I wrote in one of my very early posts about how much drinking too much made me hate myself. The self hatred was, at times, very profound. It was toxic like weedkiller, burning through me, seeping into every facet of my life and poisoning my fragile, seedling, self esteem…

I  hated being out of control, feeling that I may have said or done something embarrassing, I hated looking ‘messy’ ; I hated the act that I was often hung over, and unable to do very much during some days. I hated the anxiety that drinking generated in me but most of all I hated myself for not being able to control it. I never worried particularly that I had been aggressive at all when drinking, but I was often over emotional, weepy and oversharing. I had quite significant stretches of time that I could not remember at all, and how I hated myself for allowing that.

Once I realised (and it took a LONG time) that the way out of this trap (vicious circle ; have a drink, drink too much, feel embarrassed, hate yourself … repeat) was NOT to drink – and just continue NOT to drink, and then I DID IT ….  …then very slowly, quite a lot of that self hatred went away. I was no longer doing something that I knew was wrong for me (emotionally & physically) and wrong for my family… so I didn’t have to hate myself (so much) any longer.

Once I had removed my ExP from my children’s lives, I didn’t have to hate myself for making them live with him either .. so, after the obligatory period of hating myself for ever exposing them to him at all (and that’s largely worked through now) I find I’m carrying around a LOT less self hatred …

I’m left with the cigarettes as the only thing I inconsistently do which makes me hate myself … I was a smoker in my far youth, social predominantly – and stopped completely in my early 30’s. I picked it up again in the stress of my divorce 7 years ago, and have been smoking on and off since then. I have quite long periods NOT smoking (several months at a time) I think I’ve managed to quit permanently; then something triggers me off and I buy a packet and within a couple of weeks I’m smoking again. I don’t smoke heavily – about 6-7 a day maximum but I HATE it, and more importantly I hate myself for doing it.

Yesterday evening in therapy session I had been talking about my recent trip, It had been a very nice review of the relief I felt at seeing son doing well and the decisions I had taken which had helped him get there … all very true and nice (not engendering unacceptable painful emotions). Towards the end of the session the narrative turned toward my relationship with my mother … immediately I found myself reaching for  a bottle of coke, feeling anxious and wanting a cigarette. It was SO obviously a psychological response to something stressful that both Angela and I noted and commented on this. And the recognition that I smoke and drink coke zero now, in much the same way (and for much the same reasons) as I drank was a pretty clear conclusion. The difference is that drinking coke zero does not make me hate myself, but smoking does….

And hating myself is now NOT the daily background noise in my life. Quite often I don’t hate myself at all, which makes the times when I do – such as when I am actually smoking, quite noticeable.

I hate myself when I smoke because a) its expensive and a waste of money b) it’s disgustingly bad for your health c) its crap example although I don’t smoke in front of the children d) my friend J is dying slowly and painfully from a cancer he had /has no control over and I’m recklessly endangering my health with cancer sticks – how could I be so stupid and ungrateful and disrespectful e) It reminds me that I don’t have as much self control as I should have …

I am perfectly able to stop. It’s tough for 2-3 days (with cravings etc) and then it gets better. I’ve done it loads of times. By about 3 weeks the psychological habit is also broken and I start wondering why I EVER did this stupid thing … until I get triggered the next time 6 weeks or 4 months later, and I WANT a cigarette… so i buy just one packet – and off we go again …

But I HATE hating myself too. I really do. and I’m so bored of it, I want to feel proud of myself, I want to not have this endless nagging dissonance in my head. And I know what the answer is ….I just need to actually do it AND stick to it …..


  1. The truth is we all need some coping mechanisms. For you, it seems smoking fits. For me, it’s Yoga or reading. And sometimes food obsession.

    What could your something else be? It might help to make a list of things to do when the urge arises.

    Hug. You are awesome. Smoking doesn’t change that!

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