I've been doing a lot of cleaning house. And not the behind the couch/between the cushions variety (though there has been plenty of that too). This cleaning has been a little more Sarah-centric, a little more internal and esoteric and contemplative (cue the sage and the third eye and the healthy organs). For a girl teetering with obsessive-compulsive tendencies, this kind of cleaning requires full focus for the success of its outcome, if only to not justify a waiver.
First things first. It was officially time to stop smoking. I'm in my late twenties and, quite frankly, it just isn't cute anymore. I suppose it's debatable if it was ever really cute, per se, but it was, at least, forgivable: a crutch of sorts aiding a pose of sorts. But what initially spawned from feeling socially-awkward at seventeen slowly morphed into an essay writing companion at nineteen, then to a bitch-at-work enhancer at twenty-five, then, finally, to a gotta-have-one-to-write/buying-cartons-'cause-they're-cheaper addiction. And a winter spent with windows down/furnace on while secondhand smoke wafted through my studio apartment. And scene. And gross. It was time to breakup with this disgusting -- albeit wild -- little lover.
This is not the first time I've made such claims (hopefully it's my last), though I've never really felt like a nicotine slave. Instead, it seduces me with a slow, steady build of cues. It's a slippery slope. I've "quit" many times: either as a deliberate decision (i.e. writing DON'T SMOKE SARAH! in permanent marker every day on my forearm until it, quite literally, sunk in) or as a fluke (after, say, a week of being sick and not smoking and continuing on the clean-lung path). So a few weeks, months, whatevers go by and then, just like that, I'm lured back in because I stupidly think I can handle it. Maybe I'm pissed off and, instead of just breathing into the feeling, decide a few puffs will alleviate the stress. Or maybe I'm out with friends and crave respite from the group, so I go outside to talk to the cute boy with the cigarette because it's familiar. And then, before I know it, I'm not bumming, I'm buying and finding every excuse to light up before the sun sets. I become addicted to the activities surrounding smoking -- socializing, writing, drinking -- and, in due time, convince myself I can't accomplish anything without smoking. This happened in epic proportions this go 'round. And, as such, I've barely written an email for the past month.
Just like any breakup, this Sarah-and-smoking divorce has been stage-plagued. No need to bore with tedium, though one instance illustrates the shift more than any other: the transition from liking a dude because he's a smoker to being completely appalled by a dude for the very same reason. Cigarettes used to be a secret turn-on, like height (I'm a sucker for the six-foot-plus variety. Checking out men on the subway is basically me scanning the ceiling.). Not anymore. Now I've become one of those self-righteous assholes who doubts they could date a smoker; taste aside (which is gnarly), I don't think I could handle the constant post-coital, pre-cocktail, deep-in-conversation temptation again and again and again.
And maybe that's my lesson: when it comes to cigarettes, I'm not that tough. Not at all. Like an old lover whose memory is a just-picked scab, I can't be trusted around this kryptonite. Not at all. So I gotta stay away. And I am. Perhaps that's the thing about destructive behavior: no one is going to tell you to take care of yourself more than yourself. Until then, you surround yourself with whomever enables your habits because you need someone with whom to shrug it off. But it's not their fault. It's yours. There is always a justification and a reason until there isn't. And then you stop. Because it's gross.