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Closet Fascination

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

Month

December 2008

Relationships

I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationship with my partner recently. He doesn’t know about my fetish and we’ve been together for almost four years now. I’m starting to feel like I need to tell him. I know that keeping this secret is not a good thing and more recently I’ve realized how ingrained it is in me. I mean it was always there, whether I was consciously contemplating it or not. Even if I am not thinking about it, when I’ve forced myself not to fantasize, all it takes is seeing someone out on the street or watching someone in a movie to bring me back. I guess I never thought about telling him before because I had never really accepted myself that it was here to stay. I thought that maybe once I was in a relationship, I would no longer need the fantasies that kept me company during my single years. Of course, it turns out I was wrong. In fact, my most unattainable fantasy involves my boyfriend smoking, which would of course never happen since he is very anti.

For better or for worse, I feel like I am going to have to tell him- lest I let it eat away at my insides, racking me with guilt over with holding a part of myself from someone I love. He’ll either not be able to get over it or accept me with it. But even if he accepts me, I know that based on his current attitude toward smoking- my fantasies will stay just that- fantasies. This might be fine, since I will not know what I am missing and maybe nothing could live up to the fantasies I have built in my head. But what if it isn’t enough? I guess it is good we have some time apart so that I can think on this. Mull things over in my head, as usual, before I do anything.

This will be a short post, since I have much to do to prepare for Christmas. I probably won’t post any new entries until after Christmas- but I will have time to check comments and reply to those. Happy Holidays Everyone and All The Best in the New Year!

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Guilt- Religion’s Tool

I have struggled with issues pertaining to guilt my whole life. I think this has a lot to do with the way I was brought up and the religion that both myself and my parents were brought up with. The Catholic Church bases its whole religion on the power of guilt. According to the church, we are all inherently sinful and must confess our sins so that God may forgive us. What this instills in a person if they try to follow it to the extreme is a maladaptive behavior where the person blames everything on themselves. Sure God can forgive us, but he cannot take away the guilt. Defenders of the church might argue that you have been forgiven, why would you still feel guilty? I say- well I’ve been forgiven for that transgression, but how much long before I screw up again? They might argue, if you work hard at being a good, moral person you should not have to confess very often. But almost everyday I’d wager to guess that everyone does something that could be considered inherently selfish or “not good” according to the church. Something that God ought to forgive us for. 

I had to go to therapy in high school. I was really depressed. I’m a pretty introspective person and depression made it worse. I would wallow in my destructive thought patterns. Therapy is very cathartic. I highly recommend it. I talked and talked. About anything and everything pertaining to my life. And my therapist listened and listened and finally he stopped me and said, “I don’t think you are depressed.” My jaw dropped, since I was convinced I was depressed- I had read the criteria for diagnosis in the DSM-IV, I had been wallowing in my deep dark hole for almost two years at that point. All I could reply was , “I’m not? Then why do I feel so miserable?” He proceed to explain to me why he thought I was not depressed or that depression was not my problem. Yes, I felt depressed. But what was more important to note is why  I was depressed. He told me that what I was feeling was the effects of years of constant guilt. He explained that this would depress someone, because how can one person take on the responsibility for the world like that?  They cannot. That is why most people have the adaptive ability to blame things on others. I had to learn this. He gave me homework to do. I was to stop and think about exactly why I was feeling guilty about something and then try and rationalize it without taking on the whole blame. I had to learn to recognize when things were my fault  and when they were due to external circumstances. I struggle with this still although not nearly as bad. 

It is not surprising that I developed this guilt complex. My Dad struggles with it too. My mom probably does too to a lesser extent. My mom’s story is pretty  interesting.  She grew up in a catholic household and when she was 17 she left home after high school to become a nun. As you can probably guess (since I am writing this) she left being a nun. She, to this day, has not told me why. I know that I came quite a few years after she left, so no it was not because she broke her vows and got knocked up. My mom is a good person, a great mother and my best friend and there is something too personal about why she left that she still has not shared with me. I always wonder if there is some residual guilt. What I guess is more ironic is that my mom had me out of wedlock. So technically it makes me “The Bastard Child of An Ex-Catholic Nun”. I  wonder, to this day, what her hang ups with the church are since she must of had some to leave. She does not go to church regularly anymore, although she does go for the main religious holidays. I think she partially did the religion thing for my sake.  I think it is so ingrained in her that so goes out of habit- not necessarily because she believes in the Catholic Church.

