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I quit smoking in July 2006. I had lots of great reasons for quitting, the main one being that it was destroying my lungs and I had already been diagnosed with emphysema. In July 2010, I still wasn’t smoking. I wasn’t smoking in August or September, either. But in October, my mother had two strokes and I bummed a cigarette from one of my coworkers – and that was pretty much that. I managed to not become a full-on, full-time smoker for another couple of weeks, but by the end of October I was back up to two packs a day.

Just writing that sentence makes me angry. Really, seriously fucking angry. I hate myself for doing this again. It’s expensive, it stinks, it’s messy and it. is. killing. me. I won’t go into a lot of detail, but let’s just say that I can’t breathe. At all. Any prolonged activity, such as walking from my apartment to my car, gives me chest pain. It was so bad last night that I came very close to going to the emergency room.

So I finally got angry enough – and to be honest, scared enough – to quit. Again. I bought nicotine gum. I’m making mental lists of reasons why buying a pack of cigarettes would be stupid. At the top of that list is: heart attack, stroke, emphysema, and the very real possibility of dragging an oxygen tank around before my 45th birthday.

I remember it being a lot easier the last time. Which is weird, because the last time I quit, I had smoked over 2 packs a day for something like 23 years. This time I’ve smoked two packs a day for 5 months. What makes it worse is people tell me this isn’t a good time to quit. I should wait until I finish school in a month or until my mother gets better (or at least until the stress lessens a bit). And I went along with that because I didn’t want to quit. Until last night when it was brought home to me just how much this little habit is costing me in terms of my health.

And tonight, I’m chewing nicotine gum and wondering if it would really matter that much if I went out and bought just one pack. Just one. That’s only 20 cigarettes. Surely that wouldn’t hurt …

Which makes me angry all over again.

Sometimes, anger works.

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