I have debated extensively as to how I should open this HOF speech. I have also wrestled with the audience of this speech. Am I writing this for some new guy on day three, am I writing this speech for my quit brothers in March, or am I just writing this speech for me? All are valid questions and more importantly all are reasons why I am writing this speech.
I don’t think that I will ever again be able to look at the concept of 100 days the same now that I have lived 100 days without nicotine. I started young and dipped relentlessly for 19 years of my life. I dipped so much I would often fall asleep with a dip in my mouth only to wake up and start the next day with that same dip still in my mouth. I am still not proud to admit that. I was a ninja user through and through. In all reality though, I started dipping because I thought it made me tough. I believed this shit somehow supported my rugged individualism. I didn’t believe that I could be a good bull rider unless I chewed tobacco. I once believed…. blah blah blah. The reality is that for 19 years I believed a bunch of lies about chewing tobacco and being an addict. I lived locked in chains and enslaved wrestling with those lies. Everyday for 19 years, that is 6,935 days by the way, I wrestled with the same lie again and again believing that if I wrestled a little harder or just cut back, or took a day off, or tried to stop on Easter that this time things might change. Nope, they didn’t. My HOF speech is going to focus on lies I believed for 19 years and truths I have learned in 100 days.
1. Lie: I don’t have a problem. Truth: I am an addict.
Damn, it feels so good to say that truth. Bottom line, in spite of having a PhD and all the other cool stuff I have done with my life every single day when I wake up I admit that I am an addict. I ran from that lie for 19 years trying to believe that it was not true. It is. I am an addict and if feels good to say that. I say that feels good because I no longer have to hide that I was once, and still could be, controlled by a substance more powerful than myself. It feels good, because I have finally mustered up the courage to say words that generations of men in my family have not been able to say because they are too scared to admit their own weaknesses and flaws while teaching yet another generation to live a lie addicted to chewing tobacco. I am an addict that lives every day of his life in a graceful and grateful state of recovery from my addiction to chewing tobacco. I remember admitting that to Zquitter early on in my quit. Thanks Z, I am still quit because of your willingness to allow me to be honest. To my brothers who helped get me here, thank you. To the new guy on day three or the guy still mentally trying this quit thing on for size your freedom starts here… admitting that you are an addict. However, as G. I. Joe said, knowing is half the battle. The other half of the battle is surrendering.
2. Lie: I can dip just one more time. Truth: I can never again have another dip.
It feels even better to say and believe that second truth. To the new guy or girl, this is where change begins for you. You see for 19 years, I believed that I could just have one more dip. Just one more. Think about all the things that you believe. I believe the Chicago Blackhawks are the greatest hockey franchise in the post salary cap era. But that belief does not control everything that I do for 19 years like the belief that I can have one more dip. The truth that I cannot have one more dip is where I found freedom. I will never forget driving down the road in my car and it just hitting me like a ton of bricks that each time I said I would not dip again, I did. It was there and then on December 13 2015 that I said, I can never again have another dip of snuff and threw out my can. I woke up the next morning to a whirlwind of emotions and sensations and threw in a wad of dried cherries and said this is day two of a nicotine free existence. Since then, chewing tobacco no longer has a power over me. For example, I went to the store one day to get a can of smoky mountain at Wal-Mart. This was the worst anxiety day I had early in my quit. I thought I was done for. I get to Wal-Mart, ask the guy for smoky mountain. He says, I don’t think we have any. In my head, I said a little prayer and asked that my Higher Power would help me out. The cashier then said, hey come on back and see if you can find a can of smoky. The real dippers know that the dip stand at Wal-Mart is a dippers dream. Literally hundreds of cans at a fingers tips reach. In spite of the pain I was experiencing, the anxiety, the fear, the sick stomach, the feeling that if this keeps going like this I am not sure I am going to make it… I never once had the thought that I wanted a can of Grizzly. I lifted the little partition that hides where they store the logs and the only thing in that shelf was one single can of Smoky Mountain. That is when I knew I was truly surrendered. When i hear new guys and gals talk about still wanting one more or hopefully this time, I know they are not ready. You have to know that you can never again do this to experience the freedom we have and do in these rooms. This is paradoxical, that is painful and dissonant but this is where power begins in surrendering. I know it is scary to let go, just trust us guys and gals with some time under our belts. We will catch you and you will make it.
