My dad was a casual smoker. He’d go outside, usually after dinner, and smoke a cigarette while sitting on the front porch swing. As a little kid, his routine became my routine time with Dad. I’d climb up on his lap, nestle in against his chest and watch. I remember how his bulky, round fingers held that skinny cigarette without breaking it and how he blew perfectly formed smoke rings. Being with Dad, smelling the fresh evening air along with the sweet scent of cigarette smoke was the most comforting time in my young life, a memory that I held onto when life went awry.
Forming a Habit
Dad suffered from depression and alcoholism and when I was around the age of 12, he went away to a hospital to get well. As a result, my siblings and I were dislodged from home. While the older ones moved in with friends, Mom, my youngest brother and I moved 1,000 miles away to live with Grandma. To say the least, it was a disruptive and lonely time for me, but I found comfort in smoking.
Remember how a package of cigarettes used to cost only $.75 from a machine? Well, $.75 was an affordable price for me to pay for a little solace, a little satisfaction and a little serenity. There was a gas station and a park, not far from Grandma’s house where I could conveniently purchase a pack of cigarettes without drawing anyone’s attention. Then I’d go across the street to the park and sit by myself to smoke a cigarette. I never worried too much about getting caught and smelling the sweet smell of cigarette smoke mingled with fresh air, I’d remember my dad and daydream about the day we’d be reunited as a family.
Since my Dad ended his own life, that reunion never came, but smoking remained with me. I never saw the danger associated with this habit, rather, only the comfort.
By the time I was 16, my body and brain had grown accustomed to nicotine and I was addicted to the adrenaline, buzz and pleasure it gave me. I had no idea that the longer I smoked, the harder it would be to quit if I ever wanted to. But I saw no reason to quit. It was acceptable around those with whom I hung out with; the pot heads.
In my early twenties, I fell in love and married. My husband smoked, but a year into our marriage, he quit. I still saw no reason to end my long relationship with nicotine, until my husband and I discussed the idea of starting a family.
Though I could dimly see myself as a mother, I could not see myself as a smoking pregnant woman. It was then that I decided it was time to clean up my act before ever conceiving a child.
Oh my, what a battle it was to end my relationship with my longtime companion; nicotine. Though my habit had served me well over the years, I told myself it was a habit that no longer served me well.
I chose jogging to replace smoking. I liked being outside and quickly learned to enjoy the smells of nature without the accompanying smell of smoke. And when I became pregnant, thankfully, I was not a smoking pregnant woman.
Those child bearing years are behind me and my children are grown and gone, but jogging remains to serve me well.
Why bother letting go of a habit? Though a habit may serve us well for a while, there comes a time when we need to let them go.