From Skoal to Skol – MNxEngineer314’s HOF Speech

MNxEngineer314 avatar“Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.” – Dale Carnegie

It’s incredible how events – however brief or seemingly insignificant – in a person’s life can leave a lasting and vivid mental impression that will most likely remain forever engraved on our brains. On a frigid Fargo winter night my sophomore year of college, I was partying in one of my resident’s rooms and he offered me a tin of Grizzly Wintergreen. I immediately declined despite my compromised and inebriated state. Understand I grew up in a super conservative/sheltered household where we were obviously taught the dangers of such things as drugs and tobacco – especially dip where they put shards of fiberglass in it to cut your lip and get you addicted. This “knowledge” was what kept me away from ever throwing in a lipper – that is, until that fateful night. Undeterred by my vehement refusal, he passed around the can after liberally helping himself to a huge cat turd. Once the room had significantly finger banged the living snot out of the can, I was again offered to participate in the orgy. The first guy offered to show me how and after about 19 seconds of an instant high, I was sputtering the contents of my lip all over the side of his dorm room garbage can. This was early 2010.

Believe it or not, my next encounter with dip would not occur until Fall 2011. I started driving back and forth from central Minnesota to Fargo almost every weekend since I took the Fall 2011 semester off to gain some experience at an extended internship about 3 hours away from NDSU. Due to my grueling internship work schedule and all the extended freeway miles I needed to find a way to stay awake. I tried everything and had still almost crashed multiple times. One weekend, before heading up to Fargo, I stopped at a Holiday station store and bought my first tin – Camel Snus Frost. I knew tobacco was not good for me but I told myself I would just use it to stay awake. Better dip than risk my own life and the lives of others by falling asleep at the wheel going 75 mph, right?? In addition, I could stop whenever I wanted. Those were the first of countless lies I convinced myself to believe.

I resumed my college education Spring of 2012 and my can of Skoal and my Xbox became inseparable friends – a friendship that would hinder my attempts to quit for years. The late nights and countless hours spent on senior design led me to scrape up money for tin after tin on an already tight college budget. It was then where I half admitted to myself that I might have a nicotine/tobacco problem. So I decided I would quit after graduation before things got out of hand.

After graduating Magna Cum Laude with a Mechanical Engineering degree in May of 2013, I landed a job as a plant engineer at a local coal fired generation plant. Most everyone at the plant dipped so I continued right along. A fellow plant engineer and I would go to lunch almost every day and then drive around for an hour dipping and shooting the bull. One day an instrumentation technician at the site saw me throw in a pouch and told me to quit. Said he had a buddy with only half a face and that I was too young to ruin my life. I didn’t really know this guy. The fact that he cared about me enough to offer a warning touched me but my addict brain at this point was on all-out assault mode against inclinations to quit. At this point my fiancee and I had a wedding date set for October of the same year. So I decided I would quit when I got married.

The ceremony was beautiful! The reception was a grand old time. Cancun was a magical 8 days of wedding bliss free from the can. We got home and settled back into the daily grind…and the can. After getting back from Mexico I continued to ninja dip a can per day. After 6 months of marriage we decided to start looking for a house and give up the townhome style of living. It was buyers’ market and we were set to close on our new house in May of 2014. So I decided I would quit when we moved in to the new place.

In my opinion, moving sucks. But we eventually got all settled in and in no time I was spending all my time mowing the lawn and staring helplessly at the honey-do list. I tried a little harder this time and managed to quit for about 21 days. I had a co-worker at the plant helping keep me accountable but I was forced to change jobs in July 2014 and quickly resumed my intimate relationship with the poison in the plastic and metal cylinder. I convinced myself that the stress of switching jobs required dip in mass quantities. Despite my new company’s strict no tobacco policies, I continued to stealth dip in my cubicle. It was at this point that the feelings of self-loathing, despair and helplessness reached a pinnacle. My marriage was taking a hit since I would stay up almost every night to sneak in that last dip or five while playing Xbox. I wanted desperately to quit but I played too much Xbox to terminate such an intimate relationship. I ultimately came to terms that if I wanted to be successful in my quit, I would have to stop playing Xbox for an indeterminate amount of time until I could get my tobacco addiction under control. So I decided I would quit during Lent.

Well I made it halfway through Lent before caving. (Anyone catching the trend here?) I’ll help you out; I simply was sunk into this addiction way over my head and could not quit on my own. My oral fixation has always been extremely strong. I needed a fake that mimicked pouches to help me in my quitting process. I found Smokey Mountain but I always dipped pouches so the SM was gross to me and did not help. I then realized SM had pouches but was disappointed to find they were tiny, dry and did nothing to help. Chewing gum made my jaw sore after two days and seeds worked for about three. Since none of these options worked as I hoped, I decided to confess to my wife and end this slavery once and for all.

I ended up having a conversation with my wife on Labor Day 2015. I sat there on the couch balling my eyes out and sobbing uncontrollably while she tried to tell me it was ok and that we would work to overcome the issue. She was disappointed but supportive – which frankly was more than I deserved or thought I would get. But surprise! Even this confession was not enough. I tried to share my struggles with her but she didn’t understand and I got tired of lashing out at her in my nicotine deprived rage. I slowly snuck back to the old crafty nic bitch and before I knew it I was ninja dipping a tin per day. Again. I was tired of trying to quit. I was exhausted attempting to overcome something that seemed like an impossibility to my addict brain. I wanted to give up. I felt like I was out of options and that I would die a slow painful death with Harvey Dent like features.

