Nicotine, Carcinogens and Poison

Cigarettes. Yeah, I know. Its gross. Its smelly. Its unhealthy and its plain, ugly. Cigarettes. My nemesis,and sometimes, best friend. One of the worst decisions in my life, and I can’t pull myself out to quit for the life of me. Truthfully, its one excuse after another. Oh I had a bad day. Oh, my back hurts. Oh I am so stressed out. Oh I’m so bored. I always seem have some reason about why I need to step away for 5 minutes. 359901

I started smoking when I was about 14 years old. But the interest sparked me before I put that first cigarette in my mouth. My best friend and I would roll up pieces of paper and pretend to smoke them. Than one day, another friend of ours had “snagged” a few smokes from her mother and that was the end of the story. Nearly 15 years later and I am still smoking those nasty little paper sticks.

My Grandmother was a smoker and so was my mother. Both quit before I was born or before I could have any recollection of it. So growing up, it wasn’t a part of my life. But I do remember seeing pictures in the family albums with glimpses of both my Mother and Grandmother, with a smoke in hand or sitting in the ashtray next to them. And maybe subconsciously I thought, since these two women in my life smoked, it should be okay if I try it, right? WRONG!

I kept it a secret for about a year or so. Really hard to do because it smells so bad, but I managed to cover it up from both my parents and my brother. Until one day, waiting at the bus stop with my brother, he busts out his backpack, opens the little zippered pocket and out fell a few packs of cigarettes. I looked at him and said, WTF and then asked for one. He didn’t flinch, or ask why, just handed one over and said enjoy. I had no idea my brother was smoking, but he knew all along that I was. Sixth sense, nose of a hound dog, keen observational skills, what ever you want to call it, he knew all along. And than one day, Fourth of July, the entire family was waiting for the fireworks, and my mom lights up a smoke. MY MOM!

A woman who I thought had quit after years of smoking, was also hiding the fact she was doing it. Again. Despite my recent decision to pick up the habit (and enjoying it) I was pissed. I was absolutely livid with her. At the time of finding out, I was sitting on top of the SUV leaning over the passenger door. As she was slipping out of her car door, cig in hand, and she managed to slam my fingers in the door. Another notch in the “Mad at Mom” belt. I didn’t talk to her the rest of the day. But why was I so mad at her, a legal aged adult, for smoking? Especially when I was doing the same damn thing. Guilty Conscience is why.

It was still a matter of time before she found out my secret. I had managed to hide it up until my Freshman year in High School when, during passing break, I snuck out to the corner street and lit up a smoke. I’m not sure on most High Schools, but our school had campus security (it was really a volunteer parent who would drive around certain times of day to catch kids doing bad things). Well, I happen to be that bad kid for the day. I got caught.

I was escorted back to the school. Taken into the principles office. He made a few phone calls, and next thing I know, a police officer is standing behind me.WTF. A police officer. I didn’t kill anyone. I just smoked a damn cigarette. Oh my god, I could use one right about now. And than, walked in my Mother. I was toast. My secret is out and I’m dead when I get home. I received the lectures on how smoking is bad for my health, consequences of getting caught at school and what would happen next. And what happened next was, my mom pushed the officer to write me a ticket, she pushed the principle to put me in a “No-Smoking” class, and pushed me out the door.

I got a $200 fine and a ticket saying “Underage Tobacco Consumption” and 5 day No-Smoking course after school (like detention) and grounded at home. Why was my Mom being so hard on me, when she is doing the same dang thing? I asked that a lot. And she always told me, she didn’t want me to grow up teaching my kids that its okay to smoke. Pffft, I always shrugged it off and said that I would always quit before my kids were born.

Fast forward to now. My daughter is now 4 years old. I am 30 (in Nov.) and I still smoke. I hate it. I really do. It’s not that I don’t have the drive and want to do it. I’m just…lazy. Sad, I know. I’m terrible. BUT… I don’t want to lie to myself or any of you. We recently went on our annual camping trip. I and other family members observed something a little disturbing while up in the mountains. My daughter was mimicking me. She was pretending to smoke. Picking up little sticks or long pieces of grass, putting it in her cute little fingers and pretending it was a cigarette. My 4-year-old daughter. Now, I know it’s a common thing for kids to mimic their parents or siblings, but this? This made me sick my stomach.

Its time to say Bye to smoking and hello to a longer, happier, less stinky life. My mom quit her habit a few years ago and she reminds me all the time on how much better and healthier she feels. Now its my time to tell her and feel the same way!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Breakdown.”

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