Thursday, 20 November 2014

I Quit, Again. Smoking the Final Frontier

I am a parent. I am a smoker. There I said it! It's out there and there are no take backsies. I am the anti-Christ of the parenting world.

I'm day three into quitting and frankly right now I'd stick my tongue down the throat of any skeevy wino puffing on a limp roll- up just to get to vacuum out the smoke from his lungs. Pathetic isn't it? Day three of mood swings, toddler tantrums, panic attacks and land mines (or as I like to call it Thursday) and I still want to stab all the things.

Strange isn't it? Of all parenting taboos, smoking is the one that seems to make you a pariah, a social outcast, shunned from all things child related. I'm not trying to defend it in any way, because frankly I too find it disgusting, but smoking is probably one of the hardest addictions to hide.

I've never been, what I would have called a "full on" smoker, but I don't think I realised the full extent of my denial until I tried to give up this time.  It doesn't really matter if it is five or fifty, if you can't get through the day without it, you are an addict.  This is not my first time at the giving up rodeo and this bitch has bucked me more than a few times. It's a rodeo that once left town almost four years but slowly crept back into my life.

In my third year of my four year "abstinence" I was kind of a dick. Socially, I could take it or leave it. I'd go out for drinks with friends, smoke a few, and not give it a thought again for weeks. I went from three years of no smoking to becoming a "social smoker".  It drove my husband bat shit crazy. We'd given up together and it tortured him. He was an ass-hat for weeks, he'd really suffered but I really couldn't understand why he was being so dramatic. Yes, the first few days are miserable but I'd sucked it up and all was good. I was strong and self-righteous in my ability to take it or leave it.

When we were trying to get pregnant, I became obsessed and stopped again. I held strong and (with a little help) was knocked up. Being pregnant and around smokers, any smokers, even people who had been near people who smoked made me gag. Hurray! Finally I was on the other side of the fence. I was one of those anti-smokers. I made myself a little crown and sat on my throne of smugness.

Pregnancy came and went rewarding me with a perfect little girl. My little Monkey.  Now fast forward eighteen months. My precious little bundle of joy was no longer little and she sure as shit wasn't joyous. She was a tyrant with a will of steel. I read some where that the correlation between how cute your baby is to how much of a shit head your toddler will become is directly proportional. I was screwed. I know that all toddlers are douche bags and that as mothers they can make you want to throttle them, but I thought I could handle it. It's cute right? I was utterly unprepared for the supersonic switch between ovary exploding cuteness to that of demonic possession.

I fully understand the phrase "driven to drink" now, because at the end of the day I was and still am broken. For the last year, my (now) two and a half year old has managed to hit every button I have with the accuracy of a SWAT sniper. She's even managed to discover some new ones. The kid could make Mother Theresa throw up her arms and say "fuck this shit, pass me the tequila and a smoke before I do something stupid". She got mad skills y'all. I'm so proud.

So there I was this Spring, standing in my garden at the end of the day, drinking a glass of wine and having a smoke, rewarding myself for a job well done. I'd made it to the end of the day and I didn't kill her! Go me. Dumb ass.

One a day, was one of the rules. One a day, what's the harm? One a day, I mean come on, I'd earned it. She'd worked me hard, my nerves were shot and in this day and age, let's face it, everything is bad for you. Screw it, it's only one a day.

My own hypocrisy is quite staggering. I had a list of do's and don'ts, rules to facilitate my emotional crutch, and make no mistake, that is what it is (not was) but is. It's a combustible Binky and an excuse for me to escape for a few minutes to take a breath (ha) and re-group.

But it didn't stay one a day. Even as I sit here, I'm couldn't tell you at what point I made it okay for myself to change the rules. But I guess that's the scary part of addiction, all addictions, as addicts we can work out a way to justify it.

We give ourselves little pep-talks "this is the last time, and then I am done" or "I am so stressed I need it to take the edge off" or my personal favourite "I'm just going to finish pack because I don't want to waste it". Volumes of books could be written by addicts and those in recovery at the excuses they've made to facilitate their own brand of Binky and we could fill the universe with the shame and guilt when we cave in to it.

All addictions by definition are bad for you, with some more deadly than others. It's Russian roulette, a loaded gun that WILL, one way or another, get you in the end. We are grown ass adults and any way you look at it, we know what we signed up for. You pay your money you take your chance.

For one reason or another, this last nine months have been a bloody nightmare. I'm trying to remember when my "one a day" became two, became three, became more. Earlier and earlier I was actually starting to crave. "What the hell is this? This hadn't happened before". My evening "smokey treat" was turning into my lunch time, nap time any time treat. A reward for almost anything, a way to kill time, or escape. It wasn't long before life started revolving around it. Scheduling in my little smokes around laundry, cooking and (I'm ashamed to say) parenting. I tried justifying it in so many ways, but ultimately, I had started smoking again. I wasn't in control any more, it controlled me. To a control freak, nothing is more terrifying than not holding the reigns to our own life.

I don't think I have ever fully appreciated how bloody hard it is to quit smoking, it had never been this hard before. I actually had to have some will power to so this. So, I quit, aaaaand I started again. I was up and down like a fiddlers elbow, going to bed at night, promising faithfully that this was the last one, that tomorrow was going to be The Day. Every morning I decided, I was done that was it. Only nope, I was wrong. I took myself to my wrong cave and was wrong with my wrongness. My ability to take it or leave it had buggered off and taken my will power with it. Panic!

Shit happened. I've been on and off the metaphorical wagon so many times it has my ass is embossed into the upholstery. I rarely said anything to anyone else about quitting, just to cover myself in case I failed. You can't publicly fail if nobody know you are trying right?

So what is different this time? Well I guess, I am sick of giving myself an "out". Shit or get off the pot Missy. Put up or shut up.

I want to do this for me. To prove to myself that I can actually follow through (get it?) on something and stick with it. I trying to stop treating smoking like a reward or a security blanket and learn that there are other ways of getting through the day.

I also understand now that I will always be a smoker. It'll always be my Achilles heel. I know now that every time I go out with friends or have a drink, any time I'm having a shitty day and try to rationalise to myself, "just this one time", I may fall off my finely upholstered wagon. Life is filled with a veritable firing range of triggers and cue's that are going to make me want to light up. If I can get through today, then I can try to do it again tomorrow.

The crawling in my fingers will pass, that the short tempered bitchiness and anger will go (probably) and I will stop thinking about lighting up a "smokey treat" all the time. It doesn't really help me when I am smack in the middle of the emotional claymore of toddler resistance, canine attention seeking and dinner time drama, (the stabbing hour) but writing this and taking ownership of it has helped a bit today. Tomorrow is another day. In the mean time, if you need me I will be busying my fingers with some power knitting and trying to remember that I can do it.

If you have never struggled with addiction, please try to be patient with those who do. If you have found the strength to conquer any addiction, then I take my hat off to you and salute your strength. I don't know you but I am proud of you. To those how have fallen off the wagon once, twice or many times, please keep trying, I can slide on over, there is always room on the chariot for one more. You are not alone.


  1. I have never struggled with addiction, however, I have a brother who is an addict (drugs/alcohol). Despite being clean and sober. Despite counseling others, he battles every single day. No judgment here. But I want to tell you this and please excuse me if it seems I am on a soapbox. I have battled three forms of cancer. At the age of 21, I was told I would not live to see 22. By the miracle of science and a strong as heck will to live, I am now 38 years old and thriving. Living a beautiful life. While quitting smoking is hard, the devastation of cancer, I would bet, is harder. That doesn't mean all smokers get cancer - I understand that. My former mother in law had stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer after years of smoking. My father was a smoker for decades and he's fine (he no longer smokes). Anyway, I just do not wish the pain and struggle on anyone. If you can do something to prevent yourself from being sick, please do it. Your life is precious and it's the only one you've got - you should be here to witness that little girl turn into a sassy teenager then become like you someday. I wish you nothing but the best of luck.

  2. Your ups and downs with quitting are so reminiscent of my own struggles to give up the 'dreaded weed' over thirty or so years. I gave up twice for three years each time when my children were small but eventually something would trigger that nicotine need again and I smoked again. I finally took a course of prescribed tablets and did well for a few months until Christmas, when I told myself it was alright to have just one roll-up. It wasn't of course but by mid January I was back on the tablets and determined to quit for good. I have now been an ex-smoker for four years and rarely think about having a fag. I think now that my previous attempts didn't work as I was giving up because I thought I should and not because I wanted to. Everyone finds their own best solution for quitting and I hope you find yours. It's lovely to be able to stare that nicotine demon down and know that it didn't beat you - you beat it. Good luck!

  3. That's true. Whether or not someone understands or has struggled with addiction, it is crucial to be patient with someone who is quitting. Addiction, in any form, is a strange thing. It reflects character, and someone who is trying to change character should never be casted away, but rather supported. In any case, I wish you luck with your journey to quitting smoking. I want you to know that having the courage alone to say you want to quit is already enough to tell you I'm proud of what you're doing for yourself. Thanks for sharing that, Zoë! Kudos and all the best to you! :)

    Percy Tyler @ Turning Point Recovery Center

  4. life has its turn and we flow as per it

    life so long


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