It’s been a long journey. However, it feels good to be free and have a decisive direction as it relates to this addiction. The struggle continues, but battles have been won…
I was about 15 years old. I found myself in an environment that was far away from Detroit (more n culture, rather distance.) I was a young white boy from Detroit. My mother and I moved from Detroit after her and my father divorced. While in Detroit, after he left, she couldn’t make the payments on the house off her income alone. She was a manager in fast food, working 70+ hours per week. She was robbed by gunpoint almost 20 times. However, she was trying to provide for me in my father’s absence. My father was a good man with some bad demons. He was wrapped up into drugs and an alcoholic. He wasn’t the first to leave my mother. My biological father had left upon hearing that my mother was pregnant. Don’t worry, this isn’t the CIKI pity party, it will all connect.
Therefore, my mother, in order to provide a better life for me, moved us all around from 5th to 8th grade. During that period, I lived in 5 different cities that were vastly different from one another. All were very different from Detroit, my home. There’s a thing about Detroit that only Detroiters will get. Once you have it in your blood… it doesn’t leave. There can be a love/hate relationship, but nonetheless, it is there. Overall, we take pride in being from Detroit and treat it like our mothers, we can complain about it/her, but once you get in the mix and join in, you crossed the boundary. Detroit had a lot to do with my identity early on. I was raised with that pride.
Nonetheless, we left Detroit. I went from Detroit, a predominately black, working-poor community to very different communities. We jumped from house to house for a while, living with different extended family. This was a cultural thing in my family. We tended to have multi-family living arrangements. For example, it wasn’t new to have me, my mother, two cousins and their mother, our uncle and his girlfriend with her two kids all living in the same house. That was how my family got down. However, we moved from house to house and lived in different suburban and rural outskirts of Detroit and Flint, MI. We ended up where I would go to high school. That’s where I was introduced to dip.
High School was a struggle for me. I was a white boy who came from a black community and now found myself in a community that was hostile toward the black community. Of course, this wasn’t the case for every individual, but there was certainly a culture there that persisted. Since there were really only a handful of black students at the school (they would literally come and go due to how they were treated), the hostility that would normally be shown to those black students was often directed toward me because some seen me as the “next closest thing.” Therefore, I spent a good portion of my high school years experiencing the stereotypical “redneck-type” trying to instigate fights with me like they did with the black students. They were trying to get me kicked out. I stood my ground though. I was very self-disciplined and never took the bait. However, at that age, I eventually caved in on some things. I completely began to abandon who I was out of survival. I didn’t want to experience older guys standing between me and the door of my classroom, getting in my face and calling me a n*gger. I didn’t want to experience the “good ole boys” riding by in the truck w/ the confederate flag staring at me or passively aggressively saying that they wanted to hurt me. I just wanted to be me, but it seemed, being me created a lot of problems for these types. So I did what many insecure, out of place teenagers would do who were desiring to connect with their new environment, I began to try to “fit in” even if it was like shoving a square block in a circular hole. I began to drink southern comfort straight out of the bottle at parties. I even wore a hunting shirt and tucked it into my jeans. I entertained the likes of Hank Williams, Jr. I deemphasized my Detroit roots and culture. And of course, I had to dump the dip in my lip. That was the seal of approval. Surprise, surprise!! The bullying subsided. I now was able to “fit” into the kind of “whiteness” that this community felt was acceptable. Of course, it never felt entirely natural and was all an act for me. Now, there was a genuine interest on my part to learn about their culture, to find common ground with them. However, it was largely not a reciprocal desire. In the eyes of many of my peers, I just had to change and they would force me to.
I still remember two conversations with my neighbor, Tim, across the street. He was two grades above me. He was a part of one of those big “redneck crews.” Many of his friends did not like me, but he often did little things that protected me. In a very subtle way, he took me under his wing.
