written during my third month of freedom from smoking and originally posted on february 2, 2002, this tale talks about how the stuff i'd been writing was my way of dealing with my separation from my long-time companion - cigarettes - and how uncomfortable i was starting to get with the fact that people were starting to rely on what i was writing for support and inspiration.

it ain’t me, babe

2009 February 3

when i was younger, my oldest brother used to listen to Bob Dylan all the time. one of the songs i remember from back then is called "it ain't me, babe" - it's about people expecting more from you than you're willing — or able — to give, about people expecting you to be someone you're not, about people hoping you can give them something you can't. it's about the expectation of salvation and disappointment when it doesn't come through. it's about relationships. it's about life.

it's about me and you.

...so i wrote. a lot. and what i wrote, i wrote from the heart... but it was about me

when i started down the road of freedom from my addiction to nicotine 80 days ago, i re-discovered a form of therapy that i had first used, instinctively, many many years ago: writing. i didn't know why then, and i don't know why now, but something about writing has always helped me work things out, come to terms with grief, get over the pain of separation.

when i was in high school, i filled reams of paper with embarrassingly bad poetry, almost all of it about relationships that didn't work out. when i was in grad school, a long-term relationship with a woman i was planning to marry came to a messy end; i wrote over a thousand pages of letters to her, but i never mailed a single one. because it wasn't about her; it was about me. it was about starting to get over her. a few years ago, when the only other woman i've ever asked to marry me moved out, i got up every morning for a couple of months and poured my heart out on paper.

when i decided to undertake this quit, i was fortunate enough to find an online smoking-cessation program called freedom from smoking. one of the cornerstones of that program is a group of message boards where participants are encouraged to post their questions and concerns, the results of their lessons, their cries for help. and there are many "regulars" there who've stayed at the boards long after they quit to help the newbies, to encourage them, to give them advice, to provide an example, to show them it can be done, etc.

the whole idea behind these message boards seemed like such a natural thing to me; after all, what could be more helpful than writing about what i was going through, except if it was getting feedback from others who were doing the same thing, or had already quit and knew what i was going through because they'd already been through it themselves? so i wrote. a lot. and what i wrote, i wrote from the heart; i held nothing back. oddly enough, pretty soon, people started telling me what an inspiration i was, how much my writing helped them in their own quit, how i took things that they were feeling and expressed it in words so eloquently...

but it wasn't about them; it was about me. it was about me figuring out how to live without feeding my addiction. it was about me, starting to get over being a smoker.

i continued to write there, and i opened an online diary and started writing there, too, and more people came to read my entries, and more people told me what an inspiration i was, and how much my writing helped them, and how i was reaching into their souls and taking their feelings and putting it out on the internet for all to see, but it still wasn't about them; it was about me.

and once in a while, i'd be feeling negative, and wondering what's the use, and why am i putting myself through all this, and why don't i just start smoking again, everything would be so much easier - i wouldn't have to dig, i wouldn't have to face the fears, i wouldn't have to feel the feelings, i wouldn't have to look at the dark, ugly parts of my soul that had been buried behind the smoke screen for so long... and i'd realize that i needed a good swift kick in the ass; and that's what i'd write; straight shooting, from the heart, about me, just like always.

but then people would come out of the woodwork and tell me i shouldn't say things like that; i shouldn't be so hard, my words were too tough, that wasn't how to encourage the others, i should be more gentle, etc. what those people failed to understand is that it wasn't about them, it wasn't about the beginners, it wasn't about encouragement.

it was about me.

just like always.

3 responses leave one →
  1. 2003 September 24
    Brenda permalink

    Your writing has such a good flow to it. You are so open in your writing style. I feel close to you through your writing.

  2. 2004 July 25
    fantashia permalink

    I think the way you express yourself thru writing is the way is needs to be. I don't want somebody to be "gentle" with me. I want to know that the choices I make in life are my choices and the choices I make have consequences too. I'd rather have someone shoot it strait verses shooting the shit with me. I can get that anywhere. Thats why I keep coming back to this sight. You tell it like it is whether it be solely about yourself or someone else. Thank You.

  3. 2009 February 3

    note: the comments above were left on the original tale at the date and time indicated.

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