I crave cigarettes. The act of smoking.
It’s been four years and still the craving has not left my mind or body.
Pull out a fresh cigarette. Hold the lighter to the tip. Inhale deeply as the flame takes hold. It’s best if you are outside at dusk and the red embers sparkle and fade against the darkening sky.
Smoking was a calming influence for me. I was acutely aware that the act of taking in toxins was the thing that was keeping me breathing when I felt like I had no breath left. But I needed that ritual to survive. Even if it would kill me later.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Feel the smoke work its way down your throat, feel it deeply, the burn, the sting. Feel it in your lungs, a foreign object invading your most precious space.
In with the good, out with the bad. The smoke as nerves, anxiety, irrational thoughts. Watching it exit, rise, dissipate into the night air.
Caught up in something, feeling like the world is closing in on you, like you’ve got no breath left to give, you are suffocating, drowning, you have forgotten how to breathe.
Walk outside, find your corner, the place where the misfits who still light up sticks full of cancer go.
Cigarette to lips. Flick of the lighter. The glow and the smoke.
Inhale. Exhale. Breathe in. Breathe out. A ritual that gets you in rhythm again, gets you taking normal breaths, blowing out smoke like you’re exhaling all of life’s woes.
Watch the cigarette burn, watch as it gets smaller, until you can feel the burn between your fingers.
Take that last, long drag then do what you do. Flick it, grind it, stomp it.
Exhale. Breathe out.
How did I ever learn to breathe on my own?
Four years. And still, I crave. I want to feel that smoke burn my lungs. I want to exhale all of life’s woes as if it were that simple.
But I know it’s not.
So I’ll just breathe.