Yup, it's another smoking update. I'm nearly at week 6 of stopping smoking and I've reached the point where the vast majority of my previous attempts to stop have failed. I don't know why it is, but around the six-week mark, the smoking bug just creeps back into my head and I can really, really feel it trying to force its way in. Like menstruating at Castle Dracula, this is a very, very dangerous period.
It was around this time in December that my last attempt failed - back then, I was working nights which made me overtired. This in turn - coupled with smoking withdrawals - made me overemotional, which made me want to smoke. And rather than it being a craving of wanting to smoke, it felt like a fact that it was only a matter of time before I would smoke. Not a fear, not a desire, but a hard, cold, undeniable fact. And no matter how much I tried to dismiss it, not acting on it felt as futile as saying I would never eat or breathe again. I genuinely felt like I didn't have a choice, all I was doing was delaying the inevitable.
This time it's different. Not because I feel different, because I don't. I feel just as vulnerable as I did back in December, perhaps even more so. And I can feel it once more, checking for cracks, looking for a weakness to exploit, trying to get me to recognise the futility of believing I can stop. Tonight, incidentally, it's trying to get me on Valentines Day, trying to get me to reflect on love lost and rejection. It would be so easy to follow that path, to immerse myself in melancholy and misery - it's not fair and it's below the belt. And yet I know where that path will lead. And that's why this time it's different.
It's different because I realise that this is actually just smoke and mirrors. I am normally a tremendously positive person, comfortable with myself and my surroundings, I'm not a particularly insecure person - the only time I get in any way maudling or self-doubting is when it comes to smoking. The physical dependency of smoking is broken within days of stopping - the psychological dependancy takes much, much longer and it undermines my very being until I eventually break. I can't believe that it's taken me this long to really appreciate that.
The complicated thing about all this is that it's hard to tell what's real emotion and what's smoking-related nonsense. I think that there is an element of reality, but that it's magnified manifold by smoking's desire to break me. It's funny - many non-smokers think that smokers are weak. If only they knew the psychological battle we face and the mental strength needed to overcome it.
In the past I have been able to stop smoking, but it's often been for other people. This time I've broken that link and I'm doing it just for me. That's a good thing, and I know that when I do break the psychological hold it has over me, it will taste all the sweeter.
Whatever happens, I will not smoke. It can break me into a thousand pieces, I will not smoke. Because this time I have finally seen it for what it is, it's a con act, an illusion, a simple trick which I have always fallen for - I stop smoking, it makes me feel crap, I dig in, it keeps making me feel crap, eventually I crack and then I smoke. Finally I have worked it out and I will simply not react to it.
In some ways, it feels like I am trapped in a cold, dark cell, with walls of thick, grey stone. And yet if I look closely, the walls are just cinematic props, made of paper. I just have to recognise that, remember that and punch my way through. It's going to take some time, but for the first time ever, I now have a cold, hard, undeniable fact of my own: whatever the question, smoking is not the answer.