Yes. I have a dirty little secret. I am a naughty girl – for yet another reason. I have kept this secret for several weeks and have decided now is the time to share. I am writing this not only for cathartic purposes, but also for accountability and distraction. I guess I will start at the beginning…bear with me – it goes back a ways.
When I was about 17 years old (see, told ya) I started smoking. Cigarettes, I mean. I became friends with a chic named Paige who I really looked up to. I admired her. I wanted to be like her in a way. But despite all that – it was still entirely MY choice and conscious decision to start bumming her Benson and Hedges. Eventually and occasionally I started to even buy my own packs.
I was about 18 ½ when I moved to Milwaukee to be near my friends Paige and Eric who moved there one year prior. Most of my friends were a little older than me. Anyway, after a short time, I began to date Eric and he refused to tolerate smoking – cigarettes that is. So, I quit. Eric and I were together for about 3 years and I didn’t smoke during that time.
When Eric and I broke up, one of the first things I did was buy a pack of cigarettes. Yes, a side of cancer with my new found freedom please. What a fool I was. Was?
I then smoked until I was about 22. My new boyfriend (also of three years), Jiro, and I decided to stop smoking together. But the next year, when I was 23, my father died. In his hospital night stand was a pack a Kools. Not my brand by any means…I didn’t even smoke menthols. Regardless, I took that pack and thus restarted my addiction. The next year would be one of the hardest in my life and I was up to about a pack a day. There I stood for the next 4 years – disgustingly hooked on my oh so precious Camel Lights.
I was married in 2003. And upon the return from our honeymoon, both my husband and I decided to quit for good. I was really sick of it quite frankly. I mean, you don’t really need a list of why to quit smoking. There are really few redeeming qualities about the habit. But what really got me was my 2 year old step daughter. One day, shortly before the wedding she stated as I was walking outside to smoke a cigarette, “When I am grown up I am going to smoke like you.” After I sternly told her no way, forget about it, it’s gross and all the other things you say – I went out to smoke that cigarette. Boy. Did I feel like an asshole!!!
Quitting wasn’t really THAT bad. Yes, I gained some weight. Yes, I was pretty irritable for about 3-4 weeks. And yes, Charlie and I almost killed each other a number of times. But the positive effects of quitting were quickly noticeable, giving me the motivation to stick it out. The third week was by far the hardest. Not sure why. But after that it gradually got better. It took about 3 years to stop craving them completely.
For the past few years I have been, very happily, a non-smoker. I hated the smell. I stopped going to bars just to avoid the smoke. When I would see a woman smoking, I was SO relieved that wasn’t me anymore. I became this person who couldn’t understand why people wouldn’t just quit. I have a VERY addictive personality. So I figured, what the hell…if I can do it…everyone else can too. Oh, so righteous.
Sunday August 17, 2008 I threw away the previous 5 years of my non-smoking accomplishment. All that effort right down the toilet. We went on vacation and bummed a few smokes from a closet, occasional smoker who shall remain nameless. When we returned, we slowly started buying a pack here and there. And in a short month, I was just as hooked as I had been years ago and was smoking about a half pack a day. What the hell happened? How did this appalling monster sneak back into my life so easily?
Disappointed and depressed, I have been spending the past 4 weeks trying to figure out how to stop again without entirely disrupting my life. I finally realized there really is no way. For some reason, this time around, quitting has been much more difficult. But I hate myself for starting again and quitting is truly my only option. Today is my first day without a cigarette. I have been cutting down to just a couple a day for the past week. I thought that would make it easier. I am so laughable.
It isn’t even noon and I am irritable, anxious, on edge and hungry! I keep debating in my head whether or not to run to the store. But I will not let myself. I cannot. I am better than this. And lets face it…for a person who is so obsessively afraid of death, smoking seems pretty friggin moronic.
I just want this to be easier. Arg. I have only myself to blame. But I will still take it out on the world…at least for a few days. I will now bow my shameful head and shuffle away as your tisking echoes in my ears and heart….