A Fight About Smoking

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.

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Smoking – 2 years after “I Quit”

I still struggle with the same issues I was two years ago.  And 4 years ago.  And 15 years ago.  I smoke whenever I can.  In “quitting” I just redefined when I can.

When I first quit, the only time I was allowed was when I went home, due to the fact that my entire family smokes…in the house.  Given how difficult it was for me to quit in the first place (you can read about that HERE – I just did, and I had totally forgotten – it’s good to remember), I didn’t go home for the first few months.  When I did go home for the holidays, I smoked, and then when I came back to my own home, I didn’t bring any cigarettes with me.  It was as easy as that, like a separation of church and state (that’s a terrible example, except to show that it’s not that easy).

Gradually I realized that I had the willpower to not start again.  For me, “starting” has always been defined as some combination of the following:

  • smoking during the week
  • with my coffee
  • on my walk to work
  • at work
  • when I get home from work

I’ve been easily able to not “start” in that sense.  So, I started being more lenient with myself and enjoying my smoking times.  When I was out drinking or with other smokers.

In the past year, I’ve gotten even more lenient.  Let’s blame it on grad school.  My friends also smoke more often (thankfully, I’m not friends with any full time smokers).  And I care less.  If I can control it, then who cares.  To me, it’s the same principle as drinking.  I should be able to enjoy drinking whenever I want, as long as I’m not drinking all week, in the morning with my coffee, on my walk to work, at work, when I get home from work – haha.

But, I still feel overwhelmingly guilty and ashamed when I do.  I think this is mostly due to the major shade thrown at my by the bf.  It does make me a little resentful.  He started dating me when I smoked, so he accepted it at one point.  I should be allowed to enjoy some vices.  I know it smells bad, but so does he when he eats too much cheese, so it should be even, right?

He made a comment once when we were out about how I didn’t even try not to smoke.  I exploded on him.  I try not to smoke every morning when I sip my coffee.  Every time I pass a 7/11, or a Tedeschi’s, or any number of other locations that sell cigarettes.  I try not to smoke every time I pass someone smoking who looks like they’d be generous and let me bum one.  I try not to smoke every time I have an orgasm.  Every time I have one sip of alcohol.  Every time the thought crosses my mind that, “I’m an adult.  I can do what I want.  If I enjoy doing something I can do it.”

It’s been two years, and I try not to smoke at least 3 times a day, every single fucking day.  SO, when I give in on one day a week, it’s still a triumph.  It’s still success.  I still quit smoking.  And that’s how I choose to look at it, because it’s my life.

Umpteenth time’s a charm?

Okay, so the title of this post was just an excuse to use the word “umpteenth.”  It comes up as an answer on crossword puzzles all the time and it’s a ridiculous looking and sounding word.  What’s not to love?

Aaannndddd back to the point of this post.  I rejoined the Become An Ex website.  I’ve wrote about it before…2 years ago, actually, and said I was going to join when I got back from vacation, but never did.  Well, I’m going on vacation, again.  September 12th.  So, I have set my quit date for September 21st.

Yes, I have a QUIT DATE!

(if I knew how to make a terrified emoticon, that’s what would go here)

Step 1 – Track your cigarettes

I tracked my cigarettes on Thursday through Sunday.  I am surprised and embarrassed by the results.  I’m smoking more cigarettes in a day than I ever have before.  I can’t even bring myself to say the amount, let alone write it down.  It’s fucking disgusting.  The reasons and times that I smoke have completely changed since the last time I did this 4 years ago (maybe that’s why this time is more difficult?).  I smoke most of my cigarettes at work (I used to not smoke at work at all) and the least on the weekend (except when I’m drinking :-/ ).  Most of the time the only trigger for me to have a cigarette is time or place.  “Oh, it’s 10AM, I think I should have a morning break,” or “I have nothing else to do while I walk to the T.”  They aren’t exactly triggers I can avoid.  People who are strongly urged to have one when they have coffee will stop drinking coffee for the first few days, switch to tea, or even drink coffee at a different time/place.  I don’t have this option.  I can’t stop walking places or going to work.