Confession:  for the past 4 weeks or so, I’ve been smoking.  Not hey, everybody’s out having drinks, let me have a cigarette with the girls smoking.  Think pack a day chain smoker smoking.  I am certainly not proud of it.  In fact, here’s a list of reasons no one in their right mind should smoke:

1.  Smoking increases your risk for cancer.
2.  It doesn’t look pretty. (See Exhibit A below [source])
3.  It’s expensive.
4.  It causes you to age faster.
5.  Smoking yellows your teeth.
6.  Smoker’s breath.  (Enough said.)
7.  Smoking reduces your lung capacity.  (No bueno for runners.  Or musicians.  Of which, I am both.)

Exhibit A. She's gorgeous. Her cigarette lipstick is NOT.

So, given all this, you may be wondering why I would choose to pick up smoking in the first place.  Two words:  Appetite.  Suppressant.

I’ve written before about how terribly uncomfortable I’ve been in my body since weight-restoration.  I was just starting to get used to my body when I left Florida, thinking I was done with weight gain, only to continue to gain consistently through, oh, three weeks ago.  Throughout this entire time, my appetite has waxed and waned as, I suspect, is the natural course of human appetites.

However, when you have an eating disorder, a raging appetite for anything is just about the most terrifying thing in the world.  Actually, a normal appetite terrifies me.  It is tied into my hungers for other things:  for validation, for love, for affection.  I started cutting off all these appetites at a young age, but being that they are natural human needs and wants, they rear their heads occasionally, demanding to be fed, or at least acknowledged.

So imagine how wonderful it was to [re]discover that smoking kept me from wanting to eat anything at all.  Additionally, my body is still so wonky that even half a cigarette drops my blood pressure fairly significantly and makes me feel dizzy and light-headed in a similar fashion as starving.  (And, as I would find out, starving only further exacerbates this effect and I had more than one close call while driving.  Not recommended.)

For the most part, I’ve kept this smoking a secret – my parents don’t know, many of my friends don’t know, and I only recently told my therapist and dietitian.  And last week, my therapist posed this question:  Why can’t you just admit that you like smoking?

Because I don’t! I said.

Given that my actions said otherwise, I can’t blame her for not believing me.

This morning as I drove into work, I was happily sipping my smoothie until I got to the end of the road that runs from my to the interstate I take to work.

Crap, I thought.  I have to smoke.

The thought took me aback.  First of all, it was an acknowledgment that I didn’t really care for the way that smoking smells or tastes or feels.  Second, it made me wonder who exactly was pulling the strings such that I “had” to smoke.

It reminded of last spring and summer, when I dragged myself to the gym or the trailhead because I had to run.  90% of the time, it wasn’t enjoyable.  100% of the time I would have rather stayed home and watched Jeopardy!.  But I did it anyway – driven by something beyond myself, driven by addiction to the idea of thin, thinner, thinnest.

Yet again, my eating disorder has been pulling the strings.


7 thoughts on “Marionette

  1. You know,I’m glad when you post things like this. Admitting to your friends and blog readers these things is the first step to squashing them.. As long as you are hiding your skeletons in your closet, you’ll never get away from them. (I mean, your closet is in your bedroom WHERE YOU SLEEP, right?) That being said, admitting the issue is just the beginning of squashing it. I know you can squash this smoking thing, because you are a runner, a smart girl and a strong person more than you are an eating disorder. One day, one hour at a time, Jess.

  2. I get it. For the last 6 months I have longed to start smoking again and don’t simply bc my hubby would not like it, plus I really can’t afford it! I have that hidden away cig that I occasionally smell and remember what it did for my body. Certainly no judgement coming from this direction! Praying for you that you can let go of the “have to” and do what you actually WANT.

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  4. I tried to start smoking for awhile when I lived in the big city. I thought it would keep me from bingeing, you know, trading one vice for another. Turns out smoking makes me feel like crap, aaaand I like food better. So yeah, that was a bust. Good for you for doing the work of self-awareness, though!

  5. Aw, Jess, I’m sorry. As Missy said, ED is a sneaky little chameleon! But what do you do when a lizard comes into your house? You freak out and chase them out with a broom, preferably while screaming like an idiot. (You’d think this would be hypothetical, but I live in Florida so it happens more than you’d think.) They don’t belong in YOUR house.

    Remind yourself that these behaviors don’t belong in your house….or more accurately, God’s house! And if you need some support, well, you’re in luck. I used to be a smoking cessation counselor who delivered telephone-based counseling sessions :)

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