I’m Smoking Cigarettes Again

Lately, I’ve been finding myself engaging in a weird behavior that makes me feel a little wary of myself. I don’t know if it’s complacency, boredom, or something else, but I’ve noticed that whenever I’m around people who are drinking, I’ve started asking them what it is they’re drinking, what they think of it, what they’re interested in these days, etc. If the people around me are having a spirited conversation about booze (ha, spirited, get it?) I find myself piping in on occasion, talking about the things I used to like to drink, or the things I used to not like to drink at all.

I wonder if people have started to notice the fact that I’m taking more about alcohol with them, that I’m talking about the types I used to drink or the flavors I used to love/hate. Like Gin, for example. I hated gin. I still hate gin. The bitterness, the horrible aftertaste. Just yuck. These days, I’ve begun to chime in during conversations about gin. “Oh, ick. I never liked gin.” I’ll talk about it like I’ve actually had it recently, or as if I’d ever plan on trying it again.

Or, there are the conversations about things I did like, or things I used to know a lot about. Like, say, craft brew IPAs. I drank those a lot. I had a rotating selection of “favorites.” I could talk “intelligently” about hop varieties and malt profiles. It was definitely a thing for me. It has been—oh—444 days since I last tasted an IPA, yet these days I ask people how they’re enjoying theirs, or what they think of such-and-such IPA, or what types of beers they’re drinking these days.

I don’t know why. I don’t know what to think of it. I wonder sometimes if people think it’s weird that I, the sober person, am talking and asking about alcohol. I wonder if they think it’s odd that I seem curious. The fact that I find it odd is enough to take notice of. But my question is: why? Why am I starting to interact with the idea of alcohol again? Why am I starting to be curious, why am I suddenly finding myself with the desire to sniff the scent of old beer out of the bottles my roommate leaves on the kitchen counter? That’s gross, and yet the urge is there. I feel confused by my own reaction to the smell of a cocktail on my boyfriend’s breath, even if it’s been a few hours since his last drink. I still hang out with the same crowd as I did when I drank—mostly my boyfriend’s friends, hardly any of my own—and I find that I’m still dragging my ass to parties where the main objective is to drink and get drunk, where I sit in the corner of the room with a Lacroix or diet soda and smile occasionally at something funny someone said. My choices for sober socialization are slim these days. Some of my best sober friends are also in school and working full-time. I often don’t have the time or energy to go to meetings.

I recently started smoking cigarettes again. Not a lot, mind you. Not even enough to warrant buying a pack of my own (though I’ve thought about it). I haven’t even mentioned it to my therapist yet. Regardless, I’ve turned into the annoying friend who “quit” smoking, but who still asks to bum a smoke from you when you’re on your way out to have one. It’s gotten past the point of offering a few quarters in exchange for a cigarette into feeling guilty for asking yet again if I can have one. The habit is coming back quietly, sneakily, as this occasional sort of thing I do when the opportunity arises—which seems to be a lot lately.

And I guess that worries me because I know…I know myself. I have been overwhelmed with stress from school, work, and relationships lately. My personal social circle remains small. I continue to feel somewhat isolated within myself, and I’ve been struggling to feel support from some of the most important folks in my life. I long for a type of community that has been incredibly hard to find — sober folks who I can make a lasting connection with, who aren’t too busy to spend time with me, whose friendship isn’t dependent upon going to a meeting every week in the dark, cold winter hours after work. Everyone smokes there, anyway.

It frustrates and worries me that I’ve picked this habit back up because I can tell that it’s a slide back into unhealthy coping habits for myself. I haven’t been as vigilant lately about taking care of myself, especially with my first semester of internships underway, and it’s grinding away at the foundation of my sense of self, and my inner peace. I keep feeling this stupid ache, this dumb thing gnawing at me on the inside, telling me I need to start talking about what I’m feeling and I need to start reaching out. But to whom? My boyfriend is notoriously bad at handling emotions and providing support without me having to ask for it first. My best sober friend is going through a crisis of her own sort right now. Some of my dearest friends live nearly 1,000 miles away, and the distance eats at our connection on a daily basis. I am tired, I am lonely, I am sad. And so I smoke cigarettes sometimes with my roommate, or my coworker because at least there’s that moment of time when we can connect, even if it’s over something shitty.

I know I’m starting to miss the social aspect of drinking that I once had, more than I have for the past 440+ days, and although I don’t feel like I’m any real danger of relapsing, I know my current state of mind and vulnerability isn’t helping me any.

