2006 HOF Speeches

No Tobacco Today!

7iron avatar“Son, don’t ever start something you know you’ll eventually have to stop. It’s much easier to never start than to have to quit later. My doctor told me that I had to quit smoking and it was the hardest thing I ever did.”

These words were spoken to me by a gentleman much older and wiser than me. His name was Jim and he was a good friend of my grandfather’s. We were together in a fishing boat trolling for Walleye on Lake of the Woods. It was a cool summer morning and the scenery was breathtaking. My grandfather and this gentleman’s grandson were also present as was our guide.

Two generations separated us, but fishing had brought us together. Until he spoke those words, I was unaware that we shared another bond – we were both hooked on tobacco. Did I listen to him? Yes, I knew he was right. Did I actually heed the advice? No, it remains to this day the best advice I never followed. To my detriment, I forged ahead continuing a relationship with tobacco that would eventually span 24 years. More years with tobacco than without. It did not have to be that way. I could have quit the first few years, but honestly believed I was not addicted.

So here I am at 200 days free of nicotine. How did I get here?

Read on and you will find out. My hope is that this story, my “speech”, will serve many purposes. That it will serve as an explanation to my non-tobacco using coworkers, relatives and friends as to why I have been so agitated and grumpy over the last few months. That it will serve as a promise to those I love that I am done with tobacco. That my quit brothers and sisters both at Team Independence and in other groups will be encouraged by these words to stay committed and continue to say, “no tobacco today!”

And to those of you still sitting on the fence, wondering whether or not to quit:

Perhaps like me, you’ve never seriously tried to quit. Or perhaps you’ve tried a hundred times. The past is not important. You have a choice to make now. Perhaps you simply need a few words of encouragement …

You see, words are powerful. History books are filled with the words of this world’s richest and most powerful leaders. Their words have changed the course of human events, their words have built nations.

I hope that my words are enough to get you to really think. I hope that the light bulb goes on, that the synapses close, that conscious thought is born and that you become keenly aware of what your addiction has cost you. Perhaps today is the day when you finally realize that the time has come to quit.

I remember my time. It was a Tuesday evening, March 28th, 2006. I finally realized how much a can of snuff really weighs. See it’s more than just the 1.2 ounces of tobacco, the fiberboard can and the metal lid … much more. So how much does it weigh? There is no scale large enough to measure the weight of this addiction. It is crippling. It presses down on you with a force so strong you cannot move.

Now imagine living your life free of this weight. Without it there is nothing you cannot do – new opportunities and a glorious dawn await.

So I have an important question for you. What would you be willing to endure today for the promise of the most beautiful sunrise you have ever seen tomorrow?

I know you have been reading … lurking … wondering how in the world you could ever possibly give up dipping snuff. Seriously, I know how you feel. You don’t want to quit. You wish you wanted to quit. You wish you had never started, but you just cannot imagine giving up your use of smokeless tobacco. You do not want to say goodbye to your friend tobacco … this friend of yours has been with you, your constant companion, for 10, 20 or 30 years. How could you ever live your life without snuff. Why would you want to?

Have you actually thought that? Have you actually wondered if you could enjoy life without tobacco? It makes boring, mundane tasks bearable. Pleasurable activities are more enjoyable. Stressful situations are better handled while dipping. Jonas Salk has nothing on these tobacco producers. This is the absolute best, most awesome, cure-all, wonder drug ever developed or contemplated.

You need a pick me up … take a dip
You need to relax … take a dip
Bored … take a dip
Ready to celebrate … take a dip
Tragedy in your life/need to cope … reach for the can … take another dip

Am I striking a chord with you? Have you realized how ridiculous this all is and yet how common these thoughts are? Do you know you are addicted? Do you know that there is help? Here? Do you even care?

People who care about you, people who love you, have been telling you for years to ditch this habit. You have used up every excuse in the books. Don’t even bother me with your “unique” reasons – I’ve heard it all. You are no different than hundreds of others on this site. Except for one thing … they are quit and you are not. It doesn’t have to be that way. Don’t let it stay that way.

