£20,000. 20k. Twenty fucking grand of my actual own money.
Where is it?
I smoked it.
I smoked it all from sometime in my 18th year on the planet and I smoked it every single day until the pennies all rolled and clinked together and found me in this moment, writing this, blinking in disbelief at the calculator app on my phone. And? And smoking. And? And feeling pretty ashamed of myself.
Ashamed is good though, lets roll with that. Because I should be ashamed; for failing at every single attempt that I have made to give up, for smoking in full view of my child, for spending money that we don’t really have and could certainly be put to better use, for lighting up for the first time all of those years ago, for the cigarette hanging from between my lips as I type this from behind its smokey veil of fumes.
I don’t remember why I started but I do remember buying my first packet of ten Marlborough Lights and a lighter in a shop I had never been into before or since, praying I wouldn’t get asked for ID because I didn’t possess any. I remember slipping the cellophane wrapped packet into my green handbag with polka dot lining and a clasp that never worked and walking to a pub to meet friends.
You could still smoke in pubs then and everyone did and I sat and sipped drinks and talked and laughed and felt the presence of the unopened packet in my bag under the table like you feel the stare of someone on the back of your head, making you neck prickle and your hairs stand on end.
Smoke me. Smoke meeeeeee.
Deathly sirens in a shiny box.
I remember fumbling with the plastic on the way home and the clumsy feeling of the cigarette between my fingers as I spun the wheel on the lighter to light up. I didn’t inhale, I felt the smoke fill my mouth with swirling, dancing fumes and watched with satisfaction as I exhaled the white streams into the night air.
It took me a week to smoke that packet of ten and then I was on twenty a day and smoking menthols because they looked nicer (I thought) and for the next far too many years smoking became the illusion of a crutch for whatever I needed – it was a stress reliever, a conversation starter, an excuse to get away, a social bonding tool…
Now it’s just something else to worry about as I while away hours thinking about when I can next get outside for a quick fag.
So. I’ve decided. I’m going to give up.
There. I said it.
I don’t want Beans to have a mummy with a grey pallor and tar stained fingers who smells gross and gets twitchy every few hours because she needs a cigarette for the love of god.
I don’t want to burn money anymore or be controlled by something that in reality is pretty disgusting. I don’t want every slight cold to go to my chest and leave me coughing for weeks…
Cutting down or patches or gum or whatever have failed me in the past so this time I’m going it alone. Alone and afraid and with a husband that smokes and the as yet undefined stop date of whenever we finally make the move into our house.
See, it’s in black and white now and that means I have to. So there.