It’s this constant thing. I feel alone in my sobriety and I don’t know how to fix it. Part of me thinks I need to stop putting so much pressure on myself and just focus on one thing at a time – like school, for example – before I start beating myself up for not having a full and rich social life. Maybe it’s just not realistic to expect to have it all. Maybe my own efforts have been lacking and I’m shucking the blame onto others for my own failed efforts. Who knows.

All I know is that I’m tired and that I wish I had someone who would give me a hug and tell me I’m doing good things and that everything is gonna be OK. Just to hear it. Just so I might be able to believe it again.

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21 thoughts on “I’m Smoking Cigarettes Again

  1. Ah Em have a virtual hug from me. If you are concerned about yourself/behaviour/smoking then you have done the right thing by outing yourself here. Being aware of your own behaviour/feelings is half the battle I think. Xxx

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I’m at 484 days of sobriety and I find myself having similar conversations with my coworkers. I’ll chime in on conversations about my favorite whiskey – I won’t say I go out of my way to catch a whiff of Macallan 12 year but I’m definitely not avoiding it either – or the dumb things I used to do when I was partying. The games we played, the volume of booze I had… when I was doing those dumb things, it was to impress people. And now, when I talk about it, it’s still in a weird attempt to try to impress people. But honestly, I work in food service and no one else there is sober. That’s just what normal conversation is in my work place, and I’m starting to feel okay just not joining in that conversation. I really appreciate you sharing your story, I was starting to feel like the only one fighting this specific kind of insanity. We’re gonna get through this, and it’s all gonna be okay.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Glad I’m not the only one, too! I definitely felt like I was going a bit crazy there. Writing about it here and keeping myself accountable helps, though. That’s what is great about having this space to vent.

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  3. It’s a good thing to write about what you have been thinking, and doing, so it doesn’t become a secret.
    It sounds like you are very stressed, as well as lacking a sober community in real lie.
    It’s hard, I know.
    It all depends on where you live, too.
    I live in big city with many resources and where there are many sober communities.
    I don’t need many people, just one or two that I can call and meet for coffee, etc.
    But I am often the one that has to make the call depending on busy they are.
    But the self-care piece is very important, too!
    Here is a big hug, and you are doing really well!!!
    xo
    Wendy

    Liked by 3 people

    1. thanks! ❤ I definitely don't want to scurry around in secret smoking cigarettes and feeling like crap about myself because of it. I've quit them once, I know I can do it once again. And yes, you're right, I'm sorely lacking a sober community, but not because the don't exist where I am – I just have an exceptionally hard time connecting with new folks, and always end up feeling like I'm on the outside of the group when I try to go to meetings. Ah well, gotta keep trying different things til I find what works.

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  4. I agree with the others that talking about it is a good thing. I know that, for me, when I feel lonely or out of sorts, working with another alcoholic seems to help. I’ve been sober since 1988, but it’s only been the last 4 or 5 years that I’ve been actually sponsoring others and taking them through the steps. I can’t tell you how much richness and fulfillment that has brought to my life! Bottom line is, don’t pick up, no matter what. Hang in there!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. aw. i hear you and do the same with those smelly yak stink siggies when i really feel lonely and shitty. as if they are my friends.
    i feel that loneliness is a real struggle and if not properly cared for leads to all thoughts/behaviour negative. but then when feeling so shitty i don’t/can’t really take good care of me. circles!
    wishing you well and please remind yourself in dark times that you DO matter, you are loved (that’s my new tactic). big cyber hug to you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey, thank you! I’m actually working for free at an internship right now, as a counselor-in-training. That’s been such a good experience for me so far, and it’s helping keep my spirits up, even when it inevitably adds more stress to my life. Volunteering is a good idea though!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I wish I could give you a hug.
    Are you interested in a sober email
    /text pal?

    You see the need for safer coping mechanisms. Think of a couple that you can add easily (for me it’s almost always a bubble bath). And do it.
    Go to bed early.
    Drink more water.

    And continue to feel down consider depression. Is it the change of seasons? Would extra vitamin D help? Do you need to see your doctor?

    Hug hug hug. You are doing great. It’s just a lull on the road. Protect yourself.

    Anne

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi! Thank you! I do so appreciate your words. I know I’ve got a personal history of depression that was always exacerbated by drinking, so I think seasonal changes and the added stress of work/my internship are creating some extra sadness in me.

      I think a sober email/text pal would be nice. I don’t know how consistently I’d be able to write, but to have someone to check in with every now and then would be super nice!

      Like

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