The story of how I became a nicotine addict is not unique or interesting. I was old enough to know better. Smart enough to know the risks and consequences. Arrogant and self-destructive enough to try that first pinch anyway. Maybe it would have been different if someone just told me then, “hey, OIB, a lump in your lip doesn’t look tough, chemical dependency is not punk rock, giving money to the shareholders and officers of big tobacco is not defiant or ironic, and before you know it, you’ll be a middle-aged nicotine addict.” Doesn’t matter. I made the decisions that I made and ended up a middle-aged nicotine addict.
The many times that I “tried to quit” weren’t special either. My life changed in major ways and I chewed. I became important to people who didn’t ask to depend on me and I chewed. I became a real life grown up with real life responsibilities and I chewed. Still I felt entitled to judge other people when their choices led to bad consequences, even while I was dipping in secret and sporadically “trying to quit.”
Sometimes, when I failed yet again with these “attempts to quit,” I felt pathetic. Sometimes I resolved to do better tomorrow. Usually though, I just didn’t give a shit, as the drug hardened my arteries, spiked my blood pressure, and further confused the pathways of my brain to make me believe that I needed it. I lived like that for a long time, aware that I was an addict, but somehow keeping the fact in a blind spot in my head. I’m sure that was easier because I was hiding my addiction from everyone else too. I told myself that I’d grow up and that would solve everything. I definitely didn’t want to think about cancer. Even when I had a couple of scares with open sores or rough gum tissue, I still kept the addiction hidden away in that blind spot and tried not to think about what it all meant.
On October 3, 2012, I woke up and went through the steps of my typical morning. I ate lunch in the office, and had a half hour of downtime. For whatever reason, I googled “quit dipping” instead of “Jessica Alba,” and found KTC. I read for a while.
What I read affected me. Big time. When I finally looked away from the computer screen, my addiction wasn’t in that blind spot any more. It was right there in front of me. Everywhere around me. In every part of my life. I started crying. I was thinking about what a selfish prick I was to put nicotine on anything close to the same footing as my family. I spit out and flushed away all the nicotine around me, signed up, and posted my first roll with tears still streaming and waves of shame washing over me.
Within 15 minutes, I got fundamentally called out in true KTC fashion. I was told to quit for myself, not my family. That made me realize something: my real selfishness had been choosing nicotine over my future . . . over any future with anyone. I had a lot to think about, but I kept my word on October 3, 2012. I woke up on October 4 and posted roll again without hesitation, but for me and only me that time. I’ve done the same thing every morning since.
And it’s worked. My life is richer without nicotine. I am missing nothing, while gaining self-respect, time with my family, and health. I’ll always be an addict, but choosing to abstain gets easier every day, even in situations that would have seriously jeopardized my quit in the early days. This healing has come directly from the simple application of what I’ve learned here. I post roll every day. Each post is a vow to exercise my control over my mind and self today, regardless of outside events that I can do nothing about. That has been at the heart of conquering addict thought and restoring belief in my own autonomy. And guess who has benefited from my self-involved exercise? Yep, the people I love.
It’s a little crazy to be locked with your own mind in a struggle for your life, and a nicotine starved brain is a tricky opponent. I’ve needed help beyond posting roll. I needed support to start learning to think differently. So, I accepted every hand that another quitter stretched out to me, and I reached a hand out to others. People here give genuine, concrete help for free. Take all of it greedily. It’s been the difference between failure and success for me.
After a year, I finally understand that THIS IS SIMPLE. We’re only talking about one promise for one day. It may be hard some days, or even some weeks in the early going, but it is always simple. Even though it is simple though, the KTC formula is very powerful: n+1=x. n is the number of days already quit and x is the number of days quit after you keep one simple promise for one little day. Look around at the old vets here. The only limit to how high x can go is the duration of your long, healthy, and nicotine-free life. It’s up to you.
There are too many people who I need to thank for their roles in helping me get here. If you’ve ever sent me a PM (even if only to tell me to “fuck off”), spoken with me on the phone (even if I called you while you were at a wedding), responded to something that I’ve written in any forum here (even if only to tell me to “blow myself”), interacted with me in chat, sent me a text, met me in person, sent me whiskey or pictures of local crackwhores, taught me the timeless wisdom of the guy on a buffalo, kept the spreadsheet, caved and come back to take full responsibility and do this right, or even just posted roll with the Jack Wagins, you have my gratitude. And, of course to my January ’13 brothers and sister go the biggest thank yous of all. You have to listen to shit like this every day . . . and you probably will for a very long time.
OK, OK. I can hear the complaints. “OIB, that was long. And boring. You’re boring.” Here is the bottom line of what I’ve learned in a year:
You’re here. You wouldn’t be here if you were able to just put the can/pack/patch down and quit for good all by yourself. Grab on to whatever inspiration brought you here, hold on tight, and harden the fuck up. Every day, first thing, post roll and thereby promise to yourself and your quit group that you won’t use nicotine for this one single day. Honor your word and come back again tomorrow. Get to know a few people along the way. Take back your life.