You read the right. I have a secret! It’s gross and I’m not proud of it! Some people know this about me, some don’t! I’m always honest about it but you’d never believe it until I said it! I cannot hold it in anymore and now I’m ready to share my deepest, darkest, dirtiest secret and how it changed my life!
Are you ready for it? I was a smoker on and off for over 15 years! To give you an idea of how gross that is, I am 33 years young, so do the math on that one! I’ve wasted almost half of my life on nasty gross cigarettes! Accomplishing a 10Km run was not anything I could have imagined myself being able to do!
I loved smoking! Ask anyone who knew me as a smoker and they’d never believe that I would have quit! Smoking was as much part of my life as coffee is. I had no desire at all to quit smoking! With routines and times in place, I would excuse myself to go have a cigarette.
Growing up both my parents smoked. My middle brother and I would make fun of them and their smoking! We were never going to smoke like them! Well, he kept that vow, I, unfortunately, gave in to peer pressure! My entire childhood I had a lisp and I was teased relentlessly not only by friends but by my oldest brother as well.
In grade 6, we moved to a new house, which meant new school. I wasn’t going to be THAT girl anymore! I decided that I was never going to say words that had an ‘S’ in them. Just try and do that for one conversation! It was exhausting! From there on out, I made a conscious decision to slow down and really enunciate my words. I became aware of tongue placement. I kicked my lisp!
For once in my life, I was a cool kid and I liked it! So in high school, when the girls in high school would hang out in the smoking session during breaks and smoke, so did I! Grade 12 was the year when I really started smoking full time! You might be asking how I was getting cigarette’s well, in Saskatchewan back in the 90’s you could buy cigarettes at 16 years old!
Cigarettes are the biggest lie I ever told myself! They kept me thin and that was all that mattered right? WRONG! Yes, they kept me thin because they’re an appetite suppressant, as is coffee! Well, I happened to love both so there was never a need to work out or eat properly because I was thin and being thin is healthy! I was slowly killing myself!
With a cigarette before I ate meant I wasn’t as hungry at mealtime. I would go for a smoke after which made me feel less full. Before bed, before driving, before coming home, before a business meeting, before an interview! I loved smoking! Then cigarettes went up in price and kept going!
As cigarettes kept increasing in price on a steady incline, It was harder and harder to be able to afford to smoke. When you’re trying to justify buying a pack of cigarette’s over that certain foods at the grocery store because you only have SOO much for food, you need to re-evaluate your life! When you have your little girl look you square in the face and say,” Mommy, I want you to quit smoking!” It’s time to re-evaluate your life! When you cannot place with your kids, your nieces or nephews, your grandkids whomever… you NEED to re-evaluate your life!
The thought was slowly creeping into my head that I needed to quit for good this time! I quit when I was pregnant with Ava but then started right away after. That’s how I knew that if I was going to quit smoking, it couldn’t be for someone, I needed to want it! I needed to make that choice myself; it was the only way this was going to work!
Just before my 30th birthday, as I started a new job, I secretly made a decision that I was going to quit smoking! I wasn’t going to tell anyone because I didn’t want to be judged if I failed. If I failed I didn’t want anyone to rub it in my face. Hearing people say, “I thought you were quitting smoking” in that unimpressed, judgy, condescending tone wasn’t anything I wanted or needed!
I began to cut back; slowly I was smoking less and less. I was in this new job and as I cut back on smoking, I began noticing that in stressful situations, I wasn’t able to calm myself. I had this feeling, this gut wrenching, heart clenching, sweaty angry knot in my throat all the time. As the day of my 30th birthday approached, it was very clear that I wasn’t doing well. I was tired, hungry, feeling sluggish, panicked all the time… I was pregnant! That positive test result catapulted me from wanting to quick to NEEDING to quit and to never ever look back!
As I carried on life, pregnant and trying to quit smoking quickly without ripping someone’s face off, I still didn’t feel well. I’m not talking morning sickness not feeling well but I knew something was wrong. That feeling, that “gut wrenching, heart clenching, sweaty angry knot in my throat” was always there and every day it felt like I couldn’t stand another day. I turned to my doctor and I melted into a giant puddle of emotion. She watched me crumble and panic. Gasping for air, sobbing uncontrollably and sweating profusely, she just sat there. I didn’t need her to hold my hand or make it better. Just having her there reassured me that I was ok and that I could get myself through whatever this was.
She’d been with me for 6 years, seen me through my pregnancy with Ava and its complications. When they found abnormal cells and I had gone through not one but two colposcopies. Then we battled postpartum depression head on. She knew what I was capable of and that I would get through this too. She sat and waited for it all to subside. As I calmed myself down, she explained what anxiety and panic attacks looked like. Light bulbs turned on. Things made sense for the first time in a very long time!
It turns out that I had been using cigarettes as a way around my anxiety. I’d had those feelings since Ava was born but never knew what they were, smoking made it better so why bother?! This now is all fuel to keep smoking away. I learned so much letting it go! Not only about the neglect that I was putting myself through but also about what I capable of. Every run I remember that I quit smoking and how hard it was to quit! I remind myself every single run that I quit smoking.
I push myself harder than ever because I quit smoking! Anyone who has quit something addicting will tell you how hard it is and as much as some people want to forget, I want to remember! Remembering that I smoked, how hard it was to quit and all I am able to accomplish because I quit smoking. I want to remember all of that because that will remind me why I can never start again! Do I miss it? Sometimes! Will I make mistakes? Probably! Will I ever go back to it! Oh goodness no, I’ve got my life back and I’m going to make the most of it!
Do you have a secret you want to share? Have you ever given up something you enjoy? Maybe sugar? Diary? How do you cope? What drives you?
Photo credit: 4DP Media