The Deadly Addiction of Smoking

No flash fic this week; sorry. I was helping R move, and even though I love this week’s photo, nothing much occurred to me, and I wouldn’t have had the time to give it if it had.

I’m wrestling with a problem you might be able to help me with. R smokes. He smokes heavily. And it’s bugging me a lot.

When we were living together way back when, we both smoked the first few years. Then we quit. I stayed quit, but he keeps going back to it. I’ve tried to keep my mouth shut when we’re together, but not only do I walk into a wall of stink when I visit him, he is insensitive enough to light up when I’m there, and not just once, but continuously. And yes, I’ve bitched about it several times, and felt guilty about nagging him, but he still does it.

I can’t take it anymore. Every time I breathe in, I picture little cancer cells growing in my lungs. After spending as little as two or three hours with him, I know my hair and clothes reek, and worse, I have trouble breathing when I go to sleep. In fact, I mentioned it last night while I was over there, and he made some nasty remark about me being a pansy because I couldn’t take it. (Do addicts ever hear what they sometimes say to others in defense of their habit?) I decided to leave; I didn’t argue, didn’t yell, just stood and said, “Think I’ll go home now.”

That gave him pause, then he offered to light up the fire pit in the lanai. He knows I love the fire pit. I figured maybe he’d stash the smokes for the rest of the evening, but guess what? Within minutes, he was lighting up again–sitting only three feet away from me. I covered my nose with part of my hoodie (it was chilly last night!) and anguished over a decision I didn’t want to make.

What I want to say to him is: “It’s your right to smoke in your house. Puff away. But it’s my right not to subject myself to it.”

I don’t want to visit him anymore if he continues to smoke inside. There’s a reason why so many states have made it illegal to smoke in public buildings; it’s gross! And it’s not healthy. And my lungs are nice and clean now, and I want to keep them that way.

But this will likely sound like blackmail to him (“Stop smoking in your house, or I won’t come over anymore.”), and he’ll dig in his heels and refuse. That’s also his right.

If he refuses to accommodate me, I won’t see him much anymore, and that makes me sad. We’ve known each other for a long, long time. There’s a lot of shared history between us, and he’s the only person in Florida I can be myself with. I never have to walk on eggs with him or carefully choose my words. Even when we piss each other off, it’s only a temporary dust-up. We get over it. I love him, and I know he loves me.

He’s talking about spending several months at a time up north this summer and asking me to housesit while he’s gone. But I don’t want to live in a house with yellow walls and furniture that smells of smoke.

Argh! What should I do?

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About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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28 Responses to The Deadly Addiction of Smoking

  1. W. Lotus says:

    You’re probably right that he will only hear your request for consideration as an ultimatum. But you also said your love for each other helps you get through disagreements. I hope you tell him how you really feel (this is about your health…you have trouble BREATHING, and that is IMPORTANT), and I hope that after his initial defensiveness he allows his love for you to influence his behavior going forward.

  2. Jaycee Edward says:

    It’s really not that hard to step outside to smoke. It seems like an inconvenience at first, but, honestly, it’s not a big deal and sometimes a wonderful excuse to get away from people. Heh. And it’s not like he has to stand outside in 30 below, freezing rain and snow conditions. And his new place will stay much, much cleaner. I can’t believe how much cleaner my house was once we quit smoking inside. And no filthy ashtrays!!

    • Yeah! That’s what I said to him last night: “It’s not like it’s twenty below.” And he still didn’t step outside. I hate that he can’t stop this dangerous habit. He’s old. I suppose it’s possible he could skate through to the end with his health unaffected, but what about mine? Secondhand smoke is no picnic.

      He uses the patch once in a while, but last night, after I complained, he said, while puffing away, “I can’t find my patches.”

      “How is that my problem?”

      I was not nice about it, but I’ve gotten to the point where I can’t stand the smell of them at all anymore. I realize I’ve been avoiding spending time at his place the last few months, and that’s why.

      • Jaycee Edward says:

        I obviously see both sides of this. I was never a radical smoker though. I never smoked around people who don’t smoke. And I started going outside when my hubby quit. Now it seems so weird to think I ever smoked inside a building. Remember when people used to smoke in movie theatres??

        • And in restaurants! I remember meeting a bunch of friends at some hole in the wall place and being placed in the non-smoking section. Ha! What a joke. There was absolutely no separation between smokers and non-smokers. Ruined my meal.

          Last time I had dinner at R’s place, he lit up before I’d finished. Lost my appetite, said something about it. He ignored me.

          I really think I’m simply going to have to stop visiting him. Why should I stress myself that way? If he wants to smoke that bad, I’ll get the hell out of the way.

