The day was both cold and rainy, with a gloomy outlook just on the horizon, a storm was brewing off in the distance. As they walked into the solemnly lit chapel, there was sadness abounding in the air. There were friends, there were family, and there were distant acquaintances that came to offer their support. As she walked in, her young children clinging to each arm, a tear fell from her face, beneath the mesh black vale. Laid in front of her was a beautiful oak box, with immaculate finishes full of dreams, promises, memories, and most of all…hope for a future. The box, although full… was emptier than she could have ever imagined. As she looked down into the box, there he was her husband of years, but short of the years that should have come. The hopes, the dreams, the future all laid to rest with him. As she fell to her knees, her mind racing with the recurring thought… “If only he quit, would we have lost him so early?”
How did we get here? We must start from the beginning.
Six years ago, my friend in college was going through a tough time in life and asked me to run up to the local convenience store and pick him up a can of Skoal Extra Mint. I said sure man, anything for you. So I run up there and pick it up. I get back to the dorms, give him the can and then sit down in the chair. He asks me “you wanna try it?” Of course, being young, dumb and in college I did not hesitate to put that first pinch in my mouth. After a few minutes, the buzz started and the addiction was born. Next thing you know, I feel tingly, numb, and alive, the spark I needed on that fateful college night. In fact, I remember running sprints down the hallway to prove how great I felt (what an idiot). The addiction took many turns, but soon my best friend turned into Grizzly Wintergreen and it went everywhere with me. A can in my car, in my hockey bag, in my tool bag, in my backpack, and in my pocket. In class, driving, while skating, in the locker room, I always had my trusty sidekick.
Nicotine had a strangle hold on me, but it really just felt like a hug. I loved it. I loved having a packed lip or that raw feeling on my gums that would consistently give me a buzz if I just threw enough tobacco in there. I resorted to this crutch when life got stressful, when I needed to stay awake and study, when I needed a release, when I wanted to make something “better”. It was a fellowship, where all my friends, teammates, and roommates all enjoyed the same vice, it felt like comradery and community, but none of us realized the ship was sinking and we were all going down with it.
The friendship was a strong bond that over the next four years, followed me through two school transfers, my dad’s multiple fights with cancer, the death of a teammate and dear friend after a freak accident, the car accident when I totaled my Jeep, through college graduation, finals, and led me ultimately to a cross roads.
In 2014, I moved to Kansas City, MO after graduating school and meeting what I thought at the time to be the girl of my dreams. She knew everything about me, she loved me for who I was and she was ecstatic that I moved… but the thought that kept abounding in my head was “I have to quit… because she doesn’t know I still do this stuff.”
For the next two years, I confirmed she was the girl of my dreams and through the engagement, wedding planning, wedding, moving in together, her going to school, me starting my career, my can stayed by my side, but in secret. I was so convinced that she could not know and I would have to quit on my own.
To be completely honest, this was the first time that I would have tried to quit, but I began to realize something, with the insight of a couple friends that knew and with the insight from the Lord above. I was not hiding my chewing addiction from my wife because I was worried she would find out, it was because I was ashamed that I was so connected and roped into something, that I NEEDED something else to function.
For the year and a half of our marriage, I ninja dipped and life carried on as normal, until December 2016. I had a strange feeling despite my wife being accepted to nursing school, my career going well, us gearing up to buy a house and all other things going well… that there was some resentment or sadness in her tone with me, this nagging thing that we could not shake.
On January 9, 2017 we had a huge blow up fight, that ended with her in tears, confessing that for the past six months she knew about my habit, she had known and was just waiting and hoping that I would tell her and ask for help stopping, but I never did. I saw her crying, broken, shattered, in front of me, more sad than angry. Was my addiction to tobacco and nicotine worth my marriage, my family, and my future? Hell. No.
I have never met a woman with more grace, love, and the impeccable ability to spur me toward Jesus as my wife. She met me in that moment, not with anger, resentment, or haste, but with love, compassion, and a brokenness that of all people, I could not muster the strength to be transparent with her. On January 10, 2017 I made the decision to quit, to join KTC and to have true accountability from people who understand, suffered with me, and spurred me on this journey, the never ending journey of being a quitter… not a stopper.
You may now be wondering, how did we get to the funeral, the crying wife, the sadness of the day, the shattered hopes and dreams?
The answer is that we didn’t. The answer is that we can’t. The answer is that we won’t. Not by the hands of nicotine, we will not. Not at the hands of a self-induced fight for our lives.
This story is not a story of sadness for me, for my wife, for my kids that will follow one day. This story is one of redemption, of encouragement, of success – ODAAT, and of gratitude, because the story changed, because I am no user any longer, I am a quitter. A quitter of nicotine, of the most addicting and available drug available on the open market.
The part of me that has not changed? The addict.
I will forever be an addict. I will continue to have an irreplaceable need to WUPP, ODAAT, for I am not cured, the addiction is merely at bay each day I choose to wake up and fight. Nicotine is waiting, lurking, and plotting to make a comeback, one that will never come as long as I stay diligent, as long as I stay connected, as long as I have my resolve, my phone numbers, and my quit brothers from April 2017, and support from others, I will stay quit ODAAT.
To April 2017, you all are incredible. The brotherhood, the accountability, the drama (thanks Airborne), and the anger and sadness of losing quit brothers throughout the process has morphed us into the best roll wrecking month anybody has ever seen, taking something near 50 people to HOF as long as we WUPP ODAAT through the end. You guys are incredible.
In particular from April, thank you to Batdad (Ryan), Samrs (well…Sam), Skidwilly (Tony), BrianG (Brian), Ifyouareyouwhoami (Jared), Atown (Anthony) and many more I’m sure I am forgetting. You all have been instrumental, encouraging and truly the rocks that have kept spurring me on, fixing my bumps and I owe you each a special thank you on my quit journey.
To Njohns and FishFlorida, you guys roped me in from day one and kept me going, spurred me on and helped me walk through the fog and I hope to repay this guidance with guidance of my own on a young quitter, each month for my entirety of time on KTC, thanks for being an example.
To all the supporters, HOF train conductors, other months that have posted support with us, there is nothing else more than “thank you” that would suffice.
Each day quit is a day, an opportunity to change your story, change your outcome. It is not some magical formula, or magic, or anything mystical. It is a simple formula.
Brotherhood + Accountability = Success.
It is not easy, but by God it is worth it.
Remember: Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.