Jessa thought smoking cool and that it made her different. But she's changed her outlook on life.
I started smoking when I was 16. I thought it made me look glamorous and mature and I liked to have that five minutes to zone out and have a break from what I was doing
As I got older, they became part of some kind of bohemian image of myself that I was cultivating. Writing university essays while puffing away and drinking coffee, riding in train carriages in Europe, having a cigarette with others afflicted by this addiction. Red wine and cigarettes. Coffee and cigarettes. Autumn leaves and cigarettes. Holed up in my art-deco apartment with my cigarettes as winter rain lashed the windows.
Smoking made me different to my middle class, gainfully employed friends with their orthopaedic shoes and their private health funds. Look at me! I would drink on Tuesday nights and spend my last ten dollars on cigarettes, writing stories until the early morning... Under my seemingly unwavering dedication to smoking (I could give up anything else without so much as a whimper) I was always aware of a dark side to my smoking. The way it made everything stink, how bad I'd feel in the morning after chain smoking, how I couldn't relax if I was in a place where smoking was forbidden. I wanted to quit. Especially as I was smoking on my own, the 12th cigarette for the day and knowing I couldn't afford it.
I spent a lot of time deluding myself that my smoking was anything but a terrible addiction. Then I got pregnant. Thank God, I had very bad morning sickness and so could barely eat, let alone stomach the scent of a cigarette. I didn't smoke the whole pregnancy and gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby.
Some months later, I started to smoke in secret. I was ashamed, anxious and wanted to reclaim my body (so I again deluded myself). I continued to smoke with a few half-hearted attempts at quitting until I once again fell pregnant. I quit again, easily, not a second glance at my packet.
After my second child was born, I dabbled in smoking again (ok, I was a dedicated smoker for 3 months, 4-8 cigarettes a day) but also going to the gym. It made no sense to do one thing that was harmful for my body (and my baby, who I am breast feeding) and then go to the gym!! SO I QUIT. YES. AGAIN. I have been smoke-free for a week. I am buoyed by the knowledge that all that junk is on its way out of my body and I CAN regain control of my body. Smoking is caving-in to a harmful addiction. It's not a way to assert your creativity and difference, or as a way to promote yourself as glamorous or sophisticated. I've had a few shitty nights from withdrawal and have snapped at my gorgeous husband several times but it's worth it. I don't want to fear anymore!