When I met my Husband he was a smoker. He smoked approximately forty cigarettes a day. Before and after we got married he tried without fail to give up. He said, “It annoys me that it had control over me,” I sort of don’t know what that is like; for I have never ever smoked I am proud to say. I did have two chances to smoke. The first opportunity I did have, was when I was thirteen years old at school, on the schools huge playing field, it was a hot summers day and for some reason a huge circle of us were on the field. I then noticed that a cigarette was been passed around, and that as it came to the next child they would either take a drag of it and pass it on to the child next to them or they didn’t take a drag but just passed it on, no pressure, it was about ten kids before it would come to me and the battle commenced, “Yes I will try it, no I wouldn’t” this went on and on, “Yes I will try it, no I wouldn’t,” I wasn’t brought up in a family who smoked, indeed no one in my family or any of my friends smoked, not even my school friends. I thought this is my chance, there would be no pressure or shame, it would just be a casual thing to try .... I tried to reason with myself then suddenly I was next, and without thinking passed it on to the girl next to me. I was disappointed with myself! The second time I had the chance to try a cigarette I was with my friend Suzie, she had gone to the loo and had asked me to hold it for her, and she said I could, “Try it .....” I remember the time I has missed my chance and now age seventeen thought, is it really worth it? And with it burning away, smelling awful in my hand I didn’t see the point, so I didn’t.
So I would watch my fiancé who became my husband, Paul struggling, buying patches, large ones for the first week, he full of confidence, “Yes I can do this,” he would always say and for one week he would be ‘OK’ but the second week he would not be ‘OK’ at all! He would be miserable and by the third week he would stop and say, “Once a smoker, always a smoker.” I would say to him, “I understand, for I couldn’t give up chocolate, crisp and cake!” He’d always reply, “It’s not the same, for people die from smoking!” The sad thing is he always had a mint with his cigarette so that would be forty mints a day too, for me that was quite expensive. Even when we went abroad depending on the country most were expensive to buy! I remember when we went to Austria, I was expecting our first child, but I was determined not to get into debt, so I decided I wasn’t going to buy anything for myself, as Paul had to smoke! On the last day of our two weeks holiday, Paul noticed that I hadn’t bought myself anything, I told him I didn’t want to get us into debt, but he insisted, and as I knew I wouldn’t be here again, I did. I went to a lovely shop and bought myself a fabulous linen shirt. I still have it today, and I later tie dyed it!
Then ten years ago Paul did eventually stop smoking, it was a struggle on his part, but he won! I told family and work colleagues, for those I worked with some were still in the struggle, for from one week to the next, I would hear, “I haven’t had a cigarette for three weeks” I would say, “Well done” and believe that they had stopped only to see them smoking a week later!!! I’d say, “How comes you smoking again?” And they would say, “I was used to going outside with the others and they would offer me one, and before I knew it, I was smoking the same amount as before.” Or another one I’ve heard many times was, “I wanted a cigarette all the time, so I just gave in and had one, and it was wonderful!” We non-smokers would often be annoyed for the smokers where I work can go outside whenever they want! They have about 10-15 minutes out there, on their mobiles having personal calls, catching up on work gossip, while enjoying their cuppa! When it’s hot and sunny they enjoy that extra bit of sun! If I went out with a cake and my cuppa I’d be asked, “What are you doing? That’s not allowed!”
Then about 4 years ago, our Son Daniel, said that some of his friends saw Paul my Husband, his Dad smoking! He strongly denied this and said, “It was not me, they are wrong.” I 100% believed Paul. Then a few months after that, young Daniel said to us both that when I am working late, Paul goes out the back into the garden when he is in bed, that he hears the back door open; now there is no need to go into our back garden, we simply have to open the back door to let the dogs out and then open it for them to run back inside. So why does Daniel say to us both that Paul goes into our back garden when I am working late......? Again Paul said, “He doesn’t!” I believed Paul. Why should I think otherwise?
About once a year, when Paul had been out walking the dog (for he only takes out one dog at a time) I would smell cigarette smoke on him and I would mention this to him, he would reply, “I stopped and chatted with another dog walker, he was smoking.” But.... I wasn’t born yesterday and decided to investigate, I looked in his coat pockets but found nothing, no cigarettes or lighter. One day while doing this I smelt the wrist of his jacket and it smelt strongly of cigarette smoke! I got Daniel to smell it too, and agreed that there was no doubt, he was smoking!!!!! But why would he lie about it? For when I met him he was a smoker. I didn’t like it for it’s an expensive habit. But there are worse things he could be doing. Other smokers at work would from time to time ask me, “How long is it now, that your husband hasn’t smoke?” And I would tell them the years, but now I had my doubts.
Paul asked me to buy more oranges for he wanted to have one a day, he would cut them up into segments.... he would ask me if I had any loose change so he could, “Buy an ice-cream,” in the summer for there is a huge park by our home and there would be ice-cream for sale at the tuck shop in the park, but he is not really a big ice-cream eater. The tin in the kitchen that was overflowing with pennies was now empty!
