My name is Kerri. I'm 31 years old, and I have been a nicotine addict for more than half of my life. I was 13 when I smoked my first cigarette. My friends turned green; I got good at it. By 15, I was using my lunch money to buy cigarettes. At this time though, I didn't have the internal "smoke alarm". I was not yet a slave, oh no, the best was yet to come. You couldn't tell me what was going to happen to me when I was old - or even what could happen to me with just a short time smoking. I was a teenager, and a cool one at that. Regular old social butterfly - look at me in the SMOKING SQUARE - the designated area for smokers. How cool am I? 14 years later, a visit to my high school revealed a garden where the square once was. How ironic that life is now cultivated in the very spot where my fatal habit began.
The first time I tried to quit smoking was the first time I realized that I was an addict. I was 19. I was in another state to be a live-in nanny. I ended up needing the patch. After a couple of months, I returned home and to my smokes.
The next time I was 21 and pregnant. It took me 6 months to put them down, and that was only due to the shame. I could no longer hide my pregnancy. I am so disgusted with myself recalling this, and worse admitting it.
When my son was 4 months old, I picked them back up again. Old Faithful. This failure lasted 5 years. I smoked while I watched my grandfather die of lung cancer. He had quit 25 years ago. I smoked a pack a day for those 5 years.
I became pregnant unexpectedly, and got hypnotized to stop. I lost the baby at 6 weeks, and consoled myself with cigarettes. I got pregnant the very next month, and quit that day, using the gum to get me through the hard times. I had one or two in the early months until I had no more. I can't even remember when my last one was. It stuck for 19 months. I don't think I need to explain what happened. It's the same reason for all of us, even if it's a different story. Simply put, I let junkie thinking
I managed to let another 2 years go by. I was going to quit on June 8th, 2002 - my vacation. That day came and went. "I had too much time on my hands." I said I'd quit on my 30th birthday. What a great milestone, and an even greater birthday gift. That day came and went. Then I said I'd quit on my 31st birthday - this past December 13th. Meanwhile, I'm living with a smoke alarm. I can't go to the beach with the kids because I can't go that long without a cigarette. I have an errand to run...can I bring the kids? I would calculate the amount of time I'd be gone to answer the question. The only way I could go out for long periods of time was with another adult so that I could "go to the bathroom" or "go start the car". I couldn't go to a 3 hour movie. I would wait for it to come out on video so that I could pause it to go smoke. I knew I was a slave. I knew how pathetic it was. What I thought I knew was how much I was missing. I had NO idea how much until I quit. I was pathetic beyond all imagination.
Prepare yourself for an asinine visual - I live in Maine; it's December 19th, 2003. The weather is sleet and freezing rain. I'm outside in long johns, covered in sweat pants, boots to my knees, t-shirt, turtleneck, sweatshirt, sweater, long jacket, glove on one hand, and a big furry felt jester hat. It took me a good 15 minutes just to prepare to go out. Now here I am, sitting outside, protecting my beloved smoke from the elements. When I came back in 5 minutes later, dripping wet, I looked at my husband, who was looking at me in my get-up. I looked at myself through his eyes and said, "Please go to smoke-away.com. I'll change and get my credit card. I'm done."
I didn't set a quit date - I really didn't think about it. I just said, "I'll quit when the stuff comes in." But still, even in my disgust, being a nicotine addict, I chose the slowest shipping method possible, which I think was "my grandmother will walk it to your door." I got the package on January 4th. On the 5th, I called my doctor to make sure it was safe (it is not FDA approved). On the 6th, I took the first day's dose and still smoked. I was so skeptical that this would work. The instructions said to not smoke and I did. I was so sure I was going to be cashing in the money back guarantee.
On the 7th, I had my first cigarette of the day in my car on the way to work, as was usual. I tossed it after only a few drags. I had a few during the day, and again could only have a few drags. Something in the vitamins was making the cigarettes taste awful peppery - sort of - it's hard to explain. The best way I can describe it - my kids walking across my freshly mopped floor in dirty shoes. I felt poisoned. I found that I was smoking not out of need, but out of the fact that it was what I did. I'm so stubborn. I even went out and bought a pack of cigarettes because I was out and didn't think I was done.