My name is Karen, but my friends call me Kay. I started smoking when I was 14; I am now 31.
I realize now that my reasons for smoking at that age have twisted themselves into reasons why I was still smoking 16 years later. It is as if my entire life was deliberately built around cigarettes. Perhaps it was.
I quit smoking on June 12. Today is my 5th smoke free day.
I feel like I am waking up out of some kind of fog. I decided to introduce myself to your group while I'm still foggy so I don't talk myself out of being brutally honest with you. I have always hid behind smoking, in one way or another. I don't want to hide any longer. I want to take the power of my addiction away by telling you the truth about me. If you like me after reading this, that is wonderful. If you don't, I don't blame you! But I need to be honest about the monster I have become.
I have done a lot of rotten things during my relationship with nicotine, things that are shameful, things I can't take back. I am slowly coming to realize all the lies I told myself, and believed, just to be able to smoke. There are so many things that are coming into focus regarding my affair with smoking.
Most disheartening is that it seems like "Marriage vs. Capri 120's" could be the defining title for my life the last 5 years. My husband is a nonsmoker and, when we met, I had quit for a little over 1 year after smoking for years. He believed I was a nonsmoker when we got together. I did too.
I can't even remember why I started smoking again. But the point is, I did.
And I did it with gusto.
In the beginning of our relationship, my husband tolerated my 1-2 cigarettes per day, while I tolerated his drinking habit. It was almost an unspoken code between us; I don't talk about your habit and you don't talk about mine. When I began smoking again, I decided I could control it and would only smoke when I drank alcohol. Since I rarely drank, this was a perfect plan.
Well, not exactly.
I noticed that, slowly, as time went on, I was pouring more and more drinks at home - one weak drink for me that I would sip on all night and one or more strong drink for him. As time passed, I was frequently getting my husband sloshed and giving myself permission to smoke almost an entire pack in the 2 hours it took my husband to pass out.
If that isn't nicotine addiction, I don't know what is.
But I never saw it that way until the last few weeks. I was so blind to my manipulations and scheming. If you would have told me what I was doing, I would have thought you were crazy! I have always been the "too nice" person, the kind of person that you could trust, a friend. And that's what I thought I was. But as the smoke is clearing from my mind, it is hitting me like a ton of bricks. This became a revelation of who I have become, the kind of wife and mother I have been. Utterly selfish and devoted to my addiction.
I despised myself for so many years but dared not let it linger on my mind too long...otherwise, I would have to do something about it.
My addiction grew worse and became harder and harder to control. For the last few years, I spent all the energy I had planning my smoking around my husband. I thought, since I love him so much I shouldn't subject him to it and therefore, secrecy was a necessity - out of love. Now I realize that my addict-self is selfish and wants me all to itself. I thought smoking away from my hubby was a sacrifice I was making (see how nice I am? ha ha), but now I see it for what it really was - a way to prevent him from having an opinion about it.
When smoking cessation commercials came on, I became the most talkative person in the room, desperately trying to prevent someone from commenting on how bad smoking is. Desperately hoping my son wouldn't blurt out his knowledge of me smoking. I just couldn't stand to be hypocritical and agree with the commercial, and then sneak a smoke. It was better to never let the subject come up at all.
Kay's Story, page 2: Life as a Closet Smoker: Sneaking, Hiding...and Guilt.