Closet Fascination

A blog about a journey, smoking, not smoking, vaping and everything in between

Letting go of Control

At first I was going to entitle this post ‘Planned Indulgence’ but that implies that I am actively controlling my smoking, which I am not. What I really have experienced since quitting vaping is a complete mindset shift around smoking. I’ve smoked a few times since I’ve last blogged about it. Before Christmas, I shared two cigarettes on two different days at lunch at work with my co-worker. On New Year’s eve, I smoked one on my own given to me by my brother-in-law’s girlfriend. Most recently, I shared cigarettes with her, maybe a total of 6 times over three days (I lost count because I’m not keeping track). I really enjoyed smoking over the past three days, but not enough to run out and get my own pack and commit to doing it regularly.

Three days, was just enough to become tolerant enough again to enjoy it. It was also enough to start feeling slight physical cravings again. Nothing like the pain of withdrawal when I quit vaping cold turkey, but enough to remind me of the price of regular use. Enough to remind me what I don’t like about regular use. I get how people get sucked back into regular use pretty quickly after relapsing when they have quit. The draw of making that uncomfortable feeling go away so easily is attractive.

Chatting with my co-worker who smokes occasionally too, she says she wants to quit entirely one day. I’m not sure I’ll ever feel that way about smoking. But my mindset shift is this: cigarettes are not off limits, if I want to smoke, I can. 95% of the time, I don’t want to anymore. Maybe, one day, that percentage will shift to 100% of the time. As I listen to my body and become more attuned to it, I have a feeling that the answer will start being no more often. For me, the allure of smoking comes from making it forbidden. I also find the loss of control from addiction attractive in a weird way. It is like my mind has fetishized a binge-restrict cycle, so the only way to stop the cycle is to give up the control or the illusion of control. Because I have changed my mindset and don’t view smoking as something super forbidden any more, I don’t find it as arousing to smoke anymore.

I’ve been listening to a lot of a podcast called Food Psych- By Christy Harrison. My issues with food come down to this same idea of control and I’ve been working on giving up control recently. Because when some foods are deemed bad or forbidden and you restrict your eating of said foods or force yourself to eat in a particular way, you set up a restrict-binge cycle where the next time you access to said food, you overeat or binge on it. I gained some weight since I stopped the food tracking insanity. I wasn’t in a good place with it. I was obsessive. I felt anxiety about eating foods that weren’t on my plan or that would have me go over my carb grams for the day. I’m done with dieting and going back and forth between restricting and overeating. I’m working on changing my mindset, listening to my body. No foods are off limits. At this conference I go to, I normally end up overeating. For the first time, I didn’t feel like I didn’t this year, minus one meal where I totally ate too much dessert. Normally, this would cause me to restrict the next day, but no more. I enjoyed the dessert. I enjoyed smoking. I’m not going to beat myself up over what probably amounts to a few hundred extra calories or few cigarettes over the past three days.

But I’ve noticed that the same psychological craving that would make smoking irresistible is what drives me to overeat or not be able to stop eating despite being full. I have control issues and learning to let go is the only way I will find peace with food. So far I’ve noticed that I feel less pressure to finish my plate (or a cigarette) when I’m feeling done with it. In binge-restrict mindset, you finish your food (or cigarette) because you aren’t sure when you’ll have some next. I normally clean my plate regardless of how much I am enjoying my food. I’ve started leaving stuff if I am not enjoying it as much.

I’m working on loving me for who I am right now. The shape I am in right now. The choices that I make right now. The paradox of yielding my control to gain control still blows my mind, but it appears to be working.


9 years…wow!

So WordPress just notified me that it has been 9 years since I first started writing my blog.

Thanks to all of you that have been following me over the years…it seems like yesterday to me that I was deciding to document all my feeling since I felt fairly alone.

The internet is an amazing place that has allowed me to connect with others that were going through the same thing. I owe my peace of mind to the people that commented and others I’ve met along the way that have helped me get here.

Thanks again and here is to many more years blogging!

Something about Weddings

I will start by saying I didn’t plan on smoking this weekend. But there is something about weddings. I have to say, I’m bolder than I used to be. My mother and father were both present at this wedding and probably both know that I smoked but I didn’t confirm or deny anything. But I was outside with the smokers for too long for it to not be suspicious.

