My story is no different than most – I started chewing at a young age, in a small rural town, kept at it in high school through wrestling, football and other sports. Went to college, grad school and eventually to work, gutting it when I couldn’t spit. Skoal was there through almost all of the important moments in my life.
I don’t recall the exact date I started, or year, but I remember going to the grocery store in junior high with my little brother, three years younger, to buy a can of Happy Days for $0.50 cents. I was a full blown addict by my freshman year in high school. From that very first can, I was snakebit, not realizing until four months ago how profoundly this habit had changed me. I enjoyed this ‘vice’, and unlike some, I never tried to quit in the 24+ years I chewed. Unlike most, my decision to quit didn’t happen until a few days after I started quitting, after I found KTC.
I took my last dip on September 3, 2007, not realizing at the time it was my last. I’d read somewhere that nicotine leaves the body after 72 hours, and at the time I simply wondered what life would be like without that substance in my body. I set a goal of making it 100 hours dip-free, and even set up a spreadsheet to track how many hours it had been since I started. Time slowed to a crawl, and I bet I opened that spreadsheet 100 times the first day, just counting the minutes until I could have a chew again. That first day, it felt like both my mind and my body decided to wage war against my decision, and I was clearly outnumbered and losing the battle.
I found KTC after searching to see what effects I could expect the first few days, and spent the next few days reading everything on the site. It was a godsend in that regard, and drew me in completely as I finally acknowledged to myself what I had really known, but had been purposefully ignoring, for years. It is a powerful and humbling moment when you stop lying to yourself, and step up to take full responsibility for the consequences that your choices in life have resulted in.
After a couple of days of reading this site, I decided – realized, rather – that this 100-hour test really needed to be permanent and signed up. Even then, that realization scared the hell out of me, and like a lot of you, I grieved for the old times, the old me and the notion of forever. Even acknowledging that it was the logical thing to do, I was terrified about going forward. I felt like there was no way I could accomplish it. I felt like quitting forever was too huge a task and I ached for another dip. I understood the concept of posting roll, but couldn’t bring myself to do it for fear of going back on my word, fearing that I would be too weak to belong among these people I now so admired for what they were accomplishing.
It was then that I received a couple of messages – one from Chewie that said, “Welcome, and we’re here for you.”, and another from LOOT, who more directly said, “Welcome, now get your ass in the program.” I didn’t respond, but those two messages rang in my head for a few days, and were the catalyst for my quit.
Even though I didn’t post until day 8, this group has been responsible for keeping me quit since day 1. I don’t recall who said it first, but I’ve seen it around here a number of times – worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. The concept of forever is a frightening thing, at least it was for me. There were many days, especially in the beginning, where I was agonizing over seconds, just trying to make it one more hour without dip. Thinking about forever would have meant failure. It made all the difference in the world to log into this site and see the guys and gals before me posting 50, 100 and even 700+ days and know that it is possible, and like Loot told me in the beginning, “It won’t kill you”.
So here I am, four months later, wondering how the hell I got here, how the hell it was even possible for someone like me. The first morning I realized I could wake up, take the dog for a walk and not think of a chew until I got back 20 minutes later was huge for me. For all of you who were like me, who panicked when you were out of tobacco, who got irritable about having to attend a function where you simply couldn’t chew, can you even imagine what going 20 minutes without thinking of having a chew would be like? For those of you just starting out on this journey, I can tell you that I was fearful, full of rage, and weak-willed when I began. While I still think about more often that I’d like, it doesn’t control me even a fraction of the way it did. I can walk into my favorite convenience store and never think about buying a can. I can attend holiday dinners and not be fearful of hours without chew. I can go to sleep at the same time my wife does, and not worry about my son picking up the habit.
I’ve been blessed in many areas of my life – in sports, school, business and marriage – but I’ve never faced the challenge I did with this. And it’s not over. I’ve seen guys starting over after 4 days, 85 days, 242 days, even after a 500+ day quit, and have read about guys who had quit for 18 months, 3 years, 10 years, only to get hooked after “just one”. I’ve cheered silently for guys just starting out, emotionally invested in their quits, hoping they would finally pull this one out, and been crushed whenever they fail. I only plan to quit once, but better men than me have had to post day 1 again so I know I’m going to have to work at this the rest of my life.
To they guys contemplating quitting, I’m not going to break any new ground in telling you what it takes to quit, or what it’s like – better people have done that many times already. I will say that you’re being offered a rope here – a lifeline – and all you have to do is grab it and hang on. The ride will be bumpy, frustrating and stressful, but these are good people, who have been down this path before you and will get you through it if you let them and trust what they say. It will also open your eyes to other areas of your life that you’re ignoring, and give you the confidence to make additional changes.
So, how do you thank someone for saving your life? I’ve considered this for several months now, and can’t come up with anything better than simply saying “Thanks”. I would be remiss in not acknowledging the people that helped me get here, even though I’ll leave many people out. Most of you I’ve never communicated with, and even with phone numbers at hand, I’ve never spoken to any of you. But each of you, in one way or another, either by comments, or by example, were instrumental in my quit. I don’t participate on this site much – between a couple hundred emails and phone calls a day, there really isn’t time to say much worth noting. But I don’t believe there’s been a single day in the last four months that this group of people has not helped me stay quit, and given me the strength each day to take one more step towards forever:
Chewie, Loot, Aqua, ODT, FranPro, lDiddy, WWB, 48, Remmie, WhoDey, JJ, QT, 11×4, mahum, Mij, GratefulD, BLove, Jarsmom, Imskratty, 2mcs, BAT, Hank, and anyone else who posted some bullshit these last four months. Gentleman (and ladies) – you’re saving lives here. Keep up the good work. For all that I’ve accomplished in my life, that’s more than I can say.
I’d like to thank my wife as well, who made it clear that while my habit was unacceptable to her, she loved me regardless. She was my biggest supporter, and for her, I’m glad I could quit. She is proof that you cannot quit for someone other than yourself, or I would have done so almost 15 years ago.