You can quit. I know you “love” your snuff and you don’t want to say goodbye to your old companion, but think about this. What if the joy you experienced, the pleasure you received, the satisfaction you longed for were all obtained as a result of NOT using tobacco. What if not dipping was actually WORTH it?

I realize you are skeptical, but I enjoyed my copendookie just as much as you do (whatever brand you use). I carried a can (or a roll) with me across continents. Just about every adult decision I wrestled with was made with a wedge of cope in my lip. I can relate to what you are going through and I understand how truly scary it is to contemplate a future without tobacco. That is why you do NOT need to make a “I am going to quit forever” commitment. You simply decide to quit for today.

Each and every new day say to yourself, “no tobacco today!” That, my friend, is how you gain the freedom you so desperately want.

And to all of you currently in your first two tobacco free weeks:

I can relate to what you are experiencing. I know how difficult it is. I was there 28 weeks ago. I quit on April 1, 2006. I have now experienced my first tobacco free April, May, June, July, August and September in over 24 years. I did not know when I started how I could ever make it past 2 weeks. My quit started at 7:17 am (pacific standard time) in a United 777 sitting at Changi International Airport in Singapore. I spit out my last fatty of Copendookie and de-boarded the plane with my wife and daughter. In an effort to memorialize the beginning of my quit, I handed my soon to be two year old daughter my last can and asked her to throw it in the garbage. She did … then smiled … then laughed. She was so proud of herself for throwing that object away. The smile on her face is etched in my mind. We high-fived each other and began to walk towards customs.

Chewing tobacco is a “prohibited” item in Singapore so there was no way I was going to be able to get any for the next couple of weeks. As we walked, the gravity of the situation started to hit home. A multitude of emotions hit me all at once. I was terrified and yet courageous at the same time. I thought about the 7 full, unopened cans that I had thrown away in the garbage can outside our home. I knew there would be many times over the next 2 weeks that I would want them back, but I had set myself up for success at least while in Singapore.

There were some really good times while on that vacation and it was a great time to start a quit in my opinion. Everything was different … the climate, geography, people, language, food, schedules. But I thought about Cope ALL the time. I had ordered the DipStop program before I left so I had a supply of BaccOff, a manual and some herbal drops to aid in the nicotine withdrawal. I was as prepared as I could be. Singapore also prohibits the sale and use of chewing gum and I’ve never seen seeds for sale there so the fake chew and hard candies was going to have to get me through.

There were times I seriously wondered if I was going to die. I think I had headaches every day and I was beyond irritable. Grouchy is just not a good enough word to describe my mood back then. I remember thinking that I might go back to the can when I got home.

By the time I got home after 17 days, the worst was over. The cravings were still very strong, but it was all mental at that point. I decided to continue to fight each craving one at a time by saying “I’m not going to dip now”. I had learned not to look to the past and dwell on my past associations with dip. More importantly, I had realized how important it is not to look to the future and wonder “how will I ever survive without chew?” and “how can I live the rest of my life without ever having another dip?”

I was still having a very difficult time. My constant companion for 24 years, I had removed tobacco from my life. It felt like a piece of me had been cut, no … torn from me. I would soon find the QS website. It seems like I read everything. I printed out, read and re-read the “SpongeBob Mantra” and Bluesman’s “Secrets of our Success” many, many times. Just words? No, these guys had lived it. They had been where I was and they had endured. I found tremendous courage in what I read. It still amazes me to this day that I and my addiction are not unique. There is nothing that I have experienced, or will experience, that at least a few people on this forum have not also gone through. That is comforting!

I finally understood and accepted that I could not quit “forever”, but that I could quit for today. No matter how bad the cravings have been, or will be, I can remain quit for today. I can say “no tobacco today”, mean it and stick to it.

I just want to encourage you during this very critical and most difficult time. You just have to hang on. You just have to realize and accept that your life will most likely suck for the next week or two. You may not know how you can even last that long without the worm dirt. I know. Really, I’ve been there. Just focus on now, today.

Say it out loud, “NO TOBACCO TODAY!”

