I wasn’t supposed to be an addict.
When I was a kid, there was a book in the house that showed a demon grabbing kids that were smoking cigarettes under a bridge. His green skin and crooked claws are still etched in my memory, and that image of the nicotine demon is still what I see when I imagine what has come and grabbed me and what I’m fighting against.
That image of the demon didn’t stop me when I had my first go as a 12-year-old in a high school gym watching the older brother playing basketball. It lasted all of about five minutes, and I ended up in a bathroom swearing that I would never again try that. I didn’t, ever again…end up in a bathroom wanting the world to stop spinning because of nic.
Throughout the rest of high school, I held a pretty heavy health stance regarding tobacco. Surrounded by ranchers and hunters and dippers and a brother, there still was not a chance that I was going to put that in my system. That shit was nasty. Alcohol, maybe; smoking and dipping, no way.
Four years in the Marine Corps…no way…I had to keep my perfect PFT scores.
Then, sitting in the Saudi desert waiting for the oil smoke to clear…I mooched a cigarette from a friend. He laughed, told me, “No.” Said he knew me and that I’d be smoking for the rest of my life. I told him to piss off and give me a smoke and that I hated smoking so I’d never be hooked. I was too strong to be hooked. I wasn’t supposed to be an addict. Well, at least he warned me.
Nicotine busted my personal integrity
I bought a pack from a little wadi shop that day, and my nic journey began…at 22…after I knew better. Smoking turned pretty quickly to dipping. It was Copenhagen, and that shit shredded my mouth. When the bottoms and uppers were too raw, I’d hit the sticks again, and basically went back and forth for the rest of my military career.
I went to Brigham Young University after the Marines (not a member…it’s a long story), and they have a strict moral code about tobacco. So I quit…smoking. I went with a long cut, though, instead of the traditional Cope because it’s much more manageable to hold for long periods of time. This is where I became a full-time ninja, and had I thought about it, it would have been where I realized what kind of mess I was in. The fact that I would gut that shit for hours on end…man…what a mess. Not to mention, I always felt that I had a pretty strong sense of integrity.
Apparently, integrity didn’t count when addiction was on the line.
Nicotine was my “constant.”
I spent a semester in Russia (where I met my wife…it’s a long story), and back to the sticks since there’s apparently not love for dip there. She met me as a smoker and as an addict.
Here’s where we’ve heard the same story over and over. I mean seriously, the one consistent thing I’ve had for the last 20 years is nicotine. It outlasted the Marines for me, it outlasted college, outlasted quite a few jobs; as long as I was dipping, it was in competition with my family for f-s sake.
I was to quit for: college graduation, wedding, new job, new kid, new kid, new job, insurance, twenty new years. The whole time, ha ha I win, because I was chewing right under everyone’s nose. Smiling, talking, eating, watching TV, playing with the kids, everything for probably eighteen hours a day gutting that shit away. I did stop, for seven days, because according to my research that’s how long it would take to clean the blood stream for that insurance test. I recently found out that even my dipping brother didn’t know that I was hitting the can most the time when I visited. Look, I found something that I was good at. Of course, I suppose if you practice something for 140,000+ hours, you’ll get pretty good at it. For the 20 years of my addiction being active, sixteen were ninja, and I only got nailed twice. It’s horrifying, embarrassing, and a black mark against so many things that I hold important…especially my integrity. I am such a fucking liar and hypocrite.
So, that’s my nic story, and since I’ve had that shit pumping through my veins for about 175,200 hours and only out for 2,400 hours that probably that should occupy most of this speech. But,
I wasn’t supposed to quit. That might sound strange, but I had resigned myself to this being the thing that brought me down. I already had the story down that I would tell my wife when the stomach, lung, throat, esophageal, oral, rectal, etc. cancer was diagnosed. Even considered that when the cancer hit that I could probably quit being a ninja and just say, “Look, if it’s going to kill me, I might as well enjoy it.” Shit, I had a cave plan for a non-existent quit. What a mess.
Well, I think that it must have been about Easter 2011, and I recognized that my brother had fake shit in his fridge. I was going to steal a dip from him on my visit since it’s dangerous to travel with a can if you’re a ninja (and yes, I’ve transferred from the can to a Ziploc if things looked sketchy). I asked him if he was quitting, and he said something like, “Yup, 79 days.” He showed me KTC. I thought, “Well, good for him.” And I tried some of that fake shit and got back on the can when I got home.
My brother’s HOF passed by. His second floor, passed. I was talking on the phone with him, and he mentioned the quit again. I told him that I couldn’t imagine not chewing, and he said that he understood that, but that it’s pretty awesome being quit. The fact that I had actually voiced out that nic would be in my life forever was tearing me apart. The reality was that I truly desired to quit…I quit after every can and pack. I threw away half cans and half packs all the time, only to buy a fresh can or pack an hour later. When I told my brother that it would be in my life forever, it was like a final admission that I couldn’t do it. So, I chewed through a three-day weekend, and driving to work on Tuesday, September 6, 2011, I bought a pack of Marlboros and a can of Skoal Mint. Went out for a pre-work smoke. Threw a dip in, and sat at the computer…and looked up KTC.
Thirty minutes later, I drove to the back of a department store where they had locked dumpsters and squeezed my pack of smokes and full can through a tiny crack in the lid. Pushed that shit out of my lip for the last time, and waited 24 hours to post roll, because to me that showed my integrity to the site and to my quit. I didn’t want to post on a day that I used (I know…it’s ok to post that day 1, but I couldn’t). In the meantime, I read like a dog. HOFs, Introductions, Words of Wisdom, etc. (I practiced posting roll so I wouldn’t f it up).
Day 1 posting went well. Day 2, ODAAT called me out, in chat, because apparently “brotherofnomosko” is pretty easy to figure out that I’m the brother of nomosko. I was being a ninja quitter, and I didn’t understand the camaraderie here. Why would someone from May 11 see me in December 11? Anyway, ODAAT got me to tell my brother, which I was probably not doing because I was scared of failing.
It’s what the vets will call a “planned cave;” it was an escape route for me. I could fail, and no one would know the better, but once I told my brother, it was over. Others talk about burning bridges and making nicotine not be an option. That conversation was my bridge burner. ODAAT…you have huge responsibility in my quit. My brother, you don’t even know how important your quit is to me. And, for anyone who has stuck around for this long,
my quit has just begun.
There’s an initial quit adrenaline that worked me through the first five days. I’m riding a high right now, but I know that this is temporary. In so many ways, I’m still posting a “day 1,” even if the actual number is bigger than that. Each new day brings the same dangers as those that were there on my day 1 on September 7, 2011. The store is still just down the street; the addiction still plays tricks; the demon still has those crooked claws hanging in my brain. I understand that there are still troubles ahead, and I will continue to not challenge my quit with stupid behaviors, continue to communicate with my brother, continue to post roll, continue to make use of the tools I’ve developed because of this site. I am an addict, and that doesn’t go away just because I’ve met some arbitrary number of days quit.
Closing down and Thanks
So, look, if you’re reading this for enlightenment, you’ve probably come to the wrong place. I’m not going to wax philosophical or bring a new message, but if you’re a new quit and you’re reading this like I read so many when I was fresh in. Everything works a little different for each person, but there are many common factors that I’ve seen as successful for others. Please understand that this was my path to success for these first 100 days:
Also, some shout outs (yes, I’ll miss some of you, and I’m sorry):
Stay Strong, Stay Quit and if you’re not quit…get quit.