Hi my name is Susan Neltner, and I am a smoker.
Feels like I’m at a special meeting for an addiction or something like that. Oh, that’s right, smoking is addicting. Don’t get me wrong I know smoking cigarettes is bad. I’ve seen the commercials, experienced denial, and now acceptance. I know I should quit, but honestly at this point in my life I don’t want to.
Let’s take a journey back in time so that I can better explain why I started. I had always been an advocate against smoking. The majority of my family smokes. My sister quit last January and started smoking again once she began teaching this semester. My mom does it when she doesn’t think my step dad is looking. My brother smoked, but quit once he entered medical school, and my father has quit numerous times only to light up again. I didn’t want to be them. I never wanted to smoke. I didn’t want to be like my parents, I wanted to be my own person.
Another factor in my decision not to smoke during my early years was the fact that my Papa, my grandfather, died from lung cancer. He had smoked three packs a day for over 30 years, and by the time we found out he had lung cancer it was too late. I was in the room when he died, and I vowed never to smoke.
So why in the world did I start? I didn’t start because I thought it was the cool thing to do, or because my friends put pressure on me. I started smoking to rebel. I was rebelling against a controlling ex-boyfriend who never let me smoke or drink when we were together. When we broke up I thought to myself, “Screw it. I’m a new woman now, doing things that the little innocent Catholic girl would never do.” I went for the shock factor, and I think I shocked almost everyone including myself.
With that mentality, I lit up. I didn’t even really smoke for the first couple of weeks. I more or less puffed my way to my addiction. One of my friends noticed that I was not really smoking and he taught me the art of inhaling. Wow. Anyone who smokes knows what I’m talking about. Many of us smokers remember our first buzz like we remember losing our virginity.
At first I was just a social smoker, getting out my cigarettes when I was hanging out with friends. But as school became more stressful, and life turned into a fast paced race of beating the clock, I began to smoke more because I never had time to eat and smoking was like my snack of the day.
It’s sad to say, but smoking has made me closer to some of my classmates. When we go out on our smoke breaks it’s fun just to sit and talk with one another. We have a common bond, our addiction. Many times we agree that if it were not for cigarettes we probably wouldn’t have started talking. We would just go to class, sit there, and then leave. But now we always give each other the look, when things get especially bad in class, that says, “It’s time for a cigarette, let’s go.”
Even though I’ve experienced some good things from cigarettes, I know there are bad things as well. And it’s not just from the commercials I see and hear everyday that makes me aware of the problems; it’s my cough that I haven’t been able to shake since the beginning of school, it’s the shakes I sometimes get when I haven’t had a cigarette and my body begins to realize that it’s hungry, it’s many things, but most of the time I accept them at face value because you have to sacrifice some things for an addiction like smoking.
I can’t stop, and honestly I don’t want to. But I just want to clarify that I’m not sitting here saying, “Hey, look at me, I’m a smoker and proud of it.” I’m just saying I understand why people do it, because I’m one of them.