To those of you currently in your third and fourth tobacco free weeks:

There are still many challenges to address and overcome. During the first 2 weeks, the physical discomforts you experienced were all you could focus on. You probably were not able to think about much else. However, now that these physical ailments are subsiding, the mental aspect of this addiction will come to the forefront and you will begin the mental battles associated with overcoming this addiction.

You have probably started to realize that the hardest part of this is the mental aspect. Yeah, the first 3 days are brutal and the next 2 weeks you still have physical withdrawal symptoms that make life very difficult, but getting through the physical aspect is relatively short compared to the mental component. If the mind fog has not set in, it will soon and it can be quite thick. I have heard it described as trying to think through velvet. As ridiculous as that sounds, it is a perfect description. Your attention span will be reduced to the level commonly seen in kindergarten. You will be amazed by your poor concentration level, but this is normal and is a necessary part of your recovery.

This is also a time when your mind will try to play tricks on you. In order to achieve success in your quit, you will need to figure out why you have succumbed to the mind games and returned to the open arms of tobacco. Instead of letting your mind play tricks on you, turn the tables and you deal the cards. Stack the deck in your favor and you’ll win every hand. In other words, you need to take your thoughts, manage and manipulate them so that they help you – not hurt you.

For example, do you believe that just one more dip will kill you? It could, but the chances are very small that JUST one more will have any real negative consequence of any kind.

So do I believe that just one more dip will kill ME?

Absolutely! Without a doubt! 100 percent positive!

I continue to tell myself this daily. I truly believe that I cannot have even one. JUST one WILL kill me! I’m sure!

So guess what? It’s not an option anymore. As far as I’m concerned, UST doesn’t even make copendookie anymore. It’s just not available.

To those of you currently in your second month:

Congratulations on a month free of tobacco. You should be proud of yourself for you have fought hard and succeeded at doing something few have attempted and even fewer have accomplished. Do not lose focus and do not let your guard down. You cannot coast, but you can draw strength from the success of the first month and allow that confidence to propel you into the second.

I should also warn you that many have experienced a boredom phase during the second month. I hit the bored stretch right at 50 days. Something changed in the life of my quit where I just got tired of everything. Tired of reading, tired of posting, tired of thinking, tired of quitting … I just ran out of steam. I started to really struggle and had a “is this really worth it?” attitude. “Perhaps a short hiatus from this quit – get my mind and my life settled a bit, then I’ll start again.” Part of me just wanted to give in and go back to the can. Lots of lies were being told within the confines of my mind, but I recognized them as lies. The truth remained that I was better off without tobacco. I KNEW I was – I really did, but my mind kept trying to play tricks on me.

You see, during the first 30 days, each day is tough for its own reasons, but it’s like we have a real enemy to wage war against. There is “fuel” to keep us fighting and staying motivated is relatively easy.

Where are you in your quit? 30, 40, 50 days? This has been hard … THE hardest thing you’ve ever done, right? Certainly you are tired, exhausted. You have every right to be. This is hard, demanding work. You get no breaks – you must continue to fight … every day, morning, noon and night through every trigger, every stress and all the boredom. Everything you used to do, your entire life, involved tobacco. It made boring tasks bearable. It helped perk you up when you were groggy. It helped calm you down when you were stressed. It made the good times more enjoyable.

Lies, lies, lies … and you believed them … all of them.

Now you know better, but you have been conditioned for so long … 10, 20, 30 years or more. It is going to take time brothers. The last 30, 40 or 50 days seem like a lifetime. I know. I went through it too.

In order to get through this boredom phase you need to keep your quit alive. Remember why you quit. Remember what tobacco has taken from you. Your health, your money, time away from your friends and family, your self respect, peace of mind … the list goes on. Doesn’t that piss you off? It should!!!!

Use that to keep your quit alive. It is important that you remember the difficulties of quitting. You need to make sure that the pain and heartache you are currently experiencing are never forgotten. Our minds, over time, have a way of softening the hard edges. There is nothing soft or easy about quitting smokeless tobacco. Commit to memory the agony of these first few weeks.

