More like a complete intro….actually started out as the beginning of my HOF speech then realized that maybe it was not appropriate. Don’t expect people to read this, but I didn’t want to lose what I had already put into words…it helps for me to see it…maybe it will help someone else, too, someday.
I very clearly remember my first dip. I was 7 years old. For anyone in their 20’s, maybe even early 30’s, this might seem absolutely unimaginable. I am sure that even to old-timers this will strike them as having been wrong, but the way things were. My father was a race horse jockey out West – Rocky Mountain region, from New Mexico to Montana. I spent the first 8 years of my life at the tracks, barns and jocks room. It seemed that EVERYBODY was chewing or dipping (note the distinction between snuff and leaf tobacco). Being an impressionable 7-year old, and wanting to be like my dad and all the other older kids and jockeys that I looked up to, I wanted to try and dip. I remember one of the older boys letting me have a pinch of Skoal. I walked around spitting, so proud of myself. I remember standing at the track rail with my dad, watching some of the horses get worked out, and he noticed me spitting. He asked what I was spitting and when I told him I was dipping Skoal, he laughed. I can’t remember how it came about, but he gave me the money to buy a can of my own. I carried that can – when even the Skoal can was tin – in my back pocket with pride as a status symbol that I was “all grown up.” Well, I got sick from dipping either later that day or the next. Thinking back, maybe my dad had intended for that to be the case and he had planned for me to decide for myself that I didn’t want to dip. In fact, I didn’t touch dip again for about 9 years. I did, however, start chewing Levi Garrett, Cannon Ball, Red Man and other leaf tobacco – something my father did, as well as smoking cigars and cigarettes. Seems it was easier to not swallow the juice from leaf than it was from snuff. When I was 8, my mother and father split up, I was removed from the race track environment and I didn’t chew or dip again for some time. I also never saw or heard from my father again until I was 14 and he was dying in the hospital from a stroke – brought on by multiple head traumas from being thrown from horses, as well as the smoking and drinking he did all his life.
At 16, I tried some of my cousins Copenhaggen, after being called a pussy for not ever doing anything – at the time I didn’t smoke or chew or dip. Having lost my father when I was 14 and having my mother pass away from cancer a month after I turned 16, I was trying more than anything to fit in with my remaining family. I took a dip of Cope. I was literally drunk by the nicotine coursing through my system. Although I did not continue dipping, I would remember that feeling.
For the next 5 years, I did not use nicotine at all. I drank heavily – means of coping with being a 16-21 year old without family and trying to make it on one’s own. I finished high school while living in a rented basement apartment and even went straight into college after graduation. Continued to drink, was in a fraterity and did some recreational “substances” a few times but didn’t like those and still didn’t use nicotine. Unfortunately, paying for college, studying and working full time was not something I could muster. Thank God for the Navy.
First duty station – Atsugi, Japan. When not at sea or deployed, we run a clinic. Seems everyone was getting breaks, leaving me all alone to cover the clinic. Seems everyone was getting breaks because they smoked. After about 2 months, I figured I deserved to get breaks too. I started smoking – just to get breaks. I continued smoking for the entire time I was there – approximately 2 years. During one deployment, seems I ran out of cigarettes and no-one had any. Not to mention, the only time you could smoke on board ship was in certain places and at certain times. Made it difficult when you were a nic addict. That’s when I was re-introduced to Cope. It was a permanent nic fix that was easy to hide and get away with while a work. From 1991 until 1993 I smoked and dipped…sometimes even at the same time. I remember someone asking to borrow a dip while we were at sea. I had had my aunt send me a sleeve of Cope and I was down to my last can. The kid borrowing the dip went to pack it and the lid came off, spilling the Cope all over the floor in the ER. After cussing him out, punching him 2 or 3 times, I went about scooping every bit of it back up and putting it back in the can. After being on the ER floor, I was so addicted I was willing to still put that shit back in my mouth. When I was transferred to a marine unit, I knew there was no way I could continue to smoke and be able to run every morning the way I would need to. I quit smoking…just like that. But I was still dipping, still getting my nicotine.
1995 – I met my wife and got married this year. Still in the military. I confessed to her that I dipped. She was disgusted, but loved me anyway. I promised to her that I would quit. After out first son was born in 1998, and having been caught lying about still dipping or buying dip, I again swore I would quit the can. Repeat the past few lines again in 2000 with birth of second son, 2001 with the rates quoted for life insurance because of being a tobacco user, 2002 with the birth of my third son, again in 2005 with the birth of my fourth son and several times since then when I promised not only to my wife but also my sons (who found old cans and knew I was dipping) that I would quit. Nothing like having your son go around saying, “My dad does drugs.”
In February of this year, my wife told me she was “done.” She told me that she wanted me out of the house. There were/are a lot of factors that led to this and it would be minimzing the entire situation if I were to try and say that it was all related to me dipping. It is not and I have many other issues that I must work on in order to fix my marriage. I do know that tobacco has been a part of that – a LARGE part – as I have been willing to continue lying, sneaking about, hiding, spending money in order to continue my addiction.
I’m still living at home. Things are not going well and it is truly a “oe day at a time” process trying to fix my marriage. On top of that, place the stress of working full time in an ER dealing with life and death every day, coaching two boys in baseball, and trying to maintain a household. I don’t know whether or not I can do enough to fix my marriage. What I do know is that I have now been 105 days without nicotine in my body. I also know that there isn’t a single problem that I have to face that would be made any easier to deal with if I had nic running through my veins. I have been a liar quite often in the past – to many people, especially myself and my wife. For whatever reason, either good or bad, my word I give to you, fellow quitters, is the one thing I know is going good in my life at this time. When I question whether or not I can change enough to save my marriage, I look at the past 105 days. The past 105 days are my lght at the end of the tunnel, my proof that I CAN change. My family means everything to me…even if I cannot always show that by my actions. To fail here, to fail you and myself in this quit is to, ultimately, fail my family and marriage. KTC gives me the hope and strength to keep working, to keep changeing in order to preserve my marriage.
KTC has given me the tools in order to start my quit from nicotine. KTC and its members give me the strength and courage to keep the quit going. And without these things, there would be no chance of saving what is truly important, my family. For this, I will be forever grateful to KTC and all of the members here that I have had the pleasure of meeting and talking with.
I admit, this comes in hindsight, but there are a few people I would like to thank personally – and if I don’t mention you, don’t get all butt-hurt, I still like ya.
Greg5280 – you “mentored” and talked me through a lot of the first 2 weeks, big help.
Loot – you were the thorn in my side that showed me humor and seriousness can be combined in the quit.
coachmorris – you and I connected early on, you were a good partner for the early days, thanks for the texting.
NOLAQ and Tobasco – SImply put – SEMPER FI. Nuff said there
Captain Jack – Your leadership and example has made a difference