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I am FURIOUS with my mum. What would you do?

(26 Posts)
Thinkstoomuch Tue 29-Jul-08 21:50:31

She has been in hospital for seven months and at several points we thought she would die - the doctors said to expect it. I was travelling large distances, heavily pregnant and then with a newborn, to be at her bedside. The rest of the family also went through the wringer, and my older DS was very upset about his nan being ill. The worst thing when I thought she'd die was thinking how I'd explain it to my DS1. It was all horrible.

We were so relieved that she recovered enough to come home, and continues to improve. The enforced confinement of hospital, plus being at death's door, meant that by the time she was discharged she'd been a non-smoker for over half a year. (None of the conditions that kept her in hospital were directly related to smoking but it certainly didn't help.)

I have just found out that, now she's home, she has started smoking again. She thinks I don't know as she's being secretive about it.

I am furious that, having no longer been physically addicted, she has decided to start again as far as I can see just out of the boredom of being stuck at home. How can she have so little regard for what we've been though that she can't do this one thing to try to stay alive?

What would you do? I'm so upset I feel like telling her she shouldn't see her grandchildren if she's not wanting to stay healthy to be around for them. But if I don't confront her she will at least not smoke when we're there and might generally try to smoke less.

BibiThree Tue 29-Jul-08 21:54:11

I went through a very similar thing with my Mam, afte a triple heart bypass she stopped smoking for 4 months, then started again, "secretly".

I was livid, after all that worry and the struggle to get her well again.

I confronted but it didn't really get me anywhere. She doesn't smoke in front of me though, or around the children.

Mine refuses to believe her chest and heart problems have anything to do with smoking, preferring to blame it instead on "all the things "they" are puttig in the food" hmm

lilacclaire Tue 29-Jul-08 21:56:14

I know how you feel, however she is unlikely to change 'ever'.
I think you just need to try and accept it.

Acinonyx Tue 29-Jul-08 21:59:05

It's absolutely up to her and you then have to decide what, if anything, you will do about it. My father died from lung cancer after being a life-long smoker although not that heavy. He expressed no regrets, and was annoyed that mum forbade his pipe after diagnosis - and you have to wonder what was the point. People make alsorts of foolish decisions about their lifestyle - but if those people are adults - it's up to them. By all means give her your opinion - I'm sure she already knows how bad it is for her health - then it's up to her.

I cannot believe you would keep away from her over this. That is a bit controlling IMO.

eekamoose Tue 29-Jul-08 22:07:10

I think it is wholly understandable that you are furious with her. Let her know that you are. Then leave her to make her own decisions.

NotQuiteCockney Tue 29-Jul-08 22:17:30

People are idiots about their health.

I am still a bit angry at my mum, for dying from fairly preventable causes. (Diabetes -> Angina -> No exercise, diet, or weight loss -> Death)

But smoking (somewhat like eating poorly and not exercising) is a habit, and when she was back in a familiar place, where she could smoke, it's no surprise she's started up again.

Thinkstoomuch Tue 29-Jul-08 22:57:22

I guess what I was asking was whether I should confront her or not. Because if I collude in pretending she doesn't smoke, at least she won't do it the entire time we visit and might keep it under some sort of control.

Don't really think I can keep quiet though. But I don't expect anything I say will hit home. She's going to kill herself sad.

jimjamshaslefttheyurt Tue 29-Jul-08 23:07:05

You have to understand though that once addicted you're always addicted. For her whole life she'll be 'physically addicted' - it has altered her brain.
(Used to share a house with someone working on the neurology of addiction).

Notquitegrownup Tue 29-Jul-08 23:11:39

And for what it is worth, I remember reading that the addictive effect of nicotine remains in the system for 7 years, so it may well not be her fault. I do think that you should mention it, however, for your sake as well as for hers. Honesty is important and, you never, know. It may help her to face up to it and ask for help, if it is said lovingly rather than accusingly.

hifi Tue 29-Jul-08 23:18:35

had the same with my mum. triple bypass, smokes out of bathroom window.

spoke to my dad and said it was ridiculous agrown woman having to do this, he said if she "came out" she would smoe more.
she has been smoking for 50+ years, must be hard.its her only vice.

mumtofour Tue 29-Jul-08 23:39:17

I don't know if this is right as I am not in your shoes but surely love has to prevail all here and you as a daughter have to respect the decisions of your mum right or wrong and love her for them. The experience she has had has probably frightened her. If she has smoked for a long time it must be hard for her but likewise hard for you to see and accept too. You sound a wonderful daughter who cares deeply for her mum and that is what she needs from you.

