The Cigarette Break


Cigarette Break by likeOMFGitsJONNY

“We all have secret lives. The life of excretion; the world of inappropriate sexual fantasies; our real hopes, our terror of death; our experience of shame; the world of pain; and our dreams. No one else knows these lives. Consciousness is solitary. Each person lives in that bubble universe that rests under the skull, alone.” ― Kim Stanley Robinson, Galileo’s Dream

There are certain things which I would never or rarely tell people about myself. Am I ashamed of these things?

No, not personally.

I used to think that I should feel ashamed, because other people seemed to consider this an appropriate way of dealing with such things, and I did go through a period of doing exactly what I thought was what I should do and felt ashamed of these things.

“I used to be ashamed of my perceived eccentricities so I modified my behaviour accordingly in an attempt to appear normal. This galvanised my shame, it was making me a better person yet there was so much more work to be done for I was not good enough and it truly believed it could make me a perfect example of a human being. Its control over me grew and grew, critiquing every move, word and thought I had until I could no longer do, say or think anything. My awkwardness was total. My behaviour erratic. I ran away from other people for fear they would see how weird I was, and thus my shame became my greatest eccentricity.” – something I wrote a while ago and that’s why it’s in quote form.

I smoke.

Please don’t lecture me, I have heard it all before, I have internalised it and can now lecture myself. In fact my self-lectures are better than anything you can come up with because I know my secret self, I know exactly how to get through to myself and make it a form of painful torture. Your lectures will bounce off of me, because you don’t know me, just as I don’t know you. Your superior attitude will annoy me and I won’t listen to what you are saying, I’ll listen to the subtext and it’ll give me a few insights into you which you won’t appreciate if I share them with you. Remember, we may be different, but we share the human gene. I am very messily human. I know my darkness and can recognise something similar in others. I keep quiet about it, because it’s a secret we all know but don’t discuss openly.

If you really feel the need to lecture, give advice and express your views, please do so… I’m not a fan of censorship. That flows both ways. Think about it.

who are you

I am going to die, whether I assist death or fight it. Fact, unless anyone has proof otherwise. Yes, my father was convinced that he was immortal. My father was crazy. My father is dead. Guess he was wrong. Guess I’m crazy, but not immortal thanks to hereditary stuff.

I do not try and surreptitiously murder anyone by smoking around them. I do it alone. Yes, my loved ones will suffer if I die slowly from a smoking-related illness. They’re human, they suffer because that’s what humans do. No, I’m not really that insensitive. I try to quit for their benefit. I should really be doing it for my own benefit.

My smoking addiction timeline – I started in my early teens, because I was a teenager in search of experience and I lived in France – where smoking is a national pastime of sorts. I did it for about a year. Quit for 15 years. Took it up again when I was stuck living in Italy. Very few will understand that. I smoked intermittently after that for a couple of years. Never really quit, just did it sporadically. Eventually I quit again, became very ill with something unrelated to smoking. Took up smoking again as a solution to the symptoms of my illness. It paradoxically helped. I got better. I’m planning on quitting again, but…

The addict’s ‘but’…

I’m actually not addicted as much to the nicotine as I am to the cigarette break which is a break from life. That’s not an excuse. Nicotine addiction is there, it’s just not the most important part of it. The proof of that is in the fact that when I take other breaks from my day to day life I have no urge to smoke and don’t, it’s only when my life intrudes on the break – usually at the moment via an email from my lawyer or someone connected to the case – that I feel the need for a cigarette break. Time to think without the noise of life to clutter my thinking.


I was wondering why I took to the habit of smoking. Contemplating that habit and the whys of it has been very insightful, it pushes me deep into myself to uncover my motivations. There are times when I think I smoke so I can battle the habit and try to quit because that interaction between different sides of myself creates very stimulating friction which yields much self knowledge gold. I’ve come up with so many reasons why I smoke, and each reason has led me on a thought journey which has disclosed much of what lies in my subconscious and latent mind. It’s a bad habit which has helped me to find other bad habits which work much more insidiously in my life and affect my mental and emotional and sometimes physical health in a way that is not overtly obvious as smoking.

