I did not smoke yesterday.
Those of you who have never been smokers and haven't had the pleasure of quitting smoking are probably wondering why this is such a big deal a month-and-a-half later. Staying quit isn't a big deal every moment of every day now like it was in the beginning, but sometimes I crave it like love. There have been times in my life when I was terribly lonely, and all I wanted was to be held. That's kind of what it is like for me to crave cigarettes at this point.
Yesterday, I was switching the things from the lighter bag I have been carrying since the beginning of summer to a heavier leather satchel. In the front pocket of the satchel, I found a few things that I had forgotten: my favourite tube of chapstick that I thought I'd lost, a really nice pen, and an old package with two cigarettes still inside it.
Because I was alone at home, it took my addict's brain about two seconds to formulate a plot to start smoking again on the sly. I realized that I could sneak out to the alley, smoke a cigarette, and when I met up with my smoking friends for a drink, they wouldn't be able to smell it on me; then, by the time I arrived back home and saw the Palinode, the smell would have dissipated enough to smell like second-hand smoke from my friends. I held the open package in front of me, taking in the smell, not caring that they were old and dry. To me, they looked like an oasis after days without water.
"Ah!" I yelled out loud and threw them down on the bed. I seriously felt emotionally glued to those two cigarettes. I grabbed my coat and bag and left the apartment building as quickly as I could. The ferocity of my attachment alarmed me. The depth of my addiction was finally being teased out and made palpable.
When I came home later, the package of cigarettes was still sitting on the bed. I picked them up and carried them over to where the Palinode was sitting in the office.
"Look at this. I found two cigarettes in my old satchel."
"Those must be really dry and old," he said.
"They would taste terrible, you know."
"Why don't you go throw them out?"
"I can't," I said.
And I couldn't. I stood there in the office, unable to physically destroy those last two cigarettes. I felt glued in place as in a dream. The Palinode, having been through this himself nine years ago, understood and took them from me to dispose of them.
Later, I asked, "What did you do with them?" I kept remembering what the filtered ends felt like under my fingertips.
"I tore them apart and flushed them down the toilet."
That depressed the hell out of me. I realized that I had been thinking about them like I would think about baby kittens. I loved them. I felt unreasonably sad for them.
I did not smoke them, though.
I went out and got tipsy on two pints of beer, and then I pretty much snorted some stale nachos with fake cheese goo from 7-Eleven, and then I cried a little, because smoking was the best abusive friend I ever had.
But, I did not smoke them.
To every one of you who has battled addiction, regardless the stage of your battle or present surrender, I salute you. This is HARD, and any positive step taken in the journey through it deserves to be honoured.