3. Lie: I can do this alone, nobody needs to know I am an addict. Truth: I cannot do this alone.
This is for the new guy or gal, straight up… you cannot do this alone. For 19 years I thought I could just quit and be fine. NOPE! THAT JUST WILL NOT HAPPEN. If you really want to quit, you gain strength through others. I daily gain just a little bit more strength when I say to my group, I quit with you all today. I would bet $1000 dollars most dippers think they are sissies if they admit they need help. Lies. I cannot stay quit by myself. I daily conquer my addiction through admitting to others that I am an addict. This is the power of our group and fellowship. Early on in ones quit, this is where your power comes from… other people telling you that you can make it. On my worst anxiety day, I called Okie Hunter and told him I thought I was done. We started talking, he told me about his quit and said, “Look this is going to sound really gay, but whatever you have to put in your mouth to stay quit and not dip… do it”. I instantaneously started cracking up. Five minutes before I thought I was going to die. Five minutes later, I was laughing with a confidence I did not have before and I whispered to myself… day by day in every way I am getting better and better. I would not be 100 days quit were it not for my quit brother Okie Hunter, that hilarious story, and someone telling me that I could do this just one more day. Okie Hunter, owe you beers for that laugh and support. Also, Jeffro Dolfie always calls me OKCGAY… I hated him for that at first. But regardless of how shitty the early days of my quit were, each time he started breaking my balls on the chat… I laughed and forgot about my pain for a moment and then called him out for talking about dongs all the time. That Dolfie for helping me stay quit.
4. Lie: Being honest is going to get you in trouble and is only going to hurt you. Truth: Being honest helps someone else and helps you heal.
This truth became real because of two of my quit brothers, Gone Cruising and MileHighDunks. You see growing up, I had to hide my addiction. I could not be real and honest. I had to hide and sweep it under the rug because if I did not then my families faith and position in the church could be threatened. This is just not true, for the new guy or gal reading this speech. Get honest. This is the place to do it. The level at which you are willing to be honest about your addiction to someone else is the level of power you will have over that addiction moving forward in your life. I remember one day there was this guy who was new to group and he was all piss and vinegar about his quit, I reached out and shared my number. Later that day we talked for a couple of hours. We kept checking in with each other. He picked me up the night before my doctoral dissertation defense because I was down. I cried my eyes out when we thought he had cancer. I had my GF and our families pray for him. Bottom line, I am so thankful that my brother Gone Cruising allowed me to be honest. It helped me heal and it helped me feel like I had some more skin in the quit game knowing that he was counting on me to stay quit. Every time I said something about my quit, he said the same thing back. I am most proud to be quit with him, his attitude and belief in spite of adversity is an inspiration. Lastly, Milehighdunks is a guy who is growing in his quit and I am proud of him. I remember when we first talked in the chat room. He was a hot mess. Dipping mangoes was what was saving him. For the first time in a long time, I experienced compassion. I remembered the hell I had walked through and the hell he was walking through and as a result I was willing to be honest and help. He texted me one day freaking out about a crave. I said, “I am not going to wipe your ass for you… this is the hardest part of the quit. The day 21-30 fog is a bitch but you are going to get through this”. He didn’t like hearing that, but he is still quit. Get honest with yourself as this is the place where your find your power!
Wepdoc, SteelCowboy, Leeron, RestEasy, Deerducker, Worktowin, Zquitter, Slowtwitch, Stranger999, CHICKDIP (YOU ARE THE BEST)…. I am not going to list you all… Bottom Line, it is an honor to each day know I stand shoulder to shoulder with you all in the our ongoing fight to remain and abundantly live nicotine free! Let’s keep winning this battle one day at a time!
To the new guy or gal, hit me up. I know what you are about to walk through and I want to see you standing on the other side of 100 days know you are quit.