I kept waking up last night and I check my phone to see if it’s almost time to get up and sometimes I hit Facebook or email even though screen time is BAD in the middle of the night and I’m really not sure why I do this although it’s never kept me up. Maybe I’m looking for some sort of connection. I don’t stay out there for more than a few seconds, hello world. Sometimes I reset the music. I kept waking up last night. I went back to sleep right away mostly. At 5:48 I looked at the phone and just got out of bed. The alarm was set for 6 anyway. Why the hell not. I was bleary. This was the first thing I saw in my feed and I shook my head, yeah, that’s about right and I have to tell SOMEBODY and I was bleary and sending something like that out to anybody when you’re not really awake is like drunk dialing. You just don’t do it.
I saved it to my phone.
I’ve been smoking in the morning when I write. I had two cigarettes left and they were the last two. I didn’t actually expect them to last this long and I chose not to throw them out this time. I just let it go. If I’d had more before my shower this morning, they would have ended up in the trash because the shower was the drop dead date. It wasn’t really a hard choice. Time’s up. I didn’t really sit down and think about it this time, something just sort of clicked. There were a couple of factors that eventually aligned themselves. Two were familiar and happened quicker than they might have, the rest were things that are generally considered reasons *most* people quit but are usually why the rest of the world say you should quit and are the reasons smokers experience guilt. That’s a hell of a way to quit.
The first two are money and inconvenience. Nobody wants to hear that. Those aren’t the ‘right’ reasons to quit smoking. I want you to know I’m smiling as I write this: Fuck off. Those are really good reasons. It costs A LOT to smoke and there are far better things to do with my money. Inconvenience? Oh hell, it’s gotten really hard for a conscientious smoker to feed a habit these days. They don’t even put ashtrays in cars anymore. If you don’t want to drop crap out your window, and I do not. You field strip the damn things out the window and drop the rest into the trash which you empty later. Smoking in public is not acceptable, at least not to me.
Here are reasons that are generally applied as guilt and based on some of the television commercials I remember seeing back when I watched network television, remind me of a Clockwork Orange. Your health. Your health is your own choice. Nobody needs to be bombarded by some of the most appalling images of destroyed body parts I’ve ever seen. Seriously. Apply that to other lifestyles and we can bring down the networks and a couple of other vices. How you affect the people around you. Uh, OK. Be conscientious. It’s still your choice. How the people around you feel are their feelings. They get to have those feelings. There are other ways to hurt yourself. I just spoke modern day heresy. Deal with it. The way nonsmokers deal with smokers, the things they say about them, the way they feel obliged or morally superior is one of the most outrageous and obnoxious behaviors I can think of. Another form of pollution. Not helpful. Not even remotely. It’s a free pass to be an absolute asshole and is generally driven by something else.
So this is what happened. The clock ran out. I was aware of the clock, I just didn’t know how it was set. I was trusting something. Money was a factor but it wasn’t the driving factor this time. I think part of this is driven by the fact that I don’t consider myself a smoker anymore. I’m not sure when that happened but it did and it wasn’t something I wanted to give up. It was affecting my relationship. There wasn’t guilt associated with my smoking; I just needed to be aware of sensitivity. I did, however, put a barrier between us. I had to be really careful about when and where. I needed to keep the smoke off my clothing, out of my hair, off my hands and out of my mouth. Again, no guilt, just his experience and respect for the experience. It wasn’t even really inconvenient to take care of all that but it took time and thought and that actually creates a barrier. Do you see the difference? I have a choice. I can keep doing this or I can choose to come back into the space and stay there.
Also, for years we’ve heard about nicotine as a stimulant but it is also a sedative. Those two combined create the best of both worlds and for probably a lot of people, and definitely me, cause a blanket effect. I’m calm, I’m alert and I am separate and apart from anything that has me on edge. There’s a problem with that though; I am separate and apart. It’s not so much being out of the room as taking myself out of something from which I have an opportunity to confront or resolve. It’s a very slick way to withdraw. Combine that with coffee or alcohol and it gets even better. Up until now this has been working for me. The top of my head hasn’t exploded. I don’t think it’s going to; that’s where the clock stopped ticking.
Lastly, my health. Guys, my choice. Seriously. Don’t even bring my kids into this. Don’t bring anybody into this. That pisses me off more than ANYTHING. Try that and I’ll process your ass into the ground about your choices and how they affect your children. I’ll start with your parenting, move on to your driving and then your lifestyle. Anyone can judge and pick apart anything. We are all vulnerable to attack. Shut the fuck up. I really don’t mean to be harsh, I simply mean that we’ve taken this too damn far and it’s stopped being about caring and become about our own feelings.
So my health. Want to know what did it? My cardio. It is affecting my life in a way that I experience directly and don’t particularly care for. It’s always done that except this time I want my lungs to work more than I want the blanket.
I am more committed to my relationship, to staying in the moment when it really matters than I want the blanket.
The inconvenience of smoking is a real irritant. I don’t need the damn blanket that badly.
This shit costs way too much. My girls need things. Never mind what I might need the cash for (and that’s definitely a consideration). My girls need things. I can buy a new pair of pointe shoes in ten days. I can also rationalize not doing that math very easily, it could go either way but the clock stopped ticking and / or all of the above occurred.
