Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Tuesday-9:30am-Winter Cottonwood and Quitting Smoking

The cottonwood tree!!
55 years old and still towering over the former family house in Fridley, Minnesota!
Look at the size of that trunk! Well, double trunk. There's always been that smaller trunk on the left there. Thank you so very much, baby sister! I really do hope you can get pictures of it in the seasons, Renee. That would be awesome! Great pics! And from a phone!! :)
****
Okay--the quitting smoking story...get comfortable...grab a cup of coffee or tea and here we go.
****
I started drinking, swearing, and smoking grass after I was raped the summer of 1968. It's a strange thing how being beaten and raped by total strangers and then treated like it was your own fault, even by the police, can truly bottom out what little self-esteem you may have had. I believed I was worthless damaged goods and had somehow brought this upon myself and deserved it.
****
There is a funny part...at least to me. I learned to smoke grass that summer, but decided that sitting around giggling and feeling a bit zombie-ish just wasn't for me. That fall I started at the Junior College and discovered that they had a cigarette machine right down by the cafeteria. They assumed everybody was 18, but I was only 17 (had been a year ahead). So I could buy cigarettes any time I wanted! I might be wrong, but seems to me they were 35 cents a pack.
****
Anyways, I bought a pack...thinking it would make me look older and cool...go to smoke one...and I automatically toked it! Held my breath and almost choked to death!! So funny! I had to be taught how to smoke a cigarette vs. toking a joint. (Don't I sound street wise for a suburban Minnesota girl?!) The occasional experimenting with drugs lasted off and on for a couple of years, but the cigarettes stayed faithfully with me for 21 years. Alcohol returned about a dozen years later. Quit that, too, shortly after the cigarettes.
****
Over those 21 years I had tried to quit many times--cold turkey, One-Step-At-A-Time filters--(this was before the nicotine patches)--even acupuncture. I had never been able to do it. I couldn't think straight, got shaky & nauseous, and even snappy to people. Finally I'd be in tears...and lighting up.
****
I had gotten an inflamed ribcage one winter. (I know--who ever heard of such a thing?) Viral. Hurt to breathe. Couldn't lift the coffee pot. Had to sleep sitting up in a chair. Took about 4 months to run its course. But I still smoked, of course.
****
It came back another winter...and another. The doctor told me that once I had this I was just susceptible to getting it again--kind of like how some people get pneumonia easily. The only thing that could probably help is if I quit smoking, of course.
****
The pain always started at the bottom of my ribcage on one side or the other. The winter of 1989 Dagan and I were living on the farm with Roger. (Didn't farm--rented the land out.) Roger was a produce merchandiser and was on the road usually three weeks out of the month and home on weekends. Dagan was upstairs sleeping. Roger was gone for the week. I was sitting writing a letter at the kitchen table. The pain had been there...again...on my left side. I had been hoping it would go away...that it was something else...a muscle strain or something...but that night I knew it was back. Not again!
****
That would make 4 out of 5 winters! I remember I got up and started to pace the floor...feeling like I was going to scream! Or cry!
****
No amount of mental wrestling with it could help me. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. I remember feeling totally defeated and so very angry as I threw myself into bed. Tossed and turned--thinking about the whys and my soul's bumpy path and what a failure I was...
****
And I got to, shall we say, discussing this with GA (my laughing, butt-kicking, God's-representative guardian angel). I was soooo angry. I was angry that it would be another horrible winter of pain. I was angry that I couldn't quit smoking. That I was soooo pathetically weak. I was angry that my relationship with Roger was on the decline and that I couldn't succeed in love, either. That I tried so hard to be a good person and to improve my soul but never seemed to get anywhere. Maybe I was a lost cause...
****
This "conversation" went on and on. Totally one-sided. No response from GA. But I was too angry to listen, anyways. I wondered aloud about my worthlessness. I had such faith in God being there for anyone else. Whenever a person or animal was in distress--if I asked to be used as a conduit to calm their fears--He was there for them--always--no doubts. Yes--I was grateful for that--but what about me? (Self-pity is an ugly thing.)
****
I probably would never find that soul mate--never be loved. I wondered if I was a good enough mother. I still had no clue as to what my life's purpose was. I might have to start my life all over again. (Roger and I did split up the following spring.) I was looking at another long winter of being sick. And I couldn't even quit smoking. I could not do it. I had tried and tried and tried--but I was too pathetic and weak. I never asked for help for me--knew I didn't deserve any--but I dared GA--cried out in the darkness. "If you are really there--if I matter at all to you--prove it to me! Prove it to me!!"
****
I expected to hear something--loud and clear. Nothing. Silence. I cried myself to sleep.
****
When I woke up the next morning I didn't even notice at first that I wasn't smoking. I hadn't grabbed my pack and lighter first thing. I had no cravings. No dizziness, nausea, and I felt perfectly content. Had absolutely no desire to smoke!
****
Haven't smoked since.
****
I feel like it would be an insult to God if I ever did.
****
So when I tell people I quit smoking I always add that I had help. Divine intervention. I wasn't able to do it on my own.
****
Being important enough to GA/God to be personally answered and blessed (despite the petulant, whiny, nasty manner of asking for help)--well, it is still sinking in. But it started me thinking that maybe I wasn't worthless after all. :)
****
Oh--and the pain in my ribs was gone that morning, too, BTW.
****
"Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not the mind."
Lionel Hampton

