Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the
physician within you heals your sick self.
~ "Your Pain is…." Kahlil Gibran
When Wendy was fifteen, she remembers going down into the basement, where her older brother and his college friends were hanging out, and accepting a cigarette from one of them on a dare. She remembers lifting it to her lips, and taking a careful puff, recalling all the movies she’s seen where beautiful girls smoke and look dangerous, and she remembers laughing in her brother’s astonished face when she didn’t immediately start choking. Wendy remembers handing the cigarette back to one of his equally astonished friends, and starting up the stairs with a swagger to her step, because it was a rare day indeed where she bested her brother.
It took the entire twenty-five steps for the taste of the cigarette to burst onto her tongue, and when it did, she remembers the instant lurch of her stomach and the way her throat had seized up; she had barely managed to get to the bathroom in time before she’d started puking her guts out.
Even when she tried smoking in college, the same thing happened -- Wendy’s body instinctively resisted every attempt she made to get a taste of nicotine. Pretty much the same thing occurred when she first tried drinking (third week of college, she and her roommate decided to crash a frat party). Two tumblers later, the contents of her stomach somersaulted into her throat and she vomited all over the carpet.
To this day, Wendy has never gotten falling-down drunk, and has resigned herself to a life of being the designated driver (although she does appreciate getting to watch her drunk friends make complete asses of themselves).
It is times like these, however, that Wendy wishes she had an addiction of some sort. At least when Jacqui is feeling morose and suspects that the entire world is against her, she can light up a cigarette and smoke the "cancer-stick" (as David has so fondly dubbed Jacqui’s cigarettes) as sort of a proclamation of "you want to mess with me, world? Fuck you, I can screw myself up worse, so don’t even bother." Wendy craves (and perhaps this need is her addiction) the ability to silently say "fuck you" to the world with a single drag of a Marlboro, or to drink her melancholy away with a few shots of Smirnoff.
If she could give a silent "fuck you" to the world, maybe then some of the constant aching in her chest would ease and things not seem so bleak. If she could drink away her melancholy, maybe she’d be able to move past this hopeless crush that revolves around a certain CSI with flowing gold hair. Maybe she would be able to forget how her heart flutters in her chest whenever those blue eyes flicker towards her. Surely an addiction could fill this hole in her chest even slightly, and Wendy is desperate for that ‘slightly’.
And so, despite knowing the consequences, she steals a cigarette from Jacqui every now and then, and makes sure no one’s around to hear her vomiting in the women’s bathroom, and she downs a few shots of Smirnoff in the privacy of her own home where no one can see her gagging and turning green. This is her own version of a "fuck you" to the world, just an extremely self-destructive one, but Wendy can’t bring herself to care, because for a few moments when she is smoking that Marlboro or gulping down that shot of Smirnoff, she forgets about bright blue eyes and long silky locks.
Eventually, she thinks (or rather she prays), this silly crush will fade, and she will no longer feel this desperate need for an addiction to stave away the feeling of despondency -- in the meantime, she sneaks a cigarette from Jacqui’s locker and buys Smirnoff on her way home from work, and suffers through her self-chosen pain.