How Nicotine Addiction Gripped A Secret Smoker’s Life
I am a closet smoker. If a closet gay is someone who hides his real sexual preference, I am someone who hides my vice from everyone. To the people around me, I am a cigarette-hating health buff. Inside, I am a chain-smoking someone struggling with her addiction and lying to herself.
I lived a double life, and it just didn’t cause me pain. It also alienated me from my husband and my son.
I came from a family of non-smokers. I was dared to smoke a stick by a friend when I was 14. I did not like it at first as the smell of the smoke made my head hurt. However, I was scared I would lose my group of girlfriends. I got used to everything months later.
By 15, I smoked a pack a week. I never bought cigarettes or smoked in my childhood home. To my parents, I was still their dutiful daughter. There were times, though, that mom looked at me funny. It was like she knew I was hiding a secret.
I was so glad when my college years came. It meant I was free to do my own thing. Being far away from home felt great, too. I only stopped smoking those few times I had to come home. At school, my usual fix was three to four cigarette sticks in one day. More if I felt stressed out or I had to study hard for my exams.
Into The Closet
I met my husband while working at a business firm a few months after my college graduation. I liked him so much that when I learned he was a nonsmoker, I introduced myself as one, too. I never smoked throughout our six months of courtship or the next six months after we got married. I thought that that was it. I was done with the habit.
Then, one day, for a reason I could not remember, I had a stick. That led to my reverting to smoking again.
At first, I smoked one to two sticks a day. My husband tolerated it. After all, he also enjoyed a shot or two of his favorite alcoholic drink after work. My smoking and his drinking became our bonding time. However, over time, I noticed that I kept on getting my husband tipsy because the more he inebriated, the more I could smoke without him seeing it. It takes my husband two hours to pass out drunk. I have smoked my way to almost a pack within that timeframe.
Then our bonding time was not enough for me to get my fix. I took to getting up earlier than my husband and smoking for a few minutes before anything else in the morning. Then I would repeat the process at night – excusing myself early and lighting a stick or two before taking a bath to wash off the smell from me.
Keeping my secret was getting harder and harder the more I crave for my nicotine fix. I excused myself from family outings so many times so that I could stay at home and smoke my cigarettes to my heart’s content. On family events I could not refuse, I would volunteer to be the purchase girl for everyone, the perfect excuse to hit the gas station for a pack and smoke two or three sticks for a few minutes.
I encouraged my husband to have “boys’ time” with our son every week, an excuse to get me smoking in the house freely. I lived for these times, and I built my life’s schedule with my vice as the top priority.
Coming Out A Fake
Coming out of my closet is hard but I felt now is the time to do it, now that my resolve to quit is still strong. I could not continue living my double life anymore. Not one of my friends or co-workers knows that I’m battling nicotine addiction. My husband knew I smoked, but he did not expect it would be to this extent.
Lastly, I want to be clean for my son. The fear that I would die early because of my vice has a firm grip on me. I do not want to be burdened by it. I just want to be free.
- Lisa, 31 years old (Her testimony during a group therapy session in rehab just a week after her last smoke.)