Today I was tooling around the local community college campus doing research for a meeting we have next week and I was taken back to my smoking days. Bench after bench, female students were sitting cross-legged, a book perched on one knee, while they took long, slow drags off cigarettes. It looked so foolish to me sitting on the north side of my 30’s, for these vibrant young women to be engaging in an activity that has been so clearly demonstrated to kill. Taking health out of it, it also marginalizes beauty, cheapening one’s appearance, dulling hair, yellowing skin, deepening wrinkles and cloaking skin in malodorous layers of cigarette funk.

But I remember, god do I remember—such an emphatic and absolute disconnect between my smoking and the implications it carried. I didn’t care how much money I spent, didn’t consider the time it was taking off my life. I loved smoking. I am not ashamed to admit that I felt cool, most of the time, every once in a while reality nipped at me and I’d stamp out a smoke before I’d finished, kind of like running up the basement stairs and slamming the door to keep the monsters out. Most of the time I felt sexy. Tough. A maverick, snort. Seriously though, I saw it in their faces, unapologetic. It was sobering. Probably a classic I’m-35-now-epiphany. We just have so little time. I regret every cigarette I ever smoked.

But I have to say, I am an ex. It can be done. I am ashamed of my past, sorry I didn’t listen or acknowledge, but I am really proud to be able to say to that I came out on the other side, especially to people like Brian , a future ex.

I was sitting watching the Sox game and a commercial came on for Become An Ex. It so perfectly pierced the quitting smoking “trigger” argument. As a smoker talking about quitting I used to say, “Not sure what I’ll do, driving and coffee are my two triggers. Can’t do either without smoking.”

Here’s hoping you can become an ex, too.