So. I’m sure you’re wondering how I’m doing with smoking. This was never intended to be a blog about quitting smoking, but God works in mysterious ways. I started on the nicotine patch Sunday. It was my husband, Scott’s idea to do so. We had a full day ahead of us, going out of town to visit my family for a birthday party and then back in town just in time for a birthday party with his family. I knew Sunday was going to be rough but dear Scottie refused to delay another day. He put on his patch. I put on mine. Let the suffering begin.
I’m really proud of the fact that I only had 8 cigarettes that day. It was an incredibly stressful day. It was the wrong day to even try to reduce, much less quit. Good gravy, if you’d offered me a crack pipe, I probably would’ve smoked it.
Monday was better. I didn’t smoke, but I felt fluish and shaky all day. Tuesday was no better. Wednesday, I decided the patch wasn’t doing me any good so I didn’t put it on.
Wednesday was a very bad day.
This is where the saints come in. Oddly literally.
Shortly after I began my quest to grow closer to God, I became more and more convinced I needed to simplify my life. When I look back at my little one bedroom apartment I had when I was single, it seems unreal to me that Scott and I have somehow managed to fill a 3 bedroom house to the brim. I’ve made a few attempts to “de-hoard” the house, but we’ve still got a long way to go. Right along those same lines, we’ve been trying to save money for our upcoming trip to Hawaii, which has brought to light how wasteful we are with our money.
As I was digging through my wallet, searching for cash one day, I found something I forgot I had: A prayer card for St. Clare! It was like a little confirmation: “Yes, you’re on the right track. Simplify, cast aside your quest for earthly things and continue to chase after God!” A few days later, after countless hours of shopping and searching, I decided not to buy a new purse, but to get an old one out of the closet instead. I have about 4 or 5 purses altogether, so buying another would be wasteful. I picked a purse out of the closet stash and what did I find inside? A St. Francis prayer card. “The right track indeed.”
The day of Scott’s Great Aunt’s funeral, I sat down to watch the daily mass that evening, but that day’s mass wasn’t available, so I watched the previous day’s mass. This is unusual for me to do. For some reason, I’ve very particular about watching today’s mass or doing without. The previous day’s mass was the memorial of St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, whom I had never heard of before. Yes, I’m a horrible Catholic who doesn’t know my saints. Well, since meeting him, I can’t seem to shake the guy.
I keep seeing him mentioned on blogs, Scott watched a documentary about him (right after I originally heard his story, before I blogged about it or said anything to anyone), my sister-in-law mentioned him the other day. Suddenly, the guy is everywhere!
Then came Wednesday.
A Brief History of Quitting
Let me give you just a little bit more back story. I’ve quit smoking before, but I think the longest I ever went without was just shy of a month. Maybe right at a month. I’ve used reduction a few times, but never actually quit after reducing cigarettes. The nicotine patch has been the only thing that ever got me through a full day. A few years ago, I was in the hospital for 4 days, and wasn’t able to smoke, but most of the time, they had me on a nicotine patch, plus, I’m sure the saline drip helped out. (I love a saline drip! They’re so refreshing!) Last Saturday, I did make it through the workday, but I smoked before I left for work and after I got home.
So, in the 12 years since I started smoking, I’ve never had to go even a full day without some sort of nicotine. I was not prepared for the harsh jolt of nicotine exiting my body.
Wednesday: The Day of Doom
By the time I arrived at work on Wednesday, it had already been about 12 hours since I had removed my nicotine patch the day before. It wasn’t long before I realized that the patch had been doing quite a bit of good, actually. I was visibly rattled, I kept jumping up and walking around, my chest became tight, it was hard to breathe, my hands were shaking. I went back to the ladies room at regular intervals to pray a decade on the rosary, offering up my little suffering for those suffering from major drug withdrawals. Despite the poor circulation in my leg, focusing on that pain hasn’t motivated me nearly as much as focusing on the pain someone else is going through from giving up heroin or crack or meth.
At lunch, something just broke inside me. I was exhausted from fighting the cigarette cravings. My blood felt as if it were boiling in my veins. I knelt down in the ladies room floor, fumbling with my rosary. I need help. Help! I grabbed my phone and hit search button. “Patron saint drug addiction,” I typed. My jaw dropped when I looked at the first page of results.
“Wh-what?” I asked. There he was again! I actually went back and forth for a minute or two (you’ve seen the name of this blog, right?) before my soul cried out “St. Maximilian Kolbe! Pray for us!!!” In my heart, I gathered those suffering from drug addiction around me and threw myself into my Aves, as I begged St. Maximilian to kneel with me. I burst into tears, ragged from exhaustion. I poured my heart out, but when the 10 Aves were done, there was peace.
Help along the way.
Scott and I went to the Catholic book store the next day and I picked up a St. Maximilian prayer card and a medal. I told Scott about what happened and what he had to say took me by surprise.
Scott: Maybe he’s trying to help you.
Me: Yeah. With quitting smoking.
Scott: That, too. But maybe he’s trying to help you with your blog.
Me: *Puzzled little face.*
Scott: Didn’t you read up on him? He’s the patron of journalists. He did a newsletter and a magazine and had all sorts of printing presses and equipment….
Well, obviously my blog needs all the help it can get, as can my poor abused lungs. However, I learned an additional lesson. The next time I see a saint is stalking me, I’m going to find out everything about them so that I may be able to ascertain why they are stalking me. Naturally, they’re trying to help. However, if I know what they’re trying to help me with, perhaps that can save tears later.