A New Low

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.

ritual poem

4 Comments

    • Anne-Marie said:

      Ohhhhh that’s a good one! Thank you! You get me.

      August 13, 2014
      Reply
  1. Laurel Lewis said:

    Anne-Marie…this is beautiful and haunting. I can feel and smell the smoke through your words. Tobacco is my go-to drug also, still unsure if I’m revisiting the demon of traumatic memories or satisfying my own adult urges to not feel…still figuring that one out. Just wanted to say I love this piece and blessings to you…

    August 15, 2014
    Reply
    • Anne-Marie said:

      Thank you! Since I threw out the tobacco, I’m using sugar again instead. Far less poetic, but my lungs are happier, and I don’t have to leave the house. I didn’t eat any sugar for months, though, so my body is still not sure about this new solution.

      August 15, 2014
      Reply

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