When I was pregnant I did not drink a drop but I did continue to smoke a bit. I had learned that alcohol could hinder brain development in utero and there was no way I would take the chance of getting my babies drunk. I managed however, to talk myself into believing that three cigarettes a day was not dangerous .
I remember my obstetrician telling me that a glass of wine a day would be good for me. She told me that wine was heart healthy and would help me relax while pregnant. She actually said that two or three glasses throughout the day would be fine as long as I wasn’t “one of those people” who couldn’t stop at three.
I knew that I was one of those people who often drank more than I intended so I decided to give it up 100% for the nine months. While I found it pretty easy to give up my wine time for my babies, I refused to let go of the nicotine, and because I felt a bit guilty and unsure about that, I began to lie about my smoking. I went so far as to have my husband provide me with my three or four cigarettes a day so that I wouldn’t have to “out” myself as an irresponsible pregnant lady by buying my own. I was so completely committed to lying and “getting away with it” that I somehow talked myself into believing that if no one saw me buy the cigarettes or smoke the cigarettes I wasn’t actually really a smoker.
Once I started pretending not to be a smoker I became very good at hiding and continued on that way for 17 years. I became an excellent liar I’m afraid. I could NOT smoke in front of people eventually and the guilt and shame were all tied up with the addiction. When I finally quit smoking about two years ago my 17-year-old daughter told me that she had not smelled it on me since the last time she’d caught me smoking a few years before. I had gotten so good at hiding my guilty secret that even the people I hugged and kissed every day didn’t know I was smoking on the sly.
The thing about lying and addiction is that the relationship with the drug you’re addicted to becomes even more exciting and intimate as you get deeper into the lie.
I remember when Lord of the Rings came out 10 odd years ago, sitting on the couch with my supersize glass of wine, having just come in from the garage where I smoked, watching Gollum and his ring ….. “my Precious ” …. I remember exactly where I was sitting, the wine was red, I was curled up with my feet tucked under my butt and I remember watching Gollum thinking …. ” Ohhh noooo, please .. no … That’s me”
Lying to yourself and lying to the people you love about the drink or drugs keeps you down deep in the hole of addiction. When I was ” pretending” not to smoke, and pretending not to open that second bottle of wine a night, the pretending was almost as addictive to my brain as the alcohol and nicotine. Eventually the dopamine hit from the successful lie, from “getting away with it”, becomes almost as powerful as the dopamine hit from the drug.
Hiding away. Me and my bottle. Me and my smokes. My precious.
Honesty with myself and honesty with my family and friends is something that has been coming back little by little over these past four years of sobriety. Gentle waves of growth. Stepping stones toward self-respect and self-love and self-realization. And now when I catch myself in that sort of delicious anticipation of “getting away with something” that I know I shouldn’t be doing I’m able to reign it in pretty quickly.
I retired from a long and illustrious drinking career. That’s where finally growing up began for me. Like Pinocchio that growth started with learning not to lie.
Today I will not drink.
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