I barely remember signing up on KTC.
I barely remember the first two weeks hanging out in the chat room.
I do remember being 200+ miles away from my home on high moisture corn harvest and going to the emergency dentist because of a few cracked molars. I ran out of chew on the way to the dentist.
“You can’t have any tobacco for 72 hours,” he said, before injecting the Novocaine.
He proceeded to rip two giant molars out of my skull and I remember thinking while he was bracing my head with one hand, and rocking my jaw with some medieval looking tool, “You know what? Fuck it.”
So, I quit. Cold turkey. Right then and there.
I got back to our hotel room, curled up on the bed and Googled “quitting chew”.
I was led here. I don’t remember registering. I don’t remember being on chat. I don’t know who I first spoke to.
The fog hit. Followed by the rage. Then the fatigue. Then the crippling anxiety and depression. The feeling of a cold hand wrapped around your spine that makes you want to crawl out of your skin.
I’ve gone through withdrawals before. I have a past, just like we all do. Thing is, I usually went through those withdrawals with either a cig dangling out of the side of my mouth, or a dip nestled in my cheek. So sure, I had the shakes. The cotton mouth. Sort of had the mind games. The physical withdrawal. The “habit” of…something.
That was child’s play.
Quitting nic is just the first step. It’s the most simple and hardest thing you can do. Just don’t buy it and just don’t put it in your mouth. It’s the mind games that get played after. One pinch won’t hurt. No one will know. But you will. You will know.
Nic gives you the nasty idea that you can hide behind it. Stressed? Dip. Cranky? Dip. Having a bad day? It’ll make it better. Studying for a test? Better stock up just in case. It’s just a gross habit, right?
And all of that is bullshit. I wasn’t born a dipper or a smoker. I voluntarily came one. I made a conscious decision to pick up a can or a pack of smokes one day, and after that it was game over.
So only I can quit this. Only I can one day at a time wake up and say “I quit. I quit for today, for myself, for my health, for my future.”
Only I can choose to fight every damn day, because this “habit”? It’s an addiction, and it’s the most powerful one that I’ve fought. This addiction whispers in your ear, haunts your dreams, flashes out of the corner of your eye. It’s the worst ex you’ve ever had and it’s not ever going to go away.
Quitting brought a cocktail of messed up brain chemistry to my brain that was already sketchy. Medications I took for bipolar, PTSD, and anxiety were rendered useless without nicotine feeding it. I had bruised hands from punching the steering wheel in my tractors and combines. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. It would have been so easy to cave. To make that pain stop. Quitting nic broadsided me. Knocked me sideways onto the ground and left me gasping for breath. Stomped on my thought processes, my physical health, and every thing I though I knew about myself.
When I first quit I kept hearing phrases like “Embrace the suck.” “Rage on.” “Just quit one day at a time.” “It’s a matter of life and death.”
I didn’t want to embrace the suck. I didn’t want to be angry. I didn’t want to quit for one day, I wanted this crap to be over for the rest of my life.
Then, I realized. I did have to embrace the suck. I never wanted to have to go through that again. I had to be angry. Angry at myself. Angry at how much money I blew over the years. Angry at the game of Russian Roulette I was playing. I wanted and needed to fight this because I want to have “the rest of my life”.
I wanted to be quit. You need to want to be quit. But I did this to myself, so I was going to damn well take every side effect and fight it.
When people cave, we make them answer The Three Questions. I think the three questions need to be asked right away from any quitter.
What happened? I made a decision that affected my life in a negative way. I chanced my health, I wasted money, I was inconsiderate of my family and friends.
Why did it happen? I was not thinking of the consequences. I did not think of cancer, disease, defects, debt, etc. I was young, stupid, but I have no one to blame but myself. I own this mistake.
How are you going to keep it from happening again? I made a public promise and dedication to KTC, my friends, my family, that I was quitting all forms of nicotine; I was going to lead a healthier lifestyle, I was going to pay it forward. If I can help one other person quit, then my experience and pain of my quit not only saved me, it helped another.
Am I proud of my HOF? You bet. I’ve fought tooth and nail. I’m proud of my day 1, my day 10, my day 100. But this fight isn’t over yet. This fight will never be over. I ask you to go read my introduction. I don’t hold back.
KTC sits on the pillars of Brotherhood and Accountability which in turn leads to Success. It wasn’t until much later on in my quit, when I was clearer headed that I began to realize what this stood for. Yes, my quit was mine, but without people reaching out and holding me accountable, and in return expecting me to hold them accountable, none of us would be successful. I know that for myself, if it wasn’t for the people that reached out to me, I would not be writing this Hall of Fame Speech. Brotherhood is not a term used lightly. Some of these fellow quitters probably know me better than myself, if not at this point, most definitely during my quit then.
If you’re browsing through these speeches, debating if you want to quit or not, and come across this entry, I want you to know that you can quit. You can get through this. You’re not alone.
When you’re ready, let us know.
We’ll be here.