13 comments:

  1. A powerful and profound post, Rita...more often than not, we don't even realise that our prayers have been answered.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ooops....I meant to comment on that amazing tree....WOW, it's beautiful!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm very glad you stopped with the smoking, toking, and other drugs...

    It sounds as if something happened within you overnight...

    I wonder where your GA has been though.. that they let all the things that happened to you - happen to you.

    I love that magnificent tree. Its definately "hug-worthy"... as you are too.

    *hugs*

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a beautiful huge tree. I would love to see it thru the seasons, too.

    I was about to say this post was powerful and profound, too, but Serena said it for me.

    You've been thru an awful lot in your lifetime. What is that saying? What doesn't kill you makes you stronger? You have a strong will and that has come from the things that have happened to you thru the years. I think your GA heard you that night and helped you with your addiction to cigarettes.

    This was an amazing story. Thank you for sharing it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh Sweetie!!! I am speechless after hearing your story. You have suffered much. As much as that impacts me though, your testimony is just as powerful. Thank you so much for sharing and hope you continue to be blessed.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm glad something was able to help you to finally quit smoking. I tried smoking and didn't like it. I kept telling people it was a disgusting habbit, and the response I got back was, "if you haven't tried it, how do you know it's disgusting?" So I took a pack of cigarettes from the stash I knew my Mam had, smoked some, decided I was right it was disgusting, then one day walked up to her with the few left in the pack, chucked the pack at her and said, "I still think it's disgusting." I accepted the odd smoke from people for a short time afterwards... Using the excuse of giving it a fair chance... But I never enjoyed it and it wasn't long before I stopped accepting the offer of a smoke and was back to my original, "it's a disgusting habbit, I don't know why you do it," arguments. The legal age to smoke here is 16, by the time I was that old I'd already tried it and dismissed it as something I didn't want to be doing though.

    Drinking was an issue for me though. That's why I'm tea total (so to speak) now. I very quickly became one of those for who one just wasn't enough. The legal age for drinking here is 18, but with my brother being only a little over a year older than me - and everyone thinking we're twins, for some reason - I was able to be served alcahol by the time I was 17. By the time I'd reached my 18th birthday I'd learned that I was one of those people who couldn't have just one drink, and wasn't sure I wanted to be drinking alcahol after all, since I was also one of those who did stupid things when drunk). I did try a couple of years later to stick to the, "just one or two drinks," rule... It resulted in my hubby having to practically carry me home. Yeah, one or two drinks doesn't work for me, so it's best I stick to none.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Serena--Thanks. I sure knew that morning that I had been heard and answered! But I didn't fall asleep thinking I had done anything but bare my soul in the darkness for nothing. ;) I haven't seen that tree for maybe 10-12 years. It took my breath away...that little twig of a sapling. My my! :) :)

