Most of the photos I put here are 500px wide, and the blogger template cuts them off. So just click on them if you want to see the whole pic. Hey, you can check out my flickr page while you are there!
I took this photo on January 4th of this year. I wasn’t smoking then; the Camels were Todd’s. In fact, it was about a week before my two year no-smoking anniversary that I snapped this shot.
When I did some Photoshopping on it later that night, I realized I was craving a cigarette. That’s nothing unusual. Even after two years, the nicotine cravings still bite. The feeling that starts at the tip of your tongue, like a an electric buzz running through your mouth that you recognize like a neon light flashing the word SMOKE at you. It’s unmistakable. You ignore it for a while but then that same buzz takes over your body. It becomes more than physical. Your mind wants a cigarette. It wants to feel that slow exhale as you breathe out carcinogens. Your hands want the feel of the cigarette between your fingers. Your mouth wants that oral fixation.
Your lungs tell you no. Your heart tells you no. Your brain tells you no. Sometimes you listen to those voices. Sometimes the devil on your left shoulder wins out over the angel on your right. But sometimes it’s overwhelming.
I stared at the photo. I posted it on flickr that night and the first two comments were from people who said the picture made them want a cigarette. Are our minds so easily convinced or is that the will to smoke, the need to smoke never really leaves us?
I have an addictive personality. I’ve known that since I was about 13. It’s so easy for me to grasp onto something, whether it be a habit or a hobby, and fixate on it to the point of obsession. It’s so easy for me to pick up a cigarette after not smoking for two and a half years and go right back into it full swing.
I don’t know why I smoke. I know why I drank. I know why I swallowed a double dose of Paxil and Wellbutrin every day for a few years. I know why I engaged in a lot of the bad habits I picked up from my teenage years straight through to adulthood. But the smoking, there’s no emotional reason for it. There’s no mental breakdown that precedes it. I pick up a pack of cigarettes knowing full well what I am putting into my body and knowing full well what it can do to me.
I like smoking. I like the inhaling and exhaling. I like the first drag of a cigarette after going all day at work without one. I like the calm that comes over me as I quiet the parts of me that were screaming for a nicotine fix.
Quitting smoking is not like quitting anything else. I know people who beat a heroin addiction, people who beat alcoholism. And they say the same thing; quitting cigarettes is the hardest thing to do. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s mental. Maybe it’s physical. But I know it’s the hardest bad habit I ever had to get rid of.
And it keeps coming back again.
I didn’t pick up a cigarette that night I shot the photo. But I did the first week in April. That’s only two months I’ve been back to smoking. Two months. And I know I’m already at that place where throwing the smokes away will lead me to three weeks of intensity. Three weeks of full on lunatic mode. Three weeks of pacing and talking to myself. Long days looking for something to do with my hands because they are waiting for a box of cigarettes to pack against my palm, waiting to hold one, to light one, to flick the ashes. Three weeks of my mouth crawling with desperate nerve endings waiting for the smoke. Three weeks of jaw clenching, nail biting and listening to Husker Du’s Candy Apple Grey over and over again. Three weeks of waking up with my body set on vibrate.
I don’t know if my reluctance to quit is an avoidance of all that. I’m not sure if I crave cigarettes or if I crave an addiction. The mind and body work in weird ways together like that. They can really fuck with you when they work in tandem, especially when it’s the devil on your left working with them. I don’t know if people like me are wired that way to begin with or if things come along in our life that make us become this way. Not that it really matters.
Willfully engaging in destructive behavior is not something I’m proud of. Regardless of what scientific scenarios I can come up with to defend my addiction, I’m still shamed by it.
But shame never stopped me before.
I need a smoke.
*Well we’re one cigarette away from being done
One cigarette away, sure has been fun
Yeah we’re one cigarette away, gotta find some place to stay
Cause we’re one cigarette away from being done
One drink so quickly turns into another
It’s gonna to take me all day tomorrow to recover
Over has been hung, the last fag has been bummed
And we’re one cigarette away from being done