I’m a few days into sobriety: the sequel, and I realized I left something out. I forgot to mention something that drew me back to drinking again, something that, I hate to admit, has continued even after I decided to go sober again. In fact, I’m doing this something right now, as I type.
I started smoking again.
I know, SO GROSS!
I never thought I’d be a smoker, growing up, I couldn’t stand the smell and would get instant headaches from second hand smoke. I remember quietly judging smokers I saw in my high school bathroom or walking down the street. I remember thinking “how can you do that to your body!?”
Then, acting school happened. Everyone in acting school smokes. I mean, I used to bum cigarettes from teachers during our class breaks. I made friends by smoking. All the cool kids smoked!
I clearly remember the first time I had a cigarette. I was 19, and had only been in LA for three days. One of my first roommates was a smoker. On the night we all moved in, we got an older kid to buy us some beer (totally against the rules, rebels), and about four sips into my Rolling Rock, my roommate announced she was going outside for a cigarette and she invited me and my other roommate to join her. I was the only one who had never tried it, so I thought, what the hell! I remember thinking, “there’s no way I could ever get addicted”, and “what’s wrong with just one?”. Well, kids, it’s true what they say in D.A.R.E. class, it only takes one.
Turns out, I really liked smoking, I felt cool (gross) and skinny (gross) and the combination of alcohol and cigarettes was a sweet one (gross, gross). It also always gave me something to do in between classes and on the weekends.
Fast forward to almost ten years later and I just made an appointment for a chest X-Ray. I’m not sounding the alarm bells or going into (full blown) panic mode just yet, but in the last few weeks, I’ve noticed a lot of pain in my chest and upper back, I’m easily winded or short of breath, I tire out a lot faster. These can be scary symptoms for someone who has smoked off and on for as long as I have, scary enough for me to book a doctor’s appointment and that was a huge wake up call. My family and friends have assured me that it’s probably “nothing”, but the fact that I thought “lung cancer, COPD, pleurisy”, as soon as the symptoms started happening was a big red flag (WebMD didn’t help calm those thoughts either).
My body isn’t getting any younger, and I only get one of these things, so it’s time I start being better to it.
Which is where you come in. I struggled a lot with posting this. I feel like a bit of a fraud. Last year, during my 365 challenge, I didn’t smoke at all. That was a huge reason why I decided to go sober again. It would be impossible for me to quit smoking if I were still drinking and I know that about myself. What I didn’t know, was that this time around, cutting out the booze wasn’t going to be enough. These two addictions no longer go hand-in-hand. I haven’t had a drink in four days, but I have had a pack of cigarettes.
I think what I need now is some more accountability. I need to make this struggle and my decision to quit public. I need to promise you guys that the cigarette I am smoking right now will be my last.
And it will be. I promise.