A Breakup Letter to My Cigarettes

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To Cigarettes, My First True Love:

It feels strange to call you that, but it feels even stranger to say goodbye to you. When I first met you I was too young to fully understand the damage you could do to me. Friends warned me, your reputation preceded you, and you yourself wore a warning sign proudly. I told myself that we could have a casual fling. Perhaps I would only seek you out when I was drunk, or in moments of true angst, or when I needed to feel calm.

Yet, almost immediately, I needed to have you all the time. You were on my mind constantly; my first thought when I woke up was of your sweet scent. Visions of you inside me were the only thing that got me out of bed. Your toxic nature became a part of me. I identified myself with you and quickly accepted that in order to feel good, I would need to feel bad.

I didn't mind that I had no energy for anything else but you. I didn't care about my physical health, I didn't give a fuck about the judgmental stares, and, with you by the hand, the "She's too smart for that" murmurs only puffed up my confident stride. I'd spend my last dollar for a taste of you, only to feel regret and shame afterwards. So many times, in moments of true despair, it was only your company I craved. I would drive for miles in a blizzard just to reach you, in return for a few fleeting moments of pleasure.

After only a couple of years, it was obvious the rumors were true. There wasn't a single good quality about you — if I kept chasing the high you gave me, I would wind up dead. I had to say goodbye to true love because you made me irritable and disgusted with myself. There would never be room for anyone else because no one could do to me what you do. I felt so stupid that I ever trusted myself with you, that I watched what you had done to my friends and family, yet didn't stop myself from hastily getting involved with you. That crippled me with shame. For years, that shame kept me from ever truly letting you go, because I assumed you were the only one who understood me, who wouldn't judge me for being with you.

The longer I keep you in my life the more likely you will completely destroy me. My relationship with self-harm ends here. We will not be casual friends who, in a moment of weakness, relapse into the comfort we once had. I do not want to see you or touch you again because you are a cancer on my soul and on my body. You have never been faithful to me. You fall into the hands of anyone willing to buy your affection, and the weaker they are the more you cling. Before I had the courage to leave you, I thought the bond you and I shared was worth the sickness you would cause.

Soon I will have forgotten how it feels to breathe you in and breathe you out. All the times you came to my rescue will be ancient history. By the time you've realized that I am better without you, you will have already found your next victim, while I find strength in every moment without you.

You will no longer be on my mind, your stench no longer in my hair and in my lungs. You are no longer a reward or a guilty pleasure to me: You are a punishment that I do not deserve.