Hurting and Hiding Out

By Dr. Robert Wallace

May 28, 2020 6 min read

DR. WALLACE: I've built up a wall to protect my heart from getting hurt after my boyfriend broke up with me. I don't feel like I'm interested in falling in love again. I mope and moan and feel as though I will never feel the same way about any other boy after he left me. Is there hope for me to feel differently someday? How long will it take for me to get over this heartache? — Brokenhearted, via email

BROKENHEARTED: We're all afraid of getting hurt, and once you've been hurt, it takes time to get over that pain, especially early in one's dating career.

Some people find that they either consciously or unconsciously build up walls to protect themselves after a painful dating experience. They often try to shut off the outside world and live in a cocoon saturated in pity and sadness.

What you may need to do at this particular time is find a trusted friend who can help you tear these protective walls down carefully and gradually. Take your time, and go at your own speed, but do seek to move ahead, even in small increments. While you'll still be melancholy for a period of time, the deepest sadness will likely start to dissipate little by little until you can smile a bit and allow yourself a laugh or two. Once you hit those benchmarks, you'll soon be on your way. Hang in there!

I'M NO ROLE MODEL FOR NOT SMOKING

DR. WALLACE: I really need your assistance. I'm a single mother, and I have a son who is 14. I'm a chain-smoker and have been smoking since I was 14. The boy I liked back in the day was 18 when he introduced me to the enjoyment of cigarettes. By the time I was 15, I was smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Back then, finding money to support my habit was not a problem due to the low cost of a pack of cigarettes in those days of yesteryear.

Once my mother discovered that I was a smoker, she wasn't terribly angry with me because she, too, was hooked on cigarettes. I can never remember when my mom didn't smoke. In fact, she still smokes today. When I was a teen, if I didn't have enough money to buy my own cigarettes, I would just borrow them from Mom. I wasn't thrilled about smoking her cigarettes, because I enjoyed smoking my own brand, but when I needed my nicotine fix, I was happy to find any port in the storm!

Ever since my son was 10, I've been telling him not to follow in my footsteps and to avoid cigarettes at all costs.

So, as you might have guessed, last weekend I came home from shopping early, and to my dismay, I caught my son and his girlfriend puffing furiously on my cigarettes! I put my son on restriction for two weeks and told him we would discuss not smoking after he served his punishment. That time will be here in a few more days

Please help me to explain to him why he shouldn't smoke, even though his mother does smoke and has no plans on stopping her smoking. — Mom Hooked on Cigarettes, via email

MOM HOOKED ON CIGARETTES: The United States Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the children of parents who smoke are at much higher risk of smoking themselves. But when parents who smoke let their children know clearly and repeatedly that they don't approve, it can be effective, so here are the recommendations I'm suggesting you use:

No. 1: Spell out the reasons why your child shouldn't smoke. Keep in mind that he is more likely to respond to the immediate effects — the cost, smelly clothes, yellow teeth and bad breath — rather than the long-term health risks associated with smoking.

No. 2: Set consequences for smoking, and be prepared to follow through. Let him know that smoking is simply unacceptable.

No. 3: Share your story in much more detail, even graphic detail. Talk about why you started to smoke. If you began smoking because your friend smoked, tell him this.

When you first started, how long do you think you would keep on smoking? Did you ever "plan" to smoke your entire adult life? Are you proud of your health and how much money you've spent on smoking over all of those years?

Talk in specific details about your addiction to cigarettes and the effects smoking has had on your health. If you have tried to quit, make sure he knows how difficult it is, how many times you've tried (and obviously failed) and how you feel about that.

If you take your time and do this in a nonjudgmental way, you do have a good shot at reaching him. It's entirely possible he will understand the risks and the downsides to smoking and simply move past it as a phase.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: maxknoxvill at Pixabay

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