It’s been more than a quarter century since I quit smoking. I gave up the nasty habit back in in the early ’90s, when the kids were little, and I haven’t had a cigarette since.
Last night, however, I had a very vivid dream about smoking. I was sitting somewhere, among a group of people, lighting a cigarette and taking a deep puff. I felt the familiar leaden sensation in my chest as I did so and the harsh, acrid taste in my mouth and throat. Wherever I was, it was clear that I had been chain-smoking cigarette after cigarette. My dream self was sadly aware that I had previously successfully quit smoking for a long period of time but had started up again for some reason and was now hooked once more. As I puffed away, I felt tremendous feelings of regret and guilt and shame and embarrassment that I had been so weak and stupid to retreat and would now have to try to quit all over again. It was an incredibly realistic, powerful dream that startled me awake in the middle of the night.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a prior dream about smoking — at least, not one that I remember. I have no idea why I would have such a dream now, as I have zero interest in taking up smoking again. It’s pretty amazing that a habit I ditched more than 25 years could still call up such vivid images. I suppose it shows that the smoking memories and my prior smoking self are still in my consciousness somewhere, lurking deep below the surface, ready to be tapped during an unconscious moment.
I was very grateful when I awoke and realized it was all a dream and that I remained contentedly smoke-free. In fact, I can’t think of a recent dream where I’ve been happier and more relieved to find it was only a dream. If my subconscious, just to be on the safe side, was trying to send me a message that there should be no backsliding, the message was received.