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Jewish Journal

Sucking in the Smoke

by  Merissa Nathan Gerson

February 4, 2010 | 5:19 pm

Honey, you are a grown boy. Do what you will.

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Dear Yenta,

I love to smoke cigarettes in my apartment. I don’t want anyone to know that I participate in this heinous self-destructive act, but I am addicted, not necessarily to nicotine, but to the secrecy of it…I do it while watching gangster movies, or political dramas, while reading self-indulgent books, or listening top 40 music. Whyyyyyy? Even writing this is kinda fun. Help.

-Lame-O

Dear Lame-O,

I once shared my love for Gossip Girl with an audience of four and they nearly destroyed it for me. Be sure to guard your secret indulgences, they are precious. If this is truly your vice, then enjoy it in full. Everyone does it, finds what they know to be “Sinful” and then indulges to somehow prove their autonomy.

Yes, this is a way of saying “Forget you world, I am in charge of me!” It is also a form of intimacy, you, your cigarettes, your pleasures. But finally, and honestly, it is clearly some weird form of self-abuse. Can you replace cigarettes with something less harmful to your body, like porn, chocolate, mint tea? Or, can you stop hating yourself and do it less often, and instead of lapping up the guilt, jump into the sheer pleasure of smoking, like a big kid in your own home?

I used to smoke in bed all the time in college. It disgusted people and was my way of marking my territory, some odd post-adolescent acting out. Just figure out if you are rebelling, or if you are half European and just have a penchant for fine tobacco. Check in with yourself and see who you are rebelling against, why, and whether you are using this behavior as a form of masochism or simply enjoyment of life’s pleasures.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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With more than 10 years of talk therapy under her belt, Merissa has waded through life’s dilemmas with a constant reflective therapeutic bird on her shoulder. Add a few...

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