Grandpa asked me to walk into our cornfield and get a dried piece of cornstalk. I was nine years old. "Click" went the silver chrome Zippo lighter. "Now inhale." He laughed as I choked on the smoke. "Do it again" and with another cough and a laugh, we ended my initiation into the world of smoking. Twenty-five years later I quit for good.
This is my personal story. I share what it was like on our farm and the life I experienced as a little boy born with a different anatomy, not accepted by my parents for who I was, the pain and suffering that caused me, amplified by abuse within and outside our family of origin, and how my Grandparents became my lifeline.
I share how smoking at first became a comfort from the pain and soon developed into an addiction but one I did or could not let go of because it helped take the edge off of emotional pain. I don't judge myself for this. Nor do I judge anyone for smoking. I have no ax to grind here. I simply share what it was like, how I came to the moment of decision to quit, what that process was like, and with it a failed attempt to quit but finally was able to let it go.
I don't tell anyone what they should do because we each have our own journey. But what I offer is that I found a way out. It continues to work and I have not smoked since February 15, 1985, I don't even have any cravings to smoke either. It feels really good.
What did you want to do when you were a little girl? Is this the first time you have been homeless? How did you become homeless? These and many more questions were asked of participants. Seventy-two homeless women located in Tucson, Arizona volunteered to participate in this study which took place over a three month period spring - summer 2001. I personally interviewed over 50 of the women myself while the remaining women were interviewed by an administrator located in one of 12 agencies including the county jail that agreed to participate in this study. This was not a point in time study rather a random study with information gathered three different times over a three month period. The El Rio Health Center mini-mental and physical health survey was used as a collecting instrument along with the then titled MOSS SF 36 measuring across 8 domains including emotional and physical health. Qualitative questions were added focused specifically on the issue of homelessness. This study is considered timeless and valued by the database due to its large participation and the use of two valid and reliable instruments. Vignettes were also part of the final document which reveals a number of reasons for homelessness from substance abuse, domestic violence, to a house fire. Recommendations were made along with each agency receiving a copy of the study. This master's degree thesis followed all protocols for a university graduate thesis.