“Do you currently drink or smoke?”
“Have you ever smoked cigarettes?”
When I was pregnant with my son, and shortly after he was born, I was asked these questions a lot. I know, it is their job to ask, for both of our health and safety… but it always made me uncomfortable. I hated lying about it, but I couldn’t stop myself. I’m no fool, I know you should never drink or smoke during pregnancy, but it is the latter that I found myself fibbing about. Just a little, white lie…
Growing up, everyone in my family smoked, as did most of their friends, and their friends’ friends, etc. Everyone smoked in the 90s and early 2000s. I hated it. I remember being in middle school, and drowning myself in Fresh White Musk Fantasy body spray, trying to smell like anything but an ashtray, because my mom would always smoke in the car when driving us to school. I hated being able to smell it in my hair, on my clothes, in our furniture, on her breath… it was disgusting. I had made up my mind very young that I would never smoke, and I stuck to it. Countless times, in both high school and college, I was offered cigarettes, among other things. I always politely declined. Just not my thing.
That is, until I met my ex.
I was 19. I had just been forced to drop out of college, left my boyfriend of over 3 years, and moved halfway across the country. I couldn’t find a job, my bank account was in the negatives, I was living in a dangerous area, and had a psychopath for a landlady. Things were hard. My then-boyfriend smoked, and drank, a lot. I still wasn’t interested, but I saw how much lighting one up mellowed him out when he would lose his cool over his job, or his family, or anything else. I still hated it. I hated the smell on his breath, and on my clothes.
One day, we fought. A lot. A lot of yelling, screaming, threatening to walk out… it was pretty normal for us. I left the apartment, shaking with rage, and walked to the gas station at the end of our block. I didn’t have a plan, or any idea what I was doing, but I walked up to the counter, and asked the attendant to grab me a pack of Camel Crush, the same cigarettes my boyfriend smoked. I knew that they had a lot of menthol, so I thought they would be easier for me to smoke. I didn’t even own a lighter. I had never even lit a lighter. Shaking, I handed the man my ID when he asked, paid for my cigarettes, and walked outside.
There was a young woman smoking on the side of the building, and I asked her for a light, ducking away as soon as it was lit, so she wouldn’t see me. I kept walking, shoving the pack into my sweatshirt pocket, and basically went down every street but my own, trying to talk myself into it, or out of it.
Eventually, I caved.
The cigarette was half gone by the time I took my first inhale. I had already crushed it, and the icy cold menthol filled my lungs. I was expecting to cough and gag, like people do in movies when they smoke for the first time, but I didn’t. It was easy. It felt… good.
I finished the cigarette, and headed home.
I didn’t tell my boyfriend, or smoke again, until days later, when we were at a party. A friend of mine offered me a cigarette, and without hesitation, I took it. In front of everyone. Without shame or embarrassment. No one said anything, no one even cared, except for my boyfriend, who had a look of complete shock on his face. After that, it became a bit of a habit.
I don’t even know why.
I’m not going to bullshit you and say that I spiralled out of control, and smoked a pack a day, started binge drinking, or anything like that. In total, I’ve probably smoked two whole packs in my life, not counting the few butts I borrowed from friends here and there. I eventually just stopped, when I got back into my right mind, and remembered how much I hated the smell, the taste… cigarettes are gross, man. Looking back, I don’t think they ever helped. They always made me feel both lightheaded, and on edge. I never enjoyed smoking.
Honestly, I am ashamed that I ever started.
So, when people ask me if I’ve ever smoked, I lie. It was over 7 years ago, during a really shitty time in my life, it wasn’t for a prolonged period of time, and it is not something I am particularly proud of. Up until this post, only a handful of people even knew, but I guess I don’t mind talking about it now. It wasn’t meth, or crack, or even pot. No one ever got hurt, and hopefully, there was no real damage done to my body. I definitely won’t be picking up another cigarette again.
I just hope my doctor never stumbles across this post.
Thanks for reading, friends.
[In response to The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt 10/27/16 | Smoke]