Smoking and Me

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I noticed today it’s around a year since I started this blog. I’m not great at staying the course with things – I’m your ideas woman not the completer finisher so I’m proud I’ve kept this up. I’m also aware that a year on I’m not so proud that I’ve not done much about the next stage of ‘getting sober’ – the cannabis. I had a thought a while ago that perhaps I would have to reach the point I had with alcohol to stop – the one where you hate yourself and just can’t carry on and just need to end the constant battle in your head. The trouble is smoking doesn’t make me feel like that in quite the same way. It’s not so obviously taking from me. ‘Except for your breath right?’ the sarcastic part of my mind just chipped in. Having just done a week of morning pranayama classes I’m in touch with the idea of breath as the conduit of our life force. It’s literally zapping my life force so why do I seemingly not even want to stop? Maybe I need to look more closely at my history with smoke?

I had my first puff on a cigarette when I was 4 or 5 years old. My brother, just 18 months older persuaded me to steal one from the packet with the lighter that belonged to the teenager who helped look after us. I knew it was wrong and I was nervous but I ran in and did it. We took our booty and ran out the house and into one of the barns. It was an old wooden barn full of straw bales at that time of year. There was a narrow wooden staircase up one level and you could just squeeze in with the bales right in front of you and the open space of a window behind. My brother lit the cigarette and took a few puffs and handed it to me. I don’t actually recall the smoking part. The next thing I remember is my brother saying ‘I wonder what would happen if I …..’ as he lit a piece of straw inches from our faces. It went up instantly and flames and smoke were everywhere. We got out quickly enough down the stairs though the smoke choked our throats and we were scared. Outside my brother (always good at getting out of trouble) quickly came up with a plan. We ran inside yelling ‘mummy mummy we were playing in the garden and saw the barn on fire’. The fire engines came and went, the barn was a blackened shell and I overheard adult conversations that expressed relief we had seen it or the house could have gone up too and what if the children had been in bed? I was consumed with guilt and shame. Over time the memory faded then one evening I was being put to bed early – I can’t remember why and as she swept out the room my mum said ‘and you burnt down the barn!’. ‘How did she know?’ It was never spoken of again until it was joked about in adulthood.

Fast forward and I’m 11 years old roaming the countryside with my friend and we start smoking. The pub sells us them as we chirp ‘10 No 6 for my mum please’ at the hatch at the back. We wanted to be naughty and it felt exciting. The last year of primary school and I was trying on being a bad girl. I didn’t fully commit and in the next year or so I distanced myself from that friend without explanation to her, behaved myself and stopped smoking. I started again when I was 14 and depressed. Wanting to be cool, image and being bad was part of it but looking back it was probably the start of self medicating. The first time I took anti depressants I remember thinking I didn’t feel a need to smoke. I still did though.

There was always a part of me that was ashamed of smoking though. The smoking part of me held the shame and the badness but I turned being bad into a success. I was the rebel who got away with it. I could laugh off those shameful feelings whilst living up to them simultaneously.

My first cannabis experience was visiting my sister at college. We got stoned with a friend of hers and I loved it. Laughed for hours. I didn’t smoke it regularly until well into my university years but it was always associated with fun, friendship, relaxing and not caring about the consequences. Just like alcohol. Slowly it became a necessary part of my day. Like alcohol it came to mark the transition from being a responsible adult all day to switching off, relaxing and taking time for myself. Whenever I stopped smoking cigarettes I kept up the spliff. If I stopped I would get so low and so wound up I would cave in. I stopped smoking completely for 6 months but a spliff at a party got me back just like that. Eventually I gave up giving up and began to accept the smoking part of myself as just who I am. This good girl by day, devil at night dichotomy is how I’ve lived for years.

So in the last few years I’ve not been ashamed of my smoking self and I’ve not really tried to stop. Giving up drinking triggered the internal conflict but I’ve sat with it for over a year now. As I wrote this I became irritable (a sure sign of cognitive dissonance) so I had a cigarette!

So here I am still smoking. I’m fairly sure it’s not adding much to life but I’m not sure I can let it go yet. I don’t want to get in a fight with a part of me it took me a long time to accept, but I’m not sure how to politely say goodbye to her either.

