I apologize in advance for the length of this, but I wanted to convey everything I thought about for the past 100 days.
So here I sit – a quitter. 100 days ago I decided to do something that would change me. I have attempted other self-improvement “projects” in the past with a similar goal of 3 months, or 100 days, etc. Every time I’ve attempted one of those things, I’ve given up, quit, and just for some reason, didn’t make it to the final goal. Why? How come I failed? I’ve come to the conclusion that I didn’t have enough vested in what I was trying to accomplish.
I started dipping when I was 17. October 31, 1998. I remember it clearly. Mike Ciffonelli, had his tin of Cherry Skoal. I don’t know why, but I tried it, but I liked the buzz. I kept trying it, and I was hooked. Mike is still a friend.
In August 1999, for six weeks, I was at basic training at Lackland AFB, TX. I went a solid 42 days without dipping. It wasn’t allowed, so it wasn’t much of a problem. As soon as I got to my tech-school, my new roommate and I ran to the Post Exchange and bought a can of Rooster. We went back to our dorms and put in a nice big fat lipper. As the room began to spin, we reveled in the fact that we could just relax for the first time in weeks.
Fast forward to November 6, 2005. I put on that nasty gown with my rear hanging out, and got the IV put in. I was rolled down the hall into one of Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s many operating rooms. I went in at 6:00 am, and didn’t get out of surgery until 7:00 pm that night. For 13 hours, doctors cut off my lower jaw, rotated it, and put it back on with eight $187 screws. Then they cut a pie-piece shaped portion of my upper jaw, and moved that around. They used 25 $192 screws and several plates to attach it back the way the wanted. Now my jaws were worth approximately $6,300! For the next six weeks, I was out of work. I lost 24 pounds during the 10 days after surgery. It was somewhat cosmetic, but it lined my jaws up so they actually worked – well worth the pain and effort. All in all the surgery would have cost me $40,000. I couldn’t have dipped for quite a while after this surgery – even if I had wanted to. Let me introduce you to my first quit. I stayed dip-free after that surgery for six months. While on a business trip, I was at a gas station. I thought to myself, “Eh, what the hell? She [wife] has been bitching at me lately, so screw her. I’m gonna start dipping again.” And just like that, goodbye quit!
In June 2003, my first son was born. In July 2005, my second son was born. Priceless human beings, worth more to me than anything I can think of. I was married in August of 2000. Now, rewind to 2002. I can’t remember the date exactly, but it was the first time my wife found a can of dip in my pocket. Believe it or not, I was brazen enough to keep my dip right in my uniform pocket. She was not happy to say the least. But I calmed her down – and then found the next “errand” I could run to get out of the house for a little time with my tobacco mistress.
For the entire time I was married, I deceived, lied, hid and snuck dip into my mouth. I dipped at work freely, except for the occasional goody-goody who would rat me out. I guess you could use the term “Ninja Dipper” to describe me. But honestly, I didn’t really hid it from anyone but my wife. She was the only one. During our marriage I think my wife caught me a total of 3 or 4. She never once saw a dip in my mouth, just the evidence I had been dipping. I was amazingly good and hiding it, but every once in a while, I would slip up. At one point, I had a friend living with us, anytime she found a spit bottle; I just blamed it on him. The little black things in my teeth? “Oh honey, I think I had some peppered beef jerky.” I kept a freaking toothbrush in my truck! I was lame.
The entire time, I’m lying to the person I supposedly love. Yes, there were other problems in my marriage, but I think most of it boiled down to me trying to find reasons to get out of the house so I could be with my mistress – Skoalette. I was missing out on several opportunities I could be a father, husband and a man.
It’s now present day, and I’m divorced. My kids only see me once a month, if I can afford it or have the time off from work. I live 2,300 miles from them, so visits are few and far between. The toughest pill for me to swallow, is that there is another man helping raise my children.
A can of dip costs $3.00 – $6.00. Your tax dollars pay for my health care while in the military, but honestly, health is priceless. What have I paid for my dipping? I’m not a deadbeat dad. I pay child support. More than 40% of my paycheck goes to my ex wife. That’s one expensive addiction!!! Now the actual tobacco, how much does that cost? Let’s say the average is $3.75 per tin. I dipped maybe 4 tins per week for 11 years. That’s $8,580. But my habit cost me so much more! Who knows what it’s done to my health, but my family is gone. I’m starting over new. How did I get to this point?
I finally had enough, I don’t know what triggered it. The woman I’m with wasn’t bothered at all by the fact that I dipped. It actually felt good to be able to dip around her, and not hide it. But I still wanted to quit. I think the dental hygenist got me thinking a few weeks earlier about the possible effects. My question was, how am I going to do it? The military loves to preach quitting tobacco use, but they make it the most notorious pain in the tail to get the tobacco cessation medications. I wanted some Chantix because I thought it was the key to me quitting successfully. I found out I had to go to some lame military tobacco cessation class. So I went a couple weeks, got my prescription, and I started planning it out. All in all, it wasn’t that bad. Mostly designed for smokers, but nevertheless, not that bad.
A few days after the first class, the base coordinator for the class sent us an email to give us some information about our quit. There was a link to this website called “KillTheCan.org”. So I checked it out. The first thing I saw was Jenny & Tom Kern’s story. It literally jumped right off the page at me. I’m a grown man, 6’7” sitting in uniform at my desk at work, crying my eyes out. All I could picture was somewhere in my future, my children would be sitting next to me in a hospital bed as I died. I watched my father die (of old age luckily), and I wasn’t going to make my kids have to go through that.
At that moment, I was quit. I took the dip I had in my mouth, out. Gathered up all the old spitters in my desk drawer and threw them away. It was June 10, 2009. I was done. I had too much to live for. I found the most amazing woman in the world, and I have hopes to spend the rest of my life with her. I have two little boys that look up to me. I remember something my older son used to do. He used to copy me and spit on the ground when he was with me while I was dipping. DISGUSTING!!!! I always admitted it was a repulsive habit, but now it was gone. Done. For my boys, my family, my friends, my loved ones, I was going to prolong my life, not curtail it.
The first time I was quit, I made it 6 months! Why did I cave? I didn’t have a support group, that’s why. This time around, I have a tremendous amount of motivation, but I also have something else – people who know how it is, and are there to get me through a crave. I have a support system.
So, I’ve been quit for 100 days. Tomorrow will be 101. I’ve paid a lot, but I’m NOT going to pay anymore. My quit will NOT stop here.