It’s hard to believe that I finally made it to the 100 day point without nicotine. As I signed roll call each day and saw my days quit number increment by one, I wondered if today would ever come. Initially, the days seemed to drag on, but as the first month passed, and then the second, I noticed that I was not so consumed with fighting cravings and urges to have a dip and was able to function normally. That’s when the days finally seemed to move at normal speed. That’s when I would go whole days without thinking about going through the quitting process or craving a dip…
I have read a lot of HOF speeches. They have been very motivating for me in the first hundred days of my quit. In many ways, my story is a lot like everyone else’s…in other ways it’s different. I didn’t start dipping until I was 27. I tried Skoal once in junior high, but never picked up the habit. I never dipped in high school, college, grad school, or in my first five years in the military. I picked it up when I noticed that I was having some extremely strong cravings that I could not satisfy. During that time I went through two deaths in the family and a divorce. Needless to say, there was a lot of stress and emotional turmoil in my life. I was spending time with several family members who smoked heavily and somehow I got the idea to try a dip to see if it was nicotine that I was craving (what a dumb choice!). I didn’t want to try a cigarette because I run and bike and thought being able to breathe was essential to being able to run and bike. So, I bought a can and put a pinch in my mouth. I instantly felt the cravings go away, felt more calm in the midst of all the stress I was going through, and seemed to be able to think more clearly. I dipped from that day on, always justifying it by saying that it helped calm me, that I wouldn’t continue dipping after my circumstances returned to normal, and that I would not have a problem giving it up. Well…one dip turned into a six and a half year addiction…using two or more cans per day.
The day I decided to quit was when I got caught by my new wife. I say new, but we had actually been married for almost four years at that point. I had managed to keep it a secret until one weekend morning when she got out of bed earlier than usual and found me sitting on the couch with a book in one hand and a spit bottle in the other. She was mad and she was hurt. It was then and there that I decided to quit. I had half-heartedly tried many times before…9 days during our honeymoon in Antigua was the longest I ever made it…but this time I decided that I had to make it happen. I had kept my addiction a secret from her for too long and was ashamed of myself for being dishonest with her. The following week she went out of town to visit her sister, and I threw out my tin. I went through the first several days of withdrawal alone. It was very convenient that she was out of town…no chance of being mean to her…and I was on vacation working on home projects that needed to get done in order to put my house on the market…no worries about the fog at work or being mean to my coworkers. That week I also found KTC and decided that signing roll every day, promising everyone that I would not dip each day, would help me to stay committed.
I know that 100 days is just the beginning. I still find myself wanting a dip every once in a while. I will stay quit though, and here’s why. As an Air Force Officer, I have always taken pride in living our core values, especially “Integrity First.” Although I may have practiced this one professionally, I failed at it where it mattered most…with my wife. I hid my habit from her. I hid the cost from her. I was spending money on my addiction that could have been spent doing things with her. I was robbing her of time together so I could dip. I was robbing her of time by shortening my life and increasing my risk of cancer. I didn’t behave with integrity. She has forgiven me and our relationship has not been damaged…but I have promised her that I would quit and that I would not dip again…it is being committed to “Integrity First” that will keep me going. I also have a new reason to stay quit…we have our first child on the way. I want to be as healthy as I can to be around as long as possible to be with my wife and my child.
Thanks to KTC. Thanks to all who have stuck with the July HOF group. The support in our group has been awesome. Also thanks to Chewie and JPine for answers to some of my questions, for motivating and encouraging me to stay quit, and for giving a good kick in the pants…all has helped me to stay committed to the quit.
Gerald “G” Cottrill…a.k.a. gcc