That aside, I started questioning the church in high school, shortly after I had pledged my life to be a Catholic. Firstly, I did not like their attitudes about women. Why couldn’t a woman become a priest if she wants to? Secondly, I started to meet people when I moved to the big city that were a contradiction of what I had always been taught. They were good people, moral people with good values that GASP did not believe in God. When you are taught your whole life that people who do not believe in God are going to hell because of it, you start thinking that they must be bad if they are going to hell because only bad people who do not repent their sins go to hell. But according to what I was taught- these amazing people that have done far more giving back to the world than I have were going to hell because they did not believe in God. It made me question- with everything we learn about God, would he really do that? I mean they were upholding many of the moral values that the Church instills in its follow with one tiny little thing- they do not believe. Some people might have reacted  by thinking they should try and save these lost souls.

My reaction was different. I didn’t see why they needed to be saved. Further, I could no longer believe in a religion that would condemn my friends to hell simply because they didn’t believe in the religion or God. I’m not even sure I believe in Hell anymore or even a life after death. And if there is a life after this one, I don’t believe that God would condemn an atheist for not believing. If God is so forgiving, that is a minor transgression if you’ve lived you life being a good person. I consider myself to be spiritual. I no longer believe in the Catholic church. Every time I go, I feel like a giant hypocrite because I go along with mass as if I believe. I say the Nicene’s creed  where you actually say, out loud, that you believe in the Catholic church. Its so ingrained in me that I actually still feel guilt over my hypocrisy. I apologize to God when the time comes of silent prayer.  Despite the fact I’ve abandoned the church, it seems the Church won’t abandon me.  I still retain a irrational belief in God even though I know there is no way to prove his existence.

What does any of this have to do with smoking? Well a lot actually. I’ve spent my whole trying to be a good person. Trying to live up to ideals. I have a realized that a large part of what attracts me to smoking is that it is not good for me. Maybe what attracts me to it, is that it is dangerous and something that no one does anymore and I have largely spent my life playing it safe. Maybe it is irrational to want something that is bad, even though you know it is bad for you. I’ve realized for me, a lot of the attraction has to do with my perception of smoking. I don’t think I would want to do it if it weren’t bad. I think it is also because I see it as “only a little bit bad”. I mean I would never go out and do heroin just because it is bad and makes you feel good. Maybe some one else would, but I have to draw a line as to how far I would be willing to take danger and I draw the line at marijuana. I also get a lot of, I don’t quite know what to call it- pleasure (?) from planning to do naughty. I’m not sure why… I feel like I could go on and on about this religion stuff and how it has affected me, but I’ve already written quite a bit and have to save some content for later.

My Sexuality

Before I get into a discussion about what exactly turns me on when it comes to smoking, I think I need to give a little background on my sexuality and what I have come to believe about sexual orientation. I have spent almost as much time thinking about my sexuality as I have about my fascination with smoking only with my orientation I feel like I know exactly who I am.

I spent most of my adolescence pretty confident in the fact that I was straight. I had crushes on boys and most of my steamier dreams were about guys. I started to question my sexuality in my first year of university. It was second semester and the guy whom I had been crushing on sends me an MSN message telling me he is gay. In my head, I thought- not again even though this was the first time this had ever happened to me. I don’t know why I thought that- but I think it had something to do with every single guy that I had ever had a crush on was somewhat effeminate. I think this was just luck- since I have since been attracted to non-effeminate guys. Regardless, there were a few others that came out to me over the next couple of years. Meanwhile- I was starting to think there was something wrong with me. I thought maybe my stepmother was right to be worried that in fact I might be lesbian. She is pretty homophobic and that was probably her biggest nightmare.

The prospect of possibly being lesbian did not bother me. I had never seen anything wrong with homosexuality despite being brought up in the Catholic Church and living in a tiny homophobic little town. In fact, that was one of the reasons that I started questioning my faith when I was younger in the first place. But that is another story for another time. What bothered me was being in this state of limbo, of not knowing. I wanted to know for sure exactly what my sexual preference was and I wanted to know now. It isn’t too different to how I have been feeling recently with exploring this side of my sexuality.

