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!!!