I’m a smoking momma, not to be confused with a smokin’ hot momma. That said, if I quit smoking, I’d have a better shot at becoming the latter because it really isn’t an attractive habit. I started puffing away when I was 13-years-old. You know how some people take a first puff and think, “that’s disgusting; I’m never doing that again?” That wasn’t me. I smoked my first cigarette and thought, “sign me up!” Before I knew it, I was hooked.
Cigarettes were way cheaper back then, but still, I was young and strapped for cash, so I had to be resourceful. Luckily, my mother was a smoker. (Side note: I blame her just a little for my habit because she made it look so darned cool.) I’d sneak a couple of cigarettes out of her pack every day. But better than that, I’d sneak ENTIRE PACKS out of the boxes of duty free ciggies my uncle would bring her when he returned from his travels abroad, which was often.
I was onto a good thing. Unfortunately, it didn’t last. On a day I will never forget, I was walking past the living room when I saw my mom reaching into the hutch for a fresh pack. With one arm in the cabinet, she looked up at me and, well, are you familiar with the death glare? I was officially busted. No more free cigarettes for me. Sadly, this meant I had to resort to stealing cold, hard cash from her wallet instead, and when my habit got heavier, I had to get a job and start making real money.
I know it’s not impossible to quit smoking. I’ve done plenty of times before!
Fast forward to 20 years later, when I met my ex-husband. He was a non-smoker who had sworn he’d never date a smoker, but he broke his rule for me. I figured I owed it to him to quit, so I did, and I stuck to it. For 10 glorious years, I was smoke-free and IT WAS FANTASTIC. I was over it. Me? A smoker? Never!
Fast forward again to 12 years later. My marriage was over. It all turned out for the best but still, it was a pretty hard time, one I’m gearing up to write about in a future post. I didn’t reach straight for the cigarettes. Like I said, I was done, done and done. But just a few months into my newfound singledom, a boyfriend from my past found me on Facebook.
Marc and I had dated when we were 18, both living in London, England. We hadn’t been in touch for 19 years. Not a peep. He was reaching out to me from NY City, where he’d been living for a while. A few months into our Facebook relationship, a girlfriend invited me to join her and some other gals for a weekend in The Big Apple.
Who was I to argue with the stars?
We planned to have dinner together. He came to meet me at my hotel, which by chance was kitty corner to his office (another sign the universe was taking charge). I was nervous. Our Facebook relationship was in full swing, but who knew how I’d feel when I saw him. The truth is, I barely had a chance to look at him. Within seconds of my having stepped out of the elevator, he had enveloped me in the biggest, greatest hug I’d ever had. All I could do was take in the heavenly scent of aftershave and cigarettes.
That’s when my 10-year endeavour to quit smoking failed.
I get this may not sound like an attractive combination to you, but to me, it was an absolute aphrodisiac. The smell evoked memories of the boy who had once made me weak at the knees. Within seconds of inhaling his musky, masculine scent, I was smitten again and so began a long-distance relationship.
Every second weekend, either he would cross the border to Canada, or I’d make my way to the U.S. During our weekends together, my daughter would spend time with her dad. I was living a double life. One moment, I was a single mom. The next, I was living out episodes of Sex in the City.
It started slowly. At first, I only smoked when I stayed with Marc. Then, I began to smoke when Marc visited me. Before long, it didn’t matter who was where. Smoking had seeped its way into my single mom life and I kept it hidden from Anna for about six years.
I adjusted my daily routine to accommodate my habit. Instead of showering first thing in the morning, I’d shower at about 2pm so that I could wash away the smell of that day’s cigarettes before picking Anna up from school. In the evenings, I’d look forward to her bedtime so that I could sneak out onto the balcony and smoke again, every cigarette accompanied by fear that she might wake up and find me. When she was old enough to stay home alone, I’d make up errands and look for a discreet wall in the neighbourhood, one where the likelihood of somebody spotting me was minimal. Still smoking in fear. Oh, the shame.
About two years ago, I told my daughter the truth.
My confession devastated Anna but with her being 14, it was only right that I come clean. To this day, she begrudges me for having lied to her – and I can’t say I blame her.
Since resuming the habit, I have thought about breaking it every single day and attempted to quit smoking at least once a month. Friends and family have shared encouraging words, but none resonated with me. That is, until last week. Marc and I (we’re married now and both still struggling to break the habit) went to dinner with a very dear friend of mine who has supported my every endeavour. She has championed all of my attempts to quit smoking, never once raising the fact that I have failed time and time again.
Knowing that I’d recently shed about 20 lbs through WeightWatchers, she lovingly but sternly said, “You know, losing weight is fine, but quitting smoking is more important. That’s what you need to focus on.” Boy, did this make me realize how wrong my priorities have been. She’s right, and my dieting success proves that I have the discipline to do this, so here I go.
I’ve marked the date on the calendar. On July 6, I am heading away for a heavenly four-day yoga retreat. For four straight days, I will do nothing but nurture this body of mine. And for each day thereafter, I will continue to nurture it. Come hell or high water, there will be no smoking in this temple. As a bonus, I will have undertaken another step towards becoming a better role model for my daughter. You can read about the first step in my post about modelling a positive body image.
Want to quit smoking?
If you’re ready to take the leap, I’d welcome the company. I’d also suggest checking out this support book by Allan Carr. It’s an excellent resource.
May the force be with us!
Viv for today xo