Forgive me, reader, for I have sinned. It has been seven days since I last used.
I am a nicotine addict. Now and forever.
I started smoking when I was 16. I smoked regularly until I was 29. I was not a casual smoker. I smoked a pack a day. More towards the end.
I once got kicked off a soccer field for trying to smoke a cigarette during halftime. Apparently nobody had tried that one before.
When I started eating healthy, I quit smoking. I don’t even remember how. I just went for it I guess. I quit for three years. Three years I was free.
Then my mother passed away, and in a deranged attempted to re-assert control over the Universe, I smoked a cigarette. It wouldn’t be the last.
A Secret Addiction
The thing is, smoking isn’t cool anymore. I mean, I know it wasn’t “cool” even when I did it as a teenager, but a lot of people were doing it. You weren’t an outcast. Especially not among people who liked to party.
Cigarette smokers are becoming more and more marginalized. Rates of smoking are dropping, especially among young people.
So you keep it a secret. From your friends. From your family. From the people you care about. You lie because you’re ashamed of yourself. For your weakness.
You wait until everyone’s asleep and then you smoke. Or you secretly bring cigarettes and go smoke in the back alley of the bar when nobody’s paying attention, praying nobody smells the stink of nicotine on you.
It’s no big deal because you’re going to quit any day now.
Living in Shame
The thing about smoking (in secret or otherwise) is that you’re ashamed of yourself. You know you should quit. You’re not an idiot. And it makes everything harder.
Dating? Forget it. Nobody wants to date a smoker. I don’t blame them. Smoking is disgusting. It destroys you. It’s expensive. The list goes on and on.
But addictions don’t really listen to reason. Because there’s another voice inside of you that’s always whispering to you. Always telling you that you can always quit tomorrow, just one more cigarette and you’ll be good.
It’s not even fun. It’s just this thing you need to do just to feel okay again. You’re constantly chasing that feeling of wholeness again. Digging the hole deeper just to stay even.
After a few drinks, that voice gets even louder. And it’s so fucking hard not to listen to it. Especially if you’re only smoking part-time. You think eh, once in awhile won’t kill me. I’m a social smoker now. I’ll just have one when I drink.
But the voice doesn’t take breaks.
I’m tired of living in secret. Of being ashamed. I miss the feeling of knowing I’d conquered it. Of being able to just… exist comfortably. Without having to wonder how I’m going to sneak off and smoke.
So I re-read The Easy Way to Stop Smoking by Allen Carr. I generally hate self-help books but he does a very good job of helping you realize all of the dumb things you’re doing to trick yourself to stay addicted to this terrible drug.
All of the illusions about why we smoke get deconstructed. And you realize that all you’re left with is a chemical dependency you don’t even enjoy. So why even bother? Why not embrace a future without that need inside of you?
So far, so good. Seven days isn’t much, but it feels like an eternity to me.
I feel good. I want to run more again. To enjoy just being comfortable with myself.
I don’t know what’ll happen in the future. I just know that I can’t fuck with nicotine anymore. No cigars, no hookahs. If you can do it casually, great. Enjoy yourself. (And fuck you.)
Me? I’m an addict. Been one since I was 16. Three years off didn’t change anything.
Sorry to those I lied to and kept secrets from.
And mostly, I am sorry for myself, for dragging myself back down this hole. I deserve better than that.
With any luck, maybe I’ll even listen.