’t fun anymore. Okay, some of it wasn’t always fun; nostalgia ain’t what it used to be. I stopped because, well… jobs, kids, mortgages, lawns to mow and snow to shovel….you know, RESPONSIBILITY. Ya, it’s a big fucking word, kids. And it’s something most of us cannot skip out on, even if we try. And we do try. But alas, what we’re left with is a nasty hangover and a bank account on its last legs of that overdraft. Also, with responsibility, you may lose the hangover but most of us still live in the overdraft. Isn’t adulting fun?
Also, my husband will tell you I’m usually inappropriate at all times and mildly appropriate when it’s not necessary. Hence the smoking. It’s like the last real naughty ‘friend’ in my life and dammit, I didn’t want to kick his ass to the curb just yet. Despite the fact I hated the smell, the taste, the EXPENSE. Also, my husband will say I’m not always a quick learner. I like to repeat my mistakes, really get a grip on them, for fun, you know??? Then, after a few times I possibly might just learn. Or not. The fun is in the guessing, people!
Aaaaannnnnd back to the suppression of memories, like a real adult.
There are very few people who know the intimate ins and outs of my life. It’s easy, when you’ve lived through some real nasty shit, to repeat it in first person if you keep it factually tight and to the point. Don’t bring up emotions, and certainly, don’t let yourself even go down that path of how you may have felt at the time, or God forbid, how you feel NOW. Just leave that shit at the door with your coat and shoes, please. Step into the room with steely sarcasm only, please. Gladly. So like I said, many may know the stories of my life, but there are very few people left who know me intimately through those stories. This may or may not be a good thing. Who the fuck wants to know how such a routine fuck up could raise pretty decent kids and still remain married, with some sort of semblance of a decent life? Luck? Cunning? Love? Wisdom? God?
People, please. It’s not even that simple. It is what it is, and I’ve stumbled through this gorgeous cesspool of a life just like everyone else. I’m grateful to still be here and I’m well aware of how lucky I am. I fake it til I make it, people — just like everyone else. I wake up, pretend to seize the day and hope for the fucking best. Nowadays hoping for the best means something entirely different from it did twenty plus years ago, and again that’s probably a good thing. Most of us can look back on our youth with a grin and a cringe. Most of my memories are funny and outrageous, but some are so traumatizing I mentally change the channel in my brain as quickly as I can. And I never, ever go to those certain memories on purpose. It’s always accidental and they are never, ever welcome. Hence part of the reasons people like me continuously ‘fuck up’ and habitually hang on to those ‘bad habits’, no matter how smart we seem. I just couldn’t seem to get past that last damn cigarette, no matter how many times I quit and no matter how long. Almost 2 years? Let me fuck that up and bum one off a cousin at the family reunion. Another year long attempt? Why not light up at a funeral/wedding/weekend BBQ/vacation…..you know the list. We’ve all made ’em.
When people like me have scorched through the desert of life full of brazen mistakes and bad choices, sometimes it feels like all we got left of the ‘old me’ is that damn cigarette. According to Allen Carr of the “Easy Way” books and seminars, that last (and legal) little monster is the deadliest and the hardest to let go of….unless, of course, we read his book or attend one of his seminars. Either way, I found the book at Value Village and voila….I am not smoking. Nope. I am watching a documentary on Tyler The Creator with my son on a Saturday evening, and I am sort of thinking of smoking, but not in the “I want to punch a kitten or kick a baby and if I don’t have a smoke I will burn my fucking house down” way; nope, I am just thinking how nice it is to not have to bundle up to sit on the cement stoop in -11C and suck in what literally does not taste good.
In the end, growing up and being ‘responsible’ is different for everyone; memories and flashbacks are unique and individual, whether good or bad. Sometimes they’re just plain ugly. And that’s okay. Letting ’em go, or just compartmentalizing them is okay, too. (Or maybe it’s not, but hell I’m no psychiatrist). You gotta do what you gotta do to get through the day. Get through the week. The year. Hell, your life. Many people have been through so much worse than I could ever dream of and they find a way. So, my rambling half-psychotic point is: If we can compartmentalize horrible things we recall, surely we can compartmentalize cigarette cravings? Right? Hoping for some agreement here! So it comes back to smoking — or not smoking. Apparently, not smoking helps you live a better life. It’s that EASY!
Love that as much as I did? Go to her site and read on!