It’s never just one that gets you
Well okay, I’ve taken until now to do this because quite simply I haven’t been motivated to do so. I’m probably like a lot of you in that my 100th day was just like any other in my quit where I’ve promised myself and you guys I wouldn’t use nicotine that day – but only for that day and then I would wake up and do it again. So the day itself, and the subsequent ones, have all been pretty homogeneous.
What’s not homogenous is how I got here. You see, I’m a caver retread. Not to you guys, but someone far more unforgiving – ME. I started dipping in high school. Mom smoked (a lot), dad chewed Levi Garrett. Most of both sides of my family used tobacco in some form so I guess it was predestined that I would use it also, and when my buddy handed me a can of Skoal I though “what the hell” – and promptly threw my guts up a few minutes later. That did it for me – this shit was nasty. The next day I told my mom about it and she said (not knowing the impact of what she said) “Oh you just have to start out small and keep doing it as you feel better.” So being the dutiful son I always was that is exactly what I did. Soon I was using up to a can a day, and then came Copenhagen. We would soak it in vodka overnight to help us nurse hangovers. Stupid, right? We dipped at school (teachers and principles for the most part didn’t give a shit as long as we were outside and being somewhat discreet), and the pocket circle in our jeans was almost a “brand” indicating what peer group you hung out with.
I dipped for the next 20 years, right past my 35th birthday until Election Day 2000. Like most people I had been thinking a lot about this, and my parents dying 3 and 5 years earlier had accelerated it. I had just left the polling place, and went for my can but instead threw it out the window. Didn’t go back to it for 10 FREAKING YEARS. Oh, I enjoyed the occasional cigar (once a year, usually around T-giving or Xmas) and about 2 times over that period in moments of drunken stupidity I bummed a dip but for the most part I was CURED! (Pardon me while I get a towel to wipe the sarcasm dripping down the side of my mouth.) Well, that all came crashing down in 2010.
Work had gotten really tough and the stress was killing me. I’d gone fishing with a buddy who had the same dip (Skoal LC Straight) over a weekend down in Port Aransas, and I bummed a dip from him one morning. Didn’t make me sick (it was a small one so the nicotine hit wasn’t strong) but I didn’t take another one – until the next morning. Same thing. I left to go home next day and didn’t think about it again for a couple of weeks, but bought a can as I headed out to play golf. Well, you can see where this is going. Inside of a month I’m back to a can a day. Sheesh. I was the same dipper I was before, letting it control my life again. I even was dipping on my way to my prostate biopsy appointment, and then even on my way to the prostatectomy surgery (the cancer was aggressive but caught early, and my doc considers me cured but can’t officially say so until 8 years of no PSA) where I told all the pre-op nurses I would be quitting after the surgery – and I did, for about a week until I was cleared to drive and could go to the store. For a guy with a borderline genius IQ (that and $2 will get me a grande coffee at Sbux) I do a lot of really stupid things.
Fast forward to April this year. For reasons I’d rather not explain, I was in the market suddenly for life insurance earlier this year. The agent I spoke with counseled me about nicotine in my system and how it would affect my premiums, and she asked me if I could go 10 days without it so it wouldn’t show up as active in my bloodwork. I said “sure” and when I got to 10 days before the exam I threw it out the window on my way to work and on May 1st I went cold turkey. Made it to the exam just fine, but after I said “I’ve done the hardest part, so I’m just going to keep going with it”, and over the next 10 days I did okay – just normal mad cravings that drove me to research on the interwebs one night about how long it takes to get past this. Of course the links to cancer stories came up, and of course I had to read them, and most of them kept referencing KTC so I thought I’d take a look. I picked up on the value of it right away – it’s like AA for nicotine addicts – and it didn’t take me long to realize this would be helpful for me long term because of the daily promise aspect so I signed up. I immediately got hammered by guys offering support, like Tonifer and Sammrs who gave me the basics and told me where to go. Thankfully Sammrs didn’t start out with one of his jokes. I posted roll, got phone numbers, and made a commitment to the process (which I’ve posted EDD except 1 brain fart day) since day 21 of my quit when I signed up. I read EVERYTHING I could read, too – most of which scared the bejeebus out of me – that further enforced my quit.
So where am I with my quit? Not taking it for granted, that’s for sure. Given my history I don’t think I’ll ever, ever be 100% comfortable with it. I will always stay diligent, and know that I’m just one fuck up away from being a full blown addict again. Think about it – a 10 year quit down the drain. Had I not done that I would be coming up on being quit longer than being a user. Again – smart guy making questionable decisions. No more, though. If anything comes out of this, it’s my hope that my story here will change someone who may be feeling a little too comfy with their quit and realize we truly are never cured.
I’d like to thank several people here, because you’ve been instrumental in my quit by changing my mindset about it.
– My wife and daughter, for giving me the reason to get here
– The guys who first reached out to me – Sammrs, Tonifer, LMcB, Gottadoit, Robbie, Old Man LMcB. Thank you for opening the door to me.
– All the Battlin’ Bastards in August 2017. From OCD David S, to Legend-in-His-Own-Mind Gregor, and all you other funny and raging but BADASS quitters – you are all true sources of inspiration, and always good for a laugh or 2.
– There are about 3 people with whom I have fallen out of contact – one caved (he called me when it happened too. That was big of him) and the other 2 both went MIQ (there is an assumption of caving but don’t know for certain) Oddly, there was a lesson there in that this thing is so tenuous and you really have to keep at it. All 3 of those were spotty with posting and reaching out, so I’m not sure if the commitment was totally there or not.
– Finally but not least – my personal support group: Tonifer, Sammrs (btw – your jokes are corny as hell but that’s what makes them funny), Molandplanner, GrizzleyMint, and Robbie. I count on you guys popping up in my text log daily, and in many ways it makes my promise more personal. Thank you for sticking with it.
To wrap up, the biggest lesson I’ve learned here are the ones all newbies need to pay attention to:
Number 1 – It’s not enough to post roll every day. You have to do it first thing each day. If you don’t you are leaving the door open to talk yourself in to a cave.
Number 2 – get a personal support group and stick with it. These folks will become a lifeline to you – even if you never need them to be.
Number 3 – you will never be cured, so don’t think this is the means to some end. You will be fighting this addiction every single day for the rest of your life. Build that arsenal of quit days now to carry you through the weak days. You won’t regret it.
If you’ve read this far and are thinking “Dude, shut the fuck up and get it over with already” then I have one thing to say to you: FU
I quit with all of you today, my brothers and sisters. Every Damn Day.