My name is Michelle. I am 32 years old and 17 years of that was controlled by chewing tobacco.
My father was in and out of the hospital my whole childhood, and by the age of 15 he had passed away. After that I became rebellious and was offered a dip of wintergreen Copenhagen. Of course to fit in I caved and then the cycle slowly started.
I would only chew when I drank alcohol which wasn’t often. By the time I was 19 I got married and that marriage was due to that rebel side in me because my family didn’t like him very much, so therefore I wanted to do it even more. Looking back on all those years my mom sure was put through hell and back with her 3 daughters and their emotional/ rebellious sides. ( I need to thank her more often)
Anyways, with my first husband I started chewing tobacco more. It became more than once a day and not only when I drank. After a few years we divorced and then I moved back in with my mom. I then started drinking more, which meant chewing more. A couple years later I met a wonderful man who is now my husband! He didn’t know I chewed tobacco. That was a habit I was going to have lay low… I thought. When we drank I’d pull out the can and dip, he didn’t look very enthused about my habit but since it wasn’t very often he seemed to brush it aside. I kept making promises that I would stop which lasted a short period of time and with each quit I’d just dip more. I ended up moving an hour away from my job and that is when chewing happened more often. I would put that dip in right when I woke up, on my hour drive, on my lunch breaks and on my way home from work. A couple years later the stress from work and the addiction from the nicotine were just too much and I’d chew a can a day. Which I also hid how much I was chewing. If my husband asked me where my can was I would say I spilt it all or must have lost it.
Three years ago I kept waking up with a sore jaw, gums hurting and just grouchy all the time. I noticed that I had a tooth that was starting to look longer in the front, and a lump in my gum line. Of course I couldn’t get into a dentist right away so I had the worst of thoughts. (The cancer scare) of course you would think that would be enough to put the can down… but it still didn’t stop me. Finally I was able to get into the dentist. She said “you have periodontal disease and an abscess so we need to extract that tooth”. I cried and thought I’m only 30 and am going to have a missing tooth! I stayed at the dentist for hours because I refused to leave without having a fake tooth made.
I decided I was going to quit chew after that…or I told myself a lie … yet again! I quit for about a month. I started hiding it from my husband because I didn’t want to disappoint him. I would go take a bath and chew in there and he ended up finding out. He was very disappointed in me. It was a relief when he found out because then I started chewing at all my normal times again. My habit became so bad that I was so eager to leave family and friends so I could get that dip in. I’d even send my kid’s to their rooms to watch TV so I could dip. It was a constant battle trying to fill the need to chew and to spend time with family and friends.
December 11th 2021 was the day I found out my step dad was going in for a bone cancer biopsy. (He used to also chew) The dentist told him that the X-rays looked like he had jaw cancer and that he needed to see a specialist. (Thankfully no cancer) Once I heard the news I threw away my can of chew immediately and found KTC on Facebook and then was able to get on to discord and start the process. I was so worried to be apart of the group in fear of being judged for being a girl that dipped, but that wasn’t the case at all. Everyone was so welcoming and encouraging.
The first week was the worst week, I was sure I would fail again like all the times before. I just kept being reminded every day to only look as it as one day at a time, which helped me tremendously.
I struggled at one point and asked for help and was overwhelmed with messages and support from people.
I have come so far and feel so much better. The worst feelings are over and I definitely do not want to be back in that spot. I am so thankful for my March 22 group- The Monkey Mafia. I am also grateful for my family, especially my mom and husband for standing by me through everything. I am proud to be quit and will always take it one day at a time!