My new boyfriend and I decided to quit smoking – together. It’s the first time I’ve done something together, as a couple in years. Well, if you count my divorce, it’s been nearly a year. Knowing Saturday night was going to be a baby-free all-nighter we pick Sunday to go cold turkey. I’m scared. Scared to quit smoking and scared to enter into a verbal contract with someone – a commitment.
I started smoking the day I realized I was going to leave my husband. He had come home and said he’d been fired from yet another job and that he didn’t want to work again, that he wanted to be a stay at home dad. We didn’t have the money for this scenario and I insisted he go out and look for more work. He refused. At this point he was bailing on me and my baby – that’s when I knew it was completely over. I heard my neighbor walking through the driveway. It was Abby, a single mom. Her daughter was just three at the time.
“Abby? Is that you?” I asked over the fence.
“Ya,” she said. We’d only talked a few times here and there, nothing too in depth. We were just friendly neighbors. She was the single mom, I was the married mom with the newborn, supposed to be completely happy.
“I need to have a cigarrette, and you need to tell me what it’s like to be a single mom because I’m about to be one.” She came running into my yard.
“Oh my god. I’ll be right back.”
It was in this moment as she went on and on about the trials and tribulations but about how ultimately, it was the right thing to do, that I realized the bond single mothers have with each other. Perhaps because we are the only ones – the only ones – who truly understand what the other is going through.
Leaving him, moving back in with my mother and leaving my career was the single most challenging thing I’ve ever done – I needed friends and I chose cigarrettes. Now, one and a half years later, I’m back on my feet. Have my career back, have my real friends and my life back. I don’t need them anymore.
On Sunday morning we quit together, as promised. But then today, Monday, I head into work and feel awful. I actually feel like I’m going to get sick all over my desk. Am I pregant? Nope. Definitely not. Could it be the smoking? I Google it. Yep. Smoking cessation can cause nausea. Weird.
I make it until 5:00 pm and then I have one. I just can’t do this. I can’t go pick up Benjamin like this. This nausea has got to go. The cigarrette doesn’t help. I get home and take my temperature – it’s 101.1. Oh my god. I’m sick. I’ve been home from work nursing Benjamin for weeks, have missed six work days and now I’m sick.
I call Kris. “I cheated. I just couldn’t stand it. I can’t be this sick. I thought it was nausea from not smoking, but I’m just actually sick as hell.”
“Do you really want to quit or not?” He sounds disappointed. I try to defend myself.
“But, I’m a single working mom. Any kind of stress relief I can get is worth it. I can’t be in withdraw around Benjamin. And tonight, being so sick, I nearly broke down in tears.”
(I actually had broken down in tears but didn’t want to tell him this). He still sounds pissed. And he should be – I broke a promise. I call him back later, he apologizes for being “difficult” and I apologize for cheating.
“Do you want me to come over? I can make you some tea, cuddle you down.” He offers.
“Nope…maybe tomorrow night.” Step by step, I tell myself. I can quit smoking with someone, sleep with them, even become emotionally attached to them, but it will be a long, long time before I’m ready to actually ask a man for help. I just can’t. I should call Abby and ask her why.
(P.S., I never smoke around Benjamin or in the house, which is why I really want to quit – it’s getting cold out).