Completely Normal and yet not…
So after much contemplation, I broke down and decided I was going to smoke. I told my roommate that I was going out to buy groceries and then maybe to go read at a coffee shop since I could not concentrate at home, which is partially true. I never did come back with the groceries though. I grabbed an extra jacket (because I didn’t want my everyday one to smell like smoke) and hopped into my car. I drove past quite a few places I could have purchased cigarettes and decided on the gas station I always buy gas at on my way out of the city. The clerk ID’d me and seemed almost as nervous about the prospect of me buying cigarettes as I was. He didn’t really know what brand I was looking for (I had to direct him to it). I decided on Benson and Hedges Menthols- 100s of course. I decided that as easy as the Matinees are to smoke, I really hated not seeing anything come out (or hardly anything) and I wanted the full visual affect since being outside makes the smoke clouds less pretty anyways. Plus- I wanted this time to be good since I do not know when the next time I will get to do this will come.
After making my purchase, I drove around in the neighborhood near where I bought the cigarettes. I was looking for a small park, with a bench. Somewhere where I could quietly sit and enjoy my cigarette without much traffic. I found one or at least I thought I had. I parked my car and as I walked toward the place I picked when I realized it was actually a cemetery. So I decided that was a little inappropriate but found a suitable location near by. It was a nice little bench atthe top of the hill away from the street. I walked up and brushed off the snow from the bench and sat down. I took out my cigarettes put one in my mouth and lit up as if it were something I did all the time. It felt surprisingly natural. I guess when you fantasize and dream about something so much it shouldn’t be so surprising that it would feel completely normal. I didn’t feel anything for the first few puffs. I think I was kind of in a state of disbelief that I was doing something I had literally craved doing for months, maybe even years. I wasn’t necessarily craving it tonight, but I wanted to do it.
By about third puff I started to feel a wave of calmness wash over me. All the anxiety that I had experienced from purchasing the cigarettes washed away. I felt at peace. For the first time in months my brain was not telling me or thinking, “I want a cigarette”- because I was having one. It was such an odd experience. It was both completely normal and yet not at the same time. What also surprised me was the ease at which I smoked the entire thing. I kept testing myself with longer drags, deeper inhales and I was impressed that I almost smoked the cigarette to the filter. I think it was the first cigarette I’ve smoked where I’ve felt like I looked like a smoker and something about that pleased me. I think it took me about fifteen minutes to smoke the whole thing and I did feel a bit light headed by the end- but not so much so that I couldn’t drive (or felt like wretching). I decided that I probably shouldn’t go home right away since the smell would be pretty fresh on my pants and hands and I wanted to just go and sit somewhere.
I pulled into the Tim Hortons and ordered a meal. I figured I should eat since I hadn’t in a long time. That is where I noticed the appetite suppressing effect of nicotine. I wasn’t really that hungry, even though I knew I should be. I sat and ate my meal and read my textbook. Another side effect- I was actually able to concentrate on my reading. I sat there for about an hour reading- not really thinking about anything else (except for the occasional- wow my mind has not wandered thought). There were some negatives- my food didn’t taste as good. And I felt really cold after, probably because my circulation is so shitty in the first place. This could also be because I had to sit outside in the cold for 15 minutes to smoke the cigarette, but I have a feeling it is partially due to the effect of nicotine on the circulatory system. All reasons I still don’t want to smoke regularly- since I really like tasting my food, not smelling like smoke and do not really like feeling colder than I normally do. This was like a full body cold whereas my extremities are usually the only thing that is cold. My resting heart rate staying high for many hours after- I think it was still much higher than usual before I went to bed so I could not deny to myself the negative effects it has on my health, even after just one.
I do not regret doing it. I think what made this time different is that I was fully aware of what I was doing and what it meant to me. Also, I think it confirmed that I do have a psychological addiction or fixation on smoking based on the relief I felt after I did it. The relief was purely psychological since I am not physically addicted. Another thing I noticed is that even though I picked a relatively secluded location- it didn’t bother me as much when people walked by. I know that the first few times I tried smoking I was almost mortified at the thought of someone catching me, even if it was someone I didn’t know. A guy ran right by me and I really didn’t think anything of it. The only thing I thought, and here is the non-smoker runner coming out in me, I’m sorry he has to smell my smoke as he runs. I did not feel bad about it, only I could see myself in his shoes, huffing and puffing running up the hill, cursing the person who is smoking. Only- if I were the person running, I’d probably be slightly jealous in a similar situation.
As for whether I will do it again- I think there is no question in my mind that I will. That is another thing that is different about this time. Previous attempts I quelled my fears by telling myself I would just have one or a few and that is it. This time I am fully aware of the power smoking, the act, my psychological drive to do it, has on me that I know I’m not going to have just one. Having them handy means I will not have to spend time planning to buy them, which was often how I spent much of my time. Having my own cigarettes means I will not have to worry, as I did before, about the next time I smoke since it can be whenever I choose. The only thing I will have to worry about as MisterT alluded to before is my cigarettes going stale before I’ve had a chance to smoke them all.