That being said, the first month probably felt like three. I remember constantly looking at my watch wondering how time could possibly be going so slow. It is important that you also recognize this principle … “every step away from tobacco is one step closer to freedom.” You need to simply put some distance between yourself and your past associations with snuff. Build dip free memories and by so doing, you will be breaking the strings that tie you to your tobacco past.

This is an important one too … “the only thing tobacco is good for, is keeping you addicted to tobacco!” You need to realize that you simply do not need tobacco. It will not make you a better athlete, business person, sibling or parent. It may seem like it helps you, but all it really will do is elevate your blood pressure, raise your heart rate, make you more prone to anxiety and increase your risk of cancer.

Also, there are lots of new quitters joining every day. Remember your first week? They could use some help, an encouraging word, someone to let them know that their experiences are normal and understandable. Lending a hand to a brother or sister in need will help keep your quit at front and center.

To those of you currently in your third month:

As quickly as you can, you need to do one thing. You need to “close the door” on tobacco. I am thankful to SportDad for originally coining this phrase and explaining it. I am equally thankful to Remshot for quoting it and thereby drawing my attention to it.

I wrote the following on a Friday morning 137 days ago …

“CLOSE THE DOOR. In my opinion, it’s the single most important step in your final quit. There is one moment, THE moment, when you finally let go and surrender to the quit. After that moment, no temptation will be great enough, no lie persuasive enough to make you commit suicide by using tobacco.”..SportDad 1/13/05

Every time I read one of Remshot’s posts, I see this quote. Quite profound words I must say. Always wondered when I would be able to say, and more importantly mean, these same words …

This morning was not a normal one for me. Today I got stuck … err I mean … had the pleasure and opportunity to get my daughter ready to leave the house. Usually my wife does it or it is a joint effort between the two of us. Once in a while, I have to get her ready on my own, but I’ve always gotten myself ready first while my wife is still at home. Today I was an idiot. I waited until my wife was gone before making any preparations … poor decision. It took me 2 hours to get me and my daughter ready to leave the house. We did have a nice breakfast together and I didn’t forget anything. Heck, I even washed the dishes … including the coffee pot (my wife hates it when I “forget” to wash the coffee pot). Two friggin’ hours though. That’s gotta be some kind of record for the slowest morning ever. Oh well, I’m still pretty new at this fatherhood stuff so maybe I should cut myself some slack.

I mention all this just to give you an idea of my frame of mind this morning. I didn’t have time to think about Copendookie or my quit. However, as soon we were in the car traveling down the road … the first mile mind you … I start thinking about my quit. Immediately I realize that I’m not craving tobacco. Instead my mind is filled with thoughts of how you all are doing, the fact that it is babe flood Friday, and I start thinking about “Closing the Door”.

Could today be THE day? Yeah, I quit already … 63 days ago. Since then I have taken it one day at a time. For each and every craving, my response has been “I’m not gonna dip now”. Sometimes I have said it out loud, sometimes just in my head, but that’s how I’ve gotten to today. For the 24 previous years, the response to each craving had always been the same … reach for the can.

Could today be THE day? Even though for 63 days I have not succumbed to the temptation to dip tobacco, even though there have been many times that I have felt strong and consciously thought “I think I’ve beat this”, I have also experienced just as many times of uncertainty and weakness. So I have intentionally left the door open just a crack … just in case. It’s pretty scary to close the door.

Could today be THE day? How firmly do I need to shut it? How certain and how resolved must I be? At only 63 days, is it too soon to know whether I CAN close it for good? What if I want to open it again? Even if it’s just to see what’s on the other side. Why do I keep asking these questions and why all this drama?

Why can’t I just close the door? … why?

I stopped the car, got out, walked into the office, sat down at my desk, turned on my computer, logged into QS2, went to the July 2006 Quit Group and found a post from Rem just so that I could read it again …

“CLOSE THE DOOR. In my opinion, it’s the single most important step in your final quit. There is one moment, THE moment, when you finally let go and surrender to the quit. After that moment, no temptation will be great enough, no lie persuasive enough to make you commit suicide by using tobacco.”

