Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Goodbye to a Bad Habit

As part of my smoking cessation class, I was asked to write a goodbye letter to my habit. Here it is. My quit day is next Monday, February 6th.

A Farewell to a Dear and Destructive Friend –

This is it, a final goodbye to a relationship which has lasted over twenty years. Though we met in infancy, via my Mother’s habit, it wasn’t until college that we started going steady. Smoking and being a smoker has been a large part of my life since I was 19. At first, smoking was a social thing, something I shared with most of my friends. Over the years, the habit has come to isolate and abuse me in ways I never imagined.

Cigarettes were with me on my move from adolescence to adulthood, from crazy college abandon to sobering motherhood. With a puff here and there, I used the little breaks to pass the time, taking a moment out of whatever I was doing to relax or perk up. At times, cigarettes were my passport to new friends and relationships; asking strangers for a light almost guaranteed a conversation. This habit allowed me to form friendships within a large corporation that my non-smoking peers envied.

But as time has passed, cigarettes have cost me. The price of each pack has risen steadily each year – urged on by government taxes. Society shuns the smoker, forcing me outside in the cold or into stinking little rooms. Even when attending an outdoor event, I isolate myself from the crowd, because so many people are offended by my habit. Smoking stigmatizes me, instead of making me look cool. I look foolish – puffing in a corner outside in the cold.

At forty, I’m not young anymore. Cigarettes are aging me quickly. My breath is not easy or silent all the time; my skin is dry and ashy. Each morning I coax my feet to life because my circulation doesn’t carry the oxygen I need to my toes. I limp around in the morning, cursing the pain, as I light another smoke and take a little break. I’m sure I stink, but no one really comes close enough to notice.

This addiction must end. My brother, Mike died in 2004 and my Dad died in September. I revisit the sorrow of my mother’s death, from lung cancer, fifteen years ago; I don’t want people murmuring in the back of the funeral parlor, ‘well, she was a smoker’. I don’t want to worry or embarrass my daughter anymore. I can’t laugh off death as easily, I see it up close these days. We all must die, but I really don’t want to actively pursue it by picking up the ‘cancer sticks’ day after day.

So, this is the end. I am not going to smoke anymore, it makes no sense and it hurts me with every puff. It’s over, it’s not charming or social; it’s stinky and dangerous.

Your former servant


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