I smoked for 20 years.
Yep. My first cigarette I stole from my Mother. I watched her smoke my entire life. I remember being fascinated with her cigarettes. They smelled minty when not lit (Salems). I used to snag one out of her pack and just play with it, sniffing it. I had to be about 3rd grade? I think I was in 5th when I finally picked up a still smoking butt and took a drag. I almost barfed. By age 13, I was a pack a day smoker. Marlboro Reds box was my poison till I hit about 18? Then I went to Marlboro lights 100 box. There is nothing I regret more in my life than my decision at such a young age to get so hopelessly addicted to cigarettes.
Over the years, I did nothing but look forward to when I’d smoke. Could I take a break and smoke? Drink and smoke? Could I leave and smoke? Do YOU want to smoke? Can we eat then smoke? I just awoke, can I smoke? Smoke? I used to SAY I wanted to quit, but I didn’t. I fucking LOVED smoking. I loved it more than I loved myself. I’d get offended at those who curled their lips and plugged their noses at me. I didn’t smell so bad, they were just assholes! W R O N G. I smelled like rotting ashtray SHIT. My sense of smell was destroyed from SO many years of smoking I didn’t notice just how putrid I smelled. In my late 20’s, I began to want to quit. I had developed major lung issues. I got ill a lot. Of course, I excused ANY upper respiratory illness on everything but my beloved cigarettes! Every time I tried, something came up. Boom! I was getting divorced! It had been a rough last few years full of constant weeping. I slept in a guest bedroom and pushed a dresser up against the door to make sure it couldn’t be entered. The fear and uncertainty I lived in at the time was such a wonderful excuse to smoke! I did not believe in divorce, so the guilt I felt at finally giving up and leaving pushed me to continue to excuse my smoking. Then, I started to get a handle on it again. Suddenly, I dated a guy who cheated on me night and day with both women AND men. I used to think I was going crazy, suspicions that so much inappropriate shit was happening but having no solid evidence. What a perfect excuse to go buy a pack of cigarettes! When I found the evidence that he had been contacting prostitutes while my grandma died in my arms? CIGARETTE TIME! When more evidence flooded in from all his indiscretions? CIGARETTE TIME!
Everyone told me how wondrously strong I was that I had gone through so much! The thing was, I knew that was a lie. How could I claim to be strong when I had walked my entire life on a crutch? How could I feel I had conquered the worst of the worst when I knew I used all of it as an excuse to continue killing myself? I read an article claiming that cigarette smokers have yellowish skin and dark circles under their eyes. I looked in the mirror. I had it. I was an addict. I was an excuse maker. I was knowingly hurting my body and excusing it. I was a bad example. I WAS DONE.
The first 5 days was ROUGH. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t pick up a smoke when I left Matthew (I almost barfed and got high off it!) but I have not smoked in so long, I can hardly remember those first few months of missing it. I do think I had a few urges a day, but they floated away into nothing. I realized, quitting smoking cold turkey was EASY. I had made excuses and lied to myself for years about how I needed SO much aid and help! I was trying, I just kept screwing up! No. I was sabotaging myself nonstop. I was the problem, not my small addiction. I also sat around smoking on tv. It showed women, young women, everyone…that I thought it was fine. I was an idiot.
I wanted to write this to help open your eyes, current smoker. You lie to yourself. You make believe quitting is super hard and pretend you are just trying SO hard to quit. You aren’t. You are full of shit and you know it! Yes, the first 5 days quitting suck. You get irritable, like PMS and you want a cigarette really bad here and there. You know what is better? Tasting food. You THINK you are now, but you’re not. Cigarettes demolish your sense of taste. They also demolish your ability to understand that you smell like absolute SHIT. When you smoke, that fucking smell of an ashtray containing 2 weeks of snuffed cigarettes follows you. When a waitress brings my food and smells like an ashtray, I gag. When a man walks by me in a store after smoking, I am running the other way. If you are going to continue to smoke at least live in reality. In order to do that, you must accept that you smell like SHIT. You do not smell good. You most likely never have. Your clothes smell like shit. Your hair smells like shit. I mean it, you reek like absolute BUTT. Man, I used to hate people who told me that! Now I get it. They were only trying to help me out.
Your skin is aging like no one’s business. I have friends who cannot believe how young I look and how good my skin looks. In fact, I think my skin looks better NOW than it did at age 22! The reason is I am healthier. I don’t smoke all damn day and it is evident. I am SO lucky I quit when I did. I am positive some of the signs of aging on me are due to my smoking. I regret it. However, I stopped allowing it to continue! If you smoke and think you are dodging aging with your lotions and your serums you are so wrong. It is coming for you. When it does, you will regret excusing your weakness.
Lastly, I want to tell you what it was like….watching my Grandma suffer from a tumor in her lung. Yes, she had uterine cancer and never got chemo after removing it…but man, she was exposed to a LOT of smoke between my Mother and I. A LOT. To hear her breathing. To see the horrific pain she was in. To listen to her death rattles as she died in my arms…I blamed myself a lot. I wondered what would have happened to her had my Mom and I not smoked around her.
If you don’t give a shit about yourself. Try to give a shit about the people around you. Do not make believe smoke doesn’t travel in vents, the backseat of your car, etc. You are knowingly exposing people you love to shit that will kill them. For that, you are an asshole. I was an asshole. I was taught my lesson. I fell to my knees and prayed for the universe to give me her lung cancer. I deserved it. She didn’t. It didn’t matter. She suffered. She died.
I quit in her memory. I quit for my life. I quit because I am no longer excusing my weakness.
I am not going to list benefits. I won’t list how amazing our bodies are and how beneficial quitting is. You already know this. You, thus far, haven’t given a shit. I am really hoping my story, fragmented as it is, can help in some way.