To be perfectly honest, I had a really narrow view of sexual orientation before I started really researching it and finding out about it. Before this questioning period I thought that people were gay or straight and that girls that called themselves bisexual were just doing it to turn on the boys. Sure I wasn’t homophobic, but I certainly had no idea how complex things are. I joined a forum for gay people and found it was a great place to explore in a semi-anonymous atmosphere. I made a lot of friends that I could be really open with, people who had experience with what I was going through.

I came to identify myself with the label bisexual. It took a long time before I did though. Even within the gay community there is a lot of stigma behind calling yourself bisexual. There were a lot of people that told me there is no such thing as being bisexual and that bisexuality was merely a transition period between coming out as gay or going back to being straight. That it was a cop out label for someone that is scared to call himself or herself gay and bisexuality- especially for women is more accepted. I didn’t really care. I couldn’t deny that I had feelings- both sexual and emotional for both men and women. I see sexuality as a continuum. I probably have more heterosexual tendencies so I would say there is about a 60/40 spilt heterosexual/ homosexual. 

I had my first crush on a girl in university. She was my roommate and nothing ever happened between us, but I definitely had more than platonic feelings for her. I almost met up with a few girls from the forum, but at the time I was not ready to come out. I have since, ironically, after starting the current relationship I am in. I guess it is ironic in the sense that I found love at a time when I had pretty much given up finding anyone: man or woman.

So what turns me on? Well if you are still reading, you could probably guess that seeing both women and men smoke turns me on. I prefer reading stories or seeing it in real life to the staged or overtly sexual pictures that you can pay for.  For some reason, I find it so much more arousing if the person does not seem aware of the fact that they might be turning someone on. I’m not big on tricks, I just prefer watching someone smoke naturally- like they would on a day-to-day basis. Watching them take the smoke into their lungs hold it and exhale with a look of pleasure on their face. It is really that simple for me. There is also the attraction of the fact that they are doing something inherently bad. I really like watching people that you would never expect to be smokers light up. Those are my favorite. I think those are my favorite because I kind of put myself into that category- of the people that are least likely to smoke but do anyways. I guess I’m not in that category right now, but if I ever started smoking I think that is where I would put myself.

I’ll probably write some more on this later. I feel like I have only touched the tip of the iceberg as to what I find so alluring and I’ve already reached almost 1000 words. Until the next time I procrastinate from studying… 

What is a fetish?

Mister T made an interesting comment on whether or not my fascination with smoking is actually a fetish. I’ve always thought of it as one since it isn’t something that people normally find attractive or if they find it attractive they might not be sexually aroused solely from watching people smoke. For me, there has always been a connection between smoking and sex, even before I was aware that what I was feeling was sexual arousal. I don’t necessarily need it to become aroused, but it is the fastest, easiest way to sexual arousal. Pretty much all of my own personal fantasies involve smoking and have for many years now. 

I think it all depends on how you define a fetish. Fetishism is still diagnosable in the DSM-IV and ICD as paraphilia, but only if the fetish causes distress or has a detrimental affect on that person’s life. In that regard, I’m not sure what I have does cause me enough distress or not enough to be diagnosable. That said, there is even a movement to get away from the diagnosis of fetishes since the fact that they can be diagnosed causes much social stigma. The wiki page (as much as you have to be careful with info you find on wikipedia) is very informative on this topic. 

A fetish is a powerful and consuming thing, almost like a virus, kidnapping and controlling one’s sexuality. You may be fascinated by smoking, or even feel compelled to do it, but unless smoking is essential to feed your sexual desire you probably do not have a fetish.

You make an interesting point- by that definition of a fetish, I probably don’t have one. But at the same time, I feel like it is more than a fascination since almost every sexual fantasy I have involves smoking of some sort, and I think that might be abnormal. I think it might also be because the word fetish is being adopted not only by people that do suffer from their fetishes, but people who live normal lives who have embraced their fetishes. Maybe that means they are not technically fetishes anymore, at least not in the diagnosable sense, but people have still embraced the word.  One day, maybe it will be like the work queer- which was initially a slur, but the gay community has embraced it as a way of  identifying themselves. I found this blog, Fetish Burden, also had a fairly good description of what a fetish is and I think I identify with his definition as well. 

Another thing that makes me think that this is a fetish vs just a fascination is how early it manifested itself. I found smoking to be a turn-on before I even knew what a turn-on was. I’m not sure why, but I’ve heard some people compare sexual fetishes to sexual orientation, as something you are born with and that is pretty much impossible to change. That opens up another can of worms in that evidence of sexual orientation as being something you are born with. I happen to believe that there is a biological basis to sexual orientation so maybe there is some biological basis to fetishes. There is no evidence I can use to back this up. In fact, from the searches I did for academic journal articles on the topic, there is very little.

