It was a cold and windless night; the kind of cold where you walk outside and your breath crystallizes. I didn’t have time to warm up my car; a 1981 Monte Carlo (maroon) with a white landau top. Actually I think I didn’t warm up the car because my girlfriend wouldn’t cooperate, and all I could think about was that blue can in my glove box; Skoal Longcut Mint. I fired up the car, loaded up my lip like a looter, and headed down highway 41 with Van Halen’s “Fair Warning” cranked up as loud as the Jensen speakers would go.
It was my senior year in High School. In five short months I would be graduating and heading to Indiana State. These were the best times in my life. That’s what everyone says anyway, but I don’t know why, but I knew that I didn’t have anything in my life figured out. What happened? What went wrong? Even today I know that something happened to derail the life that God had planned for me. Am I going to sit here and say that dipping skoal derailed my life? You will have to stick around and read some more if you want to know the answer to that question.
Right and Wrong
I grew up in rural Indiana. I was a 4-H member, raised some animals, rode dirt bikes, and was a good student. I grew up believing that God had something special in store for my life. I had two great parents that loved me and steered me the right way.
I had no intentions of becoming addicted to tobacco or getting involved with alcohol. I never could conceive being mean to people that were less fortunate than myself. Would selfishness destroy everything I had worked towards?
My first encounter with the nic bitch was on the back of the freshman baseball bus in 1983. Some kid had a can of cope. I knew it was wrong. Was I on the path of becoming a follower instead of a leader? The whole bus began spinning and the next thing I knew I was yacking in a garbage can.
I know that teenagers become rebellious, but I have pinned down that one event as the point of reference to where my life went off track of where it was supposed to go. It started out slowly, but nicotine brought out a trait in me that I never knew I had; selfishness.
Start of the Addiction
After my first encounter, there was time to change the course my life was headed. I chose the wrong path. The door of disobedience was opened. I started going to parties when I was 16. Smoking went with drinking beer on weekends. I remember one morning I woke up with a weird feeling. I can’t remember exactly when it was, but I was craving something. For the first time in my life I needed something outside of what my parents were providing me, nicotine.
I have always been ashamed of doing wrong and disappoint my parents. I knew I was going to hide my addiction, so smoking was out of the question. Teachers, parents, and my tattletale sister would rat me out if I smelled like smoke. I began my relationship with Skoal longcut mint. A can was 90 cents.
This decision to try and be “cool” and act like the older kids put me on the wrong path. Why did I have to try and be someone else? Why couldn’t I love myself for who I am? These are questions we all ask ourselves once it’s too late.
I began lying, stealing, hiding, withdrawing from activities, and feeling ashamed of myself. There was nothing about my addiction that made me feel good about myself besides self-medicating to keep the withdrawal symptoms at bay for a few hours until I had to do it all over again.
Selfishness Due to Addiction in Full Bloom
All of you reading this know that whenever an addict needs a fix, he or she can find it hard to concentrate on anything until that need is addressed. I often wonder what kind of man I would have become if I didn’t have to transition from adolescence to manhood as a junkie.
No kid should create an argument with his parents just to have an excuse to run out of the house just to have a secret rendezvous with his can. I was so afraid that my sister 18 months my junior would find out and expose me. I had completely shut her out of my life to hide my addiction. It would be 20 something years later that I had a heart to heart to make things right with her.
Spending time over at a girlfriend’s house, I would create some drama just to have an excuse to leave in a huff. I was selfish. If it was not worth my time to be craving nicotine, I would leave that situation to be alone with the can. I spent most of my time with friends that were tobacco users. I could be “myself” around them.
Skoal bandits were out at that time, so I would have to gut it in class. I would spend most of my time thinking about where and when I can spit somewhere. I know the high school custodian would have beat my ass if he knew it was me leaving little dipper trails all over the school. Taking the SAT tests, I remember feeling all foggy and unable to concentrate.
Years of Abuse
Nicotine was with me during half my high school years, during college, the Army, starting my first real job, and until 100 days ago, everywhere I went.
I remember the first time I really felt like a slave was in the Army. For the first time in my life I was truly on my own. I could do anything I wanted to do and not have to sneak around. I was in South Korea. Who would know I had a lipper in 24/7? We were not paid well and it seemed like a large percentage of income went to my addiction and other things a young man in Asia would do. This was my conversion to Cope. That is all they had overseas. The Army even provided cans in the vending machines for us soldiers. Serving the Lord became an afterthought.
I started realizing the physical damage that nicotine does to the body. I felt like I was hopeless and would never be able to quit. I worried about what I would do when I would go back home and visit family. I tried to quit, but by that time the nic bitch had convinced me that I liked dipping. The romance was in full bloom.
