Life After Smoking: A First-Hand Account
Smoking is one of the worst things you can do. But it makes you look and feel so cool. Most non-smokers would disagree with that, perhaps calling it the dumbest f***ing thing they’ve ever heard. They’re right, there’s no debating that. But, then again, they’ve probably never smoked and therefor have no idea what feels like to have the essence of cool filling their insides. To prove my point, here’s a logic puzzle thing: dragons breathe fire and are badass. When you smoke, it looks like you’re breathing fire. Therefore, when you smoke, you look like a badass man-dragon. That about settles it.
But looking cool can kill you and, more importantly, is very expensive. I was a smoker for ten years. Recently, I quit. (Pauses for obligatory applause break). Toward the end of my smoking life I began to notice how much control cigarettes had over me. That’s probably the biggest reason I quit. I would stay up way later than I should have every night because night time was smoking witching hour. All was quiet and still and I could finally feel the serenity I had become hooked to years prior; a feeling the stresses of the day time seemed to negate.
While working at a Pottery Barn during my high school years, one of the stockroom guys vented to me his own frustrations with smoking. One thing that stuck out was how angry he was with himself for being so addicted that smoking was the first thing he needed to do in the morning, before breakfast, a glass of O.J., or even his morning piss. While some immediately slap on some sneakers and go for an invigorating morning run, this guy was setting the table for a day in which absolutely no running would be taking place, at least not without some vomiting and the aid of a paramedic. Cigarettes were an integral part of his well-balanced breakfast. I was an occasional smoker then – no more than a couple cigarettes a week – so, of course, I knew my addiction would never reach that level.
It reached that level. About a year ago. It’s almost an OCD level of need. Like, if I don’t smoke a few before the end of The Today Show’s second hour, my mom will die. That’s the control at work. Cigarettes are that charismatic friend who can talk you into taking a bunch of tequila shots an hour before a job interview. As I would take that first drag of the day, only a minute after I’ve woken up, all I could think was “Nah, dude! I can’t do that to myself! That’s terrible! Buuuuuut you make an excellent point; how else am I going to take my morning dump?” Puff, puff, puff.
And that’s not an exaggeration. After that first morning drag, my bowels would react the same way I would if I woke up and noticed my apartment was on fire – just a mad dash toward the nearest exit. It was amazing. I never had to worry about subtracting fecal weight when I stepped on a scale. That number was all me, and it was all thanks to smoking. I unconsciously began to rely on smoking to send my bowels into a poop frenzy.
Once I quit, my rhythms changed. I didn’t have nicotine pushing the evil out anymore. My body had become so accustomed to having a chemical stimulant make me go to the bathroom that it had forgotten that it could do it on its own. On more than one occasion I found myself getting mad at my ass for not being able to do its simple as s**t job. I would wear my poop-centric anger on my sleeve and it would affect others around me. The anger was my poop-desire mixed with withdrawals.
The most dangerous part of smoking, to my mind at least, is that smoking turns you into an a*****e, and then makes you suppress that a*****e with cigarettes for the rest of your life. I could just call it the addiction but it’s more than that. Earlier, I mentioned the need smoking instills in you. That need is basically what the Hulk is to Bruce Banner and what Hyde is to Jekyll. If you don’t control the need, you’ll be an irritable rage monster who thinks everything everyone says is wrong and stupid and f**k you because f**k you, that’s why f**k you, you f**k. F**k. I need a cigarette. (Puff, puff, puff). I’m sorry. Like the lesson learned at the end of all great monster movies, it turns out I was the dick all along. Constantly bending to the will of nicotine just to feel normal isn’t a viable option for living. On top of that, the sense of normalcy is illusive. Every pack you burn through raises your bar for normalcy. Once the addiction, the need, takes hold, you’ll need maybe a half a pack to feel right with the world. Then ¾ of a pack. Then an entire pack in one day is what you’ll need to not feel like you want to slash the throats of everyone around you. This isn’t like heroin addiction where your entire perception of the world is being altered under the influence of the drug. Nicotine does nothing to alter your perception, or make you feel like you’ve transcended into another realm of consciousness. With nicotine, you go from being calm, adjusted, and clear-minded to feeling like the only thing that can ever bring you back to that state of mind is a cigarette. So, obviously, heroin is the way to go.
I haven’t had a cigarette in over a month, as of the writing of this sentence. I’ve been using a nicotine gum to control my need. It’s working so far, but man, oh, man, do I miss racing to the bathroom in the morning. It was the closest I came to a morning jog in a long time. And afterward, I was always a pound or two lighter. You can’t get that kind of instant result from regular jogging. I won’t miss smoking much, but it does feel like there’s something missing. It’s not an absence or a longing; it’s like working a day job for years and then suddenly getting fired and feeling weird being home in your underwear on a Wednesday afternoon. It’s a lot of “Isn’t there something I should be doing right now?” I’ll fully adjust eventually, but until then the need monster is still there. I’m going to slay him.
Dude, you are so high on life right now. Keep it going with our list of Ten Funny Reasons You Should Stop Smoking Pot. Or find out how much worse your bad habits can get in How a Story about Coffee Enemas Got Even Weirder.