My adorable Chinese medical doctor, Scott Blossom, tells me that the lungs are connected to grief – which explains my love affair with cigarettes this past week. I wasn’t going to tell him I was smoking, and planned on not having a smoke until after our 5pm appointment was over so he wouldn’t smell it on me. That was some serious nail biting for someone who had lately been having her first cigarette before the milkman arrived.
I know. It’s been a rough little spell.
Between the overnight departure of the sexy cowboy, which left me in a crumbled little huddle, and an avalanche of deadlines which appeared out of nowhere – I found myself overwhelmed, distracted, incapable and exhausted. Cigarettes and their delicious nicotine rush were more rewarding than a hot bath, a glass of wine, even a good cry.
I think it was the way Scott lifted up my limp little wrist to feel my pulse, the way his forgiving green eyes bore down on me – I couldn’t help myself and I blurted, “I’ve been smoking!”
Then I burst into tears.
At least Scott would know the truth about me and wouldn’t confuse me with those darling yoga girls who traipse through his office with their starry I’M CHANNELING BLISS eyes. I can be me; messy, goodhearted, clunky and sorely imperfect. Besides, I’m a terrible liar.
“I can feel it in your pulses,” he smiled. “Your lungs are like…” and then he made this horrible sound like he was a small rat drowning in sewer sludge. Three cheers for me for telling him the truth. “It’s the only way I can really help you,” he says.
It turns out I’m not the only one who’s been smoking. The Chinese have been puffing away for centuries! Not only that, Scott has an herb that’s going to kick my nicotine in the booty!
“Lay it on me,” I say, lying back to ready myself for the 15 needles he’s about to put in my neck.
My 17-year-old tells me nicotine is full of rat poison and formaldehyde. “They use that on dead people!” she shouts when she finds me sucking another one down on the porch after dinner. She’s on the right track though – smoking is incredibly calming. There I am sitting in a nice rocking chair under the trees in my yard, the wind is up and the leaves are doing their happy shimmery freedom dance. And no matter what’s troubling me – the intro I need to write for the astrologer’s book, the writing I need to create for the lawyer’s website – that mounting pile of bills – there I am in nature breathing in and out, taking those slow measured inhalations and exhalations. It’s ugly, but it’s very centering. Afterwards I’m able to go back into the ring again.
You want to end a piece like this with a pledge, a promise. You want to brag that it’s been two days since you had a cigarette, but you know better. If you’ve figured out anything it’s to have as much compassion for yourself as possible. Cowboys, deadlines, divorces…no one knows what life will shoot them and how they’ll deal. You do your best, just as I am, one breath at a time.
One breath, one heartbeat, one word at a time. xoxo
We learn through all our struggles but usually don’t see it until the air clears and our lungs can catch a clean breath. Breath is life filling us up – when its slowed or congested everything is hard. Breathe and smile. Just breathe.
Yep about smoking. Maybe because I’m a Catholic and you’re a Jew, I feel so doomed by even a single puff that if I never did it again, I’m going to hell anyhow. I think it’s the euphoria that’s the real sin. I think Jews are kinder to themselves, have a kindlier God. Who knows.
we jews do love our euphoria!
I do love smoking for much the same reasons elucidated here. (haven’t had one since last summer though!). It is a strange comfort, a dastardly “friend”, a stuffer of grief. And though I know it is a dysfunction–much like eating ice cream under similar circumstances–it makes me feel stronger, clearer, more ready to face…whatever. Sorry for all that drove you to them and know that you are not alone in the dance.
i know – not alone – that’s the best part of outing yourself – you realize you’re not alone. It lifts the shame factor. xxx
I have noticed that when I embrace “the bad for you things” with utter abandon, like a Red Velvet cupcake, it doesn’t show up on my ass. I learned that from my skinny friends. It’s not the food, it’s not the substance. It’s the thoughts we have around them. Consider that it is the energy you put into the act of enjoying a pleasure. Feeling good is simply good for you. So, the next time you want to fire one up, leave the guilt demons (and the conflicting thoughts) in the kitchen to do the dishes, and head out to the porch by yourself. And enjoy!
well that’s a twist I didn’t see coming. Thanks!
Exactly! I think I like this gal!
Ha ha! I love it. I always think of “Crimes of the Heart” where one sister says “Oh, you shouldn’t smoke…Each one of those little cigarettes is a stick of death.” And the smoking sister replies, “That’s what I like about it…taking a drag off death.” Part of me thinks smoking is absolutely morally reprehensible and disgusting, but that didn’t stop me from doing it in my youth and picking it up again in a secretive shameful say about five of six years ago. I’d sneak off to GG Park to have one cigarette, then try to get past my kids so I could brush my teeth and gargle with hydrogen peroxide and mouthwash to disguise the odor. I kept asking myself why I was doing it, and could never figure it out. Finally I just stopped it. But I can remember standing in the bushes, looking furtively around to be sure nobody could see me, and sucking in, blowing out. Steeling myself like a soldier before the attack. Hating it and loving it all at the same time.
I believe we shared some bushes in that very park on a few occasions. I love the way you paint the scene, disguising the odor, brushing your teeth – like you could get away with it! My god. Prayers for both of us! xxx
Laurie, You are so present in your writing. Really enjoyed this journey through desire, loss, the breath. One of the times I quit, I figured out that I just loved the deep breathing, so did it without the smoke for a while. Didn’t always work. The journey is always so lovable. JJ
Mmm, thanks Jude. I think it is about the breathing. The Chinese herbs are definitely helping. Grief is such a deep mother! xxx
ah, i do know that drill…. with you in spirit on this one. Beautiful writing!
i know sweetie – me and you both. Love!
Laurie, this is a hard one. I know. I’ve been there. Just keep breathing–one hour at a time, if you have to.
I’m in your cheering section.
Wow – you too Elinor? Thank you…feeling the love. xxx
Wow. Love this. For me, it’s sweets, chocolate or ice cream. Candy I buy at the grocery store checkout, wolf down in the car , then hide the wrappers, or throw them away in a public place. The euphoria and resulting guilt are he same.
Wow Steph! Wow! Thank you! It’s the same!
Love hearing from you! My compassion for the challenges. I could so relate to the line – “Cigarettes and their delicious nicotine rush were more rewarding than a hot bath, a glass of wine, even a good cry.” Though I’m not a smoker I imagine the long drag can be so soothing. For me I’m trying to drop the wine habit and it’s a similar story in that it gives me the relief that none of the other healthy choices seem to do.
Hi Kitty Kat,
so nice hearing from you and knowing that you’re out there. Thank you! Thinking of you with love and happiness!
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