I started smoking as an adult who knew better, at a time of huge stress, when I was locked away from my children. I continued this habit for a couple of years after we were rejoined, even after my kids complained. I knew better but was hooked. My son put Mr. Yuck stickers on my cigarette packs. They told me I smelled. I did. I tried the medicine touted as the best way to quit, I became a raging lunatic. Finally I just stopped. That was over 17 years ago, maybe longer. It was a good run.
Through all the crises of addiction and unplanned pregnancy, watching your child choose homelessness, fighting for security for the baby who didn’t choose any of it, I still didn’t stop at the gas station and buy a pack. I ate M&M’s, reverted to some horrible eating habits, prayed, cried, drank too much wine, managed. But I didn’t smoke. Then came my daughter’s wedding that I was no longer invited to, a day so crushingly painful I was sure I wouldn’t survive. Chef and I had traveled to the “paper wedding” in front of a judge where I was surprised to be a signing witness. The relationship was already incredibly strained at that point. I didn’t know what was ahead, I didn’t know I was truly losing my daughter, that the visit then would be the last time I would see her. Seven months later when the real celebration rolled around, I was too thin, too broken, every moment without reconciliation bringing me closer to madness. I went with a friend and bought a pack, as a lark, to get through the day, not realizing this crutch was going to get me through all the days. For two years.
I actually love and hate smoking. I hate the smell, hate that it pushes me away from everyone who loves me. No one in my circle smokes. No one joins me on the porch with a nice glass of wine and has deep conversations with me. I sit alone and rush through the fire tipped reminder of all that is wrong. But there is a part that I love and it isn’t the cigarette. It is the very same aloneness. Sometimes I just need a time out. I need to pull away from the chaos and the chatter and get re-centered. I need to be alone with my memories and mourn for 5 minutes and then go back to being present in my day. I know why I smoke and I know why I shouldn’t. I tell myself with each purchase of a pack that is the last one but then myself laughs mockingly. I don’t believe me. I haven’t yet committed to letting go of my mourning period.
I never imagined I would lose my daughter. I have fought so many times to keep my son alive, the only way being to give him up to other authorities. My girl, though, always my closest person on earth, always the one who could make me really laugh out loud, I never ever imagined her not in my every days. My heart had no room for such a notion. Coping skills completely broke down, nothing worked on this heart ache. While I have tried extensively to bridge this gap, I haven’t tried to stop smoking. I realize I cannot control when she will come back into my life, if ever, but I can control when I will stop mourning with a lighter and an ashtray. That time is coming. My Chef is so stressed right now I worry that he can’t handle the definite crazy moody swings and nastiness that will result in my withdrawal. I worry that I won’t get my time away from everyone, no excuse for them all not to follow me. I worry that I can’t do it, just like I worry that I can’t really go on another day without a phone call, text, email from my Stella. But I do go on. So maybe I really can quit.
This might just be my last pack.