It seems like the goal of a HOF speech should be to impart some kind of wisdom. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how much wisdom I have to impart. I wish I could give new quitters a lot of good, effective advice about how to deal with cravings, the funk, moodiness, dip dreams, and all other nasty side effects that can make quitting so hard. But the fact is that despite thirteen years as a hardcore dipper, and despite multiple failed attempts at quitting before this one, this time around I really haven’t struggled very hard with those challenges. Dip dreams? I had one. Cravings? Only for the first few days. (Honestly, writing this has brought me as close to a craving as I’ve been in probably 95 days, because it’s caused me to think about what a real craving is: what I would miss about dipping if I still missed dipping?) Moodiness? Again, really only for the first few days. And so on.
So I’ve been really blessed this time around; so much so that I’ve felt a little guilty watching some of my fellow QWA fight so hard for each additional dip-free day. Why them, but not me? It doesn’t seem fair and, frankly, I’m not even sure I know how to account for it. Why has the whole quitting experience been so different for me this time around, both in comparison to my previous attempts, and in comparison to the experiences of so many of my fellow quitters? Like I said, I’m not sure I know. But I do have a theory about it (nothing that my brothers here haven’t heard from me before) and to the extent that my theory is right, it may be the closest thing to wisdom or insight that I can offer.
You see, the one thing about my quit that’s different this time, as compared to all the other times, is that this time there’s no holding back. I really mean it. I really want to quit. That may sound a little ridiculous to some readers; why would anyone be here if they didn’t want to quit? But if you’re one of those fortunate ones, let me assure you that many people who try to quit nicotine don’t really want to. All my previous attempts to quit have arisen out of someone else’s desire to see me quit, and I’ve gone into them all with a sense of resentment for being forced to do something I didn’t really, deep down inside, want to do. Each one of my prior quits has been done with reservations — quits with asterisks, so to speak. I’ve always gone in knowing that 7-Eleven was just a mile away, and that sooner or later I’d get tired of sucking it up to conform to somebody else’s vision for my life, and eventually I’d come out of that 7-Eleven or a gas station with a tin of Cope in my pocket.
Well, believe me: that kind of attitude doesn’t make things any easier. Every little pang of withdrawal is an excuse to be bitter and nasty, and to give up on the quit. Every passing day without nicotine is another day during which you’ve “earned” the right to take another hit of nicotine. It’s just no way to quit.
This time, the quit was no one’s idea but my own. And that has made all the difference. Other people were involved, yes. I decided that shoveling all that money into the pockets of U.S. Smokeless Tobacco, instead of into something that would benefit my family in some way, wasn’t anything to be proude of. I tried to imagine how I would explain to my wife and kids why I was dying of cancer — how I could possibly look them in the eye and convince them that, despite all outward appearances, I reallydidn’t care more about feeding my nicotine addition than about sticking around and being a father and husband to them. I got tired of the kids being grossed out by my spittoons, and of having to worry about the little ones grabbing a “Diet Coke” and taking a swig — which had happened more than once before. But I didn’t quit because they wanted me to; I quit because I no longer wanted to be that kind of father and husband. No resentment; it was my idea, after all. No reservations. No asterisks. No excuses. No rationalizations. When I started this quit I could sincerely envision myself going the rest of my life without putting in another dip — and I liked that vision.
I’m not saying that this is the only way to quit. I’m sure some folks have enough discipline to quit, and to stay quit, even though deep down they’d rather not. And I’m also not saying that sincerely wanting to quit will make it easy — well, OK, relatively easy — for everyone. All I’m saying is that in my experience it has made a hell of a lot of difference. And if you can turn that corner in your own mind — if you can get to the point where you see yourself never dipping again, and you like what you see — it may make a hell of a difference for you, too.
That’s about as close as I’ve got to wisdom.
To all those former QWAers who fell by the wayside: get up, dust yourself off, and try again. The fact that you failed once — or even a dozen times — means nothing. As long as you haven’t given up on yourself, there’s always hope.
Thanks to visa, jstump, squeaky, and all the rest of my QWA brothers, as well as the vets like iuchewie, who’ve kept me company and helped inspire me on this journey, and who have made it across the HOF line or are going to make it in the next few weeks. Fuck the nic bitch! Remember: Dip is for pussies. Stay quit!