My mom has smoked longer than I can remember…by a good ten years, I’d say. And not just a little. She inhaled two packs of cigarettes – about forty – each day for about as many years. She’s tried to quit before – how many smokers haven’t? – but it never took. And she’s tried a lot of things: group hypnotism, nicotine gum, smoking outside only, e-cigs, resolve, and probably more. But it’s hard when those closest to you smoke, too. Everyone understands when you start back up, and they’re all around you, stress-free when you’re irritably trying not to. Or so I imagine.
Thankfully, I’m a rule-follower. I remember one time, one time, being tempted to try a cigarette. I was in the fifth grade, and my mom had briefly walked away from a lit cigarette in the laundry room to tend to something off in the nearby kitchen. I almost picked it up, just to see what it was like. “You’ll cough/choke, and Mom will hear you, and you’ll get in trouble” my 10-year-old brain helpfully informed. So I left it.
When you don’t smoke, it’s as easy as that to walk away. There’s no physical habit to overcome or reduced acetylcholine receptor activity in the brain to make up for (i.e. regain your ability to feel happy and un-agitated without nicotine). You just walk away, years later, grateful for your young rule-following self.
Last Thursday my mom and sister went to see a hypnotist to help them quit smoking. I think my mom hoped I would be supportive despite my non-belief in hypnotism. She was wrong. I’ve been hugely supportive precisely because of my belief in hypnotism. I am a pretty huge skeptic, so I’m not convinced it would work for me, but I had high hopes for her. After her session, she was super-positive, and described that even though she wasn’t sure she had ever “gone under,” she remembered being incredibly relaxed, like her arms had been dragging the ground…which to me sounded pretty much like she had been hypnotized.
And she hasn’t smoked a cigarette since! She doesn’t pretend it’s been easy. Every time I’ve asked – which has been every day – she’s said it isn’t, but she’s doing it. Tonight she texted me a novella thanking me for a photo of Torch Lake I had posted on this blog, saying that it’s been helpful to picture the calm, soothing water, and to drift off to sleep with that in mind. The way she worded it, thanking me for my part in her success, I teared up.
I’m so proud of her. I can’t say it enough.
For my mom, and anyone who needs soothing imagery, I’ve included a gallery of relaxing images. They’re all of northern Michigan scenery, and some of them I’ve included because I know they’ll be particularly meaningful for my mom, but I hope there’s something in there for everyone.
Congratulations, Mom. I love you.
Trying to quit smoking? Feel free to ask questions in the comments – I’m sure my mom will happily share things that have helped her. I do know that she’s used cinnamon disks with coffee (instead of cigarettes), bits or organic chocolate, smelling lavender oil, repeatedly listening to her hypnotism session CD, and using her excess energy doing her favorite thing – gardening.