Those quietly creeping habits which undermine the self from the inside out and which we don’t notice because they are subtle and usually don’t have a physical representation which is so blatant. Such as when we dismiss our inner knowing in favour of rational logic which probably doesn’t belong to us and which we may not even agree with, but society and others – others who may have rammed the point home into our brains through repetition, the constant drip, drip, drip hypnotism of media and nagging, and bullying in the form of authoritative statements, experts postulating that they know and we don’t, that they have proof positive and that’s that – have forced us to adopt as our own for fear of being or looking stupid. Don’t question what the norm has decided is the norm or the truth or reality otherwise they will come down on you like a ton of bricks, crush, shame and humiliate you, then ostracise you from the group until you cry for mercy and accept their dogma.

I’m not saying that society and doctors and experts and those around you are not right about the effects of smoking. I’m just saying that there are far more poisonous things which we inhale, eat, drink in and absorb that can’t be seen, or are seen but not noticed anymore and are sometimes not heard because we hear them so often their words are now subliminal. We accept a lot of things because we are used to them and we no longer question whether they are right or wrong, good or bad, for us as an individual. We like to think we think for ourselves, but how much of our thinking is actually our own. How much of our thinking belongs to someone else and is disguised as our own thoughts.

Shakespeare quote

And that is why I think I took to smoking. It’s a pause for thought. A pause which is less likely to be interrupted because I look like I’m doing something, which I am, and it’s not smoking, that’s a smoke screen for what I’m actually doing which is spacing out and letting all the other voices in my mind, all the absorbed information flow like a river passing by the bank on which I am sitting waiting quietly for my own voice to emerge and speak to me of my true thoughts and feelings. It helps that many people find smoking disgusting and avoid smokers, because the media has thankfully hypnotised them into thinking that being close to a smoker when they are smoking may kill them. It might. And people usually don’t lecture smokers while they are smoking, as long as you don’t do it in a public place which isn’t dedicated to such a cancerous habit. Which I don’t. I don’t inflict my smoking on others, and they don’t inflict their thoughts on me while I’m doing it.

As part of the Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge: Lunch Posts – which suggested making this a week long feature (thank you for the inspiration, magical beings of WordPress’ blog), I’m going take a break from what I normally do with my blog and each post this week will be a thought which I have pondered while having a cigarette break. I am self-employed, I don’t do lunch, I probably wouldn’t do dinner either except for my loved ones needing that kind of thing (and I’m grateful that they do or I’d forget to eat) and breakfast is only what is necessary to get me going for the day. Cigarette breaks are my lunch break.

Hopefully those posts will be shorter than this one. I roll my own cigarettes (how hard am I – kidding, it’s cheaper this way) and they’re small and short to smoke. They’ll be snippets of thought like that quote/thought of mine which I included earlier. My typical posts tend to be the accumulation of many cigarette break thoughts which are then analysed and reviewed and other kind of mental stuff. I’m very mental. So, they’re looooooong. SIGH!

Who knows, maybe this will be the affirmative incentive to quit for good and you will be a witness and a part of that. Don’t get your hopes up… I don’t aim to disappoint expectations, but I’m quite good at it. Expectations are perceived as challenges to be met with disappointment and disillusionment. Expect something of me… and I’ll consider you to be someone who is trying to control and censor me. Sorry, some habits die hard.

“All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret.” ― Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, Gabriel García Márquez: a Life


  1. Shame, yes. That is a biggie and one that has been liberally applied to smokers, despite, as you rightly point out, the plethora of other issues facing the planet. Global warming, anyone? Tobacco companies are practically defunct while oil companies still rake it in. The hypocrisy is breathtaking. I am looking forward to the rest of your cigarette break posts – I understand this as I also used to smoke and think. I miss it terribly. 🙂


    • I’m replying to both your comments in this one – the breathtaking accidental pun is brilliant! I have explored the holistic view of ailments and habits, I like using Louise Hay’s book – Heal Your Body – as a guide to possible body/mind/emotion connections. The lungs are supposedly connected to the ability to take in life. Which got me thinking… so I needed a cigarette break to think about it, to think about what smoking meant in a holistic way while doing it. I do think there is something there for me. I do sometimes feel I can’t breathe and somehow the cigarette break allows me to breathe. It’s like I feel suffocated by the demands of others, and somehow by smoking it frees me even though… you know.

