Smoking: Confessions of a Former Smoker

I still kept smoking.  Almost a pack a day.  Sometime two on the weekends if we were out at a party.

My grandmother and my middle daughter, Princess M (<a target=www.memyselfandjen.com)" height="391" width="524">

My awesome grandmother

At the time I became pregnant with my last child and quit smoking, my grandmother (a former smoker) was dying.  She had been diagnosed with aggressive lung cancer many years before and her having been in remission for over a decade was a miracle.  The last day I spent with her, I was able to tell her I was pregnant with another great-grandchild.  She looked at me, held my hand, and begged me to never, ever go back to smoking.  It would be the last conversation I would have with her.

I’ve never picked up a cigarette again.

I knew in my heart of hearts that if I didn’t quit after my youngest daughter was born, I never would.  It would be the last time that my body was without nicotine for nine months.  Quitting smoking is a two-fold process.  First, you have to get the nicotine out of your system and deal with the cravings of that.  But the second part of it is the ROUTINE of it.  This is the hardest part!  The have-a-smoke-while-you’re-driving routine.  Or the have-a-smoke-after-a-meal routine.  And better still the have-a-cigarette-break-because-it’s-2pm routine.  There are specific times and places and triggers that are involved with smoking.  It took me FOREVER not to get in the car and automatically crack the window.  Every time I thought about having a cigarette, I thought about those words that my grandma said to me, I saw her beautiful face and then I moved on.  Usually shoving a cookie in my mouth, but I did whatever I needed to do not to smoke.

The damage that I have caused to my lungs from smoking cannot be undone, and time will only tell if I will have a price to pay for that.  The damage I caused to my heart muscle from smoking has been reversed; something I learned the heart was able to do from my father’s cardiologist after each one of his three heart attacks.  Heart attacks that were caused by a combination of factors, including a pack a day smoking habit for 40+ years.

It’s been 6 years since I smoked and my life is different now.  I haven’t lost the baby weight completely, and my youngest daughter is five.  I don’t know if I ever will, but I’m okay with the understanding that it will take something OTHER than smoking to get rid of the weight.  My friends have changed – mostly from changing my lifestyle.  My significant other isn’t a smoker, and neither are my closest friends.  No one in my life is a temptation for me.  It’s been long enough that I can’t handle the smell, which I suppose is a good thing.  I don’t have the cravings anymore.

I’m proud that I managed to quit smoking before my children had any recollection of me with a cigarette in my hand.  I firmly believe that smoking is “hereditary”.  In my opinion, smoking is passed on from generation to generation because children do what they see.  I had access to cigarettes because I lived in a house where people smoked.  I was ALWAYS around it, and I didn’t know any different. I can’t say for 100% certainty that I smoked because I was raised in a home with smokers.  But I know that I had access and was able to hide it much easier because it was the norm in my house.  You don’t need to hide cigarette smell on your clothes in a house full of smokers.

My and two of my beautiful daughters - I've been smoke free for 6 years (<a target=www.memyselfandjen.com)" height="538" width="717">

There’s no science that shows that my children won’t smoke because I don’t.  Just like there’s no science that shows that I was predisposed to smoking because my parents did.  It’s just what I experienced and what I believe.  My children have been taught from an earlier age that smoking is yucky.  Does that mean they will never try it?  There are no guarantees.  But I would rather be standing on this side of the smoking issue, sharing with them why we don’t smoke and what it does to our bodies when we do then on the other side telling them not to do it while I run to the garage to grab a quick one.

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