Choking Mountain Memories

My insides were churning. My sinuses had a freshly sprayed with battery acid feeling. My head was raw and throbbing. As an added bonus, my gums became bloody,  tender and inflamed. Each noise I heard, every motion I felt, any aroma that wafted my way all made me want to do some insane spin-around 360, Kung Fu projectile vomiting  For the next two months, I would feel like this and daily I would make a note of how horrific it all was. I intentionally  ignored the “miracle of quitting smoking” and how I saved my own life and all of that crap. I wanted to remember how shitty it all was, every second.


This tactic was simple. It was the “empty all of the litter boxes before you adopt another cat” technique. It was the “remembering your alimony payments before paying for another wedding” trick. Never in my life had I felt so bad and I needed to remember that cigarettes did this to me. The bastards. I mean, we used to be friends. But more than 20 years later, things between us were not cute. My gagging, hacking last days of smoking were downright disgusting. The mornings were spent spitting and choking followed by the mandatory wake-up, shame cigarette.  Each time I smoked, I knew without a doubt that I was buying my face a one-ticket to Keith Richards Town. And the smell, my smell, became unbearable. I had recently met my husband and reeking like the floor of a 1980’s bowling alley tavern didn’t really seem like the aroma of a man in love should be rocking.

My sudden doneness with smoking was surprising. We’d always gotten along and throughout early sobriety cigarettes were my closest confidantes.Quitting never crossed my mind during those days either. I honestly never thought I would stop but somehow knew that when the time was right, I would know. November 15, 2010 was the time in question. I just knew that I never wanted to be the sad old queen in a kimono with a Benson and Hedges Ultra Light 100 dangling from my creased pruny lip. My horrific detox have helped this become a reality, at least for the last years anyway. Exhuming slimy critters from my lungs, which begged to be pulverized by Sigourney Weaver and some heavy artillery was the first stage of my shiny smoke-free life. This was followed quickly by a compound nausea made worse by moving back to the dizzying altitude of the Mile High City . Baking my skin and sinuses to a golden brown perfection was the toxic smelling 300-year-old radiator in my grandmother’s basement where I was shacking up when I first came back. Just catching a whiff of cigarettes during the early days was hurlicious enough to send me into dry heaves on more than one occasion. Even writing about it now makes me feel a tad queasy. The worst part is that- and  I’m not exaggerating when I say this-  it went on for months. A friend who had also quit smoking recently put it into perspective for me when she said, “You’ve been filling your body with poison since you were 15. Did you think this would be a picnic?” Good point.

In short, my Yelp review of quitting smoking wouldn’t be a glowing one. Seriously I would not recommend it. Stopping drinking was easier and a lot less disgusting  But yes, I am glad I quit smoking and I was incredibly happy and proud last week when I celebrated two years without those nasty bitches. The best part about my gnarly cigarette detox is that I didn’t want to smoke. I just wanted to die. And I hope I always remember that.