Greetings, fellow EXers. Those who know me know I'm a sucker for round numbers and palindromes. Thanks to Mark for noting my 2,000 day milestone to remind me of the biggest achievement of my life. After 53 years of smoking, and smoking heavily, I have reached the first 2,000 days of my forever quit. (Although doesn't it feel like it's been at least 2,000 days since March of 2020?)
To those who don't know me, I've been part of the EX community for five and a half years, but discovered EX six and a half years ago. In January of 2014 I decided that I had to quit. I googled quit smoking sites and found EX. I was about an hour into my quit and feeling very shaky, (because I had already NOT smoked at least 4 cigarettes) and I wrote about how I was scared to lose my best friend (seriously, like many of us I considered those cigarettes friends.) A number of people replied, and I read the replies, but hadn't done anything to prepare for my quit, so about 3 hours after posting I caved and smoked and promptly forgot about EX. I thought.
Fast forward to the end of 2014 -- In November I had bronchitis (again) and I saw an X-ray of my lungs. I thought about what I had been doing to them for my entire adult life, and knew I would HAVE to quit (I'd been denying the diagnosis of COPD for almost two years at that point). I didn't quit immediately, but decided I would quit on New Year's eve. And I did. The next day, I remembered that I had gone to a quit smoking site almost a year before, and that someone had written something that I really liked. I couldn't remember the name of the site, and it took me a while to find it, but I did. And this community became both my anchor and my lifeboat. I blogged every single day for the first year and learned everything I could about this addiction. I read Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking and it changed my attitude about smoking. I realized that I was NOT deprived by not smoking; instead, smoking is just satisfying the craving you created when you smoked the last one. That was huge. Every other time I tried to quit I felt like I was missing something, that those who could smoke were the lucky ones. I essentially white-knuckled those quits -- once for three whole years. But I always gave in to that belief that smoking GAVE me something.
By staying close to this community and learning everything it had to offer, by learning to love my EX friends and feeling so loved back, I had the support to go through the discomfort of changing behavior I'd been doing since I was 13 years old. I was 66 years old when I quit and realized that for over half a century I had spent my time either smoking, thinking about smoking, getting smokes, wondering when I could smoke the next one, etc. It's a wonder I had time to do anything else! Of course I was going to be uncomfortable -- sometimes extremely uncomfortable -- going through the process of changing that deeply ingrained behavior. It wasn't actual pain, but it felt painful. It wasn't going to kill me, but sometimes it felt like it would. But as I learned how to navigate those awful moments, they didn't happen as often and they weren't quite as awful. And then I stopped having those awful moments altogether. Yes, sometimes I think about smoking, and during this quarantine I've actually had a couple of moments I would call craves. But they passed quickly, and to my way of thinking, you can't help the thoughts you have, but everything after the thought is a choice. If I suddenly have a crave (and I haven't had them for years, but this quarantine is challenging) I can notice it and let it pass or I can give myself permission to take the next step toward smoking. Fortunately, I know what I know and taking that step would . . . I can't even go there. This is my forever quit.
I don't come here nearly as often now, but I will never stop checking in. Thank you to all for the incredible support you give, and the awesome elders who maintain the continuity of the community. Love to all.