Thursday, July 17, 2003

A letter to annikas mother

annika's mom is leaving her little hints about not smoking.


Dear annika's mom,

Smoking is a nasty habit. Trust me when I say that every smoker knows it. If you've read the literature, you know it's a triple whammy - physical addiction, psychological addiction, and habitual behavior, and although they claim not every smoker has all three, I've never met a smoker who didn't. That's a lot to overcome.

As a former smoker (4 years now), I'll tell you that the only way anyone quits is to want to. And I mean deep inside 'want to', because just saying it isn't enough. Good intentions aren't enough. A person quits smoking repeatedly and unsuccessfully. All the willpower in the world won't help, until you're ready to quit. Then suddenly it becomes so easy you wonder what the fuss was.

I was in that category. Once, my kids pooled their allowance to buy me a pack of cigarettes because I became such an ogre while 'quitting'. When I did finally and permanently become an ex-smoker, my family didn't even notice for a few days. I was ready, and it was simple and painless. My parents smoked for over 30 years, and one day they went to a hypnotist and never smoked again. Just like that, they became ex-smokers. A friend of mine is a smoker, but it's been 11 years since his last cigarette. For him, it's important to not say "I'll never have another cigarette". Quitting is a very personal thing, and although having support is important, all the concern and cheerleading isn't what finally gets you over the hump.

Something that is never talked about is the fact that people like to smoke. I enjoyed it while I did it. A lot. Every smoker you ask will tell you that, if they're being honest. Peer pressure might get one started, but if you don't get some pleasure from it, you're not going to keep doing it. It's more than the physical sensation created when the chemistry in your brain says 'aaaaahhhhhhh nicotine', it's the entire ritual of the process.

I still want a cigarette every single day. Most smokers I talk to say the same thing.

So give annika her space, and trust that she'll do what's right for herself. An occasional "I wish you'd quit smoking" is expected and appreciated, as is "When are you going to settle down so we can have some grandkids?". (Whoa, where did that come from?)

Love her and support her and make her brush her teeth before she kisses you.