UP IN SMOKE
It’s interesting how knowing what we know about the dangers of smoking, and people still smoke. It’s crazy, considering smoking is not cool, not sexy, nor is it socially acceptable anymore. The soundbite we get nowadays is that smoking is gross; it’s a slow killer that can also harm those around you; it’s bad for the environment and we’ve all heard the drill.
The result: People STILL smoke.
I find smoking interesting when it comes to sobriety/recovery. That’s the one realm where smoking is understood and accepted with complete total and utter empathy. Sobers know smoking is addictive—hell, there are 12-step programs dedicated to quitting nicotine…anonymously, of course. And yet, as addictive as smoking is, I could decide to take up smoking tomorrow and sobers would think nothing of it. It’s a totally acceptable habit. My first cigarette would give me a buzz–I’m talkin’ about lightheaded. It would be bad for me, but it would relax me. And it would leave me craving for one after another, until I’m going through packets a day and begging strangers for a light like a bum on the street and yet…totally acceptable in the realm of recovery; your sober days stay intact without question—HOWEVER…take a shot of NyQuil for that coughing-aching-stuffy-head-so-you-can-rest and some sobers will have you standing up as a newcomer with one day of sobriety. I just find it interesting. That is all.
Cigarettes were a big pain in my hole when I was going through the early motions of sobriety in rehab. I was the only non-smoker in this non-smoking facility. Smoking was prohibited within 5 feet of this sober compound, so my housemates were only allowed to smoke during the early morning walk around the block. That means these fuckers would try to sneak a smoke whenever Staff let down their guard during the day. But there was no escaping the smell, let alone concealing it. There would be smoke coming from the balcony, the pool and sometimes you could smell cigarette smoke down the hall. Then you had guys sneak a smoke in the shower with the hopes of drowning the smell with steam, soap and a splash of cologne, but nope…the distinct cigarette smell was always there. The bell would ring and we would ALL get consequences because nobody would come clean about smoking. It was so damn frustrating.
I remember getting the hot seat in the morning group. The hot topic was my body weight–or lack thereof. “Why aren’t you fat yet?” The program director asked me suspiciously in the middle of a painfully/mentally/emotionally/exhausting 6-hour attack therapy session. “You should be fat by now.” She added.
I had been at the house for a couple of months by then and I was in the best shape EVER! I’m talkin’ about lean with a full six-pack. The rehab diet is the best. When you have a bunch of tweakers cooking for tweakers, you have no choice but to watch what you eat.
I shrugged my shoulders silently in answer to her query. Then one of the housemates cut in, “You know what I love about you Paulo,” his voice was transparent and deliberate. “I love how you can jump rope every morning. I wish I could workout every early morning like you do…” His voice trailed off (you muther…fucker…)
“YOU’VE BEEN JUMPING ROPE!!!” Mrs Program Director exploded. “No wonder you can’t gain any FUCKING weight! You’re over here fixing feelings by exercising!”
That was the cue for all the residents to gang up on me talkin’ about how I’m obsessed with my outsides, how I never eat the cake they serve at dinnertime, how I have too much ego over my body, how I don’t look healthy and so forth and so on. I remember looking around at these overgrown sober fatties with contempt and thinking, “EEWW!!! No…thanks…”
“I don’t think you should be allowed to exercise,” Yolanda–a crack-headed granny–cut in (yes, I changed her name). “You should focus on your program and not your looks.”
“I don’t think you should be allowed to smoke on the morning walk,” I snapped back. “It’s the same thing. You’re fixing feelings when you smoke. You guys smoke like you’re getting loaded. And you lie and cheat to sneak a cigarette like a bunch of addicts scoring dope.”
“Why don’t you just tell Yolanda to go FUCK herself!?” Mrs Program director cut me, her voice screeching like a sharp blade. “She’s only trying to help you.”
The threat of no smokes on the morning walk had my fellow residents looking at the floor in silence.
“So tell me…” Mrs PG added, “How does your mother feel when she looks at her son being 20 pounds underweight?’
She mentioned my mother and I completely lost my shit. I started sobbing uncontrollably. My mother didn’t know I about my drug problem (at least I swore she didn’t know). And she sure as hell didn’t know I was in rehab (I told her I was in Europe writing a best selling novel). That attack therapy ended with me making a most uncomfortable phone call home…
I was forced to surrender my jump rope, my ab wheel and my resistance bands.
The residents got to keep their smokes in the morning walk.
And this is why I hate cigarette smokers.
I find people on Facebook very interesting. Knowing what we know about Facebook being the number one time killer, yet people STILL waste their time on other people’s Facebook status updates…