I JUST saw the wonderful blog from Teddy on my birthday four days ago! I just haven't been here on EX hardly at all for a while. And I missed the sweet post and photo from Teddy, who is the sweetest person in the world! And all those fantastic birthday wishes from everyone here! I feel so warm and fuzzy because of all of you here on EX. I just love all you guys. Honestly, I've never ever felt this kind of support and friendship from so many people...
And to think that we all first met and bonded over ONE thing...quitting smoking. Can lasting friendships actually be made over such a minor part of our lives?
Wait. MINOR part of our lives? And THAT, my dear friends, is what non-smokers will never understand. They will never understand how smoking one cigarette (on a dare? as an experiment?) as a young person can lead us into a lifelong nicotine addiction that takes over our lives and controls almost every decision we make about where we go, what we do, how we spend our money and how we plan our activities.
But it's true. Isn't it? It certainly was for me.
My thoughts as a smoker went like this: "I have to check my pack; do I have enough to get through the day? Do I need to stop on the way to the airport and get more? Where's my lighter? If I only put $20 gas into my car at the 7/11, I'll have enough cash for two more packs, which should last until tomorrow when I get a paycheck. If I only smoke 10 cigarettes tonight after I get home, I can make it until I drive past the Quicky Mart tomorrow on my way to the cleaners. Where's my lighter? If I get to the parking lot early, I'll have time to smoke one last cigarette before I go into the building and still have time to get to the Ladies Room to freshen up before my meeting. Where's my lighter? How long will this meeting last? I will need to find an excuse to go out so I can smoke if this lasts longer than two hours! I hope I can slip away from lunch early to smoke before we go back to work. If I leave all the windows down while I drive home (yes, I know it's raining), maybe he won't smell it in the car. Don't worry, Honey, I'll be happy to take the garbage out to the curb...and sneak a smoke...damn, where's my lighter? The kids are all tucked in so I think I'll just step outside for a minute on the patio and I'll leave the sliding door open an inch so I can hear if anyone needs me. Oh, WHERE is my lighter??"
Um. Familiar? That was my standard method of thinking. And I didn't even realize how smoking had twisted my priorities around. I guess I thought that everyone lived for those 7-minute breaks during and between all their daily activities.
But, oh my BOB! (as always, a shout-out to my dear friend Jordan for that phrase! Xxxooo to Jordan!) There is an entire WORLD of non-smokers and ex-smokers out here that just don't live that way. That was such a revelation to me. Was it an "ah-ha!" moment for you guys, too?
I would give ANYTHING to be able to pass that "I WILL succeed!" feeling on to all the Newbies that ever come here to EX. I wish there was ONE PERFECT WAY to reach each new person that finds us, with exactly the right words that touch them, and the perfect method of supporting each person to help them attain their goal of becoming an ex-smoker!
Unfortunately, one size does not fit all. We all have the same addiction to nicotine (and whether you believe it or not, nicotine is an equal opportunity addiction and no one's addiction to nicotine is stronger or harder to beat than anyone else's addiction). Each of us responds to support, encouragement, tough love, hugs, stern warnings, cute sparkly pictures, hard-core statistics, unconditional love,and various forms of (imagined or actual) judgement in very individual ways.
And I guess this long-winded blog comes full circle to my original point: This is an amazing site where each and every one of us can find whatever we need to quit smoking forever. When we do, we can stay here on EX to pass on our love and our learning to those who come after us. And that is what Tommy has aptly named "collateral kindness". It is that "pass it on" mindset keeps so many of our heads above water when we feel like we might be about to sink... I am so grateful for that.
And in the end, is it really so hard to imagine that initial connections are made which lead to permanent, lasting friendships? Nope. I know it happens. It's happened for me. I've met so many of you in person and I'm blessed that this is a built-in perk of my job. You all don't know how lucky I feel to meet so many of you in person.
Newbies, please make an effort to get to know people here. Reach out. Ask for help. Blog about any old thing! Respond to every message you get. Become a part of this life-giving chain here on EX. Yes, there are a lot of us who feel like we've known each other for a long time. And, yes, it is easy to start to feel like perhaps there isn't room for a new person like you here. If you feel that way, please, please, please, don't go away. Every single friendship between people who have met here is an OPEN CIRCLE just waiting for new people to find us and become a part of our community. We WANT you here. Please don't doubt that. Stay.
Oh, dear....wasn't I just starting out to say "thank you" to my dearest friend Teddy for posting a blog about my birthday and to all my wonderful friends who posted on her blog??? I got sidetracked on my soapbox! But please know that I felt so amazing, so special, so GREAT when I found this blog tonight. I can't love you all enough.
Quit smoking. If I can do it, ANYONE can do it. I couldn't imagine life without it. Now my life is so much better. I never would have believed it. Please give this gift to yourself, Newbies.