They Do Exist.

What I Learned About Ending An Addiction In 2011

Editor’s Note: Addiction is defined as “devoted or given up to a practice or habit or to something psychologically or physically habit-forming”. I would argue that as broken people, we are all devoted to or rely on something we don’t wish to. A thought process, a lie in our head, cigarettes, alcohol, pornography, sex, attention, emotional highs and lows, food, etc. So often, the root of our addiction lies in our belief that we are unworthy; that we are deserving of a life in which we commit a “slow suicide”, as Tammy puts it. But the truth is that you are worth a full life. It is worth fighting for. For 2012, pursue the truth of your value. Tammy tweets at @tammywerthem and blogs at I Woke Up Yesterday.  Lauren

In 2011, I finally confronted my love affair with nicotine.

I am a recovered crack-addict and alcoholic, who spent over half my life in and out of the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I have over seven years clean and sober. I am 40 and began my love affair with nicotine in high school. I became a daily, pack-a-day smoker my freshman year in college, when I began attending AA. Back in the “old” days, we smoked inside the meeting rooms. My dad smoked, his dad smoked, so naturally I smoked too. You see, I am just like my dad. This idea that I was just like my dad? It actually made me proud to be a smoker.

For me, giving up cigarettes was harder than giving up crack cocaine. Cigarettes are far more socially acceptable than crack. They are legal, cheaper and available at most gas stations and convenience stores. My cigarette of choice was Newport.

Why would I write about my life without cigarettes, when there are so many other real and relevant issues I could write about? Well, cigarettes were destroying me, my marriage, and my testimony with my kids and women I mentored. Smoking is a hard habit to break and I associated smoking with reward and friendship. I rewarded myself for finishing chores. I took breaks from my family members, if they were irritating me. Smoking helped me relax. I chose it above things more worthy of my time. I was addicted. Cigarettes were my best friend and took precedence to my husband’s wishes and the needs of my children to grow up in a home that was smoke-free.

When I found out I was pregnant with my second child in April of 2011, I thought about quitting smoking. I had just returned from a week-long birthday trip in Ireland with my mom and sister, where there were plenty of folks who smoked. I was happy to light up with them. My husband begged me to stop smoking; he has been begging me since I met him. I have lied to him about my smoking, convincing him that I had quit.  I snuck around like an alcoholic, hiding my stash.

When women find out they are pregnant, they get super healthy. They get their prenatal vitamins, quit smoking, scale back on coffee, exercise, and then some. Most “normal” women do this in preparation for their pregnancies. In my case, I did not choose to quit smoking immediately. In fact, when I was pregnant with my first child, I did not quit smoking all the way  and when I brought him home from the hospital, I was taking three and four showers a day to wash the nicotine off my body. This was completely insane!

With this pregnancy, I faced a constant battle of wanting my fix and seeking to honor God with healthy choices and thanking Him for the miracle of life growing within me. Like a good addict, I rationalized my use of nicotine and convinced myself that a half of a pack was better than a whole pack. I tried to cut back. Thankfully, due to my pregnancy developing, I started to get really sick from smoking and put cigarettes down completely in July of 2011. I became fully convinced that I am valuable enough to quit smoking and not commit a slow suicide. Replace “smoking” with your harmful habit of choice. It’s all the same. 

Here are some benefits of my quitting smoking: I smell better. I feel and look better. I am not setting a bad example for people I love, especially my very impressionable children. I want to kiss my husband more. He is not on my case to quit. I am saving a ton of money by not purchasing cigarettes. I may have decreased my chances of getting cancer. (My dad died a young and tragic death at 54 years old, from colon cancer. I am certain his lifelong cigarette habit was a contributing factor). I have freedom today and am not chained down to my next nicotine fix. I no longer have to lie about or hide.

I am grateful that I quit smoking in 2011. I am more grateful that I am committed to remain a non-smoker, for the rest of my life. Of course, I will accomplish this one day at a time. Today, when I smell cigarette smoke, I am mildly interested and also a little grossed out. I hope to never be one of those reformed smokers who seek to condemn those who still battle their addiction. My heart’s desire is that my victories, through Christ in me, will serve as an example and give hope to those who struggle with any addiction.

With support and loving community, I am able to remain smoke-free, drug-free, and alcohol-free. I have other vices that I battle: anger, irritability, lust, shame, the need for control and more. I choose to see the small victories of everyday life as proof that God is not finished with me. I am a work in progress and I am grateful that HIS love covers a multitude of sin. Also, I am very grateful to walk in the knowledge that His love is not based on my behavior or performance. I never thought that God was mad at me because I smoked, but I felt the conviction that I was not honoring Him with my choice to smoke. And I want to live a life that pleases Him and draws others into a relationship with Him.

NOTE: Good Women Project does not embrace nor reject the behavior of smoking. This post was not published as a reflection of our views on cigarettes, nicotine or substances but rather to share a story of a woman in our community. Thank you for your understanding.

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11 Responses

  1. I am so in awe that you did that. I know that any addiction is an addiction and something we worship and getting rid of things we worship is clearly so difficult (I LOVE Starbucks…still an addiction at points). Excited to see how much more beautiful your life becomes and may God continue to shower you with the worship of Him.
    xoxo, Anna N

    December 15, 2011 at 11:48 am

  2. Helena

    "My heart’s desire is that my victories, through Christ in me, will serve as an example and give hope to those who struggle with any addiction."

    Tammy, your victories have given me hope! Thank you for completely sharing yourself with us. That's just one of the things I love about you!

    December 15, 2011 at 6:15 pm

  3. Marie

    I have never met you and only know tidbits of you through your posts and through your sister Jenny. And you inspire me!

    My drug of choice: chocolate chips cookies! The "I deserve" pattern you mention is so right on. I am committing to "going cookieless" on January 3rd, 2012. I will take it one day at a time.

    Thank you for sharing and may God bless you in a multitude of seen and unseen ways,


    December 16, 2011 at 10:24 pm

  4. Pingback: Let’s Quit Together (Tammy Werthem) | iwokeupyesterday

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