I could probably go on, but I have a feeling I might not be making sense anymore. I guess regardless of what my fascination with smoking is, I will continue to refer to it as a fetish as that is how I have thought of it for many year. Thank you everyone for your comments. I really appreciate them and it is nice to know that others out there can sympathize, since I think the hardest part about this is how lonely it can be. I will probably address all of the comments over the next week or so as many of them have sparked ideas for new posts. Until next time…

My Epiphany

I’ve been thinking about my fetish a lot lately. It will probably take me years to understand it, but writing is helping. The first thing I have come to understand is that I don’t actually want to smoke. I think that my desire to smoke actually comes from an association in my brain between my fantasies about smoking and the arousal I get from them rather than actually associating the pleasure with the cigarette. I think I realized this awhile back, but I always seem to forgot when I am fighting with myself, trying to not succumb to the desire to buy cigarettes.

Secondly, because of the fact that I associate smoking with sexual arousal, I feel more desire to go out and buy cigarettes/ start smoking just times of the month where I am most sexually charged. My sex drive cycles along with my hormones. This makes sense from a biological point of view, that I would be most aroused during the time of the month that is most conducive to pregnancy. 

Thirdly, I think if I were to embrace my fetish entirely- I would have to date a smoker or become a smoker myself or both. Right now, cigarette smoke actually irritates me just as much as it does any other non-smoker. I often forget this, because in my fantasies I don’t have to deal with the smoke. Plus, once you smoke- even after one cigarette- the smell is that much less noxious and you don’t really notice how awful it smells. 

And lastly, I’ve also realized that I probably will never be able to embrace the fetish entirely. It involves changing too much of who I am and changing my lifestyle in ways that I just cannot come to terms with. The biologist/ geneticist in me rejects becoming a smoker entirely. It is awful for you and I don’t think that I could consciously do that to myself. My choice of profession, teaching, also comes into play as I do not thing that  smoking as a teacher (especially a high school biology/chemistry teacher) sets a good example. Also, I am into long distance running. The last thing I need to do is start messing up my lungs and putting stress on my heart. I mean I did read this intriguing article in the LA Times about athletes that smoke- which the part of me that would love to start thought was really cool and the part of me that is disgusted, noted that even many of them want to quit. Luckily, I have a non-smoking (very anti-smoking) boyfriend as that is part of my motivation to not start. The only problem with him being so anti, is that I don’t feel comfortable sharing with him that I have this fetish. He wouldn’t understand as he already doesn’t understand why I tried smoking in the first place.

That was the epiphany I came to over the past couple of days. Lots of thinking about this while I should be focused on my studying for my exams.

Looking Cool

Smoking does look cool. Maybe it is just me and my weirdo fetish that makes me think smoking looks cool, but still think it does. I will agree that it doesn’t make you cool- for sure. Just because it will kill you doesn’t mean it doesn’t look neat. I mean it looks pretty similar to what your breath looks like on a cold winter’s day and how cool is seeing you breath? Only when you smoke, you can see it in any weather. I think that it pretty awesome and always have. I think the whole “it doesn’t look cool thing” is just anti-smoking propaganda. Of course we don’t want people to think it looks cool, because then they will want to do it. Also, don’t tell anyone it feels good, because then they might want to try it. 

I mean, I’m all for anti-smoking propaganda. But part of me thinks that it would be better if people were informed with the whole picture. If you don’t answer the “why” people get addicted part, the curious few who wonder why people smoke if it is so addictive are going to try it. Some of those people probably would have tried it anyways. People still try heroin and they know that it can make them feel good and that they could get addicted very quickly, sometimes instantly. I think it is good to inform people of all the negatives, but if you don’t present any of the positives some people might go out and try and find out for themselves. Wouldn’t it be better to present both sides and show that the negatives outweigh the positives? 

I mean that is part of the reason I tried smoking, was because I wanted to see what the big hoopla was about. I kind of wish I hadn’t. But I’m not sure that having more information would have deterred me. At least I wasn’t just trying it because I thought it looked cool. I would hope that no one would start smoking to look cool, but I’m sure people still do. That is so not cool, even if it looks like it.

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