'My Husband or My Habit?': A Smoker's Dilemma | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

'My Husband or My Habit?': A Smoker's Dilemma


She'd rather fight than quit. photo via

By Susan Shapiro


| Share

(page 2)

The next week, carting in more of his belongings, Aaron left a bunch of garbage bags full in the foyer. Trying to be nurturing, I lovingly unpacked it. Returning, he flipped out that I’d touched his stuff. “You’re such a neatnik control freak, but the whole apartment reeks of smoke. Your cigarettes and joints are disgusting. They make me sick!” he screamed, punching the wall.

Who was this hairy stranger I’d mistakenly pledged my life to? I’d had enough of him trashing me for being who I always was, making me feel self-conscious in my own home. I booked a flight to Michigan to visit my parents.

For ten days that August, I hung out with old friends in my old haunts, puffing by my parents’ pool, as I’d done since I was 13. Aaron sent me flowers. He sent my mother flowers. When I finally called him back, he apologized, saying he would do anything to work things out.

“I wish I could quit smoking and drinking, but it’s too hard,” I admitted. “Every time I try, I gain weight and want to kill myself.”

“Maybe try addiction therapy?” he said. “I’ll pay for it. And come with you.”

“You will?"

Aaron found a brilliant addiction specialist just two blocks away. Dr. W., a former smoker, said, “Addicts rely on substances not people.” I argued with Dr. W. weekly and stopped fighting with Aaron. For six months, Aaron put the nicotine patch on me every morning and scratched my back every night when I removed it because it itched. He held me when I woke up screaming from weird patch dreams. He agreed to get healthier too. When we’d go out, he’d skip beer and order orange juice. He gave up buttered popcorn at the movies for walks around the park, drinking Evian.

It was draining, awkward, annoying. Everything became a negotiation. Could Aaron order garlic Nan at Indian restaurants when I was on Atkins? ( No.) Could I take out my mood swings on him? (New rule: all criticism of Aaron was banned.) ”You’re a pig for eating that crap” turned into “I love cooking fresh seafood together.” Like Dr. Frankenstein building a monster in his own image, we kept remodeling each other, our union, our relationship rules, even our home. In lieu of the utter destruction we expected, something odd happened: we fell madly in lust with our healthier creations.

At our recent 15th anniversary, I wouldn’t have recognized the blissful duet, both slimmer and more successful, in the same (now smoke- and drug-free) apartment, renovated and combined with the one-bedroom next door. Scripts and DVDs of Aaron’s TV episodes sat neatly on the shelves near my published books, including my chronicle of quitting cigarettes, alcohol and drugs more than a decade ago—with help from the annoying but devoted curly-haired narc roommate I’m now addicted to instead.

Susan Shapiro, a Manhattan writing teacher, is author of Lighting Up, Speed Shrinking and Five Men Who Broke My Heart, and coauthor of the upcoming Unhooked: How to Quit Anything. This is her first piece for The Fix.

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
Sober Living
Normies React to the 12 Steps

"I think admitting to having a problem in general is the right first step, but to admit powerlessness is unhealthy. .. I think admitting powerlessness is more harmful because it doesn't help. Admitting that you want and need help is more useful after admittance."

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 


This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv