My dark passenger

…the title of this post is a Dexter reference for those that watch that serial killer HBO show. If I’m honest, I’m not one of those people because it makes me too scared.

Anyway, as I posted on facebook this morning, I just realized that it’s been 2 years since I threw away my last cigarette and I never looked back!

I thought the analogy of having a “dark passenger” pretty much sums up how everyone feels when they have an addiction. No matter how small or large they think it is, an addiction is hard to go through.

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If someone had told me that when I chose to smoke my first cigarette that I’d be accepting a lifetime addiction, I think I would’ve thought a little more about it.

I find it scary and even unnerving to think back to my life as a smoker – that itching feeling I had, where I always ‘needed’ a smoke, having to plan my life around something else, putting something that was killing me and hurting my family above everything else.

It was disgusting.

Looking back now I actually can NOT believe that I continued to smoke through most of my pregnancy (I know, you can lecture me, but you’d be lecturing my past). I tried to quit but would always fall back into the trap so I cut back a ton and would go through periods not smoking at all. I think I went from smoking a pack a day (25) to no more than 5. I hated myself for doing it but the thought of having a new baby, that wasn’t expected, scared me and when I was scared – I smoked.

Not to mention that fact that smoking and pregnancy is taboo and KNOWINGLY harmful to the fetus so I had to hide it from everyone, feeling guilty every time I lit up and then using the cigarette when I felt guilty as I learned to so many years prior, as a teenager.

Somehow, maybe with Colin’s pleas I finally managed to ditch smoking completely and went through the remainder of my pregnancy smoke free. I remember when Logan was born I had a shared room and it was clear, from the smell, that the neighbouring mother had gone out for a cigarette. I recall feeling grateful that I didn’t have to do that. I remember that need, the underlying “dark passenger” always dictating what I sacrificed for it.

Argh, just thinking back, that feeling makes me so mad at myself. I HATED having to plan my life around the cigarette. Which is essentially what every smoker does, they have to plan their day around it. Will I be seeing non-smokers? Will I have time in the car prior to this or to that? Will there be other smokers there? or will I be left to feel isolated, like a minority and alone?

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Somewhere along the line I got stupid, as I often did when I “quit” smoking and I convinced myself I could have “JUST ONE”. Just one cigarette remains, for me at least, to be an addicts BIGGEST lie to themselves. because it was not just one smoke that I had. Logan was just a baby, 2 or 3 months I believe and I had one cigarette while out with a friend. It didn’t happen instantly but then your brain convinces you, you can just have one, once in a while….

….then once in a while becomes one every day, maybe two. Before you know if, there’s a pack in your hand and you’re driving home like a fiend, thinking you need this exterior thing so bad it’s scary.

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That’s when I became a smoking mom. Something I swore I’d NEVER be. I’d always held this image in my head, of a young child standing outside and their parent leaning over them doing up their coat, with a cig hanging from one side of their mouth, as smoke blew into the child’s face. That was something, or someone rather that I never wanted to be.

I had to try to hide smoking from Colin, my neighbours, my family, his family. It was so tiring trying to keep everything a secret. Not to mention spend an entire day not smoking, being with Logan while we went to play groups and the entire time going through withdrawal from nicotine, only to finally feel “normal” again once having one.

However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned through that experience it’s that idolizing your addiction is much worse than just going at it full force. With the cigarette so isolated the high and withdrawal was more, thus giving me the illusion it was doing something for me. Instead of the reality that it was not only killing me, but hurting everyone around me.

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I don’t know how you explain a smoking addiction to someone who’s never smoked. I don’t think they could ever understand. However, if I try I’d paraphrase a line from Allen Carr’s book; Smokers only smoke so they can feel like non-smokers, they can’t feel ‘normal’ until they relieved their withdrawal symptoms, and non-smokers don’t need to do this because they never fell into the trap. They can see that smoking is pointless, but someone who smokes can’t.