Well this story does have hope, I promise. One random day in April while perusing the old book of face (Facebook), I saw a distant college “friend” post something about Cowboy Coffee Chew. Desperate to find a fake substitute I started some research and also stumbled on Grinds coffee pouches. I ordered a can of Cowboy and some Grinds off Amazon and the Grinds were the pouch substitute I had been searching for and needed. Plus I drink coffee like an old man so the flavor was perfect and welcomed.

Somewhere in my research of the Coffee Chew and the Grinds I must have stumbled on a link to KTC. I remember poking around and ended up leaving the page open on my phone. A day or two later on April 24th 2016, I signed up and posted a six sentence intro titled “Hoping to Quit for Good” stating my quit date would be May 1st, 2016. Richard K was the first to reach out and quickly, yet kindly, informed me that the site was nic free, there was no “hoping”, to flush what I had left and quit right away. I was surprised with the prompt support but I knew I had to jump in head first. I posted my Day 1 on April 25, 2016. I will be eternally grateful to Richard K for the extra 7 days I am quit thanks to him and the KTC site. Who knows, maybe those 7 days and him reaching out saved my life.

If you are still with me, thanks for reading this far. Time to reflect on my last 100 days on Kill The Can. I bought in 100% from Day 1. I posted that Day 1 and haven’t missed a day yet. Nor do I plan to ever stop posting roll every damn day. Why you ask? Well my parents taught me the importance of honoring your word and keeping your promises. If I promise to not use nicotine that day, my chances of caving within that next 24 hours goes from improbable to impossible. Once I give my word, I am not willing to jeopardize my integrity for something that is trying to kill me. And while this journey is about MY quit and MY health, I understand the idea of posting roll to also extend beyond myself. My fellow quitters depend on my word and me staying quit to help them in their journey. If they know they have a rock to lean on in hard times, it will prompt them to reach out for support in their struggles confident that I will be quit and ready to guide them through whatever crave or issue they are experiencing. And for me, helping my fellow KTC folks stay quit strengths my quit more than words can describe. This idea of posting roll every damn day was just one nugget of advice offered by the vets but I soaked up everything they posted. I am a technically minded mechanical engineer. As such, it is my job to think outside the box and innovate. But it is also my job to recognize when a process or design has reached its optimal efficiency and not waste time re-inventing the wheel. Thus, after joining the KTC community, I immediately respected the process. Instead of seeing how much I could buck the system, I invested in my group and sought to put more into the group than I took from it. But at the end of the day, the process works despite the fact that it is incredibly and almost laughably simple.

When compared to some of the people on KTC, being a dipper for five years does not seem like very long. Hell, a lot of these people dipped longer than I have been alive. Does my five years of stupid decisions make my quit any less significant? Yeah, I never had jaw pain, headaches or any length of debilitating fog. The rage was an issue but I have a short temper to begin with so I was used to suppressing and dealing with my anger. The constipation was probably the most challenging side effect and honestly what made most of my previous solo quit attempts fail. But no matter how long you have dipped the fact remains that we are all addicts and must fight EACH AND EVERY DAY to remain quit. This isn’t some petty habit; habits can be broken. Addictions require ongoing effort and constant vigilance.

Since joining KTC I have learned a slew of things that have definitely contributed to my past 100 days of success

  1. Dipping was my decision. We were responsible for putting that crap in our faces; we must admit our mistakes and now own our quit.
  2. Be a man of my word. If you can’t keep your word or even think that breaking your promise is an option the KTC process simply will not work.
  3. Wake up, piss, post EVERY DAMN DAY – This is so critical!
  4. Truly focusing one day at a time. The wisdom and necessity of this cannot be expressed strongly enough.
  5. Become invested, share digits and actually use those digits to rage, share struggles and celebrate victories.
  6. Call fellow quitters on the phone! It can seem awkward but helps further solidify the accountability.
  7. Hold people accountable and let people hold you accountable.
  8. Get involved with the spreadsheet of accountability.
  9. Have a plan for known and latent triggers. Always be prepared!
  10. RESPECT THE VETS AND TRUST THE PROCESS.

At one point in my quit I found a pipe with some pipe tobacco at home that I had bought back in the summer of 2013. I literally took one look at it, grabbed my dead blow hammer from the garage and smashed the living daylights out of it. This victory and others were made possible by the brotherhood and accountability of KTC. I plan to continue to use and contribute to KTC as it very well has saved my life. I will forever be in its debt and I pledge to remain close to the site to help as many people as possible be successful in this daily battle of addiction. In war, the Vikings would urge each other forward to victory by yelling “Skol!” to one another. Thus, in the spirit of these valiant and ruthless warriors, as we battle our addictions each and every day, I continue to urge you all forward – SKOL!

Jared (MNxEngineer314) – August Annihilator 2016

NOTE: This piece written by KillTheCan.org forum member MNxEngineer314

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