Like most do, I started smoking when I was a teenager - about 15. I snuck cigarettes with friends away from home - I wanted to fit in with the crowd. Time went on and I continued sneaking cigarettes throughout my teen years. I even got caught several times by my non-smoking boyfriend, which caused many problems, but that didn't stop me. I continued to sneak, as a matter of fact for six years while dating him. When I was 22 I met and married my husband who was a full-blown smoker. It worsened from there. We would smoke after breakfast, after lunch, after dinner, or just sit out on the back porch and light one up in the evenings. It became a staple in our marriage. It's what we had in common.
We were trying to conceive a child and I remember driving home with the pregnancy test on my passenger seat. Being quite sure I was pregnant, I had my last cigarette for the next year while driving home to take the test. After my son was born, I picked the habit up again right where I had left off.
We divorced three years ago and during the divorce I would alleviate stress by increasing my daily intake of cigarettes. It helped me relax, it helped with boredom, it was a reward for cleaning the house, working out, putting groceries away, etc. It was the first thing I did when I woke up and the last thing I did before I went to bed, to cap off the night.
After a while I noticed no one around me was smoking. At parties, I would be the only one who would "sneak out" to "get something" from the car...or at work I'd be the only one standing outside in the pouring rain hovering under an umbrella.
When I look back on my habits, I can't believe how smoking took over my life. Here are some examples of how it ruled me.
1) I would never offer to drive with co-workers to lunch, always coming up with an excuse as to why I couldn't drive (in fear of them detecting the smell in my car.
2) I would never let guests enter through my garage (where I smoked) during holidays or gatherings (although they had armfuls of food and the garage would have been the easiest route into the house.)
3) If my mother called to say she was coming over my house to drop something off (while I was at work) I'd either tell her not to come, or race home (with another excuse to my boss) to hide the ashtray in the garage and spray air freshening spray.
4) I would never throw anything in the back seat of my car (since I burned holes in some coats, even my son's down sleeping pillow which he treasures.)
5) I would make sure I had matches and cigarettes at all times...even during a snow storm, rather than worrying about having milk or food in the house, my first priority was: how many cigarettes do I have left and will they last me through the snowstorm?
6) I had to have mints, hand cream, breath spray and a bottle of water with me in my car at all times and if I didn't, I would panic.
7) I would refrain from hugging my mother if she surprised me with a visit (in fear of her detecting the smell).
8)I would trade off on necessities like a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk to make sure I had enough money for cigarettes.
9) I smoked through influenza, even pneumonia and bad colds.
10) I wouldn't allow my son or his friends to enter the garage until I attempted to mask the smell (believe it or not he was clueless.)
11) I would give my son excuses why I had to go outside or into the garage and take 5 to 10 minutes away from him while I sat and smoked. I would tell him to watch TV for a few minutes while I ran out (to smoke.)
I could go on and on but you get the picture.