A Day in My Life as a Smoker

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New smokers often start out of a desire to fit in, but as time goes on, it isolates and controls us. Jaye's poignant description of a day in her life as a smoker will hit home if you've ever been hooked on nicotine.

Thanks for sharing, Jaye.

From Jaye:

Smoking is like this.  Early morning, rush out, sneaking, to smoke in the cold, standing, closing the front door quietly so I won’t wake Parr up.  The racing heart, the stinking hands, the need to do it again and again before he wakes up.

  Racing mind, trembling hands.  

Have to smoke before I call Bets, or during the conversation to get “one more in” before Parr wakes up.  Don’t want Parr around, don’t want him awake, just so I can smoke.

Smoke in the car on the way to work, or Dad’s.  Ransacking the glove box, cubbyhole, purse – dumping it inside out, swearing, checking pockets and unbuckling to do it…where is a danged lighter?  Cracking the window, tense, knowing I’m stinking up my hair, my clothes.  

Trembling as I enter work, how long shall I work before smoking again? Oh, some office issue, I’ll amp myself up to deal with it. Coffee and amping, coffee and amping until I am a nervous wreck, trembling.  By noon I am exhausted, always tired in between the hits.  Throwing butts in the alley.

Go home for a smoke outside, get that done and 15 minutes later the thought of another, I’m “free” now with no one looking and I can smoke all I want.

 It’s never enough to calm me, or “feel at home” or hit the sweet spot, though.  So I punctuate more time with a cigarette, smoke before piano, put off piano to smoke, wander the living room antsy, what to do other than smoke.  Living hell.  

Cough, my lungs hurt and won’t expand far.  Rarely expand them as I can feel they don’t expand far and there’s a mild ache.

  Hide the cigarettes so Parr can’t find them, he’s taken them out of my purse, he’s thrown away a pack from the buffet, maybe there are some in the glove box. 

There are cigarette butts all over the yard, all over the chicken coop floor, in cans, in pots, south end of the house, north end flower bed, in a flowerpot out front, under feet out back.  

Spray my body with lavender, spray the car with lavender, spray my hair with rosewater, take off the robe so he won’t notice I was outside in the rain out back smoking.  Don’t give a hug as he may smell it. Lie, no I wasn’t.  Avoid, silence. Change the subject.  Be at odds and ashamed.

Self-hatred every day.  A feeling of impending doom.  A defeat, sorrow.  Self hatred.  Low self-esteem. Hiding.  Being anti-social.  Leaving friendly conversations and gatherings to be alone solely to be able to smoke.  Leave parties, hang back, abruptly depart without a reason why, avoid people I know.  

Rush, be in a hurry, be strung out, panting, nervous, to smoke, just back from smoking, when’s the next smoke.

  It never ends. It didn’t end this morning, although I swore last night I was going to quit, or at least postpone the next cigarette to afternoon, or postpone it til after I got to work anyway, or til I could sneak out when Parr’s on the computer. Be busy, son, and stay away from me so I can smoke.  I secretly smoke, you see me smoking,

I brutally engage in the cigarettes, stepping into the house silently, defensively, hopelessly.  I am an addict.  My head aches, my gums have receded and dentists and specialists treat the gum disease.  My skin is wrinkled, my hands smell, my clothing smells.  

I have picked butts off the wall of the post office, out of public butt-cans, off of streets.  I have bummed cigarettes, smiling and ingratiating from many strangers.  I have created tremendous stress rushing, rushing to find a place to smoke at an airport.  I have smoked in places where I couldn’t hide, and was self-conscious and ashamed.

I take medicine for anxiety and depression….anxiety and depression are my daily, hourly visitors, thanks to cigarettes, the constant withdrawal.  My guts are empty when I think of the addiction.  It breaks my heart what I have done to myself emotionally and mentally as an addict.  It breaks my heart to think of my beloved and once innocent body being dried out and strung out and crippled, my oxygen supply shortened, my capacity to breathe reduced, energy and joy sapped continually.  A dull, grey inertia running my daily life.  So I can smoke.

My singing voice is gone.  My voice is now husky, deep, the smoker’s voice, like Keri’s.  My high range and tone and color are gone.  I clear my throat often, “frogs” that can’t be dislodged.  In the mornings I cough. God forbid I get a cold, it turns into pneumonia.  Barbara and others have heard me cough so much, hacking for days, weeks, even months. Spitting everywhere.  Parr says “Mom, there’s something wrong with you”.  A cold lasts a month.  Last time I burst a capillary in my lungs coughing and coughed up blood.  The tar in my lungs must be a horror to see.  I know air sacs are broken. I can hear the wheezing, whatever position I lay in.  I don’t want Parr to hear how loudly I wheeze, how bad it sounds, so I turn away.

I live in terror that I cannot live without this drug. I crouch out back, in the dark, in a parking lot, a loser. It brings me to my knees and is the saddest part of my life that I know.  May this quit please deliver me to a new life.

Quit Help:  How to Stop Smoking:  An Educated Quit is a Successful Quit

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