It was my cousin’s wedding. I had a few glasses of wine and it seemed like a good idea at the time. I can’t say I really regret the decision because I actually enjoyed the cigarette more than I thought I would. Not so much that I will be running out to buy a pack, but enough that I don’t regret doing it, which depending on your perspective could be a bad thing.

I can’t quite remember how it happened. I think the thought occurred to me after a few drinks that my cousin has cigarettes and I can ask him for one later when I want one. Then I was chatting with my sister and she mentioned finding someone to bum a cigarette off of (as she also smokes occasionally) and I mentioned that our cousin has cigarettes and we were off to find him. He was outside smoking, of course. She didn’t want a whole one and neither did I, so we split one. They were Belmont Blues and I actually thought they were pretty good for a regular (not menthol) cigarette.

We stood outside for a long time socializing with ‘the smokers’ of which there were only two or three. There were about 4 people outside with us not smoking just socializing because it was hot in the hall.

Prior to the wedding, my cousin had asked me if I wanted to ‘get baked’ at the wedding. Me, wanting to hide my darker side from my parents, said only if I can do so without getting caught, so my cousin just dropped the plan. But someone at the wedding had some weed and this was noted by my cousin’s wife and suddenly I was outside smoking weed with the best man. By smoking weed I had one hit and apparently that was enough for one of the best highs I’ve had since the first time I smoked weed in university. I’m an opportunistic pot smoker. Of the 7 times I’ve smoked weed in my life, I’ve had three great experiences, two meh, why do people even bother experiences and one- OMG I’m dying and never doing this again experience. Obviously, I’ve smoked twice since my awful, never again experience. I’m looking forward to legalization, not because I think I’m going to go out and smoke more, but because when I do decide to smoke, it will be nice knowing what I am getting. The last two times have been since people have been able to get medicinal grade stuff and let me tell you, it makes a difference.

This was the first time I’ve smoked pot and experienced distorted time perception. I noted it as I looked at my watch when I said goodbye to the bride and then again 20 minutes later and honestly it felt like I had said goodbye to her hours ago. There is more on how they think marijuana distorts time perception here. One thing the article mentions is that if a user is having a bad trip, this side-effect makes the trip even worse. Luckily I was having a great time and didn’t mind the effect. To me, it seemed like everyone who had smoked weed was in one ‘time-zone’ and the others, in a different time-zone. So time was passing differently for us, my brain rationalized, because we were high. The other effect that was particularly noticeable this time is I felt very heavy but also that the heaviness felt awesome, like almost like a heavy blanket is calming. This makes me want to get a weighted blanket to recreate the experience sober.

All and all, I had a great time at the wedding. Do I want to smoke, drink or get high all the time? No. But it reminded me of the old quote, Moderation in all things, including moderation. And oddly, it has made me more motivated to seek out the positive things in my life that I’ve kind of let slip in the past couple of months. Like exercise and meditation. I need to do more of those because they naturally give me some of what I experienced in my debaucherous weekend. Until next time…


Smoking and the Media: The Handmaid’s Tale

*This post contains spoilers, stop reading now if you don’t want to be spoiled*

I recently finished reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and I am currently halfway through the TV series. I’m enjoying both, but my inner fetishist isn’t happy that they decided to practically remove all the smoking from the book. I mean, I get it. When Margaret Atwood wrote the book, smoking was commonplace, despite the fact that we knew it was unhealthy. The Handmaid’s Tale is set in the future, the TV show puts that future around right now, when smoking is less common, but still exists. But only bad people smoke now in TV and movies, unless we are talking period pieces, so there is no way we could make the main characters smokers.

Smoking is something that is forbidden in the world of the Handmaid’s Tale. But people still smoke. They buy cigarettes on the black market and if you are powerful and well connected enough you might get your hands on some. The Wives are often referenced and still drinking and smoking as they have their handmaiden’s to have children on their behalf as they are barren.