So I asked them at work, what they thought I should do, should I say anything or not, a friend at work said, “If he is only smoking when out with the dog, he can’t be smoking that much, so let him carry on like that, for if you ask him about it and he then starts to smoke at home too and when he goes for a walk, then he will smoke more.” That made sense to us all. When I was convinced that he was now a smoker, I told everyone!!!! Work colleagues and family. The one person I didn’t tell was our youngest Daughter Megan, I made that clear to Daniel she would not be able to keep it a secret from him, so she must never know, he agreed.
Then this year through one of our many lean times, no money in bank and over draft past, Paul who seem to go into one of his panics/major negatives, for he’d gone to our local shop where he gets his cigarettes from, his card had been denied, for he withdraws the money from the post office counter them buys the cigarettes in the same shop, he told me, “We have no money,” (but I already knew that for the bank had already text me to tell me) but he didn’t need to go to the post office ..... I said, “Don’t worry I will put something on eBay, for a one day listing” so that is what I would do, for my Brothers often give me nice things they don’t want anymore, all I had to do was to go and collect it in the car. Many times I was almost on empty for lack of fuel and even worse when I sold something on eBay when the person paid me via Pay Pal the money had to be transferred to my bank account but it would be swallowed up by the bank for the monies owed!! So I’d be in a pickle ... and would say to eBay Member, “Thank you for your valued custom, I will post your item in 2 days time...” And hopefully by then I would either have got paid, or I’d sell other items that got us out of trouble! But it would annoy me that through all this lean times he would still be wasting money, by smoking, using important money, by ‘burning’ it! Money would be going up in flames! I remember when we went to the bank and were in a private room and the man asked us questions, and one of the questions was first to Paul and then to me, “Do you smoke?” And without hesitation he replied, “No.” How sad it that! I remembered many times why he said years ago that he wanted to give up smoking was; “One day I had a coughing fit and could hardly get my breath! I was scared to death and didn’t want to die young!”
This year I asked my Brother Marty, “What should I do?” He said, “Get all the evidence and confront him.” So this is what I did. I waited till the kids had gone to school and wrote down all that Daniel had said to us and to me, the missing pennies, the £3 and £6 that is taken daily for our local post office by bank card, the smell on his coat at the wrist, the money for ice-creams, the over-the-top-panicking, when he tells me, “We have no money in bank” and many, many more information that I haven’t disclosed to you..... I sat Paul down and gave him all the facts, he didn’t deny it he said, “I felt ashamed, I didn’t stop smoking, I just couldn’t stop, I wanted to tell you, but I just felt bad, and the longer it went on, the harder it was to tell you.” I wasn’t cross, I simply said, “When I met you, you were a smoker; remember your words, ‘once a smoker, always a smoker.’” He asked me, “Was it Megan who told you?” I said, “She doesn’t know,” he said, “She does know, for last year, I went out with the dog and put my hand in my secret pocket and there was a note from Megan that read, “Looking for something?” He went on, “Megan had found my cigarettes and had taken and hidden them, eventually she gave me them back, I begged her not to tell you, she said she wouldn’t.” “Well,” I replied, “She didn’t tell us, I’d said to Daniel, ‘don’t tell Megan for she can’t keep a secret,’ it seems she can and did, keep your secret.”
Paul said he was very relieved, he said he kept his cigarettes and lighter wrapped up hidden in the field, he was glad that I now knew, and still went out with the dog at first, and then I told him he didn’t need to but could go out by the back door outside, so this is what he does now. If he sits down on the back door steps the dogs vie for his attention and his cigarette time is not a good one for I hear him say, “NO! STOP IT! DOWN!” It makes me smile, but if he stands up he is OK. He would ask me for money after that and I would give it to him, (for I try to have a bit in the house for when we have nothing at all in the bank or overdraft) and sometimes I would say, “Let those 10 cigarettes last you for two days, as we are broke,” but Paul’s reply would always be, “It doesn’t work that way.” And he would always smoke them all as quickly as possible!!!!
I waited a while to do this next bit, but a few weeks ago I plucked up the courage as we were skint again, I got the calculator and added £3.20 which is what Paul spends minimum a day on cigarettes, for as I can see on the statements sometimes he takes out £6 but based on £3.20 I then added what that came to for 7 days and it came to £22.40 so next I times that amount by 4 weeks as there is 4 weeks in a month the total was a staggering £89.60 so that was for 1 month! I then times this total by 12 for each month and the amount spent in 1 year came to £1075.2 that is ALOT of money!!! To spend in 1 year but it gets worse....... we have been married for 19 years so the minimum Paul has spent, as the amount is more than this, is .... over TWENTY THOUSAND POUNDS!!!!!!
No wonder we have no money!