Up in smoke

Christine Kempell kicks one addiction, only to fall foul of several more


Under extreme pressure from my children, I recently abandoned a nasty habit I acquired during my wayward teenage years, and one that has clung to me, like smoke to a coat, well beyond adulthood and well beyond any good sense.

I wasn’t really ready to let go, as I thoroughly enjoyed my foul addiction and looked forward to my minutes of peace and contemplation, my time alone with my slim, filter-tipped friend. You see I was very careful not to share these meditative moments with my brood, so sheltering their innocence from this horrible habit.

But they snooped around and sniffed me out, quite literally. I’m not saying I didn’t deserve it, but my little angels hounded me, bullied me, saturated me in guilt until finally I gave in and under their relentless pressure, gave up.

The road to absolution was long and fraught with anxiety for all my long-suffering family members and I, as I craved the thing I was denying my body and mind with a heavy dose of cold turkey and not a patch in sight. I don’t mean to brag, like the newly birthed mother who boasts no pain relief during labour, but that’s just the way I did it. I’m not saying it was easy or that I didn’t have help, as my You Tube savvy, website discovering teens managed to find every informative forum out there to help me travel down the road of recovery, with cries of ‘You’re going through peak withdrawal now’. Really? How can you tell? Gggrrrrr!! The pressure not to let them down and relapse was intense as they involved themselves with every mood swing, tear and tantrum. I suppose it made a change for us to discuss my ‘attitude’ as opposed to theirs, and I’m sure I detected a few knowing sighs between them when I occasionally slammed a door.

So now I’m a good few miles down that road, feeling pretty pleased with myself and my kids are also proud of ‘their achievement’. However, unknowingly and unwittingly I have swapped my craving for one addiction to a whole host of others, that are all strangely beginning with the letter ‘C’.

First there is Chocolate. That full stop at the end of a meal, that pause in a day, that accompaniment to a cup of English Breakfast or a nice skinny latte is now dark, milk, bitter or sweet and full of calories. The weight piles on at the same time as I discover that I can now run, having previously avoided it completely, on account of my wheezy chest and a tendency to feel supremely sick.

My youngest daughter, inspired by my athletic advances, decides to enter us both in the Dubai Marathon. Baby steps, of course, as I wouldn’t want to over achieve, so she puts us down for the 3km. I find myself regularly clad in skin-tight lycra, which is not a good look, and I join the dedicated, determined band of ladies who lunge. We did it, though, and I ran all the way with my daughter urging me on, despite looking like a perspiring pomegranate when I crossed the finish line.

My husband did not attend this proud moment, as ‘parking was going to be a nightmare’, apparently, so he gave me Dhs100 and told me to put it down my sock, and get a taxi home. I stopped for some chocolate on the way back as I had a terrible craving. It was a Marathon.

Then came Cardigans. It began slowly, but my compulsion took over, and before I knew it, I had amassed a huge collection of these handy jersey garments. I started with just a couple of black ones, but soon I progressed to bright orange, electric blue, leopard print and purple. Short, long, wraparound or waterfall, it wasn’t long before my children noticed that I was sporting yet another natty knitted number and I was forced to admit it: My name is Christine and yes, I am now a Cardi-holic.

Finally I rediscovered my old Clash albums, as I relived the time of my youth when I got heavily into them and the other thing I now shun beginning with a C. They really are the best band ever, and I am determined to make my kids listen to every album and appreciate every single note, even if they’d rather be hearing One Direction or the Beibster.

So, now I Cuddle up to my Children, wearing a Comfy Cardigan, with a bar of Chocolate, listening to The Clash.

That’s not such a terrible addiction, is it?

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