When I was 12 mum and dad went away for the weekend and we were looked after by a family friend who was in his 20's. One night he had a big party and we were just hanging out, thinking we were cool and probably annoying the crap out of everyone. I don't remember much of the evening, except that everyone was smoking. The next day we were helping him clean up and I found half a cigarette that hadn't been smoked because it was torn. I'm not sure what made me decide to try it. I think it was just curiosity.
It's funny, because you hear people talk all the time about the first time they smoked and how disgusting it was, or how it made them cough their lungs out. Or whatever. It wasn't like that for me. I was pretty much instantly addicted.
I started sneaking cigarettes as often as I could. I would lock the door to the bathroom that I shared with my brother and sister, and stand under the air extractor so that it didn't go under the door. Once Mary came in and caught me. The lock must have broken. She screamed at the top of her lungs and I couldn't stop her. That was how mum and dad found out.
It was the start of a long love affair with smoking. Much to my parent's disgust, I didn't kick the habit then and there. I went to school in Australia a couple of years later and started smoking full time. It was a good way to make friends in a new school, because there would always be groups of people hiding down the back of the field smoking and watching out for teachers. We became co-conspirators.
My smoking continued throughout the rest of my schooling, and through university. It reached a stage where I was smoking a pack a day during the week, and 2 or more on the weekends. When I was out drinking I would pretty much chain smoke.
When I graduated and moved back to Auckland I started getting into exercise in a big way. I was confronted with a new dilemma. I loved the high I got from working out, but smoking was getting in the way of fitness. I wasn't prepared to compromise on either. I cut back slightly to about half a pack a day, but the addiction was so strong that I had no control over it. Smoking was increasingly becoming an anti-social passtime and eventually the government told us that in one year it would be illegal to smoke in pubs and restaurants.
That, along with the fact that the addiction was the one thing in my life over which I felt I had no control (and it went against everything I believed in with regard to respecting my body) made me decide that something had to be done.
I tried nicotine laced gum. I tried patches. I tried cold turkey. Nothing worked. I could quit for a week or so, but the first time I drank I'd reach for the ciggies. I was hating myself for it.
3 years ago I hit upon the idea of hypnotherapy. It was an absolute blinder. I had 2 one hour sessions (at $120 per session) and I quit then and there. All the therapist did was brought to the forefront of my consiousness all the reasons that I hated smoking. He made me realise that it is about self-respect. I can't recommend it highly enough to anyone that is thinking of quitting.
I'd be lying if I said I'd never smoked a single cigarette since then, but I can say for sure that I now have complete control over when and if I choose to smoke.
Never again will I be a slave to the nicotine.