NotQuiteCockney Wed 30-Jul-08 07:23:22

Ah, yes, tricky call, re: confronting her. It's frustrating to pretend to be so thick as to not notice someone is smoking. (Do they think we have no sense of smell?!?) But of course if you admit that you know, then she'll smoke more.

How long are you visiting for?

Cies Wed 30-Jul-08 07:27:32

I can see why you'd be angry, and a first reaction might be to try and change this behaviour and stop her smoking, but please don't stop her seeing her grandchildren. It would be too sad for words if on top of being ill and having been in hospital she couldn't see them or you.

PortAndLemon Wed 30-Jul-08 08:01:25

As others have said, she is still "physically addicted". The changes in brain chemistry that go along with addiction are very long lasting. And if she's back in her normal surroundings (where she used to smoke) again, then her psychological addiction will be kicking in too. That's the danger point for anyone who's managed to stop under these circumstances - particularly if they've not appreciated that the addiction is still there and will need constant vigilance to be avoided.

I know that this must be immensely, immensely frustrating for you after the last year, but perhaps you can be a little less furious with your mother if you appreciate that it's not just a case of her wantonly deciding off the top of her head to start smoking again. Yes, it would be good if she had/she should have enough willpower to keep off the cigarettes, but the physiological and psychological forces at play mean that "enough" is an awful lot of willpower, probably more than she appreciated herself when she started giving up.

Wordsmith Wed 30-Jul-08 08:04:49

NQGU: 7 years????? I gave up 5 yrs ago and thought I was over it. So I have another 2 yrs to go....

heavy Wed 30-Jul-08 08:13:40

When I was at school my dad had a heart attack (he was only in his early 40s). A big thing was made at the time about how wonderful he was for stopping smoking. A year or so later I suspected he was having the odd crafty fag but I didn't say anything because I didn't want to upset my mum. Several years later we realised that my mum, sister and I all knew he had started smoking again but none of us said anything. My mum took the decision to leave him to it because she thought if it was out in the open he would start smoking in the house again and smoke even more in the long term. The thing that upsets me most now is not so much that he smokes (he'll be 70 this year so my initial fears that his heart wouldn't last out have not been realised) but that we now have our own secret from dad in knowing but not letting on. I wish we had been honest and understanding from the start but now it has been going on so long it's just a farce.

Notquitegrownup Wed 30-Jul-08 10:32:24

Wordsmith - it made sense to me, as when I gave up, years ago, I would still watch people smoking, or get a waft and feel wistful that I couldn't join them. Some years later - don't know if it was exactly 7 - the smell of smoke suddenly became uninviting, and I stopped having any desire to join them.

Well done on getting through 5 years! I am sure that the effect fades so that there is not much left in the system for you. And the health and wealth benefits are probably enough to keep you going now, arent they?

Thinkstoomuch - reading this, this morning, your feelings of anger are, of course, feelings of love. It's because you love your mum that you are furious with her. Hope that the posts here have helped you get a clearer view of what to do.

piratecat Wed 30-Jul-08 10:36:10

you say it was bad for you all etc... but my god it was bad for your mum, she thought she was going to die !!!

She must be very very upset, and stressed having looked that one in the face, and that could lead to her gaining comfort in a fag. You sound very selfish to me.

SlartyBartFast Wed 30-Jul-08 10:47:58

you can't do anything about her smoking, as she couldnt do anythign abaout you smoking <<if you did>>
nicotine is a wicked drug

plantsitter Wed 30-Jul-08 10:48:08

I don't think you sound selfish and you are entitled to be angry and upset.

However I think you have to accept that she is not going to stop because you are angry with her about it. She might stop for other reasons, but telling her to just will not do it.

I know from my own experience of smoking secretly (DP has practically no sense of smell) that it is horrible lying and you feel like you're driving a wedge between yourself and the people you're lying to. But you *still do it*. I felt so much happier when I came clean and in fact it made it easier to give up because I got rid of the panicky 'but I have to smoke - but what if he finds out - but he'll stop me' feelings and was able to sort it out in my own head.

Don't waste precious time with your lovely mum by letting this distance you. By all means tell her you're angry - I honestly think you'll all feel better if you get it out in the open. Don't expect it to make her give up though. It won't.