Smoking a cigarette is like banging your head against the wall because it feels good when you stop….but someone addicted to cigarettes would never be able to see that. We as a society are convinced they do this, put harmful cancer causing toxins in their body because the cigarette MUST do something!

…but it doesn’t.

So even though I had already read Allen Carr’s book I read it again and Colin keep pestering me and yelling at me and smoking was the only thing we ever fought about. When we’d fight about it, I’d go outside and – yep! you guessed it …have a cig.

It took me a full year to finally admit that I wanted Colin and Logan to have a smoke free wife/mom. I was so sick to death of planning my life around the cigarette. I never smoked around Logan but it didn’t matter, he was losing out to something that was killing me. That wasn’t fair.

Every year in the month of March, Smoker’s Helpline and the Canadian Cancer Society host the “Driven to Quit Challenge” and if you remain smoke free for the month of march, you are eligible to win a brand new car!

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I decided that this would give me the push and incentive I needed to stop. So on March 1st 2011 I woke up in the morning, made my tea and did NOT go outside with my dark passenger.

It was tough.

The first three days I spent most of them in bed. Logan was still taking two full naps so it was easy, but they were hell. I wanted to smoke so bad. The only thing that has kept me smoke free this long is this thought process…..

THERE IS NO SUCH THING A JUST ONE – ONE LEADS TO LIFETIME ADDICTION.

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I drew this when I quit in 2011 and it’s still on Smoker’s Helpline’s page 😉 …..Colin told me it looks like a child quit smoking :P

Though there aren’t many occasions I actually want a smoke now. To be honest, I never do! but there were. That first year was tough, but not too tough that I couldn’t face it. As the months went by cravings became eliminated. They were all mental. I learned to enjoy things as a non-smoker and I also found fitness! Though there’s still the odd time I’ll be looking for something in my purse, not knowing why! 😉 lol

Becoming a non-smoker completely changed my life. I’m a better parent, I’m healthier, more active, I feel great about myself (most days) and when I look back I honestly can’t believe how selfish and depressed the cigarette made me. I see mothers now who smoke with their children in tow, and while I’d never judge them, because I know their pain. I am so glad that’s not me.

I pity the smoker. I truly do. Society supplies them with their crutch but forces them to smoke in dark corners, basically shunning him. Most smokers smoke when stressed, upset, guilty or scared. We basically make them feel that way everyday. As much as I hate the smell of smoke now, and inconsiderate smokers, I can’t help but just feel sorry for them.

That’s the reason why I called my quit smoking page “I’m free” because there’s really no other way to describe it when you were trapped by an addiction and you no longer need that thing that was holding you there. I AM FREE!

FREE!!

FREE!!

We you’re addicted to something you do things that you wouldn’t normally do, things you aren’t proud of, things you believe you can’t control. You are a slave to something outside of yourself and that realization in itself can be scary. I can honestly say that I know I’ll NEVER go back and it feels great!!!! I am so proud of the person, mother and wife I have become since saying goodbye and good riddance to the cigarette :)

There is no more dark passenger here. I am now and forever driving myself.

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any ex smokers here?? share your stories

Colin is also an ex smoker he has been smoke free for over 13 years! 

anyone have someone suffering from addictions in their family??

I still have smokers in my family. I hope one day they find the freedom I have.

My dad was an alcoholic and I’ve had to deal with friends that were into hard drugs. 

What are you up to today??

Having fun with Logan and enjoying the fact that I don’t smoke!!! 

16 thoughts on “My dark passenger

  1. Smoking is one of the hardest things to quit. Way to go Ali! I used to smoke when I was 19, but never more than a couple a day. Luckily I didn’t do it enough to make it hard to quit. Glad it never got to that point.

  2. I’m an ex-smoker too and now I can’t STAND the smell of cigarette smoke. I haven’t smoked at all in a few years and feel so much better for it! Good job on your two years!