So there it is my choice, just mine. I am thankful for Northern Man’s respect, especially given his feelings, which are truly his, but they’re real. That respect gave me the space to avoid being defensive. Being defensive actually makes it harder to quit. I am thankful that my girls and Elizabeth’s dad know me well enough to trust that the clock would run out and also that I would take care of myself. Not having to deal with fear and guilt made it a lot easier to just be in the space.
A very wise man once said: ‘Alecto, if you’re going to come out here and smoke, if you’re going to separate yourself from the group to do this, then really have that cigarette. Don’t sit out here and be guilty. Smoke it fully. Be present. And then come back inside.’ He was and most likely still is one of the most anti-smokers I know. The guy thinks tobacco, or at least the way it’s processed, packaged and sold today is one of the worst things we’re doing to ourselves. He also believes in choice. His attack has always been on tobacco, never on people.
I hope that made some sense. I hope if you’re out there trying to quit or thinking about quitting that some of that might be helpful. I hope if you’re wanting someone you love to quit smoking it might help you think differently. I hope if you’re a screamer, you might stop and reconsider if what you’re doing is helpful or not. Or does it just make you feel better. The sound of your voice and the damage of your words in the air might far outweigh the smell of a smoker. Just sayin’. Also, best I can tell, nobody ever got somebody to quit smoking successfully by bullying them into it.
Now I’m going to come back to the illustration at the top of this post. You’ve probably either forgotten or wondered what the hell I was getting at.
It’s about strong, personal and politically incorrect opinion based on MY life. Not YOUR life, MY life. That said, I kind of have to think about how I approach that communication. All those paragraphs up there were pretty much in your face and I didn’t worry too much about how I was speaking. I had something to say and I chose to speak with strong, concise words.
That photo hit me like a freight train. All bleary eyed I still felt myself shaking back and forth like a patched up Raggedy Ann doll with a few conflicting opinions and some very strong emotions. Let’s start with the left side of the slide, shall we? Actually, let me preface this by stating what should be pretty damn obvious, this is garbage is a piece of shit right wing propaganda. It’s got some truth though, propaganda always does.
So that left side of the slide did a hell of a lot more than rub me the wrong way. I wanted to punch somebody and I don’t often feel that way. Not really. I might say it but I don’t truly feel it. I’ve punched people. Most people haven’t actually punched people. Not really. I wanted to punch someone when I looked at that. I felt physically sick afterward. Not because I wanted to punch somebody and not because it was a piece of shit right wing propaganda. I felt sick because at one point it was the truth and maybe it still is.
Soil yourself to stop a rape? REALLY? Uh. No. With the possible exception of some very tentative offenders, that’s really not going to help, might make it worse. I remember that though. When I was raped in 1981 that’s what they were telling us we should do. Even then, especially then, I was offended. It wasn’t men telling us we should do this. It was women and THIS really offended me. We hadn’t gotten angry yet, we were just scared and going possum. Possums, as a last resort release their bowels. As a possum offender having just recently removed one from my coop and gathered him into a cradle against my chest so that he couldn’t escape, while I was a bit shocked when he let go, I wasn’t even remotely inclined to drop the bugger. He was moving OUT of there, shit on me and himself or no shit.
Nooooooo…. I don’t think so. It wasn’t even the humiliation aspect that struck me. Look. You’re going to be humiliated anyway. Hell, you’re going well beyond humiliation, trust me on this. You’re going straight to a level of violation you simply cannot imagine if you haven’t been there (and I certainly do hope you have not) and you’re possibly going to, oh shit, am I going to die? The release of bodily functions is likely going to be the last thing on your mind. Hey, I was 17 years old, the fat man had his dick in my ass, a gun to the back of my head and was doing something really uncomfortable to my right arm and shoulder while suddenly putting most of his 300+ pounds on my less than 100 pound body, think I was worried about whether he had shit on his dick? Not particularly. I was worried about dying face down on the white rug in my parent’s dining room.
Shocked? Startled at least? Good.
No? I politely request that you get your head out of your ass. This is important.
Want to know what I really think? I think the right side of the slide. Yes I do. Really and truly.
And the thing is, I don’t actually believe in the death penalty. It took me a long time to come to that conclusion and during that long time I was truly conflicted but my conflict was about what I think of as those really god awful crimes like full scale all out mass murder. Premeditated slaughter. In the end I came up null. In the moment though? I’m going with the right side of the slide.
I live on the left side of the scale. My reasons for believing in some sort of gun control have very little to do with believing or not believing in the right to bear arms and more to do with wondering what the hell most people would do with a gun. We’ve lost our connection with firearms. We don’t know how to handle them, or more accurately have a horrible fear and absolutely no respect for them. We reached a level of hysteria in this country that I find absolutely frightening. I think of gun owners who believe that had someone been armed in that theater that the shooting would have stopped. Well, OK, but only if the armed person really had the sack to handle the gun. How likely is that? I don’t know very many gun owners with a whole lot of sack. I know a bunch of gun owners that scare the shit out of me. I know some gun owners who seem to be relatively grounded. They’re almost all over 60 and / or they’ve served in one branch of the military or another and even then that’s no guarantee.
So I live on the left side of the scale.
I’d still shoot your face off given the opportunity.
I own a pellet gun, so that’s not going to happen but I don’t have any illusions that going limp and pissing myself is going to change much of anything. Going limp might save my life. That *is* something to keep in mind and going limp? If it saves your life? Do it. Sort the rest out later.
Long post. I don’t smoke anymore, if I shoot, I’m likely to shoot to kill and I’m not going to drop the possum, metaphorically speaking or otherwise.