As I ran my tongue along the faint disappearing callus on my bottom lip, a sense of loneliness and nostalgia washed over me. I can almost smell you. I miss our sweet moments together. Our bond was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I could rely on you to catch me when I fell, but I also shared some of my most lovely memories with you. I was completely infatuated with you. I saw you in movies when I was younger where there was such a mysterious vibe about you. I was embarrassed of you at times and I couldn’t introduce you to all of my family and friends, but most knew of you. Our love affair started when I was 14, you made me feel like a total bad ass without a care in the world. You gave me this indescribable confidence, and turned me into a total smoke show. I wasn’t supposed to have you until I was 18, but I couldn’t resist your taste, your smell, both were intoxicating and mesmerizing. Plus knowing you were forbidden made you sweet. You gave me the attention I needed. You accepted me for me, we could drive for hours together, soaking up the sun, singing our favorite songs with all the windows rolled down. We could drive around that lake a hundred times together. You didn’t mind when I confidently sang the wrong words loudly. We were the best of friends. I laughed and cried with you, I shared my deepest darkest frustrations and fears with you and you listened. When I felt alone, you held me close. You encouraged skipping lunch in high school when I was craving crispitos, but feeling chubby and eventually you helped me through the days when I just couldn’t bare to look at myself or eat a thing. Even as I faced the facts of my eating disorder and body dysmorphia, you were there to comfort me. I could always count on you, you were consistent. I was completely yours. Addicted, 100%. When I thought about leaving you I worried that I wouldn’t be as confident, as fun, as carefree and rebellious. I honestly thought I’d start gaining weight rapidly. Fear had me coming back to you for more day after day. One day you stopped feeling so good. I realized you weren’t comforting me at all anymore, you were enabling my ability to grow. My awareness took away the vanity of it all and showed me your true colors, but I still wasn’t ready to let go. I had been in denial for years, coughing you up every morning and not quite getting the same high when we were together. I felt like I needed more of you to satisfy the cravings. I felt irritable and mean without you. I felt stained with your smell. It was in my clothes, my sheets, my hair… this once intoxicating smell was being covered up with cheap perfumes and air fresheners constantly. I was hiding you from new friends, family, and employers. No one was allowed in my car, because it reeked of you. I was ashamed when I would indulge in you. I started hiding from the world in you. Addiction is a funny thing. It is a toxic love affair that is difficult to part with, but when you finally take the leap and choose true love instead, everything changes. I realized that I had been the one who loved when I sang the wrong words loudly with the windows rolled down, I had been the one who held myself when things were tough and you hadn’t provided me with a single positive thing, just smelly belongings, bad breath and yellow teeth. Hopefully I parted ways with you before you could damage my organs further. Sometimes I miss the closeness and the friendship of the smokescreen. I miss your soft paper rolled ever so perfectly around a filter. It was so crisp. I miss the snap of the menthol ball as I held you to my lips. I miss the first inhale. Always deep. Soaking it in, tasting every bit. Savoring it, before allowing the smoke to escape. I miss the haze around me, I miss the way it turned people away from connection. Yet, I also miss the connection with fellow smokers, you feel different around those who struggle the way you do. I honestly think the hardest part about letting go of you is not the detox from your harmful chemicals it is letting go of the fear of not being enough and not trying to cover up the insecurity anymore. The hardest part about quitting is making the decision day after day to show up without a smoke show. I am learning to let go of self-doubt and feel proud of my body. I am happy to say life without you is a million times sweeter than I could have ever imagined and I am much stronger than I thought. I wanted to write this for you, because not everyone understands you. There is so much judgment and shame surrounding you, by people who don’t understand you. People know the physical dangers of what you are, but not many talk about the psychological dangers of who you are and what you to do the mind. I never thought that I could be tricked into falling in love with something so toxic, it just kind of happened. I don’t want to focus on the past, that isn’t why I am writing you. In fact I am writing you to say thank you. Thank you for completely breaking me down, I was able to rise up higher than before, let go of the mask you helped me create, and share my story. You have put things into perspective for me and made me truly grateful for each breath of pure, sacred air in my lungs.