I grew up, in the seventies and eighties, in an environment full of cigarette smoke.
Family gatherings ended up in tears and coughs for me as a child. Later, when I made it into the adult world, the scenario continued. Meeting rooms would be filled with ashtrays and cold smoke. Even though I had joined the ranks of smokers by then, I could not stand it.
Inevitably, I married a smoker. This wasn’t a problem until we decided to have children.
I was determined to quit. He wasn’t.
I had come across a book. A repetitive book, that claimed that it was easy to quit smoking. That only the first three days were the hardest but that after that, the nicotine left the body and what was left was the habit.
I tried what the author said and it worked. The first three days were challenging, especially since my husband kept on offering cigarettes to me, several times a day. But I stood strong.
The following three weeks were going to be a challenge, the author said. And they were too. Habits can be so hard to break. But his words stuck in my mind.
Only three weeks. I can do three weeks, one day at a time.
Hubby still tried to stop me. I stood strong.
I was learning to create boundaries and I didn’t even know I was.
This was going to be the start of a long journey to freedom not only from cigarettes but from my husband too.
Inevitably, after six months, one evening, my husband offered a cigarette when I was having a bad day. Our baby boy was diagnosed with a condition that could lead to infant sudden death syndrome. I had to go to hospital with him and see him through a battery of tests that reduced me and him to tears. I hadn’t found another coping mechanism. When I came home with him and my husband offered a cigarette, I took the cigarette. And I instantly became a smoker again. I went from zero to five a day then ten, which had always been my average. Hubby smoked closer to a pack a day.
Then again, my desire to quit resurfaced, maybe a year or two later. My aunt was diagnosed with cancer. I had lost an uncle to bowel cancer. I was motivated. This time, I only needed to read half the book to quit. I felt good. Again the same cycle happened. I quit for a year. Hubby caught me off guard one evening when I felt particularly vulnerable. I started again. I felt defeated but not beaten. I just let it go for another year or two.
Then in 1997, I picked up the copy of my battered book again and this time, I only needed to look at the cover to quit. I was done.
After our second child was born, I also realized, sadly,
that I was done with hubby too. So I quit him too.
I also quit my job as a corporate lawyer and became a clinical hypnotherapist.
A few years later, after I quit my home country.
I realized how the book that had helped me quitting was based on the same principles that we applied in hypnotherapy: story, repetition, learning of new beliefs.
Soon after I qualified, my neighbour came for a session. Her children had been nagging her for years. I had had magnificent results with other clients so I was shocked when she said it had not worked for her.
This is when I learned a superb lesson. No one can make anyone else do anything they do not want to do. It needs to come from inside them. They need to be ready. So I quit trying to help people. I only helped those who actively sought me out.
And by the way, my ex husband still smokes. And so does his new wife.
Ange de Lumiere
Ange is a book alchemist and strategist. She helps women write inspirational books as part of their entrepreneurial strategy in the genres of memoirs, non-fiction and fiction. She brings to her practice over twenty years as an author, but also over a decade as a psychic, healer and clinical hypnotherapist. Born in Paris, she now lives in England with her British husband and her children.
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