“As a junior I wanted to be tough. I was an early student and therefore the youngest in the class. Tiny, as flat as a dime and far from menstruating, so an ideal child to be bullied. I didn’t want that, of course, so before the Christmas holidays I got myself ready, wore heels and started smoking as one of the first girls in the class. My parents smoked too, so I could easily steal cigarettes from them.
We are now thirty years later, my parents have long since stopped and I still smoke. My daughter is now a 13-year-old in her own right. Fortunately, she still thinks smoking is disgusting, but I can’t bear to think that she will soon be smoking in front of school. Unfortunately, I am not giving her a good example. I never smoke indoors, but I do smoke in the garden. My daughter knows that. They are not happy with it at my work either. I work in a daycare. We are not allowed to smoke in front of the children, so I always have to walk a bit and it is only allowed during breaks. Then I stand there under a shelter in the rain, pulling on my cigarette. Sad, I really do feel like a pariah sometimes.
My husband has always let me do my own thing, but is increasingly grumbling about the cost. I smoke half a pack a day, which means that I spend almost 1,400 euros a year on cigarettes. We can also enjoy a holiday there. I always say I do it with my own money. He has a motorcycle, which is of no use to the rest of the family. And yes, I know it’s not right, there’s a good chance I’ll succumb to heart disease or cancer. All true and yet I don’t want to stop.
I’ve tried it countless times, of course. But then I’m a lot less comfortable in my own skin. Smoking forces me to take occasional breaks and relax. In addition, I keep my weight well. Without putting too much effort into it, I continue to fit in size 36. Smoking kills the appetite and when I feel like a snack like chips, I just reach for a cigarette butt. During the periods that I stopped, I started snacking and sniffing and immediately gained a few kilos. In addition, my metabolism was slowing down.
The trouble is I can’t find the motivation. My condition is fine; I train regularly in the gym and run without effort. My appearance does not suffer from it, quite the contrary in fact. And at the last check-up, my blood pressure and lung capacity were also top. The times I stopped, I did it for others. Because I was ashamed if I was pitifully under a shelter again. Because I wanted to set a good example for my children. Because my husband complained about the cost. Or for fear that the parents of the children in my toddler group would think I smelled bad. But if I’m honest, never for myself. I like smoking and it makes me feel good. This year, for the first time on January 1, I did not attempt to quit. Because if I’m ever going to stop again, I’ll do it if I feel like it myself. And not to please others!”
The Confession section is based on true stories. This article appeared in VROUW Magazine (every Saturday at De Telegraaf).