No More Sneaking - Carrie's Quit Story

Carrie's Quit Story

Young woman smoking a cigarette in a back yard
Elizabeth Weinberg / Getty Images

A member of the About Smoking Cessation support forum, Carrie spent years hiding the fact that she smoked from friends and family, as many other smokers have.  It's a lifestyle that beats a person down. 

That said, smoking cessation is all the sweeter when you've spent years sneaking from one smoke to the next.  There's no more stress at being found out, and no more guilt.  

Congratulations, Carrie.  Thanks for sharing your story.

From Carrie:

Like most smokers do, I started smoking when I was a teenager - about 15 years old. I snuck cigarettes with friends when I was away from home.  I wanted to fit in with the crowd.

Time went on and I continued sneaking cigarettes throughout my teen years. I even got caught several times by my non-smoking boyfriend, which caused many problems, but that didn't stop me. I continued to sneak, as a matter of fact,  for six years while dating him.

When I was 22 I met and married my husband, who was a full-blown smoker. My own smoking worsened from there.  We would smoke after breakfast, after lunch, after dinner, or just sit out on the back porch and light one up in the evenings. It became a staple in our marriage. It's what we had in common.

We were trying to conceive a child and I remember driving home with the pregnancy test on my passenger seat. Being quite sure I was pregnant, I had my last cigarette for the next year while driving home to take the test.

After my son was born, I picked the habit up again right where I had left off.

We divorced three years ago and during the divorce I would alleviate stress by increasing my daily intake of cigarettes. It helped me relax, it helped with boredom, it was a reward for cleaning the house, working out, putting groceries away, etc.

It was the first thing I did when I woke up and the last thing I did before I went to bed, to cap off the night.

Everyone But Me Had Quit

After a while I noticed no one around me was smoking. At parties, I would be the only one who would "sneak out" to "get something" from the car...or at work I'd be the only one standing outside in the pouring rain hovering under an umbrella.

When I look back on my habits, I can't believe how smoking took over my life. Here are some examples of how it ruled me.

1) I would never offer to drive with co-workers to lunch, always coming up with an excuse as to why I couldn't drive (in fear of them detecting the smell in my car.)

2) I would never let guests enter through my garage (where I smoked) during holidays or gatherings (although they had armfuls of food and the garage would have been the easiest route into the house.)

3) If my mother called to say she was coming over to my house to drop something off (while I was at work) I'd either tell her not to come, or race home (with another excuse to my boss) to hide the ashtray in the garage and spray air freshening spray.

4) I would never throw anything in the back seat of my car since I burned holes in some coats, even my son's down sleeping pillow which he treasures.

5) I would make sure I had matches and cigarettes at all times...even during a snowstorm. Rather than worrying about having milk or food in the house, my first priority was:  How many cigarettes do I have left and will they last me through the snowstorm?

6) I had to have mints, hand cream, breath spray and a bottle of water with me in my car at all times and if I didn't, I would panic.

7) I would refrain from hugging my mother if she surprised me with a visit (in fear of her detecting the smell.)

8) I would trade off on necessities like a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk to make sure I had enough money for cigarettes.

9) I smoked through influenza, even bad colds and pneumonia.

10) I wouldn't allow my son or his friends to enter the garage until I attempted to mask the stale smoke smell (believe it or not he was clueless.)

11) I would give my son excuses why I had to go outside or into the garage and take 5 to 10 minutes away from him while I sat and smoked. I would tell him to watch TV for a few minutes while I ran out (to smoke.)

I could go on and on but you get the picture.

After my divorce I started dating and would refrain from kissing anyone too intimately for fear they would detect the smell of tobacco coming up from my lungs into my mouth. I resorted to a quick peck on the cheek. I also noticed that every man I met did NOT care to date a smoker (even though I did not admit to being one.)

I watched the news of Peter Jenning's death and was extremely disturbed by it...but unfortunately, not enough to make me quit. It did amplify my worry of getting cancer.  This was always in the back of my mind due to my smoking habit.

My Time to Quit Had Finally Come

When 2006 rolled around, I bought a box of nicotine patches, since I promised myself I would quit before I turn 40 (this year). The box sat on my dresser for weeks. I was confident that when I felt ready I would take the next step.

One night I went out with a friend and we smoked and smoked and smoked all night. The next morning I woke up sick from it. I put the patch on and it's been TWENTY-FIVE days since I had my last cigarette. This is the longest I've gone in over ten years, when I was pregnant with my son.

In the first week I found myself going through the motions of my old habits (making guests enter through the front door, making sure I had mints)...only to realize that I didn't have to do that anymore. It was such a liberating experience. I could hug my mom tightly and I could passionately kiss my date at the end of the night without any worries.

I stopped clearing my throat, my teeth seem whiter, and I haven't gained an ounce of weight. I feel like I've been freed of some demon inside me and just now realized how perceptive my sense of smell is. I can tell when someone's had a cigarette even though they've done their best to mask the odor, as I used to. Makes me wonder how many people knew I smoked but never said anything.

I'm grateful for this website. It really has reiterated the benefits of quitting, and I can go into my 40th year on this earth and feel confident that I'm doing my best to stay healthy. Thanks for reading and good luck to anyone who is willing to take on this life-saving step!

Still Smoke-Free

Update: Carrie now has several smoke free months under her belt:

I am happy to say that I am still smoke-free. I never touched another cigarette after I decided to quit. I'm going on five months now, and honestly, I don't even think about it.

In being a single mother, I found that quitting smoking has even given me opportunities to date a whole new variety of men that otherwise I would not have had a chance with, because most men I found were not willing to date a smoker.  I've met a wonderful athletic-type man with whom I spend a lot of time biking and hiking with. I'm really concentrating on the good things in life.

I just returned from a long weekend at the beach and remembered how I used to sneak outside behind the cottage to light up a cigarette while my son was inside occupied with something else. It was a constant strategic plan of "how can I sneak one in" and "where can I hide this one cigarette?" This past weekend was nothing but planning fun and activities without any worry of accommodating an addiction.

I feel so FREE...there's nothing like it. That patch truly does work. I've been telling friends that smoke to give it a try. They've got nothing to lose!

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