      Being human is so complicated, and yet I try to simplify! Sigh!

      I was reading about the Fukushima meltdown and the ramifications of it for the fishing industry and those who eat fish, especially as a healthy meal. Then I read about the Sun and how apparently it is inactive at the moment, thus perhaps causing our super Winter (although where I am Winter is mild this year, last year it was a very cold freeze and I did not have running water for a couple of weeks), compared to previous times (the expert who was interviewed did point out his expertise spanned 30 years which is a minuscule fraction of Sun/Earth time) and the end of the world is nigh. So much to take in, too much. And we tend to forget very quickly the sort of stories which dominated previous decades, such as the Love Canal incident.

      The hypocrisy is indeed breathtaking! It’s very human, I doubt if it will let up any time soon, so we do what we can to just keep going and grab what happy moments we can, there is a lot to enjoy too. Such as creating blogs and expressing ourselves… maybe the accumulated self expression will have some sort of healing effect. Or just free us individually to breathe a deeper breath even if the air is polluted. 😀

      Kudos on quitting! What a challenge, makes you realise just how rebellious you are even with yourself!


      • I drink tea to get concentration and to be focussed, but i have to be careful as i am a chronic insomniac, so i switched to ggreen tea and no more that eight cups a day..but when i need to feel centered and think and ponder, i couldn’t do without it, quite a compelling act really, but solitary, while the fag is also linked for many to a social gathering, it’s easier to say something to somebody you don’t know.I smoked for a very short while in my twenties as i am shy and i tend to fidget with my hands, but i don’t like to smell smoky and it lowers the sensistiveness on the tongue if you do wine tasting!!
        But at least in your case is linked to creativity and thinking, leading you somewhere.
        Many creative thoughts in fewer cigarette breaks!


        • Thank you 😀

          I love tea too, but it makes my eyes swell up and not with tears, not sure why, although I do become more prone to being irrationally emotional when I drink tea. The brain chemical thing which affects the psychological thing.

          Those moments of pondering alone are wonderful, and I’m very addicted to them because sometimes I absorb too much external noise and need some quiet time to hear myself. Just wish it wasn’t such a carcinogenic experience, but… *French shrug!

          Totally agree about the smell… and the Jean Gabin fingers (you may not get this one as you’re not a smoker). It doesn’t affect my taste buds as much as it is supposed to. But I don’t taste wine. That’s so cool and so sophisticated! I’m too much of a barbarian for that 😉 I love finding out things about you, you’re fascinating!


          • Don’t worry, just inhaling air in Paris and London is carcinogenic enough without knowing and without the pleasure of your cigarette break!!!!
            You made me chuckle with your comment. I don’t think i am fascinating (ask men, they are not queueing outside my door, paralyzed by my charm which don’t follow a inch our social N principles). wine is about the senses, it links taste to the mind, to poetry and beauty in a glass, it’s a meditation on life, but less mental than pondering.You are not a barbarian at all, you just picked other way to ponder..


            • By the way, it’s cold and misty here in paris as well and I am melancholic too.If you have time, go for a youtube video: Ludovico Einaudi, In a time lapse, concert from home.This music is uplifting and it’s a ages i wanted to share it with you, it will touch your soul.


              • Sorry, sorry… I saw your comments, I am answering comments backwards… and yours are precious to me 🙂

                Thank you, I’ll check him out… I have to admit I don’t listen to music that often… long story 🙂


                • writing poetry and music kept a distance, you once mentioned it…i bet you know why, but it’s incredible because these are my main two sources to survive to what life forces me to live..


