I quit all mind-altering substance when I was 20. I was shown and eventually came to believe that when I ingested certain chemicals it set off in me a chain reaction that took away all choice. I was a slave to those chemicals and it was not until I received help that I was able to arrest the cycle of insanity. But more importantly, I learned that I had daily reprieve from this addiction if I did certain things. One of which was maintain contact with a group of people that would aid me in my efforts and provide for me the accountability I needed to stay sober. I have always understood the benefit of this approach to sobriety and this understanding would serve me well when I came to KTC.
I am a full-blown chew addict. I didn’t stop when I got married. I didn’t stop when my children were born. As my children grew, they would periodically ask me what was in my mouth and I would explain, “Ickies”. I used baby talk to explain what was in my mouth to my two beautiful children. That still haunts me. At some point my eldest came home and explained that she learned in school tobacco causes cancer, heart disease and a host of other bad shit, and asked me why I still put the “ickies” in my mouth. I responded in a way that only true nicotine addict would respond; “Kiddo, it’s chewing tobacco. It’s not as bad as cigarettes.” Not only is this completely insane thinking, but I actually believed it.
This went on for a couple of years. I would think it was time to stop chewing but the fear, no – the terror – of losing my best friend was too much for me to consider. Imagining such created a void in my soul like no other. I have used and quit some addictive shit in my life, but NOTHING scared me more than thinking about giving up chew. Not dying, losing my jaw, having my children watch me die as I did my father. That is how strong nicotine addiction is.
Nicotine is a drug just like cocaine, alcohol, vicodin and crack. It wants to separate me from those I love, and then kill me. When I began to accept that, I began to see through her lies and deception. I began to see just how evil she is and how much pain she would create in me and my children. I may deserve that pain, but my children certainly do not. This acceptance was the first step in my journey to freedom.
I had an eye opening conversation with a cardiologist where I explained to him — I explained to the cardiologist- -how smokeless tobacco doesn’t harm the heart such as smoking cigarettes does. As this was coming out of my mouth, I began to hear the insanity of my words, whereupon my doctor friend looked at me as though I had monkeys coming out of my ass. He listened to me and said very calmly, “Buddy, you can believe what you will, but I will not lie to you. That shit will kill you.” Soon after this, I made decision to give up chew on January 9, 2012. Why January 9th? Because it was further away than January 1st. Insanity.
January 9th came and went but quitting had not left my mind. I found pictures of guys who lost part of their jaw or their lives. I found Kill the Can and read Tom and Jenny Kern’s story. That one really hit home. Having described for me what Tom Kern’s children said as he lost his life to cancer was heart wrenching. My children do not deserve that pain.
I made an account on KTC and I soon received a message from sas3202 who told me he noticed me lurking and encouraged to post up in the April group. At that instant, I made a decision. I got up from my chair, told my eldest to follow me and to the toilet we went where I open a fresh can of snus and flushed her down. I looked at my child and said, “I’m done.” I got a mighty big hug from an incredible kid who should only know happiness, not pain because of my selfishness.
I got on the April group and both gmann and sas3202 walked me through the posting process. I inquired if I posted correctly, and both replied, ‘You did fine. Now tomorrow morning wake and do it all over again and make the promise to us all no nic. ‘ To the casual observer these words may seem insignificant but they meant the world to me. I was going down a path that created great fear in me.
The whore was telling me of all the bad shit that was coming my way, how the withdrawal was going to hurt, how I wouldn’t get that morning pleasure of coffee and chew, how I would gain weight . . . .it went on and on. I was a kid who was afraid of the dark and sas3202 and gmann gave me a light to illuminate my path . . . a path that others had traveled. This created in me a sense I was not alone and I began to understand I would not have to try to beat this whore alone, because I knew I couldn’t. I will be forever grateful to the kindness shown to me.
I read all I could on the KTC site, participated in some drama fun only a nic fiend in the first days of being chew free can understand and most importantly, I listened to what the vets who I wanted to be like suggested. I posted first thing in the morning (I still do, for the whore is a subtle, patient foe), I drank a shit load of water (I still do. About a gallon from the time I wake to lunchtime. Yeah, I piss a lot.), chewed gum and began an exercise regime. I am still exercising and cannot stress the importance of it enough. I helped so much with the withdrawal. Today I still have cravings but they do not haunt me or rule my life.
The fog sucked balls but the men and woman of April walked through it together. My children made signs and put them throughout the house giving me words of encouragement. My favorite is, “Think with your heart not your brine.” My child’s misspelling, not mine. My wife was supportive but I think took an “I’ll believe it when I see it,” approach. When I give her updates about how long my quit has been, she beams.
One of my favorite books describes coming to the realization of what peace is in ones life and comprehending freedom and happiness. Today I understand what those words- ideas- states of being, -are because I experience them everyday. I am no longer a slave to nicotine. I do not have that gripping fear of putting something in my body I know will kill me. I do not have to put fear in the hearts of my own children thinking they will lose their father because I will not stop ingesting cancer. I no longer have to spill chew spit on me, my carpet or in my car. I no longer have to leave meetings or miss lunches with friends, because I have to chew and am too embarrassed to do it in front of them. I no longer have to check my front teeth for lose chew before going into work. When asked if I smoke or use other tobacco products by a doctor or dentist, I can proudly say, “No, I do not” rather than lie.
You too can know freedom from fear and have peace in your life. If you are reading this and are considering quitting the nic whore, make a decision and do it. Is it easy? No. But it is simple.
1. Post Roll.
2. Keep Your Promise.
3. Repeat the Next Day
Do those three simple things, and I promise you never have to feel like this again. You can have your life back.
Thank you KTC and April 2012.
Never quit the motherfuckin’ quit.
NOTE: This piece written by KillTheCan.org forum member IRISH