Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Genghis Kong Vs. The 4 Month Itch

As many of you will know, I gave up smoking roughly four months ago.

I found quitting really surprisingly easy - I used no patches, gum or any other kind of nicotine accessory and just stopped smoking overnight. I made no grand running-my-fags-under-the-tap last gesture, I didn't tell any of my friends "whatever you do, don't let me smoke", and in general didn't make a big deal of it. And it was easy. I never really liked smoking in the first place - it was just a habit. Just something I did. Friends of mine would go on about how they loved smoking and could never quit. I never loved smoking, and always thought quitting - when I finally felt like I should - would be easy.

And it was.

But I hadn't counted on the 4 month itch. I should have prepared for it though - the one previous time that i stopped smoking I stopped for just over 3 months without any difficulty. Then after 3-4 months I made the (seemingly) logical (at the time) decision that actually I preferred being a smoker to being a non-smoker, so I started smoking again.

And I smoked very happily. I smoked heavily and contentedly through first year. I was good at smoking - people even complimented me on how nice my bedroom smelt, even though i was smoking around 15-20 a day in my room.

I was very happy to continue to smoke through second year as well. Ours was party house, the floor was covered in cigarette butts, I'm sure several of them were mine. But of all the silly things I did during second year, smoking never really bothered me.

In fact, although I never really relished smoking and always hoped to quit, I specifically planned not to quit smoking while I was in Japan. This is why:
  1. Fags are amazingly cheap here. 300yen for a pack of Lucky's (just about £2), and they are nowhere near the cheapest
  2. You are allowed to smoke indoors. In fact, you are actively discouraged from smoking outdoors, so bars, clubs and restaurants are considered the most acceptable places to have a smoke
So it would seem unfair to expect me to stop smoking in the face of these two very compelling reasons not to quit.

But quit I did. And it was easy.

Incidentally, one of the reasons I stopped smoking was that I massively fancied an Australian girl, who had a very low opinion of smoking.

But now - just as it did the last time I stopped smoking for several months - the 4 month itch has kicked in. And it has kicked in hard.

No one ever tells you that quitting smoking is not the hard part - it's surviving the 4 month itch.

Right now every part of my subconscious is just saying "go on - have a fag", "just roll one up and have one" (for the record I never threw out my baccy - I reckon a real man can quit smoking with a full pack of baccy, skins and filters in his drawer and doesn't need to wash them down the sink in order to quit), and until just recently it's not been a problem at all. I have genuinely had no desire to smoke whatsoever.

Except since about 3 weeks ago, since when the desire to smoke has been growing and growing, and my reasons for not smoking have been becoming blurrier and blurrier. I know one thing for certain: my main number 1 reason for stopping smoking has just gone back to Australia, so why am I continuing to punish myself?

Because once you pass about 3 months of not smoking, your thinking begins to change: it goes from "Wow - I've been 3 months without smoking" to "good god - I've been 3 months without smoking - how long do I have to go before I can smoke again?". I know it sounds retarded, especially having not smoked for 4 months, but right now I can't imagine my future life without smoking. In my head I'm still a smoker, almost as much as I reckon I'll always be a drinker (barring unforeseen circumstances).

I want to smoke, but I don't want to fail at not smoking, although I still consider myself a smoker, even though I don't smoke any more and don't really intend to ever again...

And that's my stance: I'ma smoker who doesn't smoke, and proabably never will.

But seriously - how long do I have to go without a cigarette to prove that I'm not addicted so I can have a smoke again without feeling bad about it?

I don't know, but I'm at least 95% sure that I'm not about to crack and start smoking again, even though I really, really want to more than anything right now and I have all the makings of a fag in my desk drawer. I'm not going to. I don't know why, but I think I might be stronger than that.


Can I have a fag please?



Up said...

don't watch any french films from the 50s or 60s.

Laura said...

I am giving up on Friday and I am already missing it before I've even stopped. Bit silly that all my family found out that I smoke on Saturday and after hiding it for this long I'm giving up less than a week later. I think you've hit the nail on the head with missing being a smoker more than the actual smoking though.

Jethro said...

I'm winning. 22nd october and still going.

Up said...

i want more bloggage. where's it gone?

call-me-queen said...


It's all a ploy woody - don't let them nippon smash you with their cheap fags!

And besides - whenever you think about it - take a look at a lovely brown smile from one of the japs in the designated smoking areas outside!

b_w said...

noone let me know about this four month itch. from new years day i was good as gold, then i goes to london "the big smoke" damn straight, relapsing aint fun