Being a single parent is a challenge. Being a single parent of a son when you didn’t even have any brothers in the house…a bigger challenge. It’s a daily challenge though that I enjoy waking up to. If I had to choose one challenge to write about, it would be, becoming a non-smoker again.
I started smoking when I was 18. I loved it. As an introvert, it gave me something to do in social situations and, once smokers were uncermoniously booted outdoors to smoke, it was how I made new friends and networked. Most smokers are awesome people so my smoke breaks were often my favourite part of the day. I smoked 20 a day. It was a lot. Then I became a mom.
I was always conscious of reeking of smoke when holding my baby but it took a while before it really started bothering me. When he was 4, 9 years ago, I eventually started giving it some serious thought. I did some research and Allen Carr’s Easy way to stop smoking sounded like a method that could get results so I bought the book. It sat on my shelf for another month and a half. I just wasn’t ready. I continued to contemplate it and eventually decided that I would never forgive myself if I got cancer while my son was young and I could possibly have prevented it by giving up then. I was also conscious of the fact that every time I lit up, my hard earned money was going up in smoke! It had to stop. So on a Friday afternoon, towards the end of February, I came home from work. I sorted my son out. Then I lit up a cigerette. Then I opened the book.
I was hooked by the end of the 1st chapter. I smoked as I read. I still wasn’t sure if I was ready to commit. I continued to read and to smoke. Halfway through the book, I stopped reading. It was late and I was tired. I also needed to think through all that I had already read. A lot made sense to me but I still wasn’t ready to commit. I went to bed.
Saturday morning. I can’t wait to start reading further. My poor son had to amuse himself after breakfast while I immersed myself in the book. I could hear ‘clicks’ in my head as I went through it chapter. I wasn’t addicted to smoking I told myself. I was addicted to the nicotine and the cigarette was merely the vehicle. I let these points and a few others marinate in mind while I lit yet another cigarette. By midday I reached the final chapter. I was so nervous. I still didn’t feel ready to commit but I knew I was closer.
I started reading the last chapter. I was encouraged to smoke one more cigarette. It was to be my last. Once I was done I would no longer be a smoker. I was so scared. Before I lit that cigarette, I reasoned through the why’s and how’s of what I was about to commit to. Then I lit the cigarette. I savoured every puff. I finished the book. That was that. It has been almost 9 years to the day and I am still a non-smoker.
The 1st 3-4 days were hard. On the 3rd day I found myself curled up on the couch feeling terribly ill. I asked my munchkin to bear with me that night and he did. I made it through. I kept telling myself that it was nicotine that I was addicted to and not the cigarette and that once the nicotine was out my system I would be ok. It takes Nicotine about 3-4 days to work it’s way out of your blood so I told myself that I just needed to make it through those first few days then the worst would be over.
I have to admit that I still miss my smoking rituals. I enjoyed them. I even investigated nicotine-free electronic cigarettes at one point but there are none that are completely nicotine free. I just wanted to experience the ritual again.
Becoming a non-smoker again was a huge challenge for me and I am very proud that I have achieved it.