No one in my family smokes. My step-mom Jackie used to, but she quit in her twenties when she became a Christian. I think my dad smoked for a little while when he was young.
None of my friends at youth group smoke, and no one on the cheerleading squad smokes, at least I don’t think so. Most of us tried it in middle school (me too!), but that was just to try it. Rumor has it that Autumn sometimes smokes, but I’ve never seen her do it, and she doesn’t smell gross like the kids who hang in the woods behind the soccer field. Whatever.
Anyway, my friend Paris smokes a lot. She’s really addicted, at least a pack a day. So when I started hanging with her, I snuck one from time to time. I didn’t consider myself a smoker, at least not at first. Paris is cool, and the people she hangs with are cool, and I wanted to be cool too. So anyway, that’s what I thought.
Buying cigarettes was never a problem. Paris’ big brother got them for us like all the time, and even her mom once. The only problem – they’re so expensive. Same with the other stuff I was doing at the time, so I needed some serious money. But my brief drug dealing days is another story.
After smoking 2 or 3 a day for a few weeks, I was finding myself doing it more ... and wanting it more. Soon I was up to like 7 or 8. Whenever I saw Paris or some cute guy light up I had to have one. If I went to the movies that would be like two hours, and the last 15 minutes of the movie I’d be like “Is this ever gonna end?” ‘cuz I needed a cigarette. Then as soon as I’d get outside, I’d immediately light up ... unless I was with Courtney or my parents. Then I’d be a witch with a B ‘cuz I couldn’t smoke.
When Brittany from my cheer squad in her usual snobby way said I smelled like an ashtray, I told her to go f*** herself ... (Sorry, I don’t use that word anymore.) I was really p.o.’d, and I immediately went outside and lit up. Anyway, Courtney came out and talked with me, ‘cuz she’s my best friend on the squad, and I didn’t care anymore if she saw me smoking. But because Courtney has a big mouth she told everyone I was a smoker.
Okay, so I smoked some cigarettes. But I wasn’t really a smoker ... or so I thought. Until Jackie my step-mom and I had a talk, and she made me realize that, like her, I was changing my patterns of behavior to fit my secret addiction. I would lie to people (my parents, of course, and friends like Courtney and Scott). I’d avoid certain people. And I planned my activities around opportunities to smoke. Often I preferred the company of smokers, even if they were real jerks.
I was becoming addicted. At first I thought this was impossible – just 8 ciggies a day, and I’d only been smoking like a couple months. Now I realize just how fast it can happen – as little as two weeks. So here I am in school, and I gotta have a cigarette. In my room – with my parents downstairs – and I gotta have a cigarette.
When Paris said it helped her control her weight, I thought, “That’s something they don’t want you to know about.” Now I realize she was just substituting cigarettes (and drugs too) for healthy food. So it was just another really bad diet.
The other reason I guess I was smoking was ‘cuz I was ticked at life. I was mad at my birth mom for leaving and shacking up with some guy in Minnesota. In fact I hated her. What little I knew about her lifestyle I didn’t like. So I figured what the hell. If she didn’t care, then why should I? This is also why I started with the weed and meth.
Quitting is hard, but fortunately I was fairly early in the addiction process. It was much harder for my step-mom ‘cuz she’d been smoking for nearly ten years. When I recommitted my life to God, I was ready for an extreme makeover anyway. I knew drugs and smoking were a dead end, and I wanted more for my life. I didn’t want to be all wrinkled a few years from now or coughing like Paris and Alyssa do even now.
Okay, so what helped me the most? (random order)
1) My step-mom Jackie, who talked with me and wasn’t harsh like my father sometimes. She had some issues with cigarettes and alcohol too when she was my age and a little older. She says she still feels the urge to smoke when she’s stressed (me too!). It’s cool to know I’m not alone.
2) My friend Scott from youth group, ‘cuz he was cool and supportive. He never judged me, even when some of the other kids in the group were ignoring me.
3) God, who gave me the strength to change through prayer.
I recently went to throw some clothes from the back of my closet in the wash. They totally stunk!! When I was smoking, for some reason, I didn’t smell it. Now I realize how smoking makes your clothes and hair stink, at least to non-smokers. Who wants to go everywhere and people think you stink?
Today I saw Autumn smoking for the first time. Brit says she’s smoking openly now ‘cuz her boyfriend and his friends all smoke. I guess that’s one big reason people smoke, ‘cuz their friends do. A year ago, before I was a smoker, I would have been all harsh and told her my opinion. Now I’m like, maybe if I’m her friend, and we get closer, we can talk sometime. I don’t think it does any good to be in someone’s face. I’m gonna start by praying for Autumn.