Monday, February 2, 2009


This post was going to be about self-hatred. i have the draft nearly ready to post, and maybe i will "publish" it when it feels right, but for now, i write of self-respect.

i came out of the weekend a different person than i went in, and that doesn't happen often. the experience covers all the usual bases -- food, alcohol, relationship...

i'd been plotting to drink and stopped taking antabuse (the drug that makes you sick if you drink) friday. antabuse takes several days to get out of your system, so i planned to drink tonight. i'm not staying at my boyfriend's, and i was going to have a delightful little romantic evening with myself.

The plan. After work on monday i'd take myself to a beautiful, fancy restaurant and order a delicious, expensive wine with a salad. the wine would compensate for any additional food i'd want but wouldn't allow myself. I'd sit at the bar and read and write and chat with folks. when i lived in new york, i loved hanging out in bars and meeting people and writing.

or did i? when i lived in new york, i starved and binged voraciously and drank wine to puke all night. perhaps it wasn't all as romantic as i remember.

now to the present. i'd told my therapist and my group that i longed for wine and was plotting to drink, but somehow i didn't convey the message of urgency. probably, because i wanted to drink. no one picked up that i was in danger.

yesterday, i was at the boyfriend's. each time i thought about my plan my heart would race -- a bad sign. i hate panic attacks. why was i going to do this? to end 6 and half weeks of hard-fought, hard-won sobriety? i'd have to tell my therapist. i'd have to tell my group. i'd have to start over?

why was i going to break my promise to myself?

i texted a member of my group. i texted my therapist. i spoke with both, told the truth and took my antabuse. i was proud, indeed. that doesn't happen often.

end of story, right? no. later that day, the boyfriend and i fought. he hasn't smoked a cigarette in seven years, but he used to smoke three packs a day. now, he hates cigarettes. he finds them disgusting. he wouldn't date a woman who smokes.

i've been secretly smoking a cigarette a week, when i'm at the end of my robe and desperate for a vice, something to do with my hands, when i want wine, food, a sedative.

i decided i didn't want to hide so many things and left the (nearly two month old pack) in my purse, knowing he'd see it eventually. he threw a fit, repeating he hates cigarettes, they nauseate him, and he always decided not to date a woman who smokes.

i started to cave, as i've always done in the past. i'd suck it all down, reach for my wine, deaden the night and smoke on the sly, alone in my room.

no. not this time. my self-respect rose up in me, and i ran back into the den, in his old tattered robe and my hot pink fuzzy slippers and said, "you're not being fair." i think i almost scared myself.

"there is nothing wrong with my smoking one secret a week in my apartment, when i need to do something to make sure i don't drink".

"why", he glared " do you need to go one from bad addiction to the next? if you're not drinking, or taking a pill or eating, why must you smoke a cigarette? you need to do something healthy when you're longing to drink."

again, i almost caved. he's right, i thought. but he's not right for right now.

"you're right" i said. "it would be great to practice some way of coping. but for right now, if it helps me, it's not so bad to smoke one cigarette a week in my own apartment".

he held his ground, again saying that he'd stated how he feels, and he wasn't going to change his mind.

"so," i said, "are you going to tell your parents that we broke up because i smoke one cigarette a week?"

we both paused. you could feel the air change.

" i can't breathe," i wheezed, "my heart is racing. i have to lie down on the bed."

"i can't breathe either", he said.

We walked to the bed and lay down. and laughed.

"i don't need to smoke", i said "it's not a deal breaker. you mean so much more to me than a cigarette. i don't even really like them. it's just something to do with my hands. i won't smoke.:

"no", came his words. "you smoke your cigarettes as long as you need them. just don't smoke in the house."

we both exhaled.


  1. A very inspiring post Melissa. You should be proud of yourself and your boyfriend. Really good to read. To actually allow yourself to stop and really think about what was happening - such a big step. You must be pleased. You should be pleased. I am all the way over here and I am pleased for you!!!

    Next time you want a ciggy, both of you can go for a walk and get a nice cup of coffee instead. You just need healthy habits. I do that. When I get anxious I go for a walk or pick up a book and read. The feeling passes eventually.

  2. You are fantastic. Both of you.

    And that's all that needs to be said...

  3. Melissa that post was so touching. How you came through on more than one occasion to be responsible for your acts in recovery, and standing up for what you need in your recovery right now. Awesome=)

  4. What a great post :) I'm so happy for you. You respected yourself, you were honest with your boyfriend. And, best of all, it ends with laughter :) Keep reaching out, like you did. That has to be the way out, right?

  5. It really is true that we go from one addiction to the other. Right now I"m trying to stay addiction free. If it isn't a man, it cigarettes, and if it isn't that, it's something else. Who's to say what is right or wrong though? Any addiction is bad, because it smacks of fanaticism. No matter how "good" it is for you. Many would argue with this. But I say you need balance.

    I"ve been condemned for the cigarette thing before. By my own kids. That hurts. Plus you are even more at war with yourself because you think your own kids shouldn't ever speak to you that way. But then again, they aren't wrong for what they are saying, it is just wrong HOW they are saying it. To throw away a relationship just because of a cigarette a week, or even a pack a week, is ridiculous, on both ends.

    You did great. You really did. Im proud of you.

    I'm SO glad you didn't drink. I'd be so worried about you, driving after that. You are brave and strong. I'm proud of you.

  6. when i got to the end of your post, i literally made the "awwww" sound outloud!! (i'm at work) haha, that is awesome and the ending is cute :)

    p.s.i totally hear ya...i miss cigarettes SO BAD! arghh!

  7. I love the honesty of your words.

    Beautiful post.

  8. linda: thank you. i am so pleased. and i do miss walking -- i'm such a weanie in winter (which it is here. no heat wave in new jersey!) the cigarette help me with my oral fixation and keep me and my hands busy. someone recommended i stick a pen between my teeth.

    annie: YOU are fantastic. i've often thought
    about how much and ian have always talked things thru. that inspired me. thank you.

    sarah.standing up for myself in relationships is so hard. i am absolutely sure the guy will decide i'm a crazy bitch and will make me feel like one and he will leave me. or he yell, which i find terrifying. or he will say something i can not abide. but none of that happened. hallelujah.

    kim; reaching out does seem to be the way. i see it over and over again. if i reach out when i want to drink, inevitably someone talks to me. and if i can figure out what's really going on -- why do i want to drink or overeat,etc. then i find that i'm nourished in a whole different way. i see this in group therapy. someone will come in furious about something, and if they talk about, they don't go out and do something destructive. i hope that all made sense.

    karen; i hear ya -- when people tell you not to do something because it's bad for you. we know they love us, we know they're right, but we're still adults and it needs to be our choice. i couldn't tell if you're currently smoking.

    thanks for the support. i'm so happy i didn't smoke either. now, i'm nearing seven weeks. if i'd had a drink, i'd be starting over.

    girl: awwwww. thank you. and i miss everything i've given up, except maybe getting up early, but i hated getting up early. good for you for not smoking. they say it's the hardest one to give up.

    Gaining Back My Life: thanks for commenting on honesty. i have such a kneejerk instinct to lie, to fib, to stretch the truth, to cloak the truth...i am working so hard on honesty. cliched as it is -- honesty can set us free