Unlike many of my brothers here, I’m not sure I can remember that one point where dip took hold of me but my story would be incomplete without reflecting on where I came from:
The Early Years
I grew up on Long Island and unlike many of you here, I had never even heard of Dip let alone tried it until I went to college. However, I was by no means oblivious to Nicotine. My mother was a heavy smoker when I was little and I have many memories of riding in a car filled with smoke. I also remember stealing cigarettes from here in like 7th or 8th grade and while I hated the taste (she smoked those menthol cigarettes that were pretty awful) I do remember liking the head rush I got. Still, I made it through high school as being no more than a social smoker while drinking at parties or such. No big deal??
College Life in the South
In college I continued having my “occasional” smoke but that was all. Going to Duke University in North Carolina introduced this New Yorker to many of the niceties of southern life, such as good ‘ol southern bar-b-que, hush puppies, Waffle House and Dip. Somewhere along the way, I tried my first dip and while I didn’t get sick, I also remember thinking I could take it or leave it (or so I thought). I also remember having a Sigma Chi fraternity brother who was a very heavy dipper (he would stack the empty dip cans around his dorm room like some kind of trophy display) and remember him having to quit as his doctor told him he was burning a hole through his lip and would end up with cancer for sure if he continued. That should have told me something. Anyway, I graduated from college, and did not give Dipping or smoking much more thought.
That lasted about 7 years or so. After graduating with a JD/MBA, I started working in New York as an investment banker and that was when my addiction started in earnest. As a new associate, during the late 90’s into early 2000, I would typically spend around 90 hours a week at work working with financial models. A few other guys at work would occasionally dip and being young and stupid, that seemed like a good way to kill the monotony of working all the time. I started with Cherry Skoal liking the sweet flavor and the good buzz and filled many a large empty Starbucks cup with dip spit at work while hiding my accelerating habit. I would very typically remain working and dipping until 2 or 3 in the morning and then make my way home to my then girlfriend (now wife of almost 10 years) who had no idea at the time (or even now) that I had a blossoming addiction. Even then, I remember thinking that I dipped too much and playing games with myself about how to ease up on my addiction. For instance, I can remember trying to limit how many times a day I would take a dip, or not dipping in the morning and having to wait until a certain time in the day before dipping or how many cans I would buy in a given week etc. Sound familiar to anyone? Isn’t it amazing, the mental gymnastics we addicts go through?
The Ninja Years
7 years ago, I left banking and changed careers to commercial real estate and started working from home. However, by this time I was a bonafide first class ninja dipper and became very skilled at hiding my dipping and my addiction. I kept my addiction from my wife, my 7 yr old daughter, my 4 yr old son and everyone else in my life. I never dipped in front of them but there’s something real fucked up about looking forward to getting up with and giving a baby a bottle in the middle of the night just to find a time to Dip without getting caught. Or in taking drives to nowhere for no reason just to find a time to dip or buy another tin at a local gas station. I could obviously go on and on (13 years worth of going on to be exact) but for all of us Ninja addicts, this is a well worn story. When I think about the amount of energy I have spent over the last 13 years in order to get my “fix” and hide my addiction from others, I am truly sickened by it all.
The Last Stand
Somewhere around the time my wife got pregnant with our first child, I decided I should probably quit if I wanted to make it to my kids weddings. To that end, as many of us here have done over and over again, I kept looking for the “right time” to quit and spent several years watching those “milestone” dates come and go only to set new quit dates and then watch them fail. One time, I even did quit for about 8 months but then went back. Why? Because I never accepted the fact that I was truly an addict who can never allow myself to have even one dip or smoke if I am to remain clean of NIC’s hold over me.
Finally, when I needed to get a physical for a new life insurance policy, I decided that I needed to somehow stop for at least 30 days so as not to pay tobacco rates on a new policy. By now my addiction had increased to about 1 1/2 tins a day and I was regularly rotating my purchases among 4 or 5 different convenience stores in my area so as not to tip off how much I was buying from the various store clerks in my area (Ninjas are resourceful and shifty if nothing else).
Planning to stop for enough time to get clean in order to pass a physical led me to finding this site where I started reading, connecting and finally making that decision, 2 days before my 42nd birthday, to take my life back once and for all (I wish my reasons for getting here were more noble but any reason that gets us to finally take back control of our lives is well worth the price of admission).
The Stark Truth on My HOF Day
The first weeks of my quit were hell. However, I truly hoped that KTC would make all the difference in my quit. From my first day here, I was hit with any number of support emails from veterans both offering me a helping hand but also letting me know from day 1 that this site is all about personal responsibility and keeping the promises we make to ourselves and each other with zero tolerance for excuse. This is probably the thing I would most like to pass along to any newbies who have made it this far in my long and rambling thoughts (other than knowing that it is possible to quit and this is coming from someone whose first and last thoughts every day were about getting that next dip). So I will say it again. Every person on this site is here for the same reason and has gone through the same Dantean hell. However, we are here because we all want our lives back and are willing to take the personal responsibility of admitting our addiction, admitting we are weak and ultimately making our promise to keep quitting one day at a time and then allowing ourselves to be held accountable to that promise by those who truly understand what is at stake.
I know that I am an addict and have no choice but to keep quitting the rest of my life, one day at a time because failure is not an option. Regardless of how far any of us may think we have come, we must always remember that we will never be free of this addiction. If any of us believe we are free, we have lost. Simple as that.
Finally, I would like to thank all of those vets who were there to support me when I first joined the site and still support me with special props to Cbird65 and Sportsfan231 (both of you are true credits to this site and have been instrumental in my quit).