Hate is a strong word, and used so differently by so many people. My 5 year old daughter hates it when I won’t let her have desert because she didn’t eat all her dinner. My two year old hates it when I give her a time out because she threw a toy. My two month old hates everything except sleeping on mommy’s chest. With maturity, we start reserving “hate” for more serious infractions than just not being able to have desert. I used to commute to work an hour each way – I know, I know, many people commute much further than that – but I would say that I hated that drive. We moved to the town I work in now and the drive is 15 minutes. I love that drive. People hate the person your husband or wife had an affair with, maybe even the spouse him/herself. People hate the tailgater, broccoli, the stop sign roller through, the mean teacher at your kid’s school, the bully at school, your in-laws, and the list goes on and on and on.

I think hate is a deeply profound word, a word reserved for the absolute worst offenses. I talked about the scenario of an affair above, something I have personal experience with. I don’t hate either of them. I wish them luck. Really. It took me time to get there, but I don’t hate them. Hate is defined in the dictionary as “an intense or passionate dislike”. I like the passionate part of that. It implies there is some motivation for continued hatred. OK, stop for a minute and think about something you hate. Got it? Ok, what was it? Will it kill you? Will you spend money on it? Will it rob your children of a mother because it slowly killed her? Will it rob your daughter of her father walking her down the aisle because he died early from it? Is it something that only you use, and only hurts you, so what’s the harm? But did you forget the devastation it will leave on your family and friends as they cry at your funeral? Only hurts you? Hmmm.

You get it, I know. And that’s the last of that because I’m not trying to use “scare tactics” to get someone to quit. That doesn’t work anyway, I know that. What does work though is having deeply honest conversation with yourself and asking yourself some very difficult questions. Questions like, on the scale of things I hate, where does nicotine fall? Doesn’t make the list? WHY IS THAT? Dig deep and answer the why behind that. For me, it’s because I was being lied to. I couldn’t see the truth through my addiction. I was hopelessly sold out and had accepted that. It was fine. Just like you. I know. There’s a lot to the story I’m going to skip, but I quit. Today I have 379 days of quit behind me, and I’ve posted roll 379 days in a row. Today, I hate nicotine with every fiber in my body. I hate it because of the time it stole from my family as I got my fix. I hate it because of the devastation it caused when I came clean with my wife. I hate it because I will never be fixed. I’m an addict. I hate it because it told me I needed it after a meal, driving to work, camping and fishing, mowing the lawn, with my morning coffee, after morning coffee, before bed, on road trips, when the weather changed from hot to cold, then from cold to hot, and on and on and on. I hate it because all that was a lie. In reality, I only needed it to stop withdrawl symptoms that began every two hours or so, like clockwork. I’ll say it again: I used nicotine not because I liked it, but because I disliked withdrawl. The very withdrawl that was CAUSED by nicotine use.

Today, think about what you hate, and more importantly WHY you hate it. Where does nicotine fall on the list? Why do things that are far less serious than smoking something that will kill you end up higher on the list than cigarettes? For me, nicotine is top of the list. I hate it so much, I just spent time typing this message specifically for YOU. I hate being owned by a weed. I hate that I will always be an addict. I love the freedom of being nicotine free. In fact let me be a little more specific: I love eating, driving, camping and fishing, mowing the lawn, my morning coffee, bedtime, road trips, changes in the weather, and on and on, all without nicotine. When I quit, I didn’t believe I could love any of those things without nicotine. It was all a lie. Come on in, the freedom is intoxicating.

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