My earliest memories are of smokers.
The earliest memory of my life is of smoking. I have a brief recollection of my mother wearing a lime green mini-skirt toking away on a cigarette while I rode on a tricycle. My life was inundated with those addicted to nicotine: my parents, 4 of my grandparents, 5 uncles, 2 aunts and both of my siblings. My grandfather used to entertain me as a child with a game he called 'hide the smoke'. I was delighted and mystified by his ability to wave his hand a few times, speak some magic words and make his smoldering cigarette completely disappear! Voila! All family gatherings were punctuated with a swirling, ghost-like haze reigning over us like some dangerous entity.
Cigarettes, in my childhood, seemed comforting and familiar. I never remember hearing even one negative word being spoken about smoking. Cigarettes were accepted, if not encouraged. Hey, it was just a habit, a hobby, a past-time! What's to worry about?
At 17 years old...
during a particularly rebellious stage, I bought 3 cartons of Virginia Slims. I remember opening the first pack rather clumsily. I lit up and I never looked back. I was growing up and cigarettes were my rite of passage! It was, after all, handed down for generations. Surely this was a hallowed and significant indicator of adulthood.
I remember ridiculing people who didn't smoke. I considered them somehow stunted or timid. Smokers were creative and vibrant! Nonsmokers were introverted and cowardly. Cigarettes afforded me glamour, mystique, cleverness, and maturity. Why would I not smoke, given these benefits?
A few years into smoking...
I began to notice that I wasn't as robust as my nonsmoking friends. My teeth weren't white anymore. I had some discoloration on my fingers. During physical activity, I got exerted before others. I also had to take breaks to smoke, which embarrassed me. But did I quit? No, of course not! I still wanted to be creative and cool. That's what smoking did for me, right? I wasn't so sure anymore, but I continued, nonetheless.
When I hit 30...
I began to really examine what I was doing. Do I enjoy this? No. No, I didn't enjoy it. It was a desperate act, a hurried administering of a drug. Smoking was no longer a hobby, it was a hardcore addiction. I began to think I needed those cigarettes.
I became pregnant and immediately quit. The smell made me sick, which was a blessing. I also bullied my husband into stopping, accusing him of not loving his unborn child. Through my pregnancy I was mostly smoke free. Mostly, but not entirely. I ws so addicted, that I would hide, 9 months pregnant, and sneak the occasional cigarette. I remember people looking at me with disgust. The amazing thing is I agreed with them. It was disgusting.
Before my daughter could sit up on her own, I was smoking again. A visit to the pediatrician early in my daughter's life taught me that I was transmitting trace amounts of nicotine from my body to her little body just by touching her. Simply through touch! Despite this disturbing news, I continued on. I now coughed every morning, and I needed an inhaler to breathe. I couldn't walk around the block without getting winded. I cried or raged when I would run out of cigarettes. Nothing was going to come between me and my smoking.
Many years later...
I was at work. I looked up from my computer to find my husband looking back at me. He was very pale. His lips were discolored. He was complaining of difficulty breathing. He asked me if I would please come with him to the emergency room. I was prepared for some type of infection. We took separate cars. I smoked 3 cigarettes on the way, worrying all the while about his condition.
He was hastily admitted at the emergency room due to a low oxygen count. I bided my time. Surely he would be able to see a doctor before I needed to go outside and smoke! I checked my watch, figuring in about a half hour I could go smoke.
Doctors came and went, looking concerned. I decided to stay a little longer - at least until his x-rays were finished. He really looked bad and his breathing sounded awful. I was really wanting a cigarette, but I decided he needed me to be with him.
When the doctor came in, I dully listened. "What your husband has" the doctor said emphatically, "is emphysema. He will have to stop smoking immediately. You will need to as well. He can't be around smoke at all."
I was dumfounded! My husband was just shy of his 38th birthday. He had been smoking a mere 8 years to my 20. This was impossible! My husband's face fell. I looked at him and saw what smoking had done to him. His skin was grayish, his face pale, his breathing labored and raspy. Most importantly, he was scared. I held his hand for the first time since we arrived.
Personal Quit Smoking Stories