Sunday, July 18, 2010

The hardest break up of my life

I smoked my first cigarette in Adam Hennessey's front yard when I was 13. I don't think I inhaled, because when I smoked again at 14 with my cousin, I wanted to die. I bought my last pack of smokes in October of 2009 and ended a decade-long love affair with a dangerous lover. I know they're bad for me, but I can't stop thinking about it. Even after all this time - when they're out of my body for good - I can't stop.

I want a cigarette so fucking badly right now.

I smoked on and off for years, quitting during sports seasons, hiding from my parents and smoking socially depending on the situation. After my college sports days were numbered, and when cigarette breaks became legitimate breaks from work, I smoked more regularly. A few here and there became a pack a day, especially when I was studying in Europe. I even remember dragging my buddy Jaxon back into smoking the first weekend we met. He was taking a medical aid to stop; I had given up on the patch. My friend Ashley and I walked a mile in the snow to buy four packs from the local dive bar of the ski town in which we were staying to provide sustenance for ourselves, Jax and the rest of the drunken, smoking fools in our hotel. I spent a long time - and a lot of money - on something that was killing me.

But, damn... it felt good. And I miss it.

Yeah, I do. I'm no longer physically addicted... in all honesty, I never felt the physical addiction that intensely. I was able to quit when necessitated by sports or my living arrangements. But I love the act of smoking. I totally love the act. I love the inhale and the slow, elongated exhale. I think the feeling I get when I smoke. Call it an oral fixation, or what you will, but I love it. And the last few days, I've really been struggling with not smoking. I quit after my friend Mark's wedding on November 1, 2009. That was my last trip to Philly - a place where all my friends smoke and it's hard to escape the temptation when it's in your face every day. And while it's not a defining element of our lives, it's something our friends and I always did together: we listened to music, went outside to smoke and gossip, went back into the bar for more music (and Jager) and back out to get fresh air... or horrifically stale, smokey air... whatever.

It's hard to break those types of habits, irrespective of the physical addiction aspect. It makes me think that maybe I should invest in those "smokeless" electronic cigarettes I see in the mall kiosks. I destroyed my year-old emergency pack two weeks ago when I started interviewing for jobs, my stress getting the best of me. Every morning after, I felt like complete shit, with the back of my throat feeling like a burnt and peeling marshmallow. But still - I want one. Bad.

So far, so good. I haven't made a mad dash to the gas station across the street for a pack of Parliament Lights. I guess I have the government to thank; I don't really have the extra $8 to spend on something I'm just going to feel bad about in the morning. Hell, even a one-night stand is cheaper than that for the same end result (and probably even less pleasure).

I'm keeping my head up and trying not to watch TV shows that glorify smoking (i.e. "Sex and the City," "Mad Men"). I'm remembering how much Juno hates the smell and how far I've come since last October. I had my slip ups, but they never involved running out to buy a pack. Plus, I know that once I start again, it's going to be 20 times more difficult to stop. My relationship with nicotine was my longest, most reliable... and most destructive. But still, I found it hard to leave and still find it hard to forget. The key is to love myself more than the drug.

I hope someday that will be natural and not a battle.

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