The other day I stood outside and enjoyed some of the much needed sunshine that was beating down the pavement and causing an extreme case of summer fever. I had dressed up that day, wearing a sleek dress with a new scarf draped around my neck. Frankly, I looked sharp (if I do say so myself). A mom walked by me, followed by her little girl. She was innocently skipping, and full of smiles. And she looked right at me and gave me a huge grin, to which I grinned back. And then she looked down at my hands, back up at me, and then skipped off to her mother. And I was left feeling mortified, like I had let down this little girl. It brought me back to days when I was her age, looking at women all dressed up and wanting more than anything to be just like them. And perhaps that is exactly what this little girl was thinking when she looked at me, and as she skipped away to her mother. But the thing is, once she looked down and saw what I was holding I wanted to hide it away. I wanted to tell her to not be like me. And I felt ashamed at the image I may have placed in that young girl’s head as she formed an idea of the woman she hoped to grow up to be. You see, I was holding a cigarette.
That’s right, Santa Rosa Mom is a smoker. Correction. Santa Rosa Mom WAS a smoker.
You need to understand, this is a really hard truth to admit to everyone. I’m actually a little scared to put this so out there. And I hemmed and hawed about writing this. But several big reasons made the decision for me to come out of the closet and admit my smoking addiction and struggle.
One, I need to quit. I need to. My kids have been asking me to quit every single time I have started up again. And I don’t want them to grow up thinking that this is a cool addiction to start. Cigarettes are one of the worst things to start using when it comes to addictions. Not only are they the cause of so many afflictions that have caused people pain and suffering before their untimely death, they are also one of the hardest addictions to quit. Want to know what it feels like to be addicted to cigarettes and not have one at your disposal? The walls start closing in. You get really agitated. You fidget. Any little thing can make you get frustrated and snap. You feel this tightness in your chest as you focus on your need for that cigarette more than anything, so much that every other thing pales in comparison. And once you finally get your hands on a cigarette, you feel relief with that first puff. And by the time the cigarette is smoked to the butt, you wonder what the big deal ever was and promise yourself that you will quit soon. Sound like fun? It’s not. You are a slave to that tiny stick of poison. And by continuing to smoke, I am giving my kids the impression that smoking isn’t really that bad. After all, mom’s doing it.
The other reason? I stink. In those times when I have quit smoking, people who do smoke smell awful. They don’t just smell like smoke. They have a rotten smell that underlies the smoky smell. It permeates their skin, their hair, their clothes… And the worst? Their breath. It is literally coming out of their lungs and anyone talking to them can smell it. And I’m sorry, but no amount of mints or perfume gets rid of the smell from a just-smoked cigarette. When I am smoking, I don’t smell this on myself. But I know this is what other people smell when they come around me. I don’t want people to associate me with a bad smell, especially when I have taken the efforts to look good that day. And for that, I tend to avoid people after I’ve had a cigarette. And this makes me appear an anti-social stinky person. And that’s not to mention what the cigarettes are doing to my teeth and to the increasing lines around my mouth.
Third, I know that some of you parents (and teens) out there might be struggling with the same thing, and I want to let you know that you’re not alone. I have been smoking off and on for 17 years. It’s time for me to turn “I never should have started” into “I am done.” And I am. Yesterday was my last day of smoking. Today is a brand new day. I have not had a cigarette all day, and I am determined to not start up again. This could be you too. Pick the day, circle it on your calendar, and prepare yourself for when you will be smoke-free – for yourself and for your family. And when that day comes, do everything in your power to commit yourself to this promise you have made for yourself. Find things to take up the time that you would have spent having a 5 minute smoke, even giving yourself mini breaks just to breathe deeply (besides all the carcinogens, that’s all smoking is as stress reliever, anyway). Tuck the money you would have spent on cigarettes (and you’ll be amazed at how much) and use it for something really fun, like a vacation or a new toy. And be sure to tell your family and friends of your decision to hold yourself accountable and keep you committed to remaining smoke-free.
That’s the final reason I am admitting this weakness to all of you. I am committed to this decision and am holding myself accountable. I no longer want to give my children, or any child for that matter, the impression that smoking is a cool part of being grown-up. It’s so much less cool than kids can understand.
This is the confession from a secret smoker. Correction, ex-smoker. Day 1 down, the rest of my life to go.