I quit when I realized that chewing had gone from being “cool” to being a vice. It did not come at an instant, but my sentiment materialized over a period of a few years. Even though I had experienced back-lash from friends and family over my use, I was still dipping. It had been roughly 8 years of pretty strong use. I had gone through all the routine mouth sore scares, three day “quits”, and the “don’t give a shit” escapes. But as the anti-tobacco sentiment galvanized within my social circle, my habit persisted. It was held together by nicotine. It was the nicotine that caused me to sneak dips when I could, and it was the nicotine that allowed me to rationalize my addiction. As much as I wanted to quit chewing, I never did. I was always persuading myself that my habit was fine and that I would quit one day. It was as if there was a desire building inside me, but would never break free.
Sitting by a camp fire, one of my friends declared he had quit. It was at that very moment I told myself I quit. If my friend could do it, I could. It took a few weeks for this to set in, and for my body to rid itself of nicotine. But it was during this tough process that I felt tremendously proud. Had I quit yet? No. But I was on my way, and it was different this time. I had previously embraced a negative attitude when trying to quit. This time was so upbeat and positive for me. I believe that helped to make this quit my last. It wasn’t a decision of mine to just “be positive” about my quit. My newly born attitude stemmed from a paradigm shift. My eyes were somehow opened to a long-run perspective. Quit to me was now defined as never again. It was no longer riddled with the negative connotations it had before, and it was no longer viewed in the short term. It is odd how different the same thing can seem to two different people, but it seems like one of the biggest things for me was looking at my habit from a long term perspective – Do I want to chew in front of my kids? Will I be chewing when I’m 60? 70? Will I take it to my grave, or will it take me to my grave? In any case, I was strangely happy that I was going to be living a more healthy life. I felt as though a weight was lifted off my shoulder. One of the biggest eye openers for me was realizing the difference between a break and quit. Quit is lifelong. It is neither a simple choice nor an easy one. It is a choice that I wake up and make each and every morning. I surrender myself to the decision I made 193 days ago. Never again will I break my word.
This quit has been a catalyst for my life. What I mean by that is the level of determination and integrity I have shown myself has given me motivation to continue making myself a better person. In the end, that is all it is about. It is about making yourself happy, and if you are the type of person who comes down hard on yourself, then you better be prepared to work on your flaws and fix where you deem necessary. I was very selfish in the beginning of my quit, and I still am in many ways. But one of the most important things that have bloomed out of my quit is a growing sense of selflessness. It was through the reaching out, the texts, the emails, and the words of encouragement from those around me that was really what drove my quit beyond my initial urge. You can quit for a few days, a few months, talk about quitting, but the single most important aspects of any quit or goal for that matter, is accountability and integrity. Without accountability, there is no one there to commend or condemn us. Without integrity, you will never succeed. Those are the two ingredients that a driven man must have to fulfill this challenge. Fortunately I was given these words of wisdom and was blessed enough to a point where I had the right people around me and just enough motivation to continue pressing forward. Being so blessed as to have a glimpse of mental clarity in this complex and convoluted world, I take what I have accomplished, learned, and what I am a part of, and wrap my arms around with complete embrace.
As I continue to press forward and keep my word, I am eager to make myself a better person in all areas of my life. I am fortunate enough to have been given this opportunity to change my life, and knowing what I know now, I feel empowered for my future challenges, however daunting they may be. My favorite quotation is from Ralph Waldo Emerson, and it rings true here. He said “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.” To me the quote sums up the whole process of quitting and beating your addiction. I always follow this quote up with another Ralph Waldo Emerson quote where he says “Power ceases in the instant of repose.” When I find myself searching for reasons to stay quit or finding new motivation, I always find myself coming back to these two quotes. Together they show me that the only thing that will make me happy is quitting – or whatever else I am defeating – and that in the very instant that I choose to falter I have lost everything I have worked so hard on attaining.