Sunday, 12 June 2011
Pangs of despised former love
At exactly this time last week I stopped smoking. I woke this morning feeling rather proud of the fact that I had arrived at my first landmark - the first week off cigarettes. Today has, however, been a tough one. All day I have been biting my lip, my hands have been irritable, my arms slightly dull and achy and I have had pangs of hunger despite having a healthy and full lunch. So to get myself through what I really do feel is my first moment of temptation in 7 days I am writing a blog entry.
My earliest memory of touching a cigarette was as a young boy hiding behind the shed in my friend's back garden. My friend was always one of these rebellious boys who was destined to test all of life's little vices. I on the other hand was the type of child who was terrified of being caught doing something naughty. I hated the guilty feeling. My cheeks would redden at even the slightest hint of interrogation. I was a happy child. I loved the outdoors and always was found kicking a football on the green or hitting a tennis ball on the side of the house. Our little excursions down through the fields were so exciting to me. It made me feel like a real explorer. There was nothing better than uncovering an oddly shaped ditch which lended itself to the creation of the ultimate tree house complete with upstairs watchtowers, ante-rooms and rope bridges. Being naughty wasn’t necessary.
I have alway's been shy at first meetings. Once totally comfortable with new friends I would come out of my shell, often being the centre of attention, but being around strangers, especially strangers who were ‘bold’ in my mind was not something I enjoyed. That day in my friend's house, when i felt the sensation of a filter rest on my lips, felt the shock of dark smoke hitting the back of my throat for the first time and felt the guilt at having done the unthinkable, i would never have thought that one of those small white sticks would play such a huge role in my life.
Despite my first taste of a cigarette at the tender age of 9, I didn’t actually take up smoking until I was 20. I got a summer job singing at Knappogue Castle in Co Clare. We would perform at two banquets per day. We would arrive in the castle at about half past 4, get ready, perform the first banquet, have a break, perform the second banquet and then head back to Limerick. Most of us were young. We were college goers without a care in the world. Most evenings involved finishing work, quickly getting ready and then hitting Limerick for a few drinks.
It was during my time at Knappogue that I started to dabble in smoking during our break between banquets. The entertainers would have tea and then gather at the dining room window to smoke and few cigarettes and gossip before the next banquet would start. I started to join in. I remember the minty taste of Consulates particularly. I also remember enjoying the feeling of the cigarette kicking the back of the throat. I remember that slightly lightheaded feeling. I had never needed to feel part of the rebel gang as a child but as an adult smoking was no longer rebellious. It was a choice. And late in the day made my choice.
Call it an addictive personality. Call it stupidity. Call it whatever. The past 12 years of my life have had cigarettes playing a lead role. Last Sunday I stopped. I do not intend starting again. Stating this on my blog adds to the pressure factor - failing in this attempt will only result in embarrassment. No one likes to be embarrassed.
So if anyone spots me smoking ever again, please feel free to lambast me, mortify me, kick me. In fact feel free to take the cigarette and dab it out on my cheekbone!