So, here's my deep, dark secret, which is really only a secret from the internet, because it's sort of hard to hide from people in the real world - I smoke. I haven't had a cigarette for about two weeks, which is a pretty long stretch for me, but I'm feeling a little stressed out, so I'm trying really hard to fight those cravings.
Both of my parents smoked while I was growing up. I remember being deeply disturbed by the anti-smoking ads that were on TV when I was in my early teens, and begging my mom to stop, even running out of the house in anger on a couple of occasions. My parents always smelled like stale cigarette smoke, and they both had that deep, hacking smoker's cough. In my dad, that later developed into emphysema and congestive heart failure.
The obvious question to ask, then, is why did I ever start? Honestly, I don't know. I smoked cloves very briefly in college, mostly because I liked the taste and the look of the black, sugared paper. I smoked one too many one time, though, and now the smell just makes me nauseous. I guess it really started, as a lot of stupid things that young women do, with a guy. I dated a guy that smoked, so when he would smoke, I would smoke. It didn't seem like a big deal - I would bum one from him once in a while, and then one or two a day, and then he'd get annoyed that I was smoking all of his cigarettes and I'd end up buying my own pack. There's no sharply defined transition between occasional, social smoker and that person that's huddled under an awning when it's -10°, desperately puffing away.
When I young, I didn't realize how hard my parents were trying to quit. It seemed like they smoked constantly, but I also remember a lot of nicotine patches and gum being purchased. My mom had probably been smoking for 20+ years, my dad for close to 40. After so many years, I'm not sure what was stronger - the force of addiction, or the force or habit.
I hate that I'm repeating their mistakes, but in a way, I understand them so much better than I used to. There are so many things that make me want a cigarette. I'm a huge stress smoker. When my father died, I sat on my porch for hours, chain smoking between bouts of tears. Being angry or frustrated makes me crave them. Drinking makes me crave them. Seeing other people smoke makes me crave them. Seeing anti-smoking ads makes me crave them. Talking about smoking, right now, makes me crave them.
Even though I know that, after one or two of them, they're not going to make me feel good; that they're going to make my clothes smell; that they're going to give me wrinkles; that they're going to shorten my fucking lifespan, I still want them. There's this stupid little part of my brain that thinks "come on, just one more pack. One more pack, and then I'll really quit forever. And look at all the cool people that smoke. Models and old movies stars and people like that. If Lauren Bacall does it, why shouldn't you?" It's just hard to keep saying no when saying yes just seems like such a reasonable thing.
But it's been almost two weeks since my last one, and somehow I've managed to keep saying no. Brian's birthday is in a couple of weeks, and I've made a deal with myself that if I can keep on the straight and narrow until then - healthy eating, no drinking, no smoking - I can debauch myself a little bit while we party. The promise of a little craziness in the future seems to be helping me restrain myself right now.