  3. 1. Non-smoker. I tried smoking a few times in my high school years and thankfully it never took. I never saw the appeal.
    2. My mom was a heavy smoker for years until she had a mild heart attack a year ago. That was a pretty good slap in the face to quit. Her partner still smokes (less than before and away from her) and I wish he could make a greater effort to quit.
    3. Plans – same old same old – work, then gym. My husband is have an Indiana Jones marathon with one of his buddies at my place. Could be a late night. *sigh*

  4. This was a really awesome post, Ali! I can totally relate. I’ve never smoked but my Mom has been a smoker since her teens and I NEVER knew about it until I was an adult. She smoked about a pack a day all through my childhood, teen years and now adulthood and I didn’t have a clue because she hid it so well. It wasn’t until she started to unravel (she has substance abuse issues, mental illness, etc) that she started to get lazy about hiding her smoking and it all came out. Long story short, it blew my mind that she hid it from her kids for over 20 years! And then I was really sad that she has no desire to quit and continues to engage in (what I really believe is) a self destructive addiction.
    Logan is going to be really REALLY proud of you when he’s old enough to realize how strong you are :)

  5. I’m glad you quit smoking! :)

    My mom used to smoke, but she hasn’t smoke at all during my lifetime and I’m pretty sure she quit before my parents got married so it’s been awhile. My grandmother still smokes though, but she’s in her 70’s and there’s no changing that habit now.

  6. Congrats on your conquest! I was an on and off smoker since high school, but never had an adition or craving (seriously). I turned into a social smoker and then Ken asked me to not smoke at all so I stopped. Because I was such an infrequent smoker, it wasn’t difficult for me. My dad was the same way. He’s never smoked in my lifetime, but the story goes that my mum was going to the corner store to get Milk and he asked her to buy him a newspaper and a pack of smokes. She came home with the paper and told him to buy his “own damn smokes.” His response was to just quit. Like that. That day.

    Lots of smokers and big drinkers in my family, but none really in my generation.

    10k easy run with the clinic tonight. Also, the cat’s out of the bag that I quit!Woo!

  7. I was a 3 pack a day smoker for a few few years.. quit about a year after I met The Captain with the help of a laser treatment. Walked there smoking my last cigarette (only time I EVER smoked on the street) and the treatment was great. Went back to work flying high and The Captain had to pick me up from work cause I was too high on endorphins to drive! I was like that till I crashed and fell asleep several hours later. He thought they had given me brain damage!

    But I was nicotine free – never looked back. Never had a SINGLE craving.

    I wanted to be a non-smoker but knew I could never go through ‘quitting smoking’ and was so glad this worked for me cause if it hadn’t I would still have the disgusting filthy smell habit. I might be dead by now!

    That was more than 20 years ago. January 20, 1989. And dreamed about smoking occasionally for about 10 years afterward.

    I would catch the whiff of smoke on the air and think I would love to have one, but that thought would float away with the smoke and I never went back.

    Good for you, Ali. I agree, anyone who has never experienced an addiction would never GET it. I used to plan my days around smoking and how many I had left and when I needed to buy more. I ALMOST smoked on a flight from T.O. to Vancouver once – a 4-1/2 hour flight and when it landed I mowed down everyone I could to get off that plane and light up. That is when I knew I had to become a non-smoker. I travelled so much on business that I would have had to quit work if I hadn’t quit smoking!

    :)

  8. Never smoked but I’m sure I’ve got an addictive personality. I was bulimic for about five years in my late teens/early 20s and it was a compulsion that I had trouble controlling. I had to get pregnant to break the cycle. My middles son has an addictive personality too – alcohol is his demon. But he’s been alcohol free since the beginning of the year and it’s been an amazing change in him.

    Congratulations on changing your life. It’s a huge thing to do but the rewards are so worth it.

  9. Oh wow congrats on quitting! Can only imagine how hard that was. I watched what smoking did to my grandfather and as a result never touched a cig. A friend of mine who quit 10+ years ago says not a day goes by that she doesn’t long for a smoke. Powerfully addicting.

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