There are many things that have bothered me over the years and smoking is one of them. Now I am not having a pop at smokers I am just sharing with you my thoughts and feelings around this topic.
Perhaps you can help me understand my thoughts and feelings?
In a nutshell smoking nearly killed my mum, it ruined my teenage years; most of which I spent in my bedroom so building normal relationship with my mum and siblings was difficult, I could not socialise in pubs because it made me ill, it made my hair and clothes stink. Cigarettes made me angry and resentful!!
When I lived at home age 11-15 (1981-1985) Mum and George would chain smoke all day and every day. There was 2 doors to the front room, one from the hallway and one from the kitchen. Both of these doors were kept closed along with the windows. When I used to open on of these doors to ask either of them something, the smoke would fly out of the room! The walls and ceiling were stained yellow and you could not breathe. I spent most of my teenage years in my bedroom or the kitchen; I could not stand the smoke!!
Did I resent this??? of course I bloody did and even now it makes me angry and sad thinking about it.
When I was 18 (1988) everyone I hung around with would go down the pub to socialise. I would get ready…..wash my hair, put on my best clean clothes. We would turn up at the pub and the smoke would hit me as soon as I walked through the door even when we headed for the non-smoking bar! My eyes would go red and begin to itch….my nose would run. My clothes would stink and I would be tense all evening. I would glare at anyone who came anywhere near me with a cigarette and on one of my first visits to the pub….I actually opened the front door and wafted in some fresh air much to the disgust of my boyfriend and friends. They were embarrassed!
When I got home from the pub I could not go to bed with smoky hair I would have to wash it…..I really resented all smokers!! I eventually stopped going out because it upset me too much. It was a major thing for me when smoking got banned and I could at last go out and enjoy myself and socialise :O)
I am completely intolerant of smoking because it kills. It took away my teenage family years and it nearly killed my mum :O(
In 1993 I was 23 I lived in Shirley Crescent, Elmers End. I owned a V reg yellow mini….I loved this car.
One day I received a phone call from my step-dad George….telling me not to worry but my mum had collapsed. She was in the Maudsley hospital fighting for her life. He said he did not want us – her children – rushing up to the hospital because we would not be allowed in to see her. He told me only next of kin were allowed, which meant him only.
There was and is no love lost between George and us kids. He was trying to control this situation like he tried to control every other situation in my teenage years!
I remember sitting on my stairs whilst taking this call….I was so angry and frustrated with him….I wanted to throttle him. Who the hell did he think he was? telling me to stay away from my mum who at that point in time was undergoing life saving surgery and we did not know if she was going to pull through or not.
I immediately called the hospital and explained to them what George had told me and they said that we were welcome to come up any time but only 2 people would be allowed in to see her at any time. They also told me exactly what had happened……Mum had suffered from a bleed on her brain….2 burst blood vessels one in her head and the other in her neck.
I called George back and told him he was a liar and what the hospital had said to me. He then backtracked and said that was not what he was told! I told him that I was calling all my siblings and that we would be visiting my mum asap whether he liked it or not!
I really felt like killing him at this moment in time….my anger towards this bloke knew no bounds. If I could get away with murder I probably would have done it! After the way he had treated my siblings and me over the years he deserved nothing less.
However I was getting stronger in my self, I was sorting out my life. I had my first house, my own car, a loving relationship and I was building my career. I did not want to do time for him! This would not have achieved anything for me at this time; however I know he will get his just deserts in the end.
I will talk about George in more depth another time….when I have calmed down!
For a few months prior to this phone call my sisters and I had noticed that mum was becoming clumsy, she was forgetting things and dropping things at regular intervals.
Mum was a a heavy smoker, did not really take care of herself nutritionally and apart from walking slow everywhere didn’t do any exercise.
Before this illness Mum could be quite aggressive when she was upset. She was a fiery & feisty person. Secretive and protective of us in her own way; but not overtly cuddly or loving.
She was always trying to keep the peace between my step dad and us kids. She would keep some of the house keeping back from George to buy us something that we badly needed like shoes or clothes; he would spend the rest of the money down the pub at every given opportunity.
When I saw mum in ICU she had had her emergency operation; 1/2 her head was shaved off and she had staples in her head and neck. She was on a ventilator and she had lots of tubes coming out of her body.
She looked old and vulnerable.
I spoke to her Consultant myself because as usual George was trying to control the situation and would not give me any of the relevant and correct information. The consultant had told me that mum’s aneurysms were caused my her lifestyle and cigarette smoking.
I was really upset I had always been anti-smoking and now unfortunately I had been proved right. I stood over my mum stroking her head and holding her hand….telling her I loved her and that she now needed to look after herself. She needed to kick her habit.
She took the ventilator off her mouth and said: “I need a fucking cigarette, they will not let me have a fucking cigarette!”
I looked at her with my mouth wide open….I could not believe what I was hearing. Here she was in intensive care just after having had major brain surgery and all she could think about was her bloody cancer sticks!
I explained to mum that her consultant said her condition was due to her lifestyle especially the cigarette smoking.
