When my husband and I first got married, I was one of the first people he told about his addiction to cigarettes.
He would sneak his cigarette between my fingers and inhale the smoke.
I was a total skeptic, but I didn’t want him to be a smoker.
I wanted a husband who would be healthy and happy. So I started making rules for him: I would not smoke in the house, I wouldn’t take a cigarette if he offered one, I wouldn’t give him a cigarette if he asked for one, and I wouldn’t smoke in the car.
I made it clear to him that if he didn’t smoke, I would not smoke with him.
It wasn’t easy hearing this. It wasn’t easy getting him to stop smoking.
But I didn’t give up.
At first, I would smoke in my car and I would smoke in the house with him.
We would smoke in the backyard, behind the shed, or in the back of the closet.
He smoked in the car at first and then I got him to quit.
He tried counseling and medication, but nothing worked.
He was a smoker for almost 20 years.
I was shocked when I finally met someone who wasn’t a smoker.
I had to quit again.
I had to quit when I was pregnant with my daughter.
I had to quit again when I was teaching college.
I had the freedom to walk a few blocks to the library. I was able to walk to the grocery store and I could walk to the coffee shop.
I had the freedom to walk to my daughter’s school and to her friends’ houses.
But I was not free to make plans to go to a movie or a concert or a restaurant.
I thought I was.
I thought I was free.
I thought I would never have to smoke again.
But I did.
I smoked for four months when I was pregnant with my son.
I smoked again when I was pregnant with my second daughter.
I struggled with this for about two years. I would go to counseling and I would smoke and I would do the best I could.
But it wasn’t good enough.
I tried to quit again.
I tried to quit when I was the oldest of my children.
I tried to quit when I was the most depressed of my children.
It wasn’t easy.
But it wasn’t a struggle.
I knew I had to quit.
I knew I had to stop smoking.
And I knew I couldn’t give up the freedom I had the freedom to walk a few blocks to the movie theater and the freedom to walk to the grocery store.
Even if I had to do it alone.
To lose the freedom I had to choose to quit was too much.
I know I’m not alone.
Many people who are addicted to smoking have gone through a long string of failures.
If you are one of them, I urge you to remember all the things you did right.
You made it through.
You made it to the end of your addiction.
You deserve a break from the struggle.
You deserve to have your freedom back.
If you are a smoker, I want you to realize that you are not alone.
There is someone out there who understands your struggles.
You can reach out, and you can have a positive impact on someone else’s life.
I know you can.
You deserve it.
You deserve to have the freedom to make plans with your spouse or your best friend or your child or your co-worker.
I know you deserve a break from the struggle.
The struggle is not the end of the world.
It’s not the end of being alive.
It’s not the end of being human.
You can stop smoking.
You can have a life with your spouse, with your best friend, or with your child.
You can have a life that is not defined by cigarettes.
You can make a difference in someone else’s life.
You can help them find their way back.
There are many different places you can start.
There is no shame in smoking.
There is no shame in wanting to stop.
There is no shame in not being able to quit.
There is only shame in quitting.
There is only shame in quitting when you already have a habit.
You are not alone.
If you are a smoker, you can find help and get help.
You can find a treatment center and you can find a support group.
You can find a counselor, someone who will listen to you and help you find your way back to life.
You can find a place to go when you have problems.