The first conversation:
We had a conversation when I first arrived to the town. I was showing him my clothes that I had bought. It was the first time that I had nice things to buy. The reason was because my father had taken his life a few years prior and I received his social security benefits. Nonetheless, the clothes are typical of the urban black youth. He said to me, “I’m not sure you want to wear those around here.” Of course, me being me, the CIKI you all love (smile), I replied to him, “I am who I am. I wear what I want.” This was pre-dip days.
The second conversation:
Fast forward 7 years later. I had already went on to college and really wasn’t a part of the community anymore. My parents were moving out of the house though. Me and Tim crossed paths while I was helping them move out. We had “a moment” with one another.
Leaning up against my car, Tim says, “Well, this is it, huh?”
I said, “Yep! I guess it is. It’s been quite a run.”
Tim said, “You adjusted though.” (shaking his head)
Tim probably didn’t even come close to understanding the depths of my experience in that town, but he certainly knew what I faced to a certain extent.
One of the remnants of that experience that I took with me was dipping. It was killing me for years. I knew what the dip represented once you peeled back the layers of it. Sure, it was an addiction. Sure, it was a choice that I made for myself. Sure, I resisted to quit for many, many years. At its core though… that dip in my mouth was the ghost of a 15 year old boy, desiring to fit in while still being himself and having pride in where he came from. However, that young boy sold out and was handed an addiction in return.
So 100 days later, it feels good to know that the ghost of that 15 year old boy can finally rest. He has faded away. I am now back home where I started, in Detroit. Funny enough, I even found my church home in my old neighborhood across from the liquor store that my Dad frequented so much that they even took up a collection for me when he died.
The last 100 days have been quite a journey. I went from some serious demons exercising in me (the fog) for the first week to coasting like I am now. MAN! It was a struggle in those first days though. However, parallel with me quitting tobacco, I began to experience an acceleration in my growth in the spirit, my walk with Jesus. Once I began to peel back the layers of how dip served as a form idolatry for me, it opened up a whole new spiritual realm and fluidity to this process. Early on, the self-discipline I had with this quit actually lead me to reevaluate if I had the same commitment to my walk with Christ. So, as you can read in my intro thread (my journal), I had to realign quite a few things. I began to focus on WUPP, but it was Wake Up, Pray, and Post. My first fruits went to the Lord and then I promised to honor my temple by promising to stay quit. I love my neighbor by helping my DOGs and other KTC’ers. I began to see KTC largely as representing the Good Samaritan that was talked about in Luke 10:25-37. KTC is not perfect and isn’t above improvement, but it certainly picked me up on my way to Jericho (read the scripture and you’ll understand.) For that, I am forever grateful. There are a lot of people who have been huge in supporting my quit. Of course, I have to give the ultimate thanks to my supreme accountability partner, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I could not do it without Him and the sacrifice He made for me. He was nailed to a cross and as He stuck up there bleeding and dying, He asked His Father to forgive them for they knew not what they done. Well I forgive those who contributed to that 15 year old ghost, including myself.
Please everyone, please continue to pull in these lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7) and embrace the prodigal sons (Luke 15:11-32) of KTC. If you are not a Christian, I would love for you to come to the Father. In the meantime, keep being those Good Samaritans (again, Luke 10:25-37) out there that remind us Christians, how to love our neighbor. Whether you know it or not, you often remind us to be just what we are, Christians! Sometimes, we forget that means we should be Christ-like.
I want to also think some key people who played a role in my HOF:
norm (even though I kicked him out of groupme — lol)
mat849 (brother, change your avatar for God’s sake—lol)
DjPorkchop aka Chops
Candoit (you irritate me with paternalism, but I give credit where it’s due)
I’m done with chew
And many many more
And of course!!! My quit twin, JP Anthony and the rest of THOSE DIRTY DIRTY DOGS of January (even Y2)
God bless you all. I know I am forgetting to mention others who have played a roll in my HOF. I’m sorry… just know the seeds you planted are bearing good fruit, my friends. Nothing, but love.
Freedom feels good, but stay alert.