Wouldn’t life be easier if I could just close the door? What will help me to close it?

Then a funny thing happened. I started thinking about the warning labels. You remember those, right? What was it they said? Something about tooth loss, gum disease, cancer????

I remembered a stash of old plastic cans in my desk drawer. They’ve been there a couple of years now I think. UST had some crazy idea to put Cope in a plastic, half ounce can. They test marketed them and sold them three to a pack so that you could have a “fresh can every day.” Except I used 2 or 3 of them every day. Why exactly I kept these plastic cans I can no longer remember. They now reside in the bottom of a refuse bin. But before I threw them away, I read the labels. On top was printed “Fresh Cope … it Satisfies” just like it was stamped into the metal lids. On the side, in smaller letters, was written one of three things:

1) WARNING: This product may cause mouth cancer.

2) WARNING: This product may cause gum disease and tooth loss.

or 3) WARNING: This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes.

I can’t even imagine how many times I saw and read these warnings. Heck, I even believed them. I just never heeded them … until today. Today I am making the decision to “Close the Door”. I have read the warnings, I believe the warnings and today … finally … I will heed the warnings.

I realize that my quit is not over. I will need to renew my resolve daily and there will be difficulties ahead, but I will no longer put that crap in my face. Nothing will change my mind. No course of events, no slanderous accusation, no tragedy, no celebration. Nothing will ever again be enough to convince me to play Russian Roulette with chewing tobacco.

I’m done … the door is closed.

So why is it so important to “close the door?”

Because at some point during this third month, you will face some major cravings and what many call the “doldrums” or the “funk”.

Now, these late term craves can happen at different times. These cravings came after the boredom phase for me – somewhere around day 80. I had heard so much about them that I was prepared. I think that the craves “seem” worse than they really are. That was the case for me anyway. The first 2 weeks were one long continuous craving. Over time, the cravings had slowly, but steadily diminished to a point where I really noticed each individual one. “I should be over this by now … why am I still having cravings? I must be more addicted than everyone else. This really is not getting better. I can’t handle these cravings anymore – I just can’t continue to muster up the strength to keep fighting this. I don’t have the stamina.”

Blah, Blah, Blah …

Lies, Lies, LIES!

One reason this site helped me so much is that I was prepared for all these lies. Seems like everyone experiences the same things and although that could lead to some self-fulfilling prophesy, I can say that was not my experience.

I realized that boring or menial tasks, like doing dishes, bathing my daughter, mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, changing a diaper, or even just taking a shower always seemed more pleasant with a dip in. I would get a twinge when I thought about dipping while doing one of those things. It was more of a nuisance than a real craving, but then there were days when it seemed like my entire day was made up of a series of those boring/menial tasks. The little twinges just added up to something more – something that was not just simply passed aside – a craving that made me take notice.

I remember getting really nostalgic about dipping. I thought about caving in, buying a can and returning to my old friend Cope. That lasted a few minutes, went away, came back, went away and so on. This type of thinking, allowing myself to romanticize my past relationship with chewing tobacco, could have killed my quit. Looking back, I think what helped me the most was being certain that I had already “closed the door”.

Lesson learned – go back to basics and remind myself:

1) I’m not gonna dip now
2) I don’t do that crap anymore
3) I already “closed the door”
4) No tobacco today!

I got through this “funk” at about 85 days. The excitement of reaching the 100 day milestone kicked in and those next two weeks seemed to fly by. Time finally started to pass at a normal rate again and I felt like I had my life back.

To those of you already in the Hall of Fame:

What can I say? I know that 100 days off nicotine is just a start. It is a significant milestone for each of us, but it should not be a final destination for any of us. Making it to the Hall of Fame has shown me that I can quit. Each and every day, for a hundred days in a row, I said “no” to the temptations that held me captive for so many years. Today I celebrate my second 100 days of freedom. While it has been much, much easier and it proves that the first hundred was not a fluke, the main significance comes in that I have doubled the distance between me and tobacco.

