I smoked A LOT over the holiday. I’ve pretty much always allowed myself to smoke when I visit my dad’s house. Him and his fiance smoke. Constantly. Inside the house.
I left work on Tuesday the 23rd with the sense of freedom that elementary school kids have on the last day of school. I took 3 days off from work to celebrate Christmas. It’s not many, I know, but they were the first vacation days that I’d actually be using for vacation, as opposed to studying for midterms. I felt giddy. I met a friend for dinner and enjoyed a strong drink. I started thinking about smoking with the first sip. Then I bought some on the way home. I was on vacation! And I was headed to my dad’s house the very next day, so what’s a few early ones in anticipation of that?
I smoked like a fiend for 3 days straight, finishing 2 packs. That’s more than I usually smoked when I considered myself a smoker. I had an unopened pack from my stocking that I was going to save until New Year’s Eve. That plan didn’t last long. I didn’t smoke most of the day on Saturday, but then we decided to hit up Bantam Cider’s tap room and I opened that pack on the way there, in anticipation of drinking.
I admitted that I was losing my grasp on quitting. A day or two more of this would have spelled disaster. For my lungs, at least. Three days, I would probably be a full-fledged smoker again. I admitted all this to the bf to acknowledge my failings and get some support. I asked him to remind me (really, make me) throw out the rest of the pack I had before I went to bed. If they were still around in the morning, there’s no doubt I’d enjoy one with my coffee. And finish that 3rd pack throughout the day.
On the walk home we got in quite the argument. He wanted to take a cab and I wanted to walk. He accused me of wanting to walk just so I could smoke. I was drunk. I just wanted the FitBit steps. I could smoke all I wanted when I got home. He wanted a cab, but didn’t hail one because I had already lit a cigarette. I protested that if he caught a cab, I’d put it out. But we kept walking. Stewing in anger.
I don’t know how the next bout started. He said I never quit. That “quit” has a very clear definition of not doing it anymore, and I still smoked; ergo, I never quit. That really pushes my buttons. To me, that’s like calling me an alcoholic just because I drink alcohol. I quit being a smoker. I swear I did. And I felt diminished. I felt like I might as well smoke all the time if this is how he looks at it. If he can’t recognize my progress, commend me on my effort. He was tearing me down instead of building me up (I sincerely apologize if I lifted that from some Taylor Swift song or other nonesense).
We were drunk. These are generalizations. But along with the fact that I “never quit,” I also “never really try.” I don’t use Nicotine patches or gum or other substitutes. The part of addiction that keeps me wanting to smoke at parties and when I’m drinking isn’t the chemical addiction to Nicotine. It’s an addiction to a feeling, to a physical habit, to an “I can do what I want” freedom. He pointed out that I don’t want to quit. I told him he’s right. By his (and, yes, Merriam Webster’s) definition of quitting, I don’t want to quit. I want smoking to be a habit that I can pick up and put down. That I don’t want all the time, but can enjoy at appropriate times. I truly want it to be like alcohol. That’s what I’m striving for.
However, I don’t need alcohol like I need cigarettes. I don’t succumb to it when I don’t want to. I’m able to say no if someone offers me a drink and I don’t feel like one. I don’t have that control over smoking, but that’s what I’m trying for. No patch or shot or pill or gum or shaming is going to get me there. I need to want it enough, and find the willpower to control it better. To stick to my words when I say, “I’ll only smoke at so-and-so time.” I just need to follow my own rules.