~~Forgive yourself for not having the foresight to know what now seems so obvious in hindsight.~~ Judy Belmont
The packaging on cigarettes has always warned us of possible consequences. I remember reading the 'warning' as a teenager. Of course I didn't understand all the probable repercussions of smoking back then. Teenagers are invincible, right? And as I got older and the consequences of smoking were more prominent as tobacco companies were being sued, I began to better understand the dangers of smoking.
But I still smoked. For years. And most of us did. It wasn't because we wanted to tempt fate. We weren't thumbing our noses at COPD. We didn't dare cancer to come get us. We were addicted.
That is it. Simply and truly. We were addicted. And addiction addles the brain. We cannot think rationally and fully about consequences because our brains were wired to only think of that next cigarette. Now I'm not excusing our behaviors. I'm not trying to justify or rationalize our behaviors.
But I am trying to put it in perspective.
We do not deserve death because we smoked. We should not suffer silently because we 'did it to ourselves'. We should not accept illness as our punishment.
Unintended consequences. Unintentional. We did not smoke to get COPD. We did not smoke to be diagnosed with cancer. We did not mean to become ill. So while we take responsibility for these illnesses, we also have to remember that addiction itself altered our brain chemistry in such a way that the consequences of our actions were lost in the overwhelming need for nicotine.
It's time to forgive ourselves....not for not knowing, because we all did in a superficial way....for getting caught up in the sickness of addiction. It's time to forgive ourselves for putting our health and the health of our loved ones at risk. It's time to heal our hearts, our spirits, our souls. It's time to walk away from regrets, from guilt, from sorrow for what we did.
We deal with the consequences each and every day. Labored breathing. Weakened bodies. Fear of illness. But we can deal with those consequences better if we leave the negative remnants of smoking behind us. We did what we did. But we face tomorrow with courage...with strength...with hope.
For OldBones-Larry, for Thomas3.20.2010, for jonescarp.aka.dale.Jan_2007 and for all of us who are dealing with health issues due to smoking.....I hope you have forgiveness yourself for being less than perfect. I hope you know that you DO NOT deserve your diagnosis. I hope you know that you are prayed for daily and loved beyond measure. And I hope you know that you are not in this alone. We will walk with you, we will hear you, and we will hold your hand through all of this. We don't know what tomorrow brings but we do know that it won't involve addiction any longer.