Mum’s exact words were “If I cannot have a cigarette, the only pleasure in my life; then i have nothing to live for!”
- I felt like I had been punched in the guts.
- I felt like I had been abandoned again.
- I felt unloved, angry and frustrated.
I told her that she was being selfish and didn’t she think her children were worth living for?
At that moment in time I wondered what the hell I was doing at the hospital and why was I wasting my time??
As for George he continued to be a complete arsehole. He was on benefits, not working and he would complain that going to and from the Maudsley everyday was wearing him out and the travelling was costing him lots of money. Money that he did not have apparently…..always had money for alcohol though…that’s another story.
It was all about him as ever and not about my MUM. He is the the most selfish and self centred person I know.
My Mum was in the Maudsley for a good few weeks. They had put stents in her veins to open them up so that the blood could flow to her brain properly. She had a few setbacks in this time; she had two strokes which caused her to lose her vocabulary, the use of the left side of her body and her emotions.
Mum became more childlike, everything was about her and what everyone could do for her. she could not articulate what she wanted and would often use ‘FUCK’ every other word….she still does to this day. She cannot help it.
After a few weeks Mum was moved to a Rehab facility for stroke patients. She had to learn how to walk, talk and her feed herself again. She was often frustrated and angry. I went to see her at least every other day….at this time I worked in Gatwick which was more than a 60min drive each way and then I would drive another hour to see Mum. I didn’t mind but it was tiring.
George would often ask if I could give him a lift because it was too far and costly. I couldn’t really say no but I wanted to. Sitting next to him in the confined space of my mini made my skin crawl.
Eventually the frequency of his trips declined. I would often turn up and ask Mum if he had been to visit her and she said he is coming but he never turned up whilst I was there. He was too busy down the pub drowning his sorrows.
Whilst mum was in the recuperating I would often speak to her about leaving him. I knew for a fact that he beat her physically and the mental abuse was shocking.I witnessed this on a daily basis throughout my teenage years. On a few occasions she admitted to me what was going on but she would always say I have nowhere to go, I have no money, who would look after me? especially now? and I love him!!
Again I was shocked how could she or any woman put up with so much shit?? how could she stay with and protect the monster who had physically and mentally abused all her children and sexually abused one of them??
With all this anger, frustration and not understanding what was going on in my mums head…..WHY did I and DO I feel responsible for her? WHY did I and DO I stick around when everyone else has walked away??
I can only think that because I have been MUM for so long for all my siblings that perhaps I have taken this role on for my MUM because she was vulnerable?
(Whilst I am typing this I can feel my back and shoulders becoming tense, my face is becoming tight and tingly and I am craving food anything to fill up my tummy :O(
Because I was working I would often take my mum the supplies she needed and often slipped her £10 or £20 for food and telephone cards. George was always broke because he was pissing it up down the pub.
I told mum on many occasions that I could help get her into her own flat and maybe in time all her 6 kids would come back and see her with their children. To this day only 2 of us has anything to do with my mum. Each of them have good reason of their own for not seeing her and I do not stand in judgement of them. My siblings need to do what they need to do.
To protect my own well being I only see my mum 3-4 times per year. Always at Xmas and on her birthday to make sure she is alive and to give her some much needed money. I cannot stand seeing George or speaking to him.
Actually am just going to get off here and give her a call……I have not seen or spoken to her since March….
well have made the call and tried to get a date in the diary for her to come over and visit us but she says she needs to go shopping on that day???? I will try again soon.
I know I have a person called MUM in my life but unfortunately she has never been a mum in the true sense. I believe that she tried to do her very best for us some of the time. She did try and protect us some of the time, she tried to give us nice things some times. I have since found out that my mum’s childhood was not a bed of roses…she was sexually abused by one of her brothers. However as an adult my mum did have choices and she made some monumental errors and does not seemed to have learnt from them. Maybe I am being too harsh?unfair? I don’t know all I can do is say I feel, tell you what I experienced.
I just know I will not repeating these errors.
I get jealous of other people’s relationships with their mum’s. I want the ‘relationship’ with my mum but she is not mentally or physically capable of this anymore. Was she ever though?
This is another area of confusion for me….another area that I need to address at some stage.
All I know that writing this all down is freeing up my mind and making space for other stuff to come forward…..to be dealt with :O)
Back to the topic of smoking……I hope you can see now why I hate smoking…….:O)
As a Health Coach I cannot understand people’s need to smoke however after working at the Priory I do understand that it is addiction and one that can be hard to break. It is more addictive than cocaine however the 4000 chemicals contained within cigarettes are so bad for you that I cannot in any way shape or form understand why people would want to put those chemicals into their bodies.
I encourage my clients to get of cigarettes at the earliest opportunity. What astounded me with patients at the Priory was that their smoking increased as they dealt with their problems and even the patients that did not smoke took up smoking!!!!
Again I understand that dealing with emotional issues throws you into turmoil but taking up smoking is NOT the way to deal with it in my opinion. It is not just your air and your health that you are screwing up it is everyone around you!