Sometimes it felt like today would never come and others it felt like it was coming too quick. I guess though that is part of the addict in all of us. I have read quite a few HOF speeches and many more Introduction threads over the past 100 or so days, and each one of them serves as a reminder that I am not unique, nor am I an exception to the rules. I have done quite a bit of thinking about what I wanted to write for my HOF speech and though this will inevitably get long winded, I feel this is my most important contribution that I can make to the KTC community to date. If you are reading this and still “thinking” of quitting, or if you’re already on your way to the HOF, then my hope is that this will inspire you to join us and/or continue the fight towards being free and in control of yourself once again.
So I am 31 years old, been abusing Nicotine steadily since age 12 or so. I had a lot of influence around me when I was growing up with relatives who smoked like chimneys, parents who were dead set against smoking, and the natural curiosities that children have towards things that their parents outright despise (though they outright despise it without an explanation). I mean what’s the worst that can happen? Grandma and Grandpa both smoke like chimneys and they are old, I don’t see where this is a bad or detrimental to their health. That’s how this story all began. An innocent 12 year old who perceived that this habit was not deadly, and as far as I could tell back then, was rather harmless to everyone but me, sort of. So I began to take up cigarette smoking at age 12, started out as a couple of cigarettes a week (when we could steal a pack away from my friends mom) to a half a pack a day smoker by the time I hit high school! In high school I excelled in sports as I have all my life, but now I had a dirty secret to hide from my coaches, and teammates. Nobody could know about this “other side” to me. I worked real hard during that time to keep everything a secret. I managed to hide this addiction from my parents, my coaches, and my peers. It didn’t help that I had a girlfriend who was hiding the same exact habit, though for different reasons, as I was. We fed off each others addictions, and we managed to mix a whole bunch of emotions around the nic bitch….I won’t go into details, you were all teenagers once yourselves.
I joined the Navy when I was 18 years old. I had hope and ambitions to be an upstanding citizen and consummate professional and the military was my fastest path towards getting to where I envisioned myself as being by the time my mid-twenties came around. The day I left for boot camp, I was up to a solid pack a day smoking. Day 1 at Boot Camp was to be my first forced quit that I would face. There is no nicotine use while in Boot Camp. It was not my choice, just the beginning of the training and regiment that I was part of something greater than myself and that there were rules and responsibilities that came with these duties to be accepted as a brother amongst this large group of men and women. Does that sound familiar to any of you here on KTC? Two months later and I marched out of Boot Camp nicotine free. In fact thinking back I didn’t go through half of the symptoms I just went through 100 days ago. I suppose part of that is being scared shitless of just about everything on the day to day when you have no control over your destiny. Anyway I tell this part of my story to tell you where I made the biggest mistake in my adult life. The same day I marched out of Boot Camp I was on another base getting settled into my new barracks room. Across the street was a club. A buddy of mine asked if I wanted to go check it out. I remember not knowing what to do with the freedom that I again gained, though this time gained it after gaining acceptance into the Active Duty ranks. So I went with him. At the club the very first thing I remember is the amount of sailors in there smoking and drinking. As compared to Boot Camp this was very new to me. I decided I wanted in on the fun, I wanted to be able to flex the “freedoms” that come with being an adult, living far away from Mom and Dad, all that stuff. Here was my biggest mistake, I bought a pack of Marlboro Lights! That was the match that set the powder keg into motion some 13 years later.
In my introduction thread I confessed that I came to the realization that I am an addict. I don’t want to rehash that here, you are welcome to read that in my introduction thread. I bring this up because I have a very addictive personality. I am the kind of guy who once I invest into something, whether it’s a video game, a computer system, my job, and even nicotine, I am all in. When speaking of nicotine addiction the many times that I tried to quit on my own it was always like dealing with the devil inside. I would commit to quitting only to go back a week or so later, buying a pack and convincing myself that I would only smoke 2 cigarettes then throw the rest out, I just need this to get me through the stress today. I knew it was bullshit though because my mind doesn’t think that way. What I am really saying to myself is that later on when I smoke the 3rd cigarette I can say I had a plan, it changed and why on earth would I throw 18 cigarettes away, that like throwing $5 in the trash. No wasting for me, I will just finish this pack and not buy a new one. Sound familiar to any of you? I did the same thing anytime I put the tin down. I would buy a new one, only wanting a pinch, but knowing I wasn’t fooling myself anymore, there was no “just a pinch”.
