A HUNDRED DAYS OF HELL

HINT FOR NON-ADDICTS
If anyone is reading this who has never been addicted to nicotine, the closest I can think of is thirst. Crazy, debilitating thirst when all you can think about is water – cold, flowing, so beautiful! Everything would be fine if you could just have a sip! Think of that magnified ten times and then you will come close to imagining a nicotine addiction. Please try to realize this when your friends are going through it.

FIND ONE FRIEND
My most helpful friend throughout withdrawal was an ex-crack addict. “People are all roaches” he would say – “so we build an exoskeleton of addiction to deal with them”.
He understood the manic depression, the sobbing for no discernible reason, the despair, and he assured me it would end. I clung to that, because I knew he was speaking from the other side. Find one of those friends!

PEOPLE SUCK
What happens is you shed your exoskeleton (of addiction) and grow a real one. It hurts, and everything hits home hard for a while. Some people are not very nice, you find out, or rather, are fairweather acquaintances, but hey! you would have figured that out sooner or later – better sooner..

YOUR REAL FRIENDS kind of SUCK TOO (BUT ONLY FOR A SHORT WHILE)
The heartbreaking ones are the friends who really care about you, and they try so hard and sound so stupid! But it’s not their fault – it’s your skewed perception of them due to withdrawal (mostly). It’s important to remember that these folks are not themselves having a life-changing, sometimes suicidal time. They are just incapable of understanding what you’re going through – it’s not as though you are bleeding on the outside.

DIFFERENT FOLKS
Some people are always your friends and always will be. Some folks try to tell you what to do and are negative. And others tell you that they completely understand your situation because they are, like, so addicted to chocolate!
An Israeli friend of mine said “Wow! Hmm. That’s sort of like telling a Holocaust survivor that you know what they went through because you once played soldier in the backyard”. Well, not quite, obviously, but it surely is pretty dumb to talk chocolate to someone going through withdrawal. Try to refrain from slapping these latter folk.

IT PASSES, REALLY
I thought I would never laugh again and mean it. I thought I would never again love music, or be inspired by anything. The depression is hard and real, but it does pass. All of a sudden, after 100 days or so, the sky is, in fact, bluer. Trust me.

A YEAR AND SOME LATER
Should the subject come up in casual conversation, it annoyingly seems as though many are insistent on saying “Good For You!” in a voice which makes you feel like a poodle who jumps through rings of fire. They mean well, but I find it’s good to back away from these people slowly, smiling and nodding. And then run.

Best is not to bring it up at all. Most people cannot comprehend what it is to have loved and beat an addiction, and they live and react accordingly. We, however, have that extra facet.

I’ll leave it at that.

Meanwhile, I’m going to become a smoker again as soon as I turn 80, when it no longer matters. And until then, I will uphold my vow to never be judgemental – except of people who are judgemental.