I started smoking when I was 12 years old.
My mom had smoked my whole life and I always gave her a hard time about it. I remember being sure I would never smoke, I hated it.
Then I turned 12 and met a boy and my hormones turned on and he smoked. I don't know how it is in straight relationships, but I remember I wanted to be just like him. It's a good thing he didn't sniff glue.
I started smoking very occasionally with him and by grade 9 I was hooked. I remember going out to the smoking area at high school and hanging out with friends. I always wanted to grow up, to get out of the small town I was living in, experience life, experience men, I couldn't get out fast enough and smoking was a grown up thing to do. It was during this period that smoking started to hurt my throat and made me choke so I used to have little candies which soon became Halls candies, so that with every cigarette I had to take a candy so I wouldn't choke to death.
When I was 16 I started buying my own cigarettes and smoking regularly. I moved out on my own when I was 16 and discovered my throat hurt even less if I had something to drink when I smoked, something that continues to this day. Many times I'll be out somewhere and buy a $4 coffee just to have a cigarette, it hurts to much and makes me choke if I don't have a drink.
When I was 19 or 20 the drink didn't work that well anymore and I started to choke again. I found it easier to blow my nose and clear out the crap that was building up in my throat and lungs and then I could continue smoking. This increased so that I now blow my nose all the time.
It's not easy to put things in your mouth when you constantly feel like you're choking and so I brushed my teeth less, in addition to the cigarette smoke destroying my gums, and when I was 28 I lost my front two teeth, which I attribute directly to smoking.
When I was about 24 I became very self-conscious about choking and blowing my nose in public and for about a year I was not able to go out in large public spaces, something I again attribute to smoking, which was only releaved with medication for anxiety.
So I've paid enough and I quit smoking on July 2nd.
I have a book "The Easy Way to Quit Smoking" which helps re-affirm that you are not giving up anything. You are getting your life back.
There's a line from the book, "It would be so easy to quit smoking if I could only smoke while doing it" which any smoker will understand. When you smoke, cigarettes are your friend and your crutch, just like with any other drug addiction. Sure I'm single, but I have my drug. I may have no teeth and be choking and blowing my nose and feeling like crap, but I can smoke.
It's fucked up logic and hopefully a year from now I'll look back on this and wonder what the Hell I was thinking.
Lots to look forward to, but in the short term I always have really bad withdrawal symptoms, diarrhea, inability to sleep, inability to get out of bed, dry throat, there's more. But this is it. I will not look back 20 years from now and make another list of all smoking has cost me since this point.