I could’ve saved years of torment had I not given in to temptation
At the young age of 12, I smoked my first cigarette. I shared the stolen smoke with my girlfriend, her brother, and my brother in the backfield of my friend’s house.
I enjoyed the headrush but not the headache. The thrill of sneaking the forbidden tube of tobacco was overshadowed by the burning in my throat and distaste in my mouth.
Growing up, both my parents smoked. Mom smoked two packs a day. Dad smoked after dinner and with a drink. Sometimes we were sent to the corner store to buy a pack of cigarettes. We were allowed to buy candy for ourselves with the left-over change.
As kids, we begged them to stop. They eventually did.
Imagine their disappointment when both my brother and I took up smoking as teenagers.
In 9th grade, I travelled to Quebec on a French exchange. On the application form, I checked the box “smoker.” But I didn’t smoke regularly and never bought a pack.
The girl they twinned me with did smoke regularly and did buy packs. So did her parents. And her friends. And neighbours. By the third day into the 2-week trip, when I asked to bum another smoke from my twin, she told me I should buy my own pack. I did.
I smoked throughout high school. Smokers gathered together on the west sidewalk as we weren’t allowed on school property. We huddled there, rain or shine, to take a few puffs before running off to class.
I liked my fellow smokers. I wanted to continue to hang out with them. Although I didn’t love smoking, I felt too self-conscious to hang out there without reason.
In 11th grade, when I had my car accident, my doctor forbade me from smoking or being in a room with second-hand smoke. There was limited blood flow to my index finger and smoking would only make it worse. Although I had six operations on my right hand and suffered the pain of weeks of physical therapy, I lamented the fact that I was not allowed to smoke.
I missed the release of dopamine that nicotine provided. I missed having a reason to hang out with the gang. I missed going to places like the Lansdowne Place Mall or a friend’s house where there would be smoking.
But my doctor could hold out for only so long. I badgered him at every appointment, “Can I smoke again?” Disgusted, he eventually stated that although he didn’t recommend it he no longer forbade it. I celebrated by buying a carton.
I tried to quit a number of times over the years. But the temptation to smoke was too much for me to overcome. Addiction held me in its grasp.
It wasn’t until years later — pregnant with my first child — that I finally quit for good.
I hated that I started in the first place.
I didn’t like the first cigarette I smoked, yet when tempted to smoke again I gave in. When tempted, I lost.
I wish I had taken advice from the Bible and fled from temptation. The easiest way to not yield to temptation is to resist it and run from it.
Looking back, had I resisted the temptation to check off “smoker” I may never have given into buying a pack of cigarettes. If I didn’t make that little mark, I may never have become a pack-a-day smoker.
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