Spring came back and kicked Summer out for a few more days, and as I stood outside in the cool air this morning, drinking my vanilla nut coffee and trying to smoke one of my husband’s nasty menthol cigarettes, an interesting thought occurred to me.
You see, I quit smoking a little over 2 years ago, when I got pregnant with my daughter. I had been wanting to quit for awhile, out of concern for my health mostly, and I had been smoking since I was about 14 or 15. So I told myself I’d quit when I got pregnant. Everyone says you can’t do it for someone else, you have to do it for yourself, but I felt like I could only do it for someone else, specifically, the new little someone in my belly.
So I finished out my pack and quit. I’ll admit to anyone without even being asked that I “cheated” every once in a while (especially after phone conversations with my somewhat-estranged mother, who made my life essentially hell during my pregnancy, even from 800 miles away.) And since I had the baby, I allow myself a smoke every now and again. I don’t buy cigarettes anymore. I don’t smoke everyday. Most of the time when I do cheat, I end up chucking half the cigarette out.
Why do it at all? Because I liked to smoke. If there was some magical land where smoking was good for you, instead of terrible for you, I’d move there. It was a bit ironic that the shortly after quitting smoking, we moved out to a state with one of the heaviest smoking populations in America. You can still smoke indoors at a lot of places around here.
And since I had been smoking since my teenage years, it follows that I associated smoking with many good times in my life. When we still lived in Maryland, but after smoking was banned in bars, I found that I could no longer enjoy a game of pool at the bar as much. So I still have moments where I crave a cigarette, and I almost feel as if it’s a similar principal to dieting; basically, if I indulge every once in a while, it will keep me from an all out binge (in this case, returning to smoking full-time.) You can call it rationalization if you like, but so far it’s worked.
Well…that coupled with the fact that, as I am not a “regular” smoker anymore, more often than not, a cigarette just makes me feel ill. Even when they don’t, I’m often right in the bathroom after I smoke, washing my hands, my face, rinsing my mouth and even my sinuses to get rid of that “ashtray” smell that lingers there.
So, now I’ve come (in a roundabout and meandering fashion) to my actual point:
I find it amusing that, when people ask me if I am “still quit,” and I answer completely honestly and say “yeah, but I cheat every once in a while,” often what follows is a dismissive and/or self-righteous tone and the words “well, you haven’t really quit then.”
Conversely, if you talk to a smoker, maybe bumming a cigarette from them, you may get that same dismissive almost patronizing tone as they say some variation of “you’re not a real smoker!”
As with most people in America, you just can’t win. Someone always has something to say about what someone else is doing. So I’m going to keep doing what I do, and saying what I say, and be content in the knowledge that it works for me for now.
One last thing before I relinquish your attention (hopefully you’re still reading as I blather on.) I am an ex-smoker, and while it is harder for me to be indoors in heavily smoky rooms (the Bingo parlor- ACKK!) I respect the rights of people who choose to smoke. I don’t think a parent should allow smoking in their home if they have children (children do not choose to accept the ill-effects of secondhand smoke) and I think non-smoking restaurants are a good idea, because even when I did smoke, I didn’t like to smell a lot smoke while I was eating. But I am not one of those “born again” non-smokers who feels the need to piss in everyone else’s Cheerios just because I don’t smoke anymore. The way the government and many other non-smoking individuals try to force the issue, cramming their agenda down smoker’s throats, really pisses me off, in fact. I could probably write a whole separate article on the subject of how personal and civil rights in America are in a sudden, accelerated landslide right down the crapper, but I’ll just content myself with reiterating this simple sentiment:
I don’t expect what works for me to be right for everyone else. It basically boils down to Just leave me alone, and I’ll leave you alone. Capish?