When I committed to quitting dip, I absolutely refused to promise that I would “never” chew again. This drove my wife NUTS, but I just couldn’t grasp the concept of never, ever being able to enjoy a dip. I was particularly fixated on one annual event that I related strongly to dip: the annual duck hunting trip with my buddies. I simply couldn’t fathom sitting in a duck blind without having a fat lower in. Set out the decoys, put in a dip, load the gun… it was part of a ritual. Even as I started to pile up the number of days quit, I couldn’t get my head around Never Again For Any Reason (NAFAR), because 1) the concept of forever is tough to grasp and 2) I still had doubts about duck hunting w/o Grizzly.
My story is the same as countless others. I smoked my first cigarette at the age of 13 to fit in and the next day I tried chew (cherry Skoal) for the first time. Long story short, I chewed and smoked all through Junior High, High School, college, and well into my mid twenties.
Then, I met my wife, a non-smoker. She knew I smoked but had no idea I chewed. I set my first quit date when I decided to move across the country to be with her. I remember the marathon dipping session I had and I remember my “last dip”. For whatever reason, I smoked for another couple of weeks and then quit cold turkey.
A couple of friends flew in to visit 3 or 4 months later and the cycle of lying to myself truly began. I will only chew when friends are in town to visit, I said to myself. I picked them up from the airport and had a monstrous Grizzly lower in my lip within minutes. When they left and I still had some dip left over it became, just the rest of this tin and then just one more tin and then only on the weekends and so on. In any case, I was a full-time ninja chewer. I had my prime chewing times, hiding spots, pre-planned trips out of the house on the weekends, long walks with the dog, piles of gum… I was just like every other addict, lying to myself and hiding my addiction. We even celebrated my one year anniversary of quitting smoking and I was pathetic enough to accept the praise and congratulations. I came clean days before we got married and ended up dipping in front of her on our honeymoon. She wasn’t pleased. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that she quite accurately called me a nicotine junkie.
Milestones came and went and I set countless quit dates; every birthday, every new year, the birth of my daughter, after the duck trip, after the next duck trip, after the business trip… you know what I’m talking about. I would quit one day, buy a new tin the next and throw it away after one chew. I would dig tins out of the trash… One day last summer a coworker asked me how long I had been chewing. The answer to his question horrified me, “just about twenty years, I said.” That was a life changing moment. I couldn’t stop thinking about the lies, broken promises, lack of willpower, and shame… Twenty YEARS. Not me, can’t be. I’m no addict.
That’s when I found KTC.
Today is day 188. I spent the majority of last week in a duck blind with chewers and smokers. I didn’t even think about dip until day 3 or 4 of the trip. I wanted a cigarette to go with my beer on a few occasions but it just wasn’t an option: I am quit. At some point one of the guys said that they felt sorry for me because I was an addict and couldn’t have just one. I felt sorry for him. That’s how far I’ve come, that’s how free I’ve become, all thanks to KTC and a handful of quitters that have been with me the whole way. A special thanks to Derk, Duath, Paradigm, Gorilla, & many more. Not only was the duck hunt a breeze without nicotine, but it was even better. I was proud to stick to my guns, and my duck call stayed clean, too!
So where am I now? Can I say Never Again For Any Reason? I still can’t. But I can say Not Today For Any Reason. And that’s going to have to be good enough. Besides, that’s how I got here, ODAAT and NTFAR.
“Not in order to justify, but simply in order to explain my lack of consistency, I say: Look at my present life and then at my former life, and you will see that I do attempt to carry them out. It is true that I have not fulfilled one thousandth part of them [goals], and I am ashamed of this, but I have failed to fulfill them not because I did not wish to, but because I was unable to. Teach me how to escape from the net of temptations that surrounds me, help me and I will fulfill them; even without help I wish and hope to fulfill them.
Attack me, I do this myself, but attack me rather than the path I follow and which I point out to anyone who asks me where I think it lies. If I know the way home and am walking along it drunkenly, is it any less the right way because I am staggering from side to side! If it is not the right way, then show me another way; but if I stagger and lose the way, you must help me, you must keep me on the true path, just as I am ready to support you. Do not mislead me, do not be glad that I have got lost, do not shout out joyfully: “Look at him! He said he was going home, but there he is crawling into a bog!” No, do not gloat, but give me your help and support.”
― Leo Tolstoy