I had never been a smoker. I picked it up in a hellish last-ditch attempt to “take the edge off” when I first found my way into 12-step recovery and finally confronted my glaring alcoholism.
Smoking seemed OK here. It was a hallmark of many 12 step gatherings, “the meeting after the meeting” where you could stand outside in the chilly night air and warm yourself with a tiny fire to your lips.
I loved smoking. I still would, except I am an intelligent human, medical professional, and terrified of increasing my chances of having a stroke, so I no longer smoke.
But the silver lining in my initial cessation of drinking was this: I could smoke as much as I damn well pleased. Hey, as long as I wasn’t drinking, smoking was the lesser of the evils. I allowed myself to have this comfort and enjoy the sweet rush of nicotine.
I theorized it was preferable to the damage drinking had caused in my life. My empty apartment served as a glaring reminder that my partner had finally had enough and left. Inside, I felt like fine china with jagged edges, fragile and being cut apart with each step I took. In a final attempt to outrun my alcoholism, I had bought an impulsive ticket to Kauai and fled. Yet there I was, sobbing on a riverbank into my oversized beer and texting a friend, “I don’t know if I will come back from this.”
The budding hope I had in early recovery was as fragile and slippery as a newborn. Keeping that newborn alive became the most important thing in my life. I knew that without it, the fine china inside would shatter and cut me to pieces.
I made a deal with myself that I could