Wednesday, June 22, 2011

One Ex Smoker's Tale

* This is my real life story about one of my former addictions and the hardest one I have broken to date, cigarettes. This will be the first of two posts about things I have overcome. I believe they are all things many people out there have dealt with or are dealing with in their lives. Sorry for the long post, but this has been a long journey. I am glad I came out of it without an illness or death.

My Journey From Smoker to Ex Smoker

My journey with cigarettes started when I was 15. I remember it was St. Patrick's Day and I was at my step sibling's house with their mom and step dad. My stepsister had some friends over and I immediately was interested in the one guy. We went to the mall to hang out and I realized that this guy was a smoker. I had never smoked before and even turned down cigarettes a few times before this. Unfortunately, I decided to impress him by smoking in front of him. I had my stepsister give me one of her cigarettes and I smoked one in front of him while we were waiting to go into Denny's for dinner. Immediately, I loved the high of the cigarette and I ended up buying my own pack of Marlboro menthol light 100's that night at the local 7 eleven.

In the end, this guy turned out to be a drugged up loser and we never ended up dating. However I was left with a companion I would be hot and cold with for the next several years. For the rest of my high school career I smoked on and off, mostly on. Since I turned 18 during my 11th grade year and laws were passed where you had to be 18 to buy cigarettes, I ended up buying my "friends" cigarettes if they gave me money later on.

Senior year is when my smoking became a bigger problem and my mom found out I was smoking. While she was very upset and tried to stop me, I just became even sneakier about it. If anything, I smoked more and more as that school year went on. I was dealing with big issues at home involving my sexuality and other things that are a story in itself. There also was stress at school, I was in a few relationships with females that weren't healthy, and had "friends" around me who smoked, cut classes frequently, and did various drugs. While I did not do drugs with them and I rarely cut class with them, I did smoke at the smoker tree and in the back of the school with them. It was one way I could belong with them since I was an outcast that had nowhere else to go at the time. Smoking gave me relief from this stress and also gave me a place to go to at the time.

I managed to quit smoking after graduation since I was working at a summer camp for the summer that was smoke free. I needed to earn money for college textbooks and it was the only job I could find and get for that summer. The withdrawal was tough, but I managed to quit and even stay smoke free when I went home on the weekends. It had seemed like I was an ex-smoker for good, but that was not to be the case.

That fall, I started my freshman year of college and was going to school 1.5 hours away from home. Quickly stress from the coursework and finding my way in the social order had me turn back to smoking. Now that no parents were around, I smoked more than ever before. I found a few friends and started drinking on the weekends as well. I was on the outside having the time of my life, but deep inside things from the past were eating me alive. Smoking, drinking, and at one point smoking pot were how I dealt with these things. I saw a psychiatrist for a few months, but the antidepressants made me go manic and I felt worse rather than better. After a dismal second semester, I dropped out of college and moved in with my boyfriend and his friends. I needed a new beginning and was not ready to deal with anymore school for the time being. I also needed to assert my independence and live my life as an adult. I practically was one at college anyways. I worked 15-20 hours a week and took care of any needs I had that financial aid did not cover.

After I moved away, I smoked on and off but never chain smoked again. I also gave up smoking pot, but that was easy for me. The next few years I focused on building a career in business and had a few different jobs before getting my current job at the university. During that time I became an irregular smoker and mostly smoked when I drank or was stressed. I also tended to smoke when others around me were smoking. Then, in 2007 my boyfriend at the time who is now my husband and I got engaged. A few months into the engagement I began smoking everyday once again. One night, I woke up with my chest hurting. The next day I decided it was time to quit for good and I said goodbye to my cigarettes. My fiancee ended up helping me quit and I suffered terrible withdraw, but got through it.

Now I have been smoke free for a few years and it has not been an easy journey. Out of all the things I have given up and overcome, this was the hardest one to give up. If it weren't for that chest pain that night, I am not so sure I would have stayed smoke free for this long. I still miss it every now and then, but I know that I want to live a long and healthy life. My health is what keeps me from going back to being a smoker. Feel free to share your experiences in the comments. I am interested in reading what my readers have to say.


Leah (The Kind Weight Watcher) said...

LOL, I had to delete that because I called you "Rachel" instead of "Rae". Here's what it said, but with the corrected name:

Thanks for sharing this story! I'm planning on doing another "ex-smoker" post on or around July 5th, which will mark 2 years smoke-free for me!

You were one of my WW friends who was really supportive to me when I first quit, and I will never forget it. :-) Thanks, Rae!

dys·func·tion said...

Well, you already know my story, but I think that the most interesting part of any smoker's story is the beginning.

Only another smoker can appreciate that - written or spoken - there is no real way to portray why you made the decision to start smoking. It's what lies underneath, the desire to fit in or be accepted, that really drives us all to start.

Well written as always, thank you for sharing.