Image from Shutterstock

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11 Comments

  1. Interesting post – you twisted fire starter 😉 that’s a hell of a story. Your story of smoking resonated with me- I was an early rebel smoker too but never really got into smoking cannabis even though it was everywhere at university. I decided one drug was enough and mine was booze. It seems we know when it’s time to leave these old cherished friends behind. You’ll know I’m sure if and when it’s time to say adios to the smoke . Good read thanks. X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jim – I’m getting closer to stopping I can feel that – I’d like to smoke occasionally but we know addiction doesn’t work like that! Maybe it can be different from alcohol? How to separate rebellion from self destruction eh? Xxx😘

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      1. It’s interesting that when o stopped drinking in September last year that was only my second go at stopping and first time trying to stop completely. Ciggies on the other hand took many many attempts till I finally stopped with my last cigarette relapse being about three years ago. I’m still slightly bemused at how I’ve managed giving up the booze so easily relative to cigs . X

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  2. I smoked a bit in my teens, cigarettes and weed. At university I rarely declined any drug…booze or whatever.
    In adulthood I mostly drank, then drank too much, then nothing.
    Sober 6 1/2 years, weed is now legal where I live. I’ve sampled a bit, but I don’t like the out of control feeling anymore. I am way too attached to being clear and aware, even when it hurts.

    That said, I have found cbd only weed a nice addition. I tried the oil, meh. But the weed seems to just gently relax me. So I have some in the cupboard if I am in the mood, which is rare, but nice.

    I’m not worried about my lungs.

    Life is for living gently. Do what feels right for you.

    Anne

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Attached to being clear and aware – that sounds like a good place to be Anne! I’d like to be able to only have it occasionally which perhaps means a decent break then deciding whether it’s worth it or not. Whenever I’m away I don’t have it and I don’t miss it so I know I can stop – thanks for your support and wise words xxx💞💞

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  3. It comes down to choices. Doesn’t seem like you are ready to give up weed just yet. Only you will know when the time is right.
    We are in a pandemic too so give yourself a break.
    Well done for having the blog for a year. Keep going.

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  4. Oh and by the way I always used to say that I would start smoking cigars or the thin ones at 70 because I like the smell. By then I thought I had a right to please myself anyhow I like.
    Now I am sober I wonder what I will really do at 70!

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  5. I smoked for almost 20 years but didn’t really ever try cannabis much. It took me a long time, years in fact, to call myself a ‘non smoker’ because I always felt if I had one I’d start again. Then suddenly I realised I had absolutely no urge to have one. In fact I felt sick at the thought. I can’t bear the smell now. Weird isn’t it? I tried to give up many times, but would end up having one on a night out and bam 💥 back to square one. Morning cigarette with my coffee. It was inky when I was pregnant I stopped completely and never went back. Not so with alcohol. I didn’t drink when pregnant on either occasion but went straight back on it once baby had made an appearance. Why these things stick sometimes and not others is beyond me. We are complicated creatures that’s for sure. 😘 🤗❤️

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  6. ❤ I can identify with 100% of what you describe here – EXCEPT BURNING DOWN THE BARN lololol 🙂 Like you the double good vs bad personality is something I grew up creating, and now I'm trying to get back to integrating them in the grey zone of "real" Anne 🙂 xxx ❤ love, xxx real-Anne 😉

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  7. My husband was a fully functioning but absolute alcoholic before and after I met him. We functioned together.
    15 years ago he developed pancreatitis and was in the hospital for almost a week.
    They told him that he could quite possibly drink for the rest of his life and never have a problem or he could have a beer tomorrow and wind up right back in the hospital.
    My husband is a very practical man, so he took one look at the hospital bill and said NO THANK YOU!
    He hasn’t had a drink since, but he has fallen heavily into the pot. This bothers me none because in my opinion they are two different beasts…and I know that will offend some people, but it is how I feel.
    Personally I cannot smoke pot – especially Sativa. It makes my anxiety sky high and I get heart palpitations. I can sometimes deal with Indica but mostly it messes with my head too much.
    However for him, it is fine. It calms him down and helps him with his stress and blood pressure and he can NOT do it on command. He has taken many vacations from it and he does fine but he tends to come back to it because it makes him feel better.
    I don’t see anything wrong with it personally, but I get that a lot of people feel it is very much a part of the intoxication issue and should be avoided.
    I say YMMV.
    As far as cigs, I smoked since I was 14 and I was on and off for many years. It is very hard to kick and I did about seven years ago and he only thing I can say is that keeping away from it was the only thing that worked for me.
    I had my ups and downs but in the end I had to do it for me.
    If only I could keep up that attitude with the alcohol! LOL!
    ANYHOO, this was way longer of a comment than I wanted to leave…I hope you are doing well and not burning anymore barns down. 😀

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