Chair Today, Gone Tomorrow

The universe is clearly trying to tell me something.

There’s never a good time to try to break an addiction. There will always be life stresses, and there will always be a reason to fall back into old ways.

At eighteen, I thought I looked really cool with a cigarette in my hand. Five dollars and change for a pack of cigarettes that would last me about a week didn’t seem like a steep price to pay. But when I began burning through those packs faster and faster, I could see why people said smoking is an expensive habit. By the time I decided to try vaping, I was smoking at least a pack of cigarettes a day, sometimes two.

Vaping, while less smelly than a normal cigarette, is just as bad (if not worse). I still woke up with a terrible cough, feeling like there was a ten-pound weight on my chest, and I still dreaded long car rides, movies, anything where I’d have to go more than a few hours without nicotine.

The need for nicotine has been affecting me negatively for a long time. Now that I’m back in college, I want to break the addiction because (silly though it may sound) it’s interfering with my class work. I find myself taking vape breaks during homework time and hoping for classes to end early because I need that “nic-fix.” My goal is to be completely nicotine free by the beginning of next semester.

I decided to start with nicotine patches, which I used for a week. I also bought a bottle of 0mg vape juice, which doesn’t have nicotine in it, but still gives me the hand-to-mouth motion that I’ve grown accustomed to. The next step was to get rid of the chair near my front door. I used to sit out there in the cave-like little area and stare at my phone while I hit the vape like it was a pacifier. It was hard to say goodbye to the chair, but it’s gone now.

Yesterday on my break at work, my vape stopped working. And then, I dropped it in a cup of ranch dressing. I started to freak out because I wasn’t ready to let go of the pacifier motion yet. But perhaps this is the universe’s way of telling me to rip the band-aid off.

Today is day three of no nicotine. I feel a little on-edge, a little restless, but I’m managing so far. Today is also the last day of the semester. Although my final grades won’t be posted for a few more weeks, I feel proud of myself that I saw the semester through, that I did the work, and that I showed up (even when I really didn’t want to!) I have grown so much as a writer and as a person this semester. I’ve written many pieces I loved and was proud of.

One of my favorite things I wrote this semester was a collection of four poems, one of which was a re-imagined version of the poem from my last post. The original version was intense and a little hysterical. But it was real and expressed the pain and anger that inspired the poem. Perhaps it’s cocky of me, but I typically do not go back and edit most of my work, especially my poetry. However, all of my classes heavily emphasized revision and editing, so I did end up going back and drastically changing this poem. This is the final version:

A question and answer
on the circular breath
of an echo

I will eat
my words
my shame
my remains

Unsure of
where the line is
we sweep it all under the rug
where the ashes of my noncompliant
girlhood lie

A question and answer
on the circular breath
of an echo

In the margins
of the history books
are the names of the women
who refused to die

Let me be
among them

A question and answer
on the circular breath
of an echo

When I first began the journey to going back to college, I had no faith in myself. I didn’t even expect to be accepted. I didn’t trust myself to be disciplined enough to continue showing up and doing the work. But I surprised myself and actually did what I needed to do. When I was little, my parents always told me, “You can do hard things,” when I got discouraged. They were right! I can do hard things. Whether it’s giving up nicotine or writing a term paper, I’m ready to meet my challenges head-on.

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