If you are a newbie that has stumbled onto this site, and decided to read this particular HOF speech, DO NOT GET DISCOURAGED! I’m not going to sugar coat it, because if I do, you will be mad at me for lying to you. Quitting is not easy. If it was, you would not be here because you would already be quit. You are here because you cannot un-ring a bell. You tried tobacco at some point in your life and became an addict. The only way to undo you addiction is to never have tried tobacco, which is essentially the same as un-ringing a bell. You can’t do it! You are here because you are weak and you desire to be strong. But have no fear, for “As you are, I once was. As I am, you will be.”
HERE IS MY STORY
This has been a long time coming! I have been quitting for 20+ years, and I have been an addict for over 35 years.
I started using tobacco back in 1972 when I was 10 years old. I started sneaking cigarettes here and there; stealing them from my grandparents and from my father whenever I got a chance. Eventually I started stealing a little pocket change (classic addict symptom) from anybody I could so I could buy my own smokes. A little side note for you younger guys that are reading this, back in the 70’s nobody ever batted an eye about selling tobacco in any form to someone under the age of 18, especially a 10 year old. Eventually I was caught smoking, and my father came up with a safe alternative – chewing tobacco. Back in ’72 there were no warning labels on chewing tobacco. If there was proof that chewing tobacco caused cancer, it wasn’t publicized or widely known. So with my father’s blessing, I began chewing Beechnut, Redman, and Levi Garrett.
I kept chewing tobacco into my teens, never knowing the harm that I was causing to myself. I never tried dip until I moved to Florida and started working in law enforcement. I started with Skoal Bandits, moved onto Skoal, then onto Copenhagen. A few years later, the debate began on the long-term effects of cancer causing agents and chewing tobacco/snuff. By then, I was in my 20’s and had all the answers. I knew more than my parents, grandparents, friends, and experts combined. Besides, chewing tobacco can’t harm me. After awhile I got tired of being nagged and hassled by everyone I knew and did the only thing I could – I became a “ninja dipper”.
I wasn’t just a “ninja dipper”, I became a master at it. My first wife knew I dipped at work, but never knew I dipped at home. My 2nd wife never even knew I dipped, and I never told her. She didn’t need to know because I was going to quit. I gave myself a deadline on when I would quit. I’ll quit on my birthday; her birthday, New Year’s; Christmas; our anniversary, etc. The dates came and went, and I was still addicted. I have quit more times than I can remember over the last 20 years. However, the most pathetic part was that I could never last for more than 24 hours. I remember one time my 2nd ex-wife and I took a cruise. I though this would be a good opportunity for me to quit. I was so confident that I could successfully quit that I hid a can of Skoal in my luggage and I was “ninja dipping” before breakfast the next morning. I was weak!
This bothered me on several levels. First, was the fact that I was so disciplined in other areas of my life, but I didn’t have the strength to quit. Second, I couldn’t be true to myself. My chosen career path in life requires me to have a high degree of ethics and integrity, however, I though nothing of lying or disguising my behavior to keep people from discovering I was a nicotine addict. Third, I became anti-social. I avoided spending time with friends and family in order to continue my love affair with nicotine.
THE SECRET OF MY SUCCESS (So Far)
About 10 years ago I started my life over. After a career in law enforcement I went back to school and earned my bachelors degree in business. In order to stay focused on earning my degree I used a basic philosophy of 3 questions, which can be applied by anyone to achieve success in any area of their life. I tried to use that same approach with my quit.
1.) What do you want?
2.) How bad do you want it?
3.) What are you willing to do to get it?
We all have an answer to these questions, and each person’s answer is unique to them. Question 1 & 2 are the easiest to answer. Question 3 is where we all struggle.
For me, I wanted to quit dipping in the worst way. How was I going to achieve this? I didn’t have a clue. I struggled with quitting for 20+ years, and never made it past the 24-hour mark. How was I going to quit? I did an Internet search and found the Kill The Can (KTC) website. I began to read some of the information on the website and for the first time in my life I seen that it was possible to quit long term.
I started taking the necessary steps that I felt would work for me. I set realistic and attainable goals for myself to reach. I knew how I reacted during past quit attempts and knew I could never quit “cold turkey”. I also knew I need some sort of guide to help me through my attempt to quit, and that is where KTC came into the picture. I needed to know what to expect and how to handle areas that would become a problem as I tried to maintain my focus. I also learned that there were others that were willing to help me achieve my goals.
WELCOME TO YOUR QUIT
On September 4, 2009 I started the last segment of my 20+ year attempt at quitting. To say it was not easy is an understatement. However, nothing worth having is easy. If it were, we would all be billionaires, drive exotic cars, and live in posh mansions with our supermodel wives. Imagine my surprise on September 5, 2009 – as I passed the 24-hour mark of my quit for the first time in my life. I knew things would be different. I KNEW I had a long road ahead of me. I KNEW it wouldn’t be easy. I KNEW I would be tempted again and again. And I KNEW I just began my journey into hell.
My journey was tough and although there were so many people in the group that knew what I was going through, there wasn’t that many that could understand my mindset at the beginning of my journey. I didn’t even understand my mindset. I became an occasional poster – not fully understanding the concept of KTC (at that time). I had run-ins with a couple members over my lack of participation, and still did what I wanted to do. I wasn’t trying to be arrogant. I was still weak in my quit, and I was afraid to relapse after achieving the best success I have ever achieved. I am not making excuses for my actions, I am only explaining my reasoning for being a substandard participant in the group. In addition, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to anyone that was offended by my actions, and ask for forgiveness. Although I didn’t post everyday in the beginning, I never once broke my promise to quit and stay quit. After reading this, you should be able to have a clear understanding as to why I use the signature line, “At first I was too weak to quit, but now I am too strong to use.”
My quit is as strong as it has ever been. It has bee a couple months since I have had any cravings or even thought about tobacco in any form. Even the clerk at the convenience where I get my gas has been extremely supportive, and is glad that I have finally quit after many unsuccessful attempts.
In closing, I would like to personally thank FranPro, Gump, Snowboredm, Coolcop, and Skoal Monster for various reasons. Thanks to all members that have said a kind word, not just to me, but also to the others during each day’s roll posting. Congratulations to all the Hall of Fame members that have went on before me, and I look forward to congratulating all those that come after me. In addition, I will be the first to admit that I am not the best poster in the group; however, I try my best to participate. Once again, thank you to all my brothers and sisters out there for you support.
What do you want?
How bad do you want it?
What are you willing to do to get it?
God Bless You All,