Today is my first day as a non-smoker. I am 34 years old and I’ve made many attempts to stop smoking over the years but I’ve been persuaded to make this attempt by my daughter. She is 11 years old, and my pride and joy. It was physically impossible for me to say ‘no’ when she told me she’d decided I was to take part in this year’s Stoptober, a national event designed to encourage smokers to bin the cigs for a minimum of 28 days.
I started smoking when I was old enough to know better and the health risks of smoking were well known. Neither of my parents smoked and until I was 17, I thought that people who smoked were idiots and that anyone who indulged was generally disgusting. At around this age, I started going to pubs and clubs about once a month. My parents’ marriage was disintegrating before my eyes and I was putting myself under a huge amount of pressure with my A Level studies and dreams of escaping to a top university. My friend and I believed, in our infinite wisdom, that having a cigarette or two while drinking made us more drunk, which was the ultimate goal of these nights out in order to let off steam and escape reality. Within a few months, we were buying a packet of 10 every time we went out, and sharing the whole packet over the course of the evening. By the time I was awaiting my A Level results in August 1999, I was buying cigarettes every day.
Once at Glasgow University, I was surrounded by smokers. Even people who had never smoked before were taking up the habit. Hours were spent drinking tea, smoking and dissecting the world in hovels adorned with posters, huge piles of paper and books and large mounds of dirty washing and dishes. While still at university, I met a man who turned out to be the father of my daughter and partner of several years. He too smoked, and my smoking habit was further entrenched.
By the time my ex and I had split up, I was 27 years old and ready to relive some of my early twenties. My daughter was spending the weekends with her dad, so I was free to go out socialising with friends. I worked hard as a mother, teacher and private tutor during the week, so I felt I had earned my weekends of partying, which inevitably involved lots of smoking and drinking.
Now, at 34, my life is much more settled. I have a lovely home, the house of my dreams in fact. My daughter is doing well at school and we have a close, fun, happy and loving relationship. My career as a writer is finally on the ascent, and I am happier than I have been in years. So, I have absolutely no excuses! I am determined not to let my wonderful daughter down, so I will let you know how it goes!
Is anyone joining me in completing the Stoptober challenge?