In the show, we see Serena Joy, the wife of the Commander smoke twice so far. Both times have been right before the Ceremony, where she must watch her husband have sex with the Offred, the Handmaiden. She smokes far more than that in the book. In fact, Offred comments frequently on how much she’d like to smoke when she sees Serena Joy smoking. Interestingly, when she gets Serena Joy to give her a cigarette in the book, Offred is excited to smoke the cigarette, but then realizes that with the match she could burn the house down and presumably hides the match (this is alluded to later) and gets rid of the cigarette (not sure about this, but she doesn’t speak of it again).

When she goes out to Jezebel’s with the Commander she smokes and when she continues to have regular sex with Nick she smokes every time she sees him. The more risks she takes, the more she smokes. Smoking in the Handmaid’s Tale is a symbol of freedom, but also of rebellion. It is taboo breaking at its finest. As much as I am enjoying the television adaptation, for me it losing a little something cutting all that smoking out. But I guess it wouldn’t seem like ‘now’ if everyone smoked, now would it?


Reduction of Nicotine in Cigarettes: A good idea or Prohibition 2.0?

The FDA wants to reduce nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels. Part of me thinks this is actually a good idea. You might be thinking, “But CF this might be the end of conventional smoking…this is horrible!” And on some levels I feel the same way. But a larger part of me thinks this is exactly the what a lot of people need to switch to a less harmful nicotine delivery device. I think combustion as a way of consuming both tobacco and marijuana are on their way out.

My guess is they are going to treat the tobacco I some way to remove some of the nicotine. If it something that regulates it through the filter, people will start cutting the filters off. Basically the nicotine levels will be so low that they won’t satisfy existing smoker and will be so anti-climatic to new smokers they won’t continue. Current smokers that want to continue using nicotine will switch to vaping. Or at least that is the hope. Part of me is like, “Of course that is what would happen…” But is it? I mean many people that are still smoking now, have tried vaping and have decided to continue to smoke, for whatever reason.

What if reducing the nicotine levels in cigarettes has the unintended consequence of opening up a black market in unaltered high-nicotine cigarettes? Sounds like Prohibition 2.0.

Wouldn’t it be better to promote the shit out of vaping if that is what the government wants people to switch to? Release a statement like the Public Health England, and continue to research vaping to confirm that it is less harmful than smoking. Put a hold on regulating ‘enticing flavours’ because they are the best hope at getting people to make the switch- fake tobacco flavour was largely disappointing. Honestly, people are worried about their teen trying vaping. News flash: if your teen is going to try vaping, they were probably going to try smoking. Take it from this nerdy, yet curious teen. I was a good kid, I didn’t drink or use drugs until I was over eighteen, but I tried smoking. I probably would have tried vaping. You could make the same argument for not legalizing marijuana. Wouldn’t it be better to talk to teen openly about drugs and why people use them?

Prohibition doesn’t work, and regulating the nicotine in cigarettes likely won’t work in the way they intend. I don’t think it would be a bad idea to stop treating tobacco with additives that make cigarettes more addictive, but this idea to reduce nicotine levels to ‘non-addictive levels’ strikes me as more prohibition and what have we learned from alcohol, marijuana  and opiates? Prohibition doesn’t work and often increases rather decreasing harm to people that choose to use. Let’s learn from our past and stop making the same mistakes with drugs that we have made in the past.


On a roll…

So I drove by myself a lot this weekend, meaning I spent a lot of time thinking about how Strange and Beautiful might go. I have the story outlined until where it began initially so now I just have to get it written out.

The unfortunate side effect of writing smoking fiction or even outlining possible story lines for smoking fiction is it made me really want to smoke. The urge was the worst when I was hungry. If I hadn’t correctly identified what I really needed, I was pretty close to buying a pack of cigarettes today.  I had the exact scheme and even how I’d get away with smoking it before I got home to my husband.

But I don’t want to start that again, where I’m smoking behind his back and I really don’t actually want to start smoking, despite what my fantasies say. That is what my 9 months of vaping and subsequent quit gave me. I’m able to separate reality vs fantasy. The urge I had today was the type that frequently led to me purchasing cigarettes and smoking in the past, but I guess I figured out how to ride these out.