I Embraced the Can
Once my Army life was over, I was married and had a real job. I had split my life into two halves. When I was at home or around family I would hide my addiction. The rest of the time I would seek to be alone with my can. I would take baths rather than showers to buy dip time. Spending time outside or in the garage was my time. I would avoid going places like the zoo, shopping, school events, family gatherings, or anything that would have me inside with no option for dipping.
Dipping helped me do everything better. I could not concentrate without dip. I could not weld without dip. I hated feeling like I had to hide dipping because people thought it was dirty. Somehow, my brain didn’t think that Kodiak was really bad for me. I know that some tree huggers lobbied the government to mandate the warning labels on cans, but it was just some bs regulation. Inhaling smoke into my lungs is bad. I can grasp that concept. How can a leaf from a plant that grows in a field make any cells in my body turn rogue?
I have to hit upon this again. My mind had no reservations of potential danger heading my way. It wasn’t until reading on KTC that I learned the true dangers of nicotine. I had thought that nicotine was the ingredient that kept me hooked on tobacco, but not a danger unto itself. The Nic Bitch planted the lies inside my brain.
This site has provided me the chance to prove to myself that with the proper mindset, I can use the tools provided to quit using nicotine, one day at a time. No longer do I have to feel defeated or ashamed of my addiction. Once I understood that nicotine is not my friend, the healing could begin.
Message to Potential Quitters Reading This:
What you have read so far should strike a chord within you. Us addicts lead parallel lives. There is nothing unusual that has happened in my life that you haven’t experienced yourself. I was the poster boy for a guy that would never quit dipping. I had convinced myself that I loved the nic bitch and she loved me.
100 days ago I decided to take control over my life. The secret is I only have to promise to quit for one day. I can quit dipping for one day with a bunch of quitters on a website. I believe that anyone can do anything if it’s only for one day. I still cannot believe that I quit. If I can do it, so can you.
This quitting business may seem like an uphill struggle, but it gets easier. The key is to keep the fact that you are quitting fresh in your mind. Don’t forget why you quit. Keep active on the site. Get other people’s numbers and call/text them. Don’t be afraid to make relationships on here. You weren’t afraid of what you looked like with a full lipper walking around at the county fair, why would you be afraid to get to know someone that wants to quit just like you do?
You need to mentally attach yourself to an experienced quitter/quitters that you have something in common with. You need to envision that one day you will be where they are now. It takes prayer and hard work to begin undoing what you have done to yourself. Don’t feel sorry for yourself or give up. Re-wiring your brain takes time. Most of your adult life, your brain has been soaking in nicotine.
When I could see quitting was very possible, I started looking for other ways to improve my life. Some guys cut down on sugar, caffeine, etc or started exercising. I cut out foul language from my lips. I was always embarrassed of the words that would come out of my mouth, especially at work. I know that sounds strange considering the words you see on this site, but you take what you need and leave the rest.
30-70 Day Quitters:
Again, don’t forget why you quit. It’s easy to be apart of the KTC machine and forget why you are here. Why not spread yourself around the site and get to know quitters in other groups that have supported you early on in your quit. This is how you start to add layers of accountability to your quit.
It was during this time that CBird (April 2012) said something that really made a difference in my quit. He said that I am weaving a quit thread with layers of accountability that will make my quit stronger. Buy into what is being sold here. Drink the Kool-Ade. Have fun. You have been clean for over a month now!
It’s easy to become complacent and forget why you are here. Quitting gets tougher as your brain tries to learn how to run your life without nicotine. Nic Bitch will lie to you. Start thinking about your milestone coming up.
Read HOF speeches. Reading a speech by 7iron gave me the idea on how to lay out my own speech. Go back to the Words of Wisdom page and read it all. It will encourage you that quitting is the right decision. Start coming clean with people in your real life that you hid your addiction from. You will add more accountability to your quit by telling on yourself.
I have never been apart of a quit group. Never thought of myself as an addict. Recently, I went back to the early days to read up on how we got started. It was funny seeing our names with low quit numbers. A lot of names I do not recognize anymore. We all went through the same things together. I really have become friends with many of you.
I was not an active member until AJK was complaining that no one was talking in our group. I forced myself to get involved and I’m glad I did. Events that helped me quit through the first 100 days: Greeno’s rainbow unicorn, Sajax’s mouse, thinking that Pr0f was so strong during his loss early on in our quit, NevJ’s lurking, and getting digits from dumpo & jwright and thinking it is weird to exchange phone numbers.
