I’m not an addict, it’s cool, I feel alive…

Subject line provided by K’s Choice song, “Not An Addict”. You can find it here.

Yesterday I quit smoking. I could just talk about why I quit, but first I need to talk about why I smoked. For most people, smoking is about peer pressure, or about habits their parents taught them, or a gateway to other drugs.

For me, smoking was about a few things. First of all, it gave me a break in my schedule. It let me refocus myself. I could stop what I was doing and go outside and light up. It gave me permission to take a few minutes just to myself with no pressure to be doing anything. My emails, assignments, school, life, it all faded away. I was free from all of that and able to give myself personal time because it was in the context of something I couldn’t do inside and could use to excuse myself from my computer, from a conversation, or from my school reading if only for a few minutes.

Second, it was a refuge for my anxiety. Whenever I felt socially awkward, strained, and like I wasn’t welcome, I could jut my chin forward and have somewhere else to be. Don’t want me around? Doesn’t matter, I’m going to smoke now. How do you like them apples? I could use smoking to get away from everyone. Ironically, while there were a few people I frequently smoked with as a social outlet, most of the time my smoking was a method of personal solitude; few of my friends smoked and some of them wouldn’t tolerate it around them.

Finally, it was a form of self abuse. I could feel the smoke go in, burn on the way down, sear my throat and leave me raw. I could punish my voice and hurt myself without leaving scars on the outside. I could kill myself one stick at a time and fool everyone into thinking I was okay. Cutting my skin would brand me as crazy. Smoking a cigarette just let people think I was a little dumb and addicted.

Some eerie romantic part of me wanted to be a heavy smoker. I wanted the mystique that comes with the addict, the excuse to be stressed and strained and rely on a chemical crutch. I wanted people to see me weak. Maybe I wanted that because I was afraid to let them see my psychiatric medication. Maybe cigarettes were a surrogate for my real medications. Letting people perceive me as weak and flawed and tragically stressed because they could see me smoking cigarettes let them see how it feels inside without exposing them to the critical truth about my anti-psychotics, anti-anxiety, or SSRIs.

So now I’ve quit.

I quit for a few reasons. First off, I have asthma, which makes smoking a really fucking stupid thing to do. It’s been getting worse. I wake up twice a night to cough the fluid out of my throat. I have crackles in my lungs when I sleep. My doctor says since I’ve only smoked for about a year and a half with any frequency, it’s likely that the damage is temporary, and my lungs will heal. I haven’t been smoking long enough to be in the high risk bracket for cancer, emphysema, or other smoking related illnesses. Now is the time to quit, before I am.

I quit because cigarettes are fucking expensive. The cigarettes I smoke (Djarum black cloves) are particularly expensive. $7.17 a pack. For a while I was smoking almost a half a pack a day. For you people joining me from home, that’s almost 25 dollars a week on cigarettes, or a solid 100 dollars a month. That’s almost a third of my current rent. Ridiculous. I had my head in the sand. It’s just a few more bucks. I need them. I can’t get through the day without another pack. Then I sat down and did the math and cried until I almost threw up.

I quit because I want to live. Sometimes, that’s not the case. Sometimes I want to die. But that’s for a separate entry. The fact is, however, that I can’t decide I want to die half the time and kill myself by inches all the time. It’s one way or the other. Either some part of me wants to live and I stop smoking, or all of me wants to die and I give in to the puff. I decided that enough of me wants to live.

Now, I say all this rhetoric and assertion about quitting as though I’ve actually achieved it. The truth is, I had my last cigarette at 6pm yesterday. Laughable, really. But between now and then, I would’ve had at least two more in the evening and two more this morning. I’ve foregone them all. So every time I manage to keep from buying another pack, I’ve quit. That’s how I’m going to have to think about it. Because some imaginary milestone of a month or a week will only fool me into thinking it’ll all be all right so long as I get to that limit. That if I go six months without a cigarette, I’m cured. That’s not true. I’m going to want one every fucking day for what will likely be the rest of my life. I’m going to crave them. I’m an addict. Quitting is a choice I make every time I say no to myself, not a decision that has a deadline for effectiveness.

Breathe it in and breathe it out…


~ by oniongirl13 on June 18, 2009.

6 Responses to “I’m not an addict, it’s cool, I feel alive…”

  1. Wow, Oniongirl, did you write this about me, or about you? LOL

    You’ve beautifully articulated all the reasons I smoke, and all the reaons I want to/should quit. I’ve just got to get to the doing part of this. I try not to put pressure on myself – I figure it will come in time.

    Thank you so much for this post.

  2. I am glad you posted about this; it’s important. Suicide can have such an appealing hold when we are hurting, but the truth is, you have a whole following now, a whole online community that cares about you. We all have a stake in this now, and we all are pulling not only for your survival but your thriving. When you have times where you cannot live for yourself, live for us until your own will returns. We have all lost so much. We cannot lose anyone to this disgusting shit anymore. No more. By G-d, no more.

  3. You go Oniongirl – way to love yourself. You can do it.

  4. Hi oniongirl,

    I know it might feel like you will crave them and be addcited to them the rest of your life and every day. But that is a lie. You won’t.

    This is hard stuff. I have heard many times that tobacco is a more addictive drug than many illegal drugs. The industry genetically altered tobacco to make it that way. Finally the Food and Drug administration is going to be involved in managing this drug and that should help to lower the risks to health and the high addictive factor.

    Good for you for doing this for yourself.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.


  5. Your reasons for smoking are so like mine, this post actually took my breath away! Well done for quitting. *Hugs*

  6. crazy. i did smoke, for so many similar reasons.
    and not only that, but i smoked djarum black cloves.
    life is strange.
    and funnily enough it is so much easier to not smoke, now that they have banned them in the us…

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