My HOF Speech – September 13, 2018
At times I kind of wonder how I stumbled on to KTC and stayed this time…God-send I’m sure of it though. I passed by it a few times, heard about it from an old fraternity brother who used it, but this time I saw a little chat icon in the corner of the screen and I pushed it. I believe my students had just left school for their summer break and I was sitting at my computer trying to think of things to do to pass the time since I didn’t feel like breaking down my classroom for my own impending summer break. I clicked on the link and saw a handful of people in the room and one had posted if I remember correctly, asking a question (about what I can’t recall). I posted a super brief cry for help myself, and Capital70 was in the room. It just so happens he would be a September quitter as well. The actual details about my first week or two of quit are really fuzzy. I was “in the fog” so often it was depressing and familiar.
I actually quit May 18th, on my birthday. I was done, this time for good. Yeah, that lasted all of two weeks! My dad went in to the hospital in the worst way (which has been pretty common the last few years) and I caved. I had told my wife I quit on my birthday, my mom, a friend, I hid my cave from all of them. I was ashamed. This “miniature” quit was just the eventual culmination of a lot of quits and caves in 23 years of dipping. You see, I had gone over a year twice. Yep that’s right I have quit for over 365 days twice before! I’m really uncertain why most of the other quits ended up being caves, but I can recall the last really long quit.
It was the first date for my wife and I. We went to Chili’s (a Texas chain) and then to “trivia night” at a local shit-hole bar. I was getting a beer for us both at the bar and I stopped her real seriously, looked her in the eye and told her I dipped and I was meaning to quit. I actually asked her how she felt about it. Well, she wasn’t pumped but understood I was trying to quit. I told her I would. And, because I wanted to date her, I did. It’s a wonder what opposite-sex motivation will do for ya right?
The cave happened after we ended up getting married and we were at a baby shower of a friend nearby. Because I’m a coach I’m around many dippers (some are ghost dippers, but nonetheless dippers) it’s easy to get a pinch. I just so happened to be sitting around with a baseball coach and I saw him take a dip. Well, I was drinking at the time and feeling a good buzz, I asked him for a dip. My wife wasn’t aware, so all was good. Then, it felt so good I needed my own can the next day. I began hiding my cans from then on for a few weeks until I accidentally left it out one day and my wife saw it. She just asked if I was dipping again, no judgment. I told her yes when my anxiety gets high and on the way to work which in theory was true. It was a lie for me mentally though. I did need it for anxiety and on the way to work, but I didn’t just use it in those moments. Again I was ashamed and shame builds upon shame, which made me cave more. Soon, I was spittin’ like a running faucet when she went to sleep. It felt so good to curl up at night watching television before bed with a huge pinch in. I was ashamed that I couldn’t follow through. Just like always. This time I felt worse because I was quit so long…the longest yet, but I fell back into my routine of dipping with no worries.
So, this brings me back to the beginning of this speech May 18th. I quit briefly then caved. June 6th I happened to open up the KTC chat room and there was Cap! See I didn’t start posting that day, but I had already joined so I could read posts of others. It was way too much at first, so I bucked at it. I can’t remember why I got back on chat one day and Cap was there again (I actually waited for him….just hoping he’d be there…again details are foggy). He was there again. It took me a couple weeks to begin posting. But, when I did I was on day 20-something already flying solo. I joined GroupMe and began my journey on KTC. I haven’t missed a day yet (but I have had massive amounts of help…thanks PeterGibbons and Capital70!). I found some good dudes in September but specifically clicked with Cap, Clint31, Doc, kept me laughing, all of them.
What really kept me quit this time was fear. I quit because I was afraid of the pictures I saw of mouth cancer. I was afraid of the stories I read of people suffering until the end (even after just a few years of dipping) because of mouth cancer. I feared my family’s heartache if I were gone….this devastation of a mom and dad burying their baby boy, a wife burying her husband, and a little boy burying his “Daddy.” All of that was so “fu&%ed in my mind! It was imprinted like a tattoo in my head. I couldn’t get the damned feeling to go away. It was MY FAULT and my problem to undo. My anxiety levels were tripping. I texted Cap often….I swore I sat in a fog for weeks worrying, dying inside slowly while I was actually trying to still live and be present. The struggle was real folks. It ‘aint a lie. Cancer will kill you if you let it. Mouth cancer will kill you as well, but faster than most because by the time it shows, most people haven’t been even paying attention and they let it fester not knowing the wiser of it. And then when it does begin to “feel a little weird,” it’s pretty serious. These were all my fears. I found a dentist immediately I liked, she eased my fears a little telling me my tore up mouth didn’t look like cancer. Oh yeah one more thing from personal experience. You cannot toothbrush-scrub your gums to get rid of potential cancer and for God-sake’s don’t use peroxide wash on your tore up mouth. I ended up doing both and burning the entire top layer of skin off my bottom gums. But like I said, the dentist even told me that she didn’t think it was cancer but referred me to an oral surgeon anyway. This again ramped up my fears and anxieties to whole new heights…..I called my doctor and a local drugstore begging for Xanax!
So I scheduled the oral surgeon for a Monday. I saw the dentist on a Friday and I wanted to literally drive from the dentist to the surgeon’s office, but they were doing surgery that day so I had to muddle through the weekend with my anxiety through the roof, my irritability at an all time high…Monday came though. I scheduled it for as early as I could. I went in and explained to them my fears…I poured my heart out. He reassured me that he didn’t see any kind of keratosis and dysplasia he just reaffirmed that my mouth was burned pretty bad. He gave me some oral soap wash and some medicine to allow more salivation and told me to come back in two weeks.
So I did go back, and I have been back three times in total. I’m now waiting on this three-month checkup coming up in October. He says he thinks I’ll be totally fine. But what I do distinctly remember asking him point blank was “Am I going to die?” He didn’t even smile at the audacious question. He looked at me calmly and said “one day, but probably not from oral cancer” (paraphrased). He said, (and this I remember well also,) “Everyone is different, they heal different, there is no “one-size” fits all approach. It could take 3-4 months perhaps for your mouth to heal.” Literally at that moment my anxiety released. My constant prayers seemed to be answered all in one breath from a young doctor with lots of experience. He told me he had seen cancer before and its unmistakable the beginnings of or the signs of current damage. I was absolutely overwhelmed I almost cried (I didn’t though.)
What I want everyone who reads this to get out of my story is that I’m a work in progress. I may have hit day 100 (the famous KTC HOF) but I’m not cured because I never will be. I’m damaged because I’m a sinner and I lean on a crutch that isn’t divine. I lean on dip. I let Satan put me in check too many times and this time with a group of brothers in September and some other vets who were respectful and kind to me with their advice I have been able to find the support I need to actually feel like this quit can and will be permanent. None of this, and I repeat, NONE of this would be possible without the support system I’ve found in KTC. I proved I couldn’t do it alone… I’ve found that if you’re trying to find comfort in others to keep you accountable that aren’t dippers, they can never give you the real advice you need. They can help, but they can’t ever fully empathize. I failed numerous times. Again, I’m a work in progress, but I intend to overcome the “little devil” who sits on one shoulder and whispers in my ear “it’s okay, one won’t hurt you, they’ll never know.” That little devil never goes away y’all. If yours ever goes away, you’re dead, and hopefully you’ve found your Peace and ‘aint with the Devil already!
With that y’all, I hope this finds all who read it well. I’m signing off. God-speed, good luck, and stay strong in your quit. I hope I can help when needed.
My HOF Speech – September 13, 2018