Scarletibis Wed 30-Jul-08 11:23:11

You have my sympathy. My Dad is a smoker and has never tried to quit. It has affected his health and I do worry. Was talking about this to DH yesterday and he said 'oh, he needs to give up smking' - you don't say!

I used to nag him alot to quit but some yrs ago when I realised he would most likely never give up (or take any other health advice from me) and I was wasting my breath.

My feeling is that some people can quit, some can't/won't.

Much sympathy to you.

discantus Wed 30-Jul-08 12:51:35

I'm in the middle of a similar (though not so serious) situ. My mum had smoked for decades but after a terrible chest infection, which left her gasping for breath, she swore she'd never touch a cig again. She went though the NHS programme and stopped completely for 6 months. Then slowly I started to suspect she'd started up again. They were only little clues - catching the sound of her blowing out smoke on the phone, a whiff of smoke when I met her, but enough for me to guess. She'd always maintained smoking helped her stay slim so I suspect she deliberately started up again to loose weight!

Anyway I eventually caught her at it after she got locked out and I came home early to let her in - she had the nerve to say she'd got the cig off someone as she was 'stressed'! I made a point of not showing the slightest suprise.

So I still havn't told her I know, and she hasn't mentioned it at all, it means she will at least not smoke when i'm visiting - if she's determined to ruin her health fine, but I won't let her ruin mine.

It's particularly sad as smokers obviously don't realise that they REEK of stale smoke for hours afterwards, and I suspect she's secretly enjoying the fact that she's hiding her guilty pleasure from me.

So i'm going to keep my mouth shut, and when the health worries return (which they will), tell her straight that I have no sympathy, and that it was blindingly obvious she'd started up again all along. It's my hope that this reaction will shock her into quitting properly. Really harsh, I know, but she has many issues, and didn't speak to me for almost 6 months last time I tried confronting them, she obviously wants to smoke regardless of the health issues. There's nothing else I can really do to stop her

Hope this helps a bit

Pheebe Wed 30-Jul-08 17:40:03

Talk to her yes, confront her no.

Whether she's still physically addicted or not is really irrelevant, she has chosen to smoke again and thats her choice. You can tell her how sad it makes you especially after how scared you were you were going to loase her but you cannot tell her what to do. That would be controlling behaviour and deeply unfair.

You talk alot about what YOU went through, but it was your mum who was ill, in hospital and facing her own death. Its hard but you need to find it in yourself to carry on being sympathetic and supportive and encourage her to give up and ask her if there's anything you can do to help. If she choses to carry on, then that is her choice.

Thinkstoomuch Wed 30-Jul-08 21:04:10

Thanks so much for your replies. I'm feeling a bit calmer today now I've got over the shock.

Piratecat: driving hundreds of miles on my own, 8 months pregnant, leaving my toddler, to spend all day in intensive care, thinking my mum was going to die at any moment and sick to my stomach worrying about how my son would cope if she did - that's selfish, is it? Leaving my newborn with ITU nurses so I could sit watching a dozen machines keep her alive - that's selfish, is it?

Discantus: what you said about hoping your unsympathetic reaction might possibly shock your mum into quitting, I think that's what I was considering doing. But I don't think it will work. It's a lifelong habit, an ingrained addiction. Blowing my top is not going to change that.

Having thought it through, and knowing what she's like, I'm going to try to explain to her how upset and angry we all are that she's not doing all she can to stay healthy and, yes, what WE all went through this year (a lot of which she's just not aware of).
I don't think she'll even consider doing anything about it FOR HERSELF, but I have a tiny hope that I can at least give her some idea of how her health affects the whole family, of how we're all terrified that she's going to get ill again.

Never in a million years would she e.g. phone the NHS quit smoking helpline, so I don't know what practical help I can suggest to her, but I hope she'll agree not to smoke when we're there and to try to cut down.

In my heart I doubt anything is going to change. It's an evil addiction.

MollyCherry Sun 03-Aug-08 23:26:55

I think you need to get it off your chest how you feel, but try not to be too hard on her. My mum had smoked for nearly 40 years when she had an emphesyma scare early in 2006. Even after that she carried on (about 15 a day), but when she came to DD's birthday party 6 months later suddenly decided on the spot to give up. She had her last 3 fags that evening and hasn't touched one since - no counselling, no gum, no patches, just sheer bloody-minded willpower, and I am sooo pround of her grin. It may be that after the inital shock of what your mum has been through fades she will be able to get a bit more perspective on the situation and find the strength to jack it in. All the best to you and your family.

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