A novelist writes about the mind, body and soul.

Just one more cigarette – Can I give up for Lent?

I can’t seem to stop. I’ve tried. Yes really. Once when pregnant with my first child I didn’t smoke at all.  The second time I was pregnant, I have to admit that I smoked very occasionally and at a party, a stranger came up and berated me for it. A couple of years ago I gave up after I’d been hypnotised for a magazine article I was writing  (subsequently, I was convinced that me managing to not smoke was more to do with will-power than anything else, and I substituted great handfuls of the children’s sweets for cigarettes and made myself feel sick.) Gradually, as the month passed, I allowed myself to smoke other people’s roll-ups at parties, then gave in and bought my own, kidding myself that roll-ups are better than a packet of twenty.  I’m not saying that I am a chain-smoker, far from it. I am talking one cigarette a night. Recently it’s somehow creeped up to two a night. That’s the problem, it’s not a disaster, but it’s a habit. If I’m socialising it can escalate to the dizzy height of three or even four.  I hate the smell in the house and on my hands, but I love the thrill of it, the escape from the day, the whiff of release.

When the children came home from school last week, and demanded to know what I was giving up for Lent, I was foolhardy and replied smoking. Ash Wednesday arrived (yesterday) and when I woke, I visualised throwing the packet away, but when it came to it, I decided not to, because I fooled myself into thinking that perhaps someone else would want one, or  perhaps I could have just one on Sundays during lent, which apparently you are allowed to do.  By 9.00pm  I had smoked my one cigarette but managed to hold off from two.

I don’t fancy patches, I’ve read they give you weird dreams. The idea of nicotine gum sounds awful.

It’s National No Smoking Day on March 14th. Yesterday  I read that around 157,000 children between 11-16 start smoking every year. That was me, I started at boarding school, partly to hang out with the “cool girls” partly for something to do to relieve the monotony. My father is a keen smoker, and always has been, I remember my mother smoking when she was stressed. My mother hasn’t smoked for years now.

I have to stop. For all the obvious reasons. Not least my children hate it.

I’m going out to dinner tonight at a friend’s house. There will be people, wine, possibly someone else smoking (though that is doubtful). I may blog tomorrow and tell you what happened. I really really do want to give up.


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5 thoughts on “Just one more cigarette – Can I give up for Lent?

  1. Jayne Anderson on said:

    I sympathise. I have been through it and know how hard it is. I also started at school. One crept up to two and then to three. Much as I denied it I was addicted and before long was smoking 20 day.

    I am ashamed to admit that I smoked during both of my pregnancies, although I did cut down drastically I was unable to be totally smoke-free. Ironically, it was when me and my husband split, a very traumatic time, that I actually found the strength and determination to quit.

    I couldn’t have done it without the aid of patches and vast amounts of nicotine gum. And I didn’t experience any side effects.

    Keep at it. You can do it. I have been smoke free for 18 months and much as somedays the temptation is there, I have managed thus far to stay strong and resist.

  2. Hi Jayne,

    Thanks very much for you encouragement. I haven’t been doing that well, On day 3 managed to succeed but yesterday smoked the last one in the packet. So am hoping that from today, with none left I will finally start.

    Which magazine was your giving up smoking article in?

    • Jayne Anderson on said:

      Hi, You will get there. I had numerous slips at the start, believe me, I think it is probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. The problem is even though you have the facts that it is bad for you and the smell is awful, it’s the enjoyment it brings. I always smoked outside in my garden and it was a little escape from the madness just for five minutes. It was my bit of sanity. Stay strong!

      My article was in Woman magazine.

      • HI Jayne,

        I just wanted you to know, that I seem to have quit! I’ve haven’t smoked for just over three weeks now! I’ve had texts from the NHS to support me, which have been helpful! x

      • Jayne Anderson on said:

        That’s great news! Well done. I hope you are now going to go out and treat yourself to something really nice, you deserve it. Keep it up

        Jayne x

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