I’ve read a lot of HOF speeches recently. Each one had a unique message and that’s what I appreciate about these things. I have so many thoughts and so much advice to give. I’ll probably never be able to get out everything that’s in my head. I won’t offer anything earth shattering that is going to magically make quitting easier. If you are just starting your quit, It will suck. There are no shortcuts. But rest assured the good far outweighs the suck. If you are a quit veteran, remember the early suck, remember walking into a room and immediately forgetting why you are there, remember the simplest of tasks taking triple the amount of time they should, but most importantly, remember the journey.
My Journey began on February 13th. It was -15 (yes that’s 15 below zero and yes it is Fahrenheit). We had just lost the semifinal game at a large outdoor hockey tournament. I skated off the lake and for the first time in my life I was glad we lost. I was looking at a four-hour ride home. I had 2 full cans leftover from the weekend. I was good to go. But a funny thing happened to me. I wasn’t craving a chew that bad. Most likely it was because I hadn’t regained the feeling back in any of my extremities. I decided to see how long I could let it ride. Before I knew it, I was in my driveway and hadn’t packed a lip since that morning. I was feeling good, it was Superbowl Sunday. I guess now was as good of time as any to quit.
I had known I needed to quit for some time, but I never knew where to begin. This seemed like a great place to start since I was already chew free for a good part of the day. However, 3 hours later I was convinced I was having a heart attack. I paced around for two hours, going outside for 10 minutes at a time in subzero temperatures in shorts and a t-shirt. the cold, fresh air gave me some temporary relief. This went on for 2 hours. I didn’t think this was chew related. It was too soon, I hadn’t even been quit for 14 hours at that point. Well, I decided to pack a lip to see if that would right the ship. I kept it in for maybe 3 minutes. It wasn’t the solution.
I then began furiously searching the internet to determine what the hell just happened to me. It was pretty clear I had an anxiety/panic attack. Little did I know at the time that anxiety would be my biggest battle. I discovered KTC about 5 days into my quit. I can say with 100% certainty, that it really changed the course of my quitting journey. I found a group in which many of the members were struggling as much as I was. There was a strange comfort in that. I spent endless hours on the forums. For the first time in my life, I related to every post.
Reading what my fellow quitters were posting, I began to see a pattern in the emotions everyone was feeling. It reminded me of something my aunt had sent me after I lost a very close friend and teammate. He had taken his own life after suffering numerous concussions.
What she sent me was the five stages of grieving (she was a social worker). For some reason I saved the card she sent me. I pulled it out and re-read it. I immediately recognized that it can be applied to our quits. I can’t count how many times I’ve read someone post “I feel like I lost my best friend” or something to that effect. As I went through my quit, I could see myself moving through the stages. I could see the same in my fellow quitters. I jotted down some of my thoughts and some things I read. Hopefully you can relate to some of these
- Denial- This stage begins before you quit. whether you say it’s too late for me to quit, the damage is done, I cant do it, I’ll quit tomorrow/next week/next month
- Anger- Besides the obvious rage, there’s anger at the assholes who got you started on this addiction, anger at those who didn’t step in to help you sooner, but mostly anger at yourself for not quitting earlier and staying with an addiction with such devastating consequences
- Bargaining- If you didn’t bargain before going to the dentist or doctor I envy you. I talked to every higher power I could think of. I promised to be the best dad, husband, son ect reminding them it isn’t fair for my daughter to have to suffer because of my stupid and selfish choices.
- Depression- Will I ever find joy again, will I ever enjoy the tasks I used to do with a chew, will I ever get past the cravings, I lost my best friend, What if I slip up, can I really stay quit forever?
- Acceptance- This is where I find myself today- I’m not saying I’ve beat this thing. Far from it. I’ve accepted that I will never use chew again. I’ve accepted I won’t ever be out fishing and be able to have a chew. I’ve accepted that I can no longer have a chew and a beer after a late night men’s league game and shoot the shit with the guys. I’ve accepted and agreed not to have a chew ever again, but the beauty is I can still do all those things, just minus the chew.
Acceptance is the reward of the last 100+ days. I believe acceptance is where I will be for a very very long time, maybe forever. I doubt there will be many occasions where I won’t think about chewing. That’s OK. Mentally I am prepared to deal with that. ODAAT was pounded into my head from day 1 and it worked. I never looked ahead. When I had a shitty day, my only thought was “I hope tomorrow is better”. Sometimes the next day was better, other times, not so much. But I’m quit and that’s all that matters.
Lastly, A big thank you to everyone on KTC . To all the fellow MoM’s, the vets who helped along the way and our conductors, you are the best. I truly could not have done this without your help. I don’t know if I can express my appreciation for this community properly, but this has been the greatest decision of my life.