          • Jaycee Edward says:

            Maybe that what it’ll take for him to get the hint. You’re not asking him to quit. Just not smoke inside.

          • Yup. Besides, if he has to go outside to smoke, he has to think about it, become aware of how often he does it. Hell, he’s got a lake to look at. How hard could it be??

  3. sriedisser says:

    My brother was that way… militant. thankfully he has had a change of heart. Mom and I quit more than 20 years ago, he has enough respect to not smoke around us. He now rolls his own and only smokes what he rolls for the day which adds up to about a half a pack. I worry about him even though he seems healthy, I fear that it will all catch up to him in one show stopping crescendo.

    • The thing is, he’s quit several times before, often for long periods (like years!), but some life event happens, and he jumps right back into it. I used to smoke. I remember how enjoyable it was, at least for a while. But once I became enslaved to the habit, I hated it. I quit when a pack was $.95. I can’t imagine smoking anymore based on price alone. Ugh. What a waste. I’d rather spend that money on books or music or almost anything else that gives me pleasure.

  4. Lindsaysf says:

    My Alanon experience steps in here. it will drive you stark raving mad to try to control someone elses behavior, especially around an addiction. Besides, it doesn’t work. All you can do is look at your own choices. It doesn’t sound like he can negotiate a compromise. If he can’t (don’t fall into the trap of thinking “won’t”), what will you do? Leave when he lights up? Go outside? Not visit his place? Only get together in non smoking situations? Break off your friendship – really, not as a threat or to pressure him?

    • So what are you saying? What would you do in this situation?

      • Lindsaysf says:

        Hmmm. Rick is a long time friend, right? You’ve supported each other through a lot, I gather. If I were in your situation, I’d have to do some soul-searching: Could I –would I- break off the friendship? I’m guess that breaking off isn’t at this point really an option, emotionally or practically. True? If it were me in your shoes, my anger at his smoking would be based on my fear about what smoking is doing to his health. I’d not want to watch him die that way. Is that true for you? I’d look up the closest meeting for Nicotine Anonymous and put the information where he could see it. Then I’d try to drop it. I’d set a no smoking rule for my own home and see if he could honor it, going outside to smoke if he had to. If so, then I’d have him there and limit how often I went to his place. I doubt if that would be a permanent solution – over time the smell of cigarettes may diminish my fondness or something might remind me of how important he is to me. I’d also talk to my Alanon friends about it.

        • We’ll never not be friends, but the relationship may have to change. I’m very uncomfortable around the cigarettes the last few months. He almost never visits me; he prefers his own house to mine (because he can smoke constantly? because that damn TV is always on and usually tuned to CNN?).

          Smoking isn’t the only thing we don’t agree on, and he has made no effort to accommodate my dislike of some things. I know one thing: after last week, when we were together every day for hours at a time, I need a break. People wear me out these days.

  5. Allison says:

    I wish I had useful advice, but my experience with smokers is entirely negative. My dad smoked three packs a day until he almost asphyxiated himself working on the car in the dead of winter and was on oxygen for close to a week. He never smoked again. My mom couldn’t stop even when she was so ill she could no longer walk more than five feet.

    I’d suggest the *nearly asphyxiated* route, but it’s not really something that is safe obviously. Plus there’s no guarantee it would work like it did for my dad. 😉

    I’m sorry this is having such a negative effect on your friendship. I wish that he would listen to what your saying. Have you thought of sending it in an email? Maybe stripping the emotion he’s hearing in your voice would help him to listen to your concerns? I’m sure it would feel weird, but it might work.

  6. K. Z. Snow says:

    Does he even want to quit? If not, and you simply can’t tolerate the smoking, you might have to pare your relationship down to phone calls, texts, and emails. Have you suggested Chantix to him? Thousands of ex-smokers think it’s the greatest thing since indoor plumbing.

  7. Jaycee Edward says:

    I’d really hate to see you not be able to hang out with him. I know you enjoy spending time there with him and his furkids. 😦

  8. I spoke with R on the phone this morning and told him exactly how I felt about the smoking and his disregard for my feelings about it. “You’re not the only one saying this,” he said. So now it’s up to him what he wants to do.

    I went over after lunch today to help him with a couple things, and he didn’t light up. I wonder if he did the instant I was out the door?

    • diannegray says:

      I’m glad you talked to him about it and the fact that he didn’t light up when you visited him. Maybe suggest nicotine gum (do you have that there? or a nicotine inhaler to get him through the hard times). Smoking is an awful addiction and most people who smoke know this and feel like pariahs. Unfortunately you can’t tell people how to live their lives, but you can explain how their habits upset you. Best of luck with it all xxxx

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