So one day when I was 23 I would run into the woman who would later become my wife. She knew about my smoking, didn’t try to change me, but she would be subtle in showing me that she wasn’t necessarily wanting to get close when I smelled like an ashtray. Slowly but surely my brain started to figure out that this smoking habit was preventing me from moving forward with this woman who I had fallen in love with. What to do? Well I quit of course. Quit for a whole 2 months. I was open about it, went to see the doctor, got a prescription for Welbutrin and got on with it. Everyone was supportive, and it was relatively painless, that was until the day she left for a 6 month deployment (she was Active Duty at the time). Wow what a feeling, my best friend left, fell like she passed away, what to do. What helps me cope with these situations? What now is allowed because there is nobody at home to hold you accountable? You all know the end of this story… What to do though when she comes home, well switch off to dip of course, no smelling like an ashtray, no harming anyone but yourself, that’s what I told myself. As far as she knew, I was done. Quit months ago, I can’t let her down. Must go back into hiding. And that’s how it went for the next 8 years.
To this day my wife still has no idea that I dipped. I know that I will have a price to pay to her when I do tell her about this addiction that I am dealing with. Today I am happy to reach a milestone in my quit, but I still feel incomplete because the only people that I can share the news and joy that comes with it is you the KTC community. There will be no celebration dinner when I get back home in a few weeks, no email in my box today from her congratulating me for deciding to fight this battle and thus far winning the struggle; nothing. I did this to myself, and I don’t expect anyone to feel sympathetic towards me. In realizing that around day 10 or so I came to the cornerstone of this quit. It is mine and mine alone. I wanted to say it was for everything but me, but you showed me that in order to truly quit it had to be for me and me alone. That is the difference between success and failure. Just like it was drilled into me back in Boot Camp, I am accountable to myself and responsible for my own actions for better or for worse. It was my choice to poison myself, and again it was my choice to give up the poison and begin to heal. I am addict plain and simple, but I am an addict who understands what the problem is and I am actively working on fixing that problem every minute of everyday.
Ok now to what I really want to say to you my KTC family. Thank you for all of your support for the past 100 days. Without corresponding with and reading your contributions to the community I wouldn’t have made it this far. It was just too damn easy to let myself down time after time, I guess I learned just to accept that this was the way I was. You have all showed me that I am not alone and that you have a choice to fight a battle on your own or together, and that together seems to be a much stronger offense towards the nic bitch. Now that I know and truly believe inside that I am capable of fighting this battle, and I am more than capable to deal with the ongoing triggers I feel that I can make a lot more of a positive contribution back to the community.
I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for being there to support me, to listen to me bitch, piss, and moan when times were tough, to allow me to offer my advice without bias as to where I was in my own quit, most importantly for being there and having my back when I needed it. I want to thank all my fellow April Fools, you are quite the group of bad ass quitters! I would like to personally thank Cane91 through this first 100 days. Congratulations to you brother as well on reaching the HOF! It was so nice to have a quit brother on the same quit day as I that I could keep in contact and together we would check on each other. It was touching to hear from you at different points in the quit and comforting that I was not alone with the feelings that I was going through. I also want to take a moment to thank Packfan1967, your loss during your quit resonated with me and seeing you remain strong with your quit cemented that there was no way in hell that I would cave; Andrew you still inspire me, more so now that I am around the Active Duty folks again and boy there are a lot of addicts here in the Middle East; finally I would like to thank the founders of this great site. You saved my life and for that there is no repayment that I could make, but I promise to pay it forward and continue to be a part of this support group.
So what now? Well I gave a lot of thought to this part of my speech, and I concluded that I wanted to just say that it’s nice to reach day 100, but the battle is still ongoing, to me today is simply Day 1 for the 100th time. The battle will never end. Today though I feel comfortable switching from only identifying as a Quitter and begin to be a Supporter of other quit groups. I am there for you all, took me 31 years to come to realize what true accountability was. I give you my word each and everyday. Don’t let me down, and I won’t let you down. Thank you for reading.