Veritascs , Pr0f, & Mitchy had to deal with that spreadsheet day after day. I still don’t know where you guys find the time, especially when we had over 100 quitters in the beginning. I was able to meet QuitInCA in person before I left northern California. Putting a face with a screen name made a difference in my quit. Posting roll for WVMikey adds to my daily accountability. I want to be a guy that others can depend on.
All the people in December have contributed to my quit. I realized that quitters come in all shapes and sizes. Some guys just post roll and that’s it. I know that would not work for me, but I have learned to just live and let live here in December. Who knows how many people will be active on here down the road, but I know I will always have a special bond with you. Thank you all for keeping me distracted from nicotine in the beginning, then becoming my friend once the quit took root.
Supporters of December 2014
Charging into December through all the fog with trumpets and fanfare was Lipi (May ’14). He was the first person outside the group that made his presence known. That green dinosaur and the banana dude riding on top made me pause and read what he had to say. It took his persona and pointed words to help me break over 30 years of selfishness and romance with the nic bitch. Thank you Lipi.
Tuco’s Grill (Nov ’14) always had the right thing to say, especially early on in my quit. I respect the time that guys like Tuco give to the site. It takes time to craft the precise words needed to help a quitter with a breakthrough. Thank you Tuco.
Rkymtnman (April ’09) came out of hibernation and December was the benefactor of this new found energy to help our group. Just the reassurance that the quit will get easier with time was very comforting, especially during the bad days. Thank you RMM.
Other supporters that are part of my quit: Franpro, Kdip, Razd, SamCat, SkoalMonster, Drome, Keddy, WastePanel, Doc2quit, >P<, Longhorn (and all the Stone Cold Quitters), Jeeptruck & Candoit, Done4 & AAA’s, Smeds, Wolfe (and all DD’s in July ’14), THansen & the Sultans, Mayhem, & all the people that I interact with in the multiple groups I post roll in, especially all the December groups from years past. I have bonded with the two newer groups since I quit. Posters like Jake_M, FML, Shelly, Sand Pike, Cindy, Taco, INKcogKNEEdough, & JLaw have motivated me to keep blazing my new trail in quit. On the eve of my HOF I received an encouraging message from Okie Hunter (Jan ’14 Turtles) that reminded me I could have done anything I wanted to do while I was away from home and I chose to quit using nicotine. What an encouraging thing to say to someone, thank you Okie.
Getting Right With People In My Life
I have made many changes in my daily life around the house since my quit. I have taken time to talk with my teenaged son about the dangers of tobacco, other drugs such as alcohol, and walking with God. My own father was a smoker, so he really never talked to me about tobacco (he died of smoking related cancer at age 54).
My wife tolerated the times I would indulge in my dirty activity as long as it was not in her presence. At first, I was not going to tell her about my quit, but as my pride grew after a week or so quit, I had to tell her. She is very proud of me.
Recently, I spoke up at my small group bible study about my addiction. Tobacco had subconsciously driven a wedge between the people that I was trying to bond with and me. Being afraid of what people will think about you when they find out you stuff your face with cat turds is very stressful. To my surprise, the group was very supportive and prayed for my healing. Perhaps I can talk to more people about my addiction and help others, especially young people.
My coworkers. I cannot begin to tell you how big of a problem smokeless tobacco is within the construction trades. As a pipefitter/welder I can say there are at least a dozen close friends of mine that are stone cold dippers. I have begun the process of telling them that I quit. Remember, I was the guy that was never going to quit. I’ve been getting the “really? Good for you Mike” when I tell them. I can hope that as time goes by I can be a positive influence for some of them.
Getting Right With God
Early on I had said I felt the life God had planned for me was derailed. Since I have quit, I have had a revival within myself to find out who I am supposed to be. The first eighty some days of my quit I was 2200 miles away from home and away from people I know. I took that time to eliminate other unhealthiness from my life too. I have returned home a new man.
I am able to go back to that place where I went off course and continue that journey pointed in the right direction. God uses the lowly things in this world to show how great His power is. My quitting nicotine is truly a gift from God. I would not be the man I am today if it were not for the road that I chose to walk down. I am humbled to be given a chance to start anew and make a positive difference in my world.
What I am most proud of is letting go of my selfish behavior. Instead of hiding away from family, I am participating with my family. I know the quit time is a small sample size to base a conclusion, but my wife and son are very proud of what I have accomplished and they like the new me. Every day I make a choice. It’s not really about just nicotine anymore. The choice is do I want to be the person God wants me to be or do I want to be a special butterfly and go it alone?
I am excited to lead my life one day at a time. I will wake up, post roll , then repeat.