I realize that this piece will not necessarily speak to every smoker. There is a vast
array of ages, ways, reasons we each started to smoke. I cannot possibly know what each
person went through, just by my own experience. But I do believe I am speaking directly to
more than a few. You will know who you are.
My Webster's New World Dictionary contains this after "guilt", as its
second definition: 2. a feeling of self-reproach from believing that one has done a wrong.
I am of the opinion that guilt is a psychological and
emotional state of experience common to all living, breathing things.
Just as joy, fear, confusion, love, hate, apathy, rage,
and the spectrum of feelings from bright white to darkest black in tone and
feeling. All have a place within our human lives, and each is meant to express
in an inwardly and/or outwardly way what the spirit that dwells within is
I believe each of us, without regard to fact, fantasy or reason takes his or her
station in life according to the degree of ongoing guilt felt at the core of that
individual, whether or not that guilt is now apparent to their current state of conscious
self-awareness, or even if it is valid guilt.
It may not be. Still, it has the
same effect as though it was and still is.
Second to what is commonly perceived as love, I believe
guilt to be the strongest, and certainly the most volatile and potentially
destructive of all emotional experience.
I believe each of us carries with us everywhere we go,
every minute of our existence, waking or sleeping, our personal dolly of
psycho-baggage, filled with those things we would rather be kept in a distant,
dark past, mostly out of the sight of those who would recriminate.
If one can find a way to lighten that load, relieve some
of the nagging weight of guilt, then one will automatically find that strength
remains and is gained from having carried such a load, now discarded.
Once purged to any degree, one will find a noticeable
increase in positive applicable energy that may be applied toward new and
heretofore seemingly unreachable goals, considered previously as perhaps
unattainable while carrying that baggage of guilt.
It has been my experience over the better than half-century of my lifetime to have had
cigarettes as members of our family since my earliest memories.
From birth, and all the
while I grew up, every single adult in my life smoked cigarettes. All my parents (mother,
father, step-mother, two step-fathers), both grandfathers and grandmothers, both my
father's brothers, my mother's brother, and many others in our family have all
fallen to fatal smoking related diseases, all but two dying before their sixtieth
birthdays. Both those made 72 before dying of cancer. Before it struck, both seemed apparently in
relatively good health.
I believe I am the first in my line on either side of my
family to have escaped from the clutches of the addiction/habit of smoking. As
good as my health is at my current age, it is clear that, barring an "untimely"
demise, I will surely live to be the oldest member of either of my parental
clans for at least 100 years back.
That pleases me, but puts a responsibility on me too. I
believe it is not just enough to live long, but to live well, and to contribute
progressively and perpetually.
Of the true guilt and shame I feel and have felt in my
life...the kind of feeling that never goes away, nor is ever truly
forgotten...I've only a very small number of incidences.
But that guilt, if publicly known, would likely be so
humiliating that just thinking of it while typing these words is upsetting me.
That kind of guilt. Know it?
It's not an intensity of guilt often felt by adults. It
seems reserved primarily for the young.
For by adulthood, one has discovered ways of covering
that guilt, that shame, that anger at one's self for not being who I/you/they
set out to be.
We compensate for those feelings. Numb them. Deny them.
Often blame others. Bury them in the past, and go on.
For that's what we must do to survive, or we'd all go
mad, wouldn't we? We walk along, pretending to be mature adults, working to
develop the traits we observe in others we perceive to be adults.
We make the best decisions we can, given the
circumstances. And to the greatest degree that we allow ourselves, we avoid
feeling the guilt.
Eventually, we realize, not many of us seem to truly
"grow up", but everybody does grow old.
We in the USA, my generation, are now growing old. We
were the "Baby Boomers!" The state-of-the-art, first class, second, third, even
fourth generation Americans! It's been an amazing demographic of which to have
been a part.
We've done "the most...", been "the most...", are "the
", and on and on for over fifty years now. That includes bought and smoked
the most cigarettes of any age demographic to date.
And died of more smoking related
diseases of any age demographic to date.
So the evidence that we all knew all along is in. Yes, smoking can and will kill you,
after making you very sick for various periods of time.
But when we started, we
really didn't need statistics and research to tell us it was bad for
us, did we? That first inhaled drag told us all right then.
The first time anyone anywhere tries to inhale a full drag
from a cigarette, especially if it is a young teen, and especially if it is an
unfiltered Chesterfield as I had begun with, their body will reject the smoke
with such a clarity of feeling that this person, usually a child of not more
than sixteen years of age, often far younger, instantly knows on the most basic
physical and emotional levels that this hurts and damage is likely being done to
But then we made a decision to manually override the
body and its signals until indifference toward those indications seemed to
Once the "thinking" mind successfully convinced the body
to either comply or remain in pain, the signals became either totally
unacknowledged by the conscious mind, or misinterpreted at the conscious level.
While doing this act, this painful, otherwise senseless,
self-destructive act for the first few times, whether to rebel against adult
authority, parental authority, or to emulate others, we all had to feel guilt.
That guilt was heightened by the fear of being caught.
Fear of recrimination. That type of energy inflates guilt. Takes it from being
passive to active.
Every cigarette for a long time after that first was an
assault on, and an insult to, our inner intelligence, as well as our body and
the signals it was sending to help us survive.
Call it inner intelligence, higher power, or a number of euphemisms I may suggest. I
believe that at our basic core, every one of us knows right from wrong, good from bad. (The
exception to this is that there are those who have been so severely abused as infants that they no longer are able to have natural
access to their feelings, an ability lost before gaining the ability to speak. But that is
mental illness beyond the scope of this opinion.)
We forced our bodies, against their wills and protests,
to absorb smoke through the lungs. We knew it was the wrong thing to be doing
the whole time.
We felt guilt.
We eventually just blew it off.
We grew up, we smoked, and forgot about it, unless some
television show would air, or some news flash sparked that occasional and
insincere thought that we were about to quit. As soon as we were "ready".
I believe it is entirely possible that for many of us, guilt because of smoking is
among the biggest items in the bags of guilt we carry.
A perpetual, unconscious, weighty guilt
with no secret attached.
Everyone knows. Almost no one cares. So many others are doing it.
We rationalize, it couldn't really be that bad,
But down deep we know better.
Now you have a wonderful opportunity. Now you have an advantage. Now you are in a
position to make the biggest "unloading" of unnecessary guilt you've probably
ever unloaded without some trauma attached.
No clinic, no therapy, no shock
treatments, no Prozac or Valium or Welbutrin, no Zyban, no patch, no hypnosis clinic, no trips to the
Chinese herbalist or acupuncturist.
You are capable of going back into your memory, recalling the original decision to
become a smoker, and then successfully remake that decision while successfully retracting
and erasing the original commitment to be a smoker. You will, by doing this, also unload all the weight of
the load of guilt you've been carrying around with you all this time about that issue.
believe that it's not enough to simply stop smoking. I believe you must get to the core of
it and stop wanting to smoke.
You must realize that you never did truly want to smoke. That you are awakening from
the hypnotic spell you've been under, and are no longer attracted to suicide in any form,
especially by inhaling the smoke from the fire of a burning weed in your hand.
It's a lift to the spirit that only those who have truly
become non-smokers, rather than ex-smokers, can experience.
It goes hand in hand with any addiction. I firmly
believe, and it is supported by my experience of my own infatuation with
cigarettes; to lift out this addiction at its core is to lift out all the guilt
that's attached to it.
I believe it is worth whatever you have to do to get it done.