Six weeks ago, when my son, Scotty, was in the NICU, I thought about dipping snuff a lot. What I was forced to do though was count the cost of my addiction. I remembered what snuff had taken from me. This self indulgent addiction had taken my self respect, forced me to hide in the shadows, done damage to my heart, and taken my money.

Whereas being quit had taught me that saying “no” was something I could do and be proud of. There were many others, friends and family, that were also proud of me. I felt better mentally, physically and spiritually. I began to also count the blessings that came as a result of no longer dipping snuff.

My health has already improved. My blood pressure is down. I no longer have anxiety attacks. I can exhibit self control instead of reaching for a can of death every time I “need” a dip. The list goes on.

Life is not easy. Bad things happen no matter what we do to prevent them. A dip of snuff will not help take away the pain and it will not help any of us deal with situations more effectively. In fact, the only thing tobacco is good for, is keeping us addicted to tobacco. That’s it!

“No tobacco today” is the motto we live by regardless of our circumstances.

I know that I can live without tobacco, I know that I do not need it and I know that life is better now. 24 years ago I never would have thought I would spend over half my life slowly committing suicide. The freedom I now experience is awesome. I know that word gets overused a lot, but I truly am in “awe” to be free from such a powerful drug. Yes, I still have cravings from time to time. In fact, not a day goes by that I do not want a dip of cope. Triggers still try to lure me back. However, these thoughts do not carry the power they once did.

So am I free? I mean, I still struggle at times to stay quit. Remaining quit has not yet become easy. Am I really free?

The answer is yes. Now I have a choice. Six months ago I did not. I cannot honestly remember any particular dip except for my last one. Dipping was a routine and necessary part of my daily life, but rarely was it really enjoyable anymore. I think back often and remember all those good dipping times. Except, they weren’t really “good”, they were “required”.

Am I free now?

Absolutely!

It’s amazing what can be accomplished by taking this one day at a time and saying, “No Tobacco Today!”

A special “thank you” to:

Bluesman for writing “The Secret of Our Success”, the “Do Anything” approach and for repeatedly using the phrase “No Tobacco Today.”

Spongebob for his Mantra and for writing “What Price to Save Ourselves?” – these saved me many times during the first 6 weeks.

Hope for “The Contract to Give Up.”

Rick, Phil, Steve, Breen, roosterless, Orion the Hunter, goodbyecope and Big Dave for all the other articles at QS.org – collectively, these helped me more than you will ever know.

To the vets who went before me and paved the way … Thank you! The road to freedom is a well-traveled one. Seeing you succeed made me realize that I too could quit and stay quit. For helping me to “keep it between the ditches”, I offer my sincere gratitude to QuittinTime, Remshot, Copewquitn, Penguin, arbcubed, Rob aka Indy, Cliff, loot, Aqua, Sauce, Snoborder, Sioux, ODT, Captain Kirk and Rayne. I want to thank each of you for encouraging me along the way and for showing me through your interaction on the site that life would eventually be about something more than quitting.

To my brothers at Team Indy, thanks for providing a safe haven where I could read, write, rant, whine and sometimes just survive. I want to especially thank Hagen Junkie, Donedying, Banyanaman, VikeFan and last, but not least WhoDey. You guys are awesome!

To my younger brothers in the August, September and October 2006 groups, I have enjoyed getting to know you guys. I have received just as much encouragement from you as I have attempted to give to you. Thank you for allowing me to crash your parties, steal your trophies and add to my post count.

To my family and other friends who may read this, I love you. I quit using tobacco for me, but I also did it so that I could spend more time with all of you. These past six months have been incredibly difficult at times. I thank you all for being understanding and for your encouragement along the way.

And finally, it would be incredibly disrespectful of me to not thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Until I became a member of QS.org, I had no idea how many Christians were in bondage, shackled to their cans of tobacco. This addiction truly does not play favorites … it will destroy anyone willing to participate. Thank you Lord for helping me to break free and for all those you sent to help.

NOTE: This piece written by KillTheCan.org forum member 7iron

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