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A Relapse Story

"I'm hoping you'll be able to see a bit of yourself in my struggle."

By Loribelle

Updated July 19, 2006

So here's my crazy, honest and frequently embarrassing tale of cigarette addiction, recovery, and the power that comes from the journey. It's been a long and complicated process, but if you bear with me, I'm hoping you'll be able to see a bit of yourself in my struggle.

I started smoking when I was about 14 years old, simply because my best friend did, and I thought she was so cool. At first, I just bummed cigarettes from her, but she soon grew tired of that and told me to buy my own pack. At 14, you smoke when you can, worrying all the time about getting caught. But you manage to smoke enough to get good and addicted. My first attempts to quit smoking began when I was 16. I wasn’t able to quit with any significance until the age of 35. I did quit once for about a year when I was 30. But what I didn't know was that the herbal cigarettes I bought at the health food store led to the clove cigarettes, which completely re-hooked me. I lost my year of being quit.

Let me tell you what's worse than losing a year of quit time....losing the 8 years I had achieved until last year. About 8 years and 9 months ago, I quit smoking. I had a friend who was dying of lung cancer at the ripe old age of 36. When she finally managed to get rid of her smoking addiction, she offered to pray with me so that I could get rid of mine. I must tell you that prayer between two friends was the key I had missed before when trying to quit. I tried the patches, the gum, acupuncture, audio tapes, etc... to no avail. In looking back, I now realize that until I was on my knees to God, I just didn't have the strength on my own. My friend who prayed with me lost her battle with cancer, but I was determined to press on and stay clean in her honor. I made it 8 years. No, it wasn't easy, particularly the first 6 months or so. But each day it really did get easier to deal with life without a smoke.

Well, you know that I had a great 8 years without smoking. But let me tell you what happened 5 years into my quit. At 40 years of age I was diagnosed with breast cancer.....what a bummer! Boy was I glad I had given up the smokes. I didn't want to be the type of person who goes to radiation smelling like their last smoke! I made it through the cancer ordeal, and now I'm approaching 3 years cancer free. Never once during the fear, anxiety and enormous stress of the diagnosis and treatments did I feel tempted to have a cigarette. The idea was ridiculous!

Do you want to know what got to me after making it through 8 years....here's my warning to you on thinking you can ever have any control over smoking. I was feeling some very intense stress in my 20 year marriage. I think some mid-life issues on both sides. It was overwhelming emotionally. I was angry and insecure about having marital problems at this point in my life, particularly after having come through the cancer. So the night of a particularly bad argument, my husband stormed out of our house, which is out of character for him, and scared me very much. My 11 year old daughter was terrified, so I dropped her off at my mom's who lives close by. Earlier in the evening, my daughter had lost a baby tooth Amid all of the chaos of the evening I needed to come up with cash for a tooth fairy visit. So after dropping her off, I proceeded to the store thinking…
    "What could I buy so that I can get some cash back?"
(I don't have an ATM card) You guessed it...I bought a pack of cigarettes completely on impulse after 8 years without them. Why didn't I just buy some ice cream, a soda...anything but cigarettes!

I have to admit that, in looking back, I guess I felt like I had been such a good person for so long, I wanted to just be bad for a change.

I had intended it to be a "one-night stand" with the smokes this time. But, my goodness...when did a pack of cigarettes get to be $5.00? So I was too much of a tightwad to throw them away. I rationalized that I'd just smoke one occasionally to get through this rough patch in my life.

FAMOUS LAST WORDS.

Let me warn those of you who don't know - don't trick yourself into thinking this ever works. If there is a smoke in the house, I'll find an excuse to smoke it, and so will you.

Loribelle's Story, Page 2

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