Let me read it to you…
I was still a smoker in 2005, the year I got married and was full of hope for the idea that there might be babies and new grandmas on the horizon. My mother had been begging me for years to quit, my husband somewhat passive aggressive about it. No one likes a pregnant smoker and I knew what I had to do.
But I loved smoking so much, despite how utterly detestable it was, even to me. I couldn’t smell the cloud of bitterness that followed me everywhere and permeated all my clothes, my bed pillow. But I could imagine. Both my parents smoked until I was about 16 yrs old, so I had vivid recollection of overflowing ashtrays, the persistent coughing. I knew how selfish and reckless it was.
Nonetheless, the voice in my head kept telling me ‘This is who you are, a smoker, a girl with an edge, one bad behavior among all the good ones. This is your thing.’ What I didn’t realize was my sense of well-being had been chemically induced so long and so insidiously that I could no longer cope with ordinary life without a cigarette.
Drink coffee? Cigarette. Decide what to wear? Cigarette. Make breakfast? Cigarette. Drive to work? Cigarette. Conversation with person? Cigarette. You get the gist. I was enslaved and tricked into thinking it was all my idea, all a precious wrinkle of my dynamic, endearing personality.
One day there was a new voice saying, “Listen, you may love this bullshit, but you will never have what you really want and deserve in life until you bury this behavior.” I would quit smoking but against my will. My will wanted to smoke its way into emphysema. So I would go kicking and screaming like most good smokers do. I would suffer and whine and carry a very large chip on my shoulder for six months until one day I could manage to be grateful again.
Eleven years later, the voice quieter and less bossy now, mostly telling me “Time is precious. Breathing is underrated. Thank you for not smoking.”
Copyright Cynthia Berg 2017
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