I have to first admit that 100 days ago sure doesn’t seem all that long ago. However, there are also days where it has felt like a lifetime. If you want to see if your name made it to the credits, skip to the bottom.
I highly recommend a popcorn and a beer.
First off, parts of this will seem nearly impossible, but it’s all very factual. I am 30 years old as of May 2010 and until 100 days ago, had dipped consistently for 22 of those 30 years. Looking back at that it seems absolutely absurd, but it’s true. Somewhere around age 6 or so I had my first encounter with tobacco. Of all places, it was at a buddy of mine’s uncles house. His uncle lived about a mile through the woods from my friend (who to this day is still my absolute best friend) and at that time, 6 year old boys could walk around through the woods with little fear of some tragic ending. We lived in a very rural setting here in Southeast Missouri. His uncle chewed Red Man (what I refer to as “jaw chew”), and we had found several nearly empty packages in the woods where he regularly threw trash. That’s right, my first experience of chewing came from the trash. Recalling that on July 24th of this year, I chose to flush the snuff rather than toss it. After that initial trial, we would sneak around trying to find bits here and bits there until one fateful day when I caught my older sister (16 at the time) smoking. Well, being the deviant little brother I was, we made a deal. I don’t tell on you as long as you keep me stocked. I knew it was bad for me or I wouldn’t have used it as blackmail, but I feel pretty confident that I was not sure of just how bad it was going to be for me. So, the regular habit of dipping had begun. However, it was not something that I (or my friend for that matter) actually liked, or at least I don’t think either of us did. We did however want to be “cool” while we were together playing hot wheels, or army, etc. – so we chewed. It eventually became a habit that both of us were stuck in. This next part is very difficult to imagine, but as with this entire story, it’s unfortunately very true. Our elementary school was next to a little mom and pop grocery store, but there was only a mom, and not a pop running the place. In fact, she was more like a great – great – great grandma type than mom… It was called “Birthy’s” and was about 200 feet from the play ground (which could easily be snuck away from) and at least once a week, a group of us would pool money together and walk up to this store with a 3rd grade writing level hand written note that said “my dad needs Red Man”. We would hand the note and whatever change we had collected over while this 90 year old woman counted the money out. No joke, that all happened. Fast forward to 4th grade and I finally got caught with some at school. So, I got my rear end tanned with a paddle from the principal, and recieved more of a fire engine red butt from my dad’s belt when I got home. Still, I am sure that neither of them actually thought that I would be addicted to tobacco at that age, so nothing more was done. From 4th grade to 7th grade I was able to keep my habit under the radar. By this time I was regularly going to an arcade in town and walking to the general store for tobacco. Cigarettes weren’t even under that much scrutiny at that time, so smokeless certainly wasn’t. Not to mention this town had a whopping population of just over 400 people. A dollar to that store was a DOLLAR. Through those years, I had moved up to Hawkin’s, then to Skoal Longcut Wintergreen. I ended up getting busted again in school in the seventh grade, which led to being busted at home, but it was different this time. This time I seen hurt and disappointment in my parents’ eyes. However, no punishment of serious consequence was handed down. Honestly, by that stage in the game, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. I was hooked and had been for some time. The strict enforcement of tobacco laws didn’t take effect until I was finally 18 years old, and then I didn’t care.
The years kept passing by and my habit took more and more of my life. Mostly from worry. I “tried” quitting countless times. I would try using brands or flavors I didn’t like. All that led to was my ability to “like” any brand or flavor I tried.
The last 10 years at least consisted of the following daily routine. Get up, eat breakfast, brush teeth, put dip in, go to work with dip in, dip gets old, put new dip in, eat lunch (without dip), put dip in, dip gets old, put dip in, go home, eat dinner, put dip in, dip gets old, put dip in. Literally, if I was not eating or sleeping, I was dipping. I was going to quit when Skoal reached 2.25 a can. I was going to quit when it reached 2.50, then when it 3, then 3.50. Finally, I did it, I quit Skoal. I then went to Husky, then to Grizzly (which was the last year or so). What finally broke me was a sore in my mouth. I quit, then found this site. The cancer pics and stories all helped. However, they also scared me worse than I ever had been previously, and still do. In fact, I am still exceptionally worried about the effects the habit has had on my body. Unless I was outside, I never spit. That means that my entire body is at risk of the most terrible disease imaginable. What it boils down to is that what started out as ignorance and then morphed into stupidity, then just plain stubbornness could at any day still (after having been quit for more than 3 months), take my life at any time. Could steal my children’s dad from them. That’s what keeps me quit every day when I wake up. I quit for every reason important to me. Mainly, I quit for me. I don’t want to miss one soccer game, or one band concert, or the dreaded father daughter dances I will hopefully one day (none too soon though) get the opportunity to dance. I want to be able to teach my son how to hunt, fish, play music. I want to be able to answer his questions about girls (hopefully I know something about them by that time). I want to make sure my girls feel protected and that they have a daddy’s arms to run to when their heart gets broken. I want to be there for my wife. I want to do my part to make sure that my parents don’t have to burry one of their children. All of that is for me.
Now to thank my supporters. First of all, I want to thank God for the strength to deal with this battle every day. I want to thank my children and wife for putting up with me during this battle. I want to thank the founders of this site for the creation of something that is so far beyond explanation. And I want to thank all of the members of the site whom I have had the opportunity and pleasure to get to know. I am sure I will miss some, but a few that have been instrumental for me are Redtrain and klark both of whom were the first people to “latch” onto me. I want to thank TattedQuitter who has just plain been there, Outdoorsman for often times being the only one whose conversation I understood during chat, Big Perm for posting for me via text on occasion and whose stories are just straight up hilarious (which I have often needed). FCA and Labmanlance whom I rarely if ever talk to, but who have been there posting the same damn day as me day after day after day. Gator, Radtech & Redyota.
Lastly, I would like to say that there is something very special about this site. Everyone here has differences, and many of the chats as well as the “wildcard” topics will display those. However, this is a place where one thing is ultimately understood and that is that everyone on this site is fighting a battle. Regardless of personal views and the differences between them, I truly believe that every member of this site would do whatever they could for another to help them achieve the goal of remaining tobacco free. To all of the members who have remained active for whatever reason, some well into the ever coveted “comma” stage, your work is appreciated by many people.