I hit a new low today. I bought a pouch of the tobacco my dad smoked (smokes? I don’t know!) and rolled my own cigarettes. I couldn’t stop thinking about smoking again, and how it was my coping mechanism in college, in the psych ward, and afterward. My first try made me really sick. I thought yay! I’m feeling really sick! I will now associate this with feeling awful, not feeling better!
A few hours later, all I could think about was the possibility of another cigarette. I used less tobacco. It was a good as I remembered. Now my throat hurts and my lungs feel like their on fire. Because… fire. Smoke. Obviously.
My therapy begins again on Monday, after a three-week hiatus due to overlapping vacations (mine and hers) and not a moment too soon. Self-destructive behavior is a sign that I’m turning my anger inward, on myself. I don’t know why I’m so mad at myself, and I don’t want to think about it. My brain goes right from “let’s explore that” to “SMOKE! You’ll feel better!”
All my life, my dad was calm and quiet when he was smoking. Often, I would sit with him, “out back,” while he rolled and smoked this brand of tobacco. Peace pipe, so to speak. It’s the only consistently positive memory I have. When I visited him, after I started smoking, he’d roll one for me. And tonight, the weather was the same as that night, the last time I saw him, when things were going well, or so I thought. Tonight, there’s a beautiful moon, the temperature is perfect for standing outside, alone, with the smoke, the familiar scent, and air on my skin.
Right now, my brain is screaming at me to stop confessing this. So I’m going to share a poem that I wrote during my senior year in college, just before my niece was born. Because I’m proud of this poem, and of the commitment I made to unfailing honesty, during the time I was writing it. I wrote it while taking a poetry class, and my teacher, Saskia Hamilton, hadn’t heard of the American Spirits brand. She asked me about all the ghosts in the poem, and I was confused. The class was confused. Someone, I don’t remember who, even though I remember my classmates very clearly, finally articulated that American Spirits was a brand of cigarettes. We all laughed, and then we had a moment for the fact that there really are ghosts in this poem. Then, we worked on that idea. This is what I ended up with, for my final portfolio. I won’t edit it. I’ll just leave it here.