22/03/2010

Cigarettes and everything else

Reading Marianne's post on chocolate has led me to reflect on my own addictive tendencies. I think it runs in the family. I used to think everyone suffered from the same inability to resist temptation, whether in the form of a cigarette, finishing off a whole tablet of chocolate, a third glass of wine (Ok, a fifth pint...). But then I met my daughter. She's found of chocolate, sweets, ice cream, and everything ten year olds like. She will pester me to let her buy this or that. But then she'll have one, maybe two, and that's it. Sometimes she'll leave the packet lying around and her brother will finish it off (he's more like me), sometimes she'll hide it somewhere and I will find it months later in an advanced stage of decomposition. So she can handle chocolate and I'm not too worried about her taking up smoking or any harmful addiction. I, on the other hand, will get addicted to anything if I look at it for too long. I smoked for years. Then, when I got pregnant the first time, I gave up. Ish. On and off. I finally gave up altogether last year. That is, I started on a path that led to me not having smoked anything at all (not even a cigar) for three months at least. In think that before Christmas, I did allow myself the odd smoke, at parties, when drinking, etc. Then I stopped needing that.
Now I'm familiar enough with the process of giving up that I know that's not going to last. I'll soon come to a time when I want the odd cigarette again. At first it will just be disgusting, and then I'll be careless, have them too often, and before you know it, I'll be back on buying packs. Although it's easy to remember why one gave up, it's just as easy to forget what it that makes us want to start, and why it's never in fact a good idea.
First, I think Allan Carr is all wrong. He says that smoking is not pleasurable. Of course it bloody well is! Who does he think he's trying to convince? Ok, not smoking is also kind of nice. You don't feel sick, you can smell and taste things, and you're not waiting for the next hit all the time. But smoking feels good. And when things aren't going so well in your life, you know that at least you've got that.
So what is there to debunk? Well for me I think it's first this: the coolest people aren't the smokers. I thought this for the longest time. But things must have changed, because increasingly, I find myself hanging out with cool people who don't smoke. In fact, there just doesn't seem to be many smokers around anymore, and I'm in Turkey!
Also, and this is harder for me to admit, smoking doesn't help concentrate. I used to think I needed to smoke in order to write. Well that was true. Now I'll do other things instead, like making tea, checking my email, take a walk in the corridor. But none of these help me concentrate – they're distractions! Now I don't mean they're bad, I don't think I could spend a long stretch writing if I didn't have frequent and regular distractions:I'd go mad, my head would explode! But I honestly used to think smoking helped me concentrate, that I didn't have it in me to stick to the job without cigarettes. Now I understand I was just protecting myself from being too good! And I can do that without ruining my lungs at the same time.
Ok, it's not all good, as now I need to address the internet addiction. And the watching tv series addictions. My husband, who takes after his daughter, is perfectly happy to watch one episode of something per week. I prefer to watch all 5 seasons in a few days. I will stop to grap a piece of bread from the kitchen and sleep a few hours, but that's it. Well, that's how it would be in the fantasy world in which I don't have to go to work or look after the children! But it's a good indication of what I would be like if I didn't have responsibilities to anchor me down. But I do, I have plenty, and my addictions are just harmless distractions. So like Marianne, I don't think I'll be seeking help any time soon.

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