Take My Breath Away

So something’s been happening in my life recently that I could never have foreseen, and neither could anyone who knows me. I seem to be giving up smoking.

I have been smoking, and lying to my grandparents about it, since I was fourteen years old, exactly half my life- I think that’s maybe why it’s come around now, the roundness of the numbers pleases me but I was not ready for what was coming…I was/ am a massive addict. I’ve had an addictive personality ever since I can remember . I had my first cigarette, round the back of Safeway in Caterham, aged fourteen. I remember my first blast of nicotine better than I remember graduation.

So here’s a little secret for you: giving up smoking completely blows. No pun intended (although all puns are always welcome here obvs.) I have no freaking idea how we don’t hear about this more often- I mean yeah , there’s a lot of people going on about how more-ish cigarettes are and that you shouldn’t start , but Jesus, Mary and Santa Claus, where are the people talking truthfully about this journey directly into hell?

I guess smoking is “harm of the self” so that puts me at like the 7th level of hell right now

The last true depiction of what it’s like for an addict to give up smoking was Chandler Bing on Friends – craving long after the point of packing it in and completely without dignity  . One by one most of my friends have given up without any apparent struggle, I don’t know, maybe they feel like talking about it makes the struggle worse, but I’m over here scratching like i have mange and everyone else is all “oh yah, I quit, without mentioning it, several months ago, never looked back”. So , for people who are actually addicts and not just Sandy from Grease type of smokers , doing it to be one of the cool gang, here’s the 411:

sandy gif.gif

  1. You will be ill. So so ill.
    I foolishly assumed that like running or eating kale, I would feel immediate benefits from this great and virtuous act – I could not have been more wrong. Instant head cold, razorblade sore throat, and sinuses made of concrete. 0/10, do not recommend.
  2. Smokers will not help you.
    I’ve realised that if you make people feel bad by going against the grain they will generally be unenthused and negative. If you inform other smokers that you are loosening the vice-like grip of addiction from around your throat (and lungs), they will not start making their rollies discreetly in darkened corners and coating themselves in Febreze to spare your pain, they will actually become weirdly flamboyant and vocal about smoking, as if to save face because we all know how much cancer sucks
  3. USE SOMETHING : if you decided you were going to go celibate you probably wouldn’t throw all your condoms on the bonfire and have done with it, you’d keep one or two as a safety net just in case- having a patch or a tablet on hand for when you feel the urge is the same thing – it helps you defy the stupid human urge to just go and do whatever you want and think about the consequences later. Any smoking cessation product is only like a band aid over a bullet hole anyway, give yourself half a chance.
  4. Some things go together.
    Like ramalamadingdong. Motherfucking coffee and cigarettes- Jimmy Eat World wrote a song about it and the last time I had a fancy ass coffee on the terrace without a smoke, I was clucking like a chicken on speed. You’ve just got to go through it.
  5. You will discover some unpleasant things about your character.
    Turns out I don’t have the patience of a saint. AT ALL. My unearthly tolerance for repeating the same thing in class, gently and with a smile is dead. Dead I say.
  6. The physical differences will be terrifying.
    I have to re-learn how to run because my lungs have doubled in size , I feel like my legs are going without me on a run now, it’s bizarre
  7. You will have a freakish amount of time on your hands.
    It’s the first time I’ve experienced boredom in two decades. Who knew it was taking that much of my time?
  8. There is a lot of crap inside your respiratory system and it is going to come out. Doctor google reliably informs me that the yellow water, I kid you not, currently dribbling out of my nose is either severe brain damage, or aggravated sinuses. As i haven’t been hit by any cars lately I’m going to assume it’s the latter
  9. It’s going to get you a bit down.
    I’ve literally cried because I wanted to smoke so bad. I have literally shouted “ I WANT A CIGARETTE” at the top of my voice while crying and washing dishes. This is not a dignified time of one’s life .
  10. Everyone’s got a bloody opinion.
    Addiction is so weird and out there and scientists still don’t really get it but you’ll have masses of unqualified people telling you that you simply MUST go cold turkey/ not go cold turkey/ people who are cutting down aren’t really quitters/if you have even one you’ll start all over again/ you need to meditate/if you use gum you’ll get addicted to that instead.

Well screw those guys! You do you!

I am pleased and proud to say that I’ve had between one and zero cigarettes per day for a week (this may not seem much but after more than a decade I assure you it is) and I hope that next week will be my first week smoke free.

It just makes sense. I’m a lifelong vegetarian, a runner, I teach children, I’ve made a massive commitment to living well and negotiating various chronic illnesses- how can I possibly be authentic in that whilst also chuffing carcinogenic chemicals into my body every two hours?

Those sweet, sweet disgusting chemicals.

hello darkness

One thought on “Take My Breath Away

  1. I have smoked for more years than you have been alive! It is an incredibly difficult habit to break and I applaud your efforts. Once I stopped for nine months and the thing that helped me most was to tell myself over and over – ‘the craving is going to pass whether I have a cigarette or not’. I have also been thinking of giving it another go – quitting I mean. and I am afraid – very afraid I will fail at quitting once again…..anyway I wish you health, happiness, and a future free of tobacco.


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