    Iggy--well, I mostly experimented with various pills and smoked a little grass and hash--it was the 60s after all. ;) I've been blessed with several epiphany moments in my life. Each of which has changed me on a core level. GA was always there. I just didn't think I was worthy of guardian attention--but there were many, many times he helped and guided and protected me. I don't think I'd probably be alive today if not for watching over. I'm so glad I did have somebody watching over me--even when I didn't think I did. :) That tree is most hug-worthy!! Thanks so much! :):)

    AliceKay--Thanks, Lady! I was definitely heard. :):) Still brings tears to my eyes to this day when I write or talk or think about it. I'm blessed to have several things in my life that can do that to me--almost vibrates my soul. :):)

    Donna--I think we all suffer--have our various crosses to bear--but we are all also blessed beyond belief. Even if we are sometimes to busy to notice. ;)
    Thanks so very much. It wasn't as bad as it sounds. There are so many people who have had and do have it so much worse. I'm lucky I have a (fairly) patient guardian angel, eh? :):)

    Tori--I'm glad you never started smoking. And glad you quit drinking, too. I had always had that problem--not usually being able to tell when to quit and not able to stop at just one or two. Then I had a couple of years hanging around with musicians (Roger had a country band) where it didn't matter to me. Following the crowd we hung with. Till I had enough. When I quit drinking--well, when push came to shove--basically Roger chose drinking over me. I think I made him uncomfortable sober--hehe! So it was a good thing we split up. Not a bad thing. And I have stuck to no drinking, too. Keeps me out of trouble--ROFL! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Serena--Thanks. I sure knew that morning that I had been heard and answered! But I didn't fall asleep thinking I had done anything but bare my soul in the darkness for nothing. ;) I haven't seen that tree for maybe 10-12 years. It took my breath away...that little twig of a sapling. My my! :) :)

    Iggy--well, I mostly experimented with various pills and smoked a little grass and hash--it was the 60s after all. ;) I've been blessed with several epiphany moments in my life. Each of which has changed me on a core level. GA was always there. I just didn't think I was worthy of guardian attention--but there were many, many times he helped and guided and protected me. I don't think I'd probably be alive today if not for watching over. I'm so glad I did have somebody watching over me--even when I didn't think I did. :) That tree is most hug-worthy!! Thanks so much! :):)

    AliceKay--Thanks, Lady! I was definitely heard. :):) Still brings tears to my eyes to this day when I write or talk or think about it. I'm blessed to have several things in my life that can do that to me--almost vibrates my soul. :):)

    Donna--I think we all suffer--have our various crosses to bear--but we are all also blessed beyond belief. Even if we are sometimes to busy to notice. ;)
    Thanks so very much. It wasn't as bad as it sounds. There are so many people who have had and do have it so much worse. I'm lucky I have a (fairly) patient guardian angel, eh? :):)

    Tori--I'm glad you never started smoking. And glad you quit drinking, too. I had always had that problem--not usually being able to tell when to quit and not able to stop at just one or two. Then I had a couple of years hanging around with musicians (Roger had a country band) where it didn't matter to me. Following the crowd we hung with. Till I had enough. When I quit drinking--well, when push came to shove--basically Roger chose drinking over me. I think I made him uncomfortable sober--hehe! So it was a good thing we split up. Not a bad thing. And I have stuck to no drinking, too. Keeps me out of trouble--ROFL! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  9. That is just so wonderful, Im so sorry about the hard times you endured but what a wonderful ending :o)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks so much, Lynn! :):)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm glad your prayers are heard. Sometimes we don't know why we are being tested or for how long, just have to hang on and get through it.

    I only smoked one cigarette, then quickly decided it wasn't for me. I hardly ever drink and can stop easily after one because I don't like the feeling of being wasted. I did a few experiments with grass here in the 70's when it was legal, but then went to work for the DMV so had to be upright and sober all the time after that.

    I get high on music and dancing and being with people and making art. I've been tested pretty severely myself, so can sympathize. I'm glad you had the experience to reinforce your faith.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Sue--You are very lucky not to have had to deal with any issues with smoking or drinking, or drugs. Life is tough enough.

    Some days I think I am just high on life. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  13. "Keeps me out of trouble."

    Yes, my thoughts exactly. ;)

    ReplyDelete

I appreciate your visits and comments.
Have a really great day! :) :)