                  • Poetry and music are everywhere, in nature, in life, in people, so it can create distance but it can also create communion and connection, when you expand out of yourself, beyond that place within where you learn to hide when your parents are Narcissists, it’s frightening, but it makes life thrilling too. Takes a while to get used to being so exposed, but that exposure allows good people to see you and find you. Hiding tends to mean only the bad people find us… or at least that’s been my experience. The less I hide, the more good arrives… of course bad arrives too, but it kind of gets overwhelmed by the good. There’s a balance. 🙂


            • You are fascinating… all the more because you are unaware. Ah, paradoxes!

              Have you ever considered that men may be frightened of you? Afraid of being rejected by you? And the only ones brave enough to approach are Narc’s because they see treasure to be plundered. Normal, as in non-Narc, men are timid. Rejection is much harder for a man than for women. The greatest guys are often the most timid when it comes to women. The a-holes tend to be the bold ones.

              Like wine… a really good man takes a while to know. You have to slosh him around a bit – barbarian talk – to get the scent, the bouquet, the real flavour and other wine talk. I think I need some lessons from you 🙂


              • This is a real issue, I have heard of it a thousand times, my friends (you are included) are just miscontrued because they love me, but I can’t envisage that possibility, I swear it, I am an invisible woman, I don’t exist!!!Believe me..I have no lessons to give you, you are the teacher here! And as i am invisible I don’t know how to tackle them; i am still dreaming to give a ring to the man i enjoyed talking to, but i don’t do it as i am too much afraid of doing something wrong and maybe what i felt when we talked is just in my mind.This a very good example of how N people can destroy a fragile person as i am, i have to thank my former shrink for this; i lived a special intimacy which finally led me to doubt about myself.

                Concerning music, I went to Ludovico’s concert three days ago and it was just sheer bliss, like finding a diamond in a mountain of waste and rubbish i am going through;it is still there inside me and that emotion keeps me going so I can be melancholic rather than desperate. Music for me is like an emotional wave which regenerates me and pushes ouside all the destructive feelings which are tainting my existence.
                I am so happy we are in touch, you are a very special person, quel sacré rencontre!


                • C’est une merveilleuse rencontre et tu m’as enseignée beaucoup, certaines choses sont que pour l’oeil du spectateur.

                  Music is your muse, what you feel when you listen to it… that feeling is you.

                  I was invisible for a long time, for similar reasons… it takes time and perseverance, one day you’ll be visible and you will feel your existence very deeply and it will frighten you, you’ll want to hide, return to nowhere… but you won’t, something inside will push you further into visibility and existence. I think you’re already feeling the murmurs of it…

                  Fragilità è molto forte … guarda la natura, lascia che la natura te lo dimostra.


  2. Love this article, I smoke too, and I’m totally ashamed..haha! But then I think, there’s worse I could be doing…


    • Thank you 😀

      For me shame is far worse than a lot of other man made things, because it is a creeping thing which disguises itself as something which is good for you and it gets so much support.

      Have to confess that Hunter Thompson is a bit of a role model for me, not as a writer because he was brilliant and I’m just a talker through the written word, but, you know – “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”. That!


  3. I have ‘all but quit’ a number of times, but miss the introspective time that having a smoke provides. I’d imagine that I could find similar opportunities for reflection and thinking deep thoughts, but those few times a day when I shut the ‘real world’ out and just, as you say, ‘breathe’- despite the seeming inherent contradiction.
    Glad I’m not alone in this. Great post!


    • Thank you 😀

      It’s the combination which makes it addictive, the break from life, the type of thinking, the watching the world go by, and just being and being still in a way. I’ve tried doing exactly the same thing without the cigarette, or substituting a camera for the cigarette, but it’s not the same thing and I always feel like I should be getting on with all those things from which I’m taking a break. There are certain days when the cigarette break is the only time I get fresh air, ah, the irony of it 😉


  4. “We accept a lot of things because we are used to them and we no longer question whether they are right or wrong, good or bad, for us as an individual. We like to think we think for ourselves, but how much of our thinking is actually our own. How much of our thinking belongs to someone else and is disguised as our own thoughts.”

    Those words you committed to the page are so powerful! I hope more people read this post and truly understand what this means. Smoke on, Upturned Soul sister!


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