What worked for those of you looking for tips: knowing that my desire in the moment no matter how big, was not bigger than my desire to be honest with myself, not start smoking again and also recognizing that it was all in my head, not from a legitimate need. I needed food and I think because I was thinking about my story, my brain was like you need to smoke. To be fair, when I was actively using nicotine that typically is how I felt when I needed to vape.

Anyhow, I got home and instead of doing chores or what not, I started to pen Chapter 24. So here it is: Chapter 24. Enjoy!


An Update of Sorts

I thought I would write an update of sorts. Life is pretty good for me right now. Even though when I seem to get one area of life under control, another slips. I haven’t been doing great with eating lately. Namely, I’ve been eating too much or food that my body doesn’t like, resulting in weight gain and feeling gross. I’m working on it… ok honestly I haven’t been working on it. I have a terrible attitude when I comes to this. I keep telling myself I will start the low FODMAP elimination diet to figure out my trigger foods next week and it keeps getting put off. It reminds me of when I was contemplating quitting vaping, which means I will eventually get off my ass and do this.

I just started a new position at work. It started out a bit stressful with a crisis my boss was dealing with in his personal life. But things seem to be settling down.

Today, watching a woman smoke in her car, I realized just how appealing I still think smoking is. But it is tempered with the fact that I don’t really want to smoke myself. I think back to how anxious I felt all the time when I was using regularly and it literally kills my desire.

Writing smoking fiction seems to help channel the desire too. I’ve written two chapters to Strange and Beautiful, Chapter 22 and Chapter 23. Sometimes it backfires and makes me want to smoke more, but on the whole, it serves it’s purpose. I think this story is almost done. Apparently it is really long now, like almost novella length. I mean theoretically it could go on indefinitely, but I want it to have an ending.

That is all for tonight, hope this post finds my readers well.


How drug use changes the brain — and makes relapse all too common

Really interesting article. It does support the disease model of addiction but gives a good premise for it. 

It explains why cravings got stronger the longer I was abstainant, despite the fact that I no longer had nicotine left in my body. 


Anxiety Strikes Again

So I sit here on a Friday, after spending the majority of my evening paralyzed by anxiety or a depressed mood or both. With 8 days until my period, I know this is my ‘normal’ PMS mood swing. Knowing that doesn’t help me change how I’m feeling very easily. It helps explain it, which reduces any inevitable worrying about why I feel so shitty but nothing on the actual reducing how shitty I feel.

Being a teacher of how to take care of one self when one is experiencing negative moods, I know what I should do. De-stress, take it easy, distract with an activity, avoid alcohol or other drugs (cough- nicotine), try not to overeat. I’ve managed to do most of those things, aside from overeating.

Overeating is the worst. I find when I am feeling this way, I mistake my anxiety for hunger and try to eat it away. Of course, it doesn’t work. No quantity of food could satisfy because I’m not actually hungry (to a point, I always start hungry). I don’t eat quantities of food that would qualify as a binge, but I eat more than I need and beyond the point of comfort. Part of me figures it would be good to go back to tracking my food as I did this less often when I was tracking all of my food. The drawback is I become a bit obsessive about what I eat when I track. I need some sort of happy medium between tracking each piece of food entering my lips and the free for all I’m practicing right now.

Next time I feel this way, which I guess could happen as early as tomorrow, I’m going to try to chug a bunch of water first as I actually find that being dehydrated sometimes feels like hunger.

I’m happy I avoided drinking alcohol and smoking (although that was more of a thought than an urge). Alcohol always seems like I good idea in the moment, but in these moods I find that my anxiety is even worse the next day. I should probably avoid drinking again until I have my period. I also cleaned the kitchen which is something as well.

To end on a more positive note, today I had a good day at work. At the end of each of the classes that I teach students can give their feedback. The feedback today was overwhelmingly positive. My favorite piece of feedback was this: “Thanks for helping me feel like a person again.” Jail is a pretty impersonal place so I’m glad I was able to help this person feel this way.

I feel better after writing this all down. I often tell my students that writing can be helpful but sometimes I don’t take my own advice. Time to continue the de-stress with a bath, more water, perhaps a book and maybe a relaxation meditation.


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