This is a long one….
(That’s what she said. Thank you inner 14-year-old boy. Now shut up.)
Recently, I’ve switched from my regular Newports to e-cigarrettes. Not those retarded meth/science experiment contraptions, but one of the brands that look like an actual cigarette. I have this awesome feeling that with this, I may be able to break away from the last addiction that’s held me for years.
See, I have an addictive personality combated by a stubborn one. And small addictions that may not have killed me, did give me have a hard time being who I really wanted to be in life.
What do you do when you have a heavy smoking/ heavy drinking father, who of course is your role model of cool? It’s not like your mom is someone who you look up to early on, since she’s treated more like a Maid, housekeeper than your father’s wife, and your mother (and you assume what your father tells her is the word of God – that she’s not very smart and less than you).
I remember making a huge class project on the dangers of smoking, and my father smoking and laughing as I practiced my presentation for him. I remember plenty of times that he drove with way too many under his belt. The best times were during the day, him and I in the car, and having to take the wheel when he needed to juggle both cigarette and beer. And of course this was during the time when little kids rode in the front seat with no seat belt. Was I scared? Of course not. Eighties babies aren’t coddled punks like the children of today, pffft.
But with that beautiful example, along with catching my father and his friends snorting suspicious white powder, I couldn’t help but to think that this might be okay. I learned early on that just because you see dear old dad sniffing white powder, you should not try to emulate by sniffing baby powder up your nose when playing by yourself. That mess burns like the dickens! I learned just because ammo was left all around the house, you should not put vaseline on them and pretend they are lipstick while playing. Not because it did anything to me, but that’s just weird.
I also learned to ignore what the schools had taught me about smoking and drinking. Hey, my dad smoked like a chimney, and still had nice bright white teeth, and no cancer. Hmmm. So I picked up my first cigarette at 13. My dad left singles all over the house and would never miss it. I was home alone one weekend. I smoked a cigarette and got dizzy. Ooooh, I got a buzz. So of course, I wanted another. And another. I branched out when I could get black n milds. And then of course, the ghetto cousins came along with marijuana. Luckily for me (or unlucky) I could not deal with the high, and stopped doing it. When your friends are turning into demons and jumping out windows a room away, and cows nod their heads to music that is only in your head, well, yeah, you shouldn’t be smoking that ish.
But alcohol was easy, too easy. By 14 I could also pilfer my dad’s alcohol without him noticing. When my parents separated, and I lived with only my father, he was never home and I had an apartment to myself. And I would drink every morning before heading to school. And later… I would have nights like this:
Age 17, New Years Eve. Went out to the club with my cousin. Hadn’t ate all day except for a snack bag of Fritos. Started drinking wine and wine coolers by about 5pm. From there get to the club using a fake ID and drinking many (lost count) long island iced teas. Got so drunk that apparently my cousin dragged me away from the dance floor because I was surrounded by 3 or 4 guys and one has his hand up under my dress. Put on a bar stool at the bar. Too drunk to sit and fall on my face off the bar stool. Given warning by guard, puke right there by the bar. Dragged out by security and put by the door while I wait for my cousin to get her mom’s car. Puke again. Kicked completely out into the December weather in nothing but a skimpy dress. Cousin gets me in the car. On the way home think I’ve rolled down the window, but just puke some MORE all over the inside of the window and door of my aunts car. Dragged myself into my mother’s house to be told that I was just like my father.
But, that’s just teenage shenanigans. It didn’t get bad until I joined the military some years later.
The military lends itself to an alcoholic mentality, especially to the weak-willed. To those already dealing with self-esteem issues, with depression like I’ve dealt with since 13. And you’re sent out overseas away from all support that you used to have. I’m not blaming the military. I’m blaming my own personal weakness. Depression of being away from my toddler son, the responsibilities that I had, the world I knew, felt like it could easily be filled with alcohol and sex. It wasn’t teenage shenanigans anymore. It was waking up and having a drink before morning physical training formation. Coming back afterwards and drinking before starting the actual workday. Drinking during lunch, and heading out to a local bar after work. And rinse and repeat. I lost a lot of weight because I was probably on a 75 percent liquid diet. Who knows if it was more or less, I suck at math.
My best friend, who is known as Florida in these posts, went to our command to help me get help. And to people I tell the story to, it worked. For the depression anyway. For a couple of months anyway.
The alcohol phase for me didn’t really end until about 2 years later. When you black out and wake up in what you thought was a guy friend’s room, when that friend (that yes, was a friend’s w/ benefits guy) takes advantage of the fact that you’ve had way too many shots of 151. When you wake up and places hurt that shouldn’t because of things you hadn’t allowed when sober, you know you’ve reached a horizon.
After that, I did have one last long slip up with the horrible evil ex fiance whose name is never said in my presence. But I finally learned while breaking free of him that I was using alcohol as a crutch. I had to learn how to be myself without it.
But I never really gave up my cigs. For 2 years I tried, having crazier than normal dreams from Wellbutrin, chewing my way through a box of toothpicks satisfy my oral fixation. Heck, I was trying to abstain from sex at the same time too. It’s a wonder I didn’t lose my daggone mind.
But I went back right along. And years passed without me even thinking about trying. Even when my doctors tried to guilt trip me with my upped chances of cancer from my medical condition. Even as I got bronchial asthmatic more in the winter. I was stubborn… Screw it I’m going to die, dangit, I’m going to die doing whatever the frack I want to do.
If someone asked me today why I switched to the e-cigs, I have a whole bunch of canned answers. But honestly I got tired of being ashamed when someone sees me smoking for the first time and says “I didn’t know, you don’t look like a person who smokes.” I’m tired of being ashamed that I feel bad if I have to be close to a nonsmoker and they have to smell my leftover smoke funk. Or trying to spray and spritz the smell from my clothes and mouth before a date, or close talking. I’m not judging anyone for smoking, heck, I haven’t quit, I just switched a cleaner method.
But I tell you one daggone thing. I feel so much better about myself.