Quit. A word that describes a conscious decision to stop doing something or being a certain way. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Simply put your mind to it and the rest will follow. Brilliant!
If it was so easy, no one would use nicotine (or at least a large majority of users wouldn’t). How many of you – reading this right now – told yourself that you CAN quit or you WILL quit or – even better – that you HAVE quit? How many of you have failed? The truth is that the conscious decision to quit has to be made every minute of every day, because nicotine has forever changed you.
Smokers and dippers alike look down on the junkies sitting in the dark alleyways, slowing succumbing to the destructive habits that are killing them.. Track marks from hypodermic needles, foil and pipes – the distasteful acts and artifacts of “users” illicit indignant looks of disgust while smokers are puffing and scurrying around the crack-heads and dippers are spitting on city sidewalks. How hypocritical we are! . I am an addict no different than a user of cocaine or meth or any other self-destructive drug. I am no different than any of you – or any of them
My story resounds inside the stories of others… I smoked cigars when I was 11 with Josh Shelton (RIP) out in the woods behind our house – Swisher Sweets – while playing childish Army games. I smoked as a freshman at Columbia River High School – sneaking off campus (and not getting caught) to get my daily dose of nicotine. Stealing packs of cigarettes from my parents – hoping they would not notice a pack disappeared from the freezer every now and then. I dipped Cherry Skoal daily while I was in class at Prairie High School. Found that Cherry was a great flavor, but Wintergreen anything was my taste. I joined the military, the Army, and would run a 6:30 min/mile for 5 miles with a dip in my lip, and return to the barracks, cool down, and smoke a cigarette. (Let’s be real, you cannot run and hold a smoke at the same time! Plus, after you ran, the lungs were refreshed and that first smoke was the best!) I smoked a few years after got out of the Army and got married.
I kept the smoke away from my babies ~ didn’t want second-hand smoke to hinder their health and eventually quit smoking only to become a Ninja! I became a ninja dipper – always on stealth mode – hiding it from coworkers and family. I could look people in the face, conduct meetings, training, and work in semiconductor clean-room environments all the while with a dip in my mouth. Audiences were oblivious because it was easier to hide the addiction when you gut the juice.
Over the years, I gained a lot of weight and decided after a major surgery to quit it all! No smoking, no dipping, no nicotine. I lost the weight and was QUIT! I was quite proud of myself! I did it for a few years! But . . . . . . .
I failed. Why would someone who has come so far ultimately fail? Was it because my Dad, who smoked up to two packs a day, was fighting Cancer (and WON, thank you LORD!)? Was it because we had another child, and I got progressively responsible jobs with much more stress than I’ve ever had? Was it because I lost a cousin who was tragically killed in a car accident between deployments just after Christmas – and all of us guys shared a dip from a can of chew he gave my brother? I failed because I underestimated the power of nicotine. I was – and am still – an addict.
I spoke to my dad around Day 35. This man survived an aggressive cancer that doctors didn’t believe he could overcome. He told me about going outside from his chemo treatments to smoke a cigarette and he had his “aha!” moment… He tells me that, even after having Cancer, and being quit from cigarettes for a number of years (14 years?), he knows that all it takes is one cigarette and he would be back to smoking 2 packs a day. Couldn’t even have just one smoke…
I know this about myself – I can’t have just one. I am an addict. My brain is forever warped to think that nicotine will reduce stress, which it does not. If you are reading this, you likely know the power (euphoria?) that you feel in your dreams after dreaming you had that long-missed dip or smoke. Face it – in order to be quit, you must make a conscious decision every moment of your life NOT to use.
The urges have subsided and all seems quiet. The worst of the addiction wants and desires have passed.
I am a sentry. I am absolute and resolute on my decision to be quit, but I am an addict. I cannot get complacent – I’ve proven I can fail.
100 days… no big deal. For me, the HOF is but a check-box. Every day is a fight, and it is won only one day at a time.
Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings.