I didn’t decide to quit dipping because I knew it was the right thing to do for better health. Hell, I loved dipping! I’d convinced myself that the odds were in my favor. My granddaddy chewed Red Man every day of his life. That wasn’t what killed him, though. I never really worried about what it was doing to my mouth. The only time I felt remotely self-conscious about dipping was when I went to the dentist. I’d get the stare, followed by the lecture, followed by my platitudes of “I know, I’m gonna try to quit.” Bullshit. As soon as I got in the parking lot, I was packing my lip with Grizzly. I didn’t quit because it was too expensive, either. We budgeted for my weekly Grizzly purchases, usually between $40 and $50 a week.
Nope. I did it because I saw the look in my wife’s eyes when I told her I had a bump on my gum, and I wasn’t sure what it was. I thought for sure 28 years of dice rolling had caught up with me. Telling her was hard, and I was scared, not because it might be cancer, but because our life together was possibly in jeopardy, and it was my fucking fault. Then I thought, “If it’s this hard to tell her, how in the hell am I going to look my two kids in the eyes and tell them?” That is a conversation I didn’t want to have.
That’s why I quit.
Thankfully, that bump was not related to my dipping, and it’s gone now. I’ve been nicotine free for over 100 days. I am honest with myself and take things ODAAT, for sure. I see the future, though, through my heart and my will; and I know I will remain nicotine free. I’m not dumb; I know there’s no guarantee that the big C won’t pop up in my mouth or jaw sometime down the line. I know this, too, though. I know that I can look my kids and my wife in the eyes, and we all know it wasn’t because I didn’t try to stop it by throwing that can of evil away.
The first thing I did the day I quit was ask God to take the desire from me, and I believe in my heart that’s exactly what He did. He did it Old Testament style, though, because He knew that’s what I needed. I needed the quit to be hard, to make me hurt some. I needed to be able to say, when I thought about taking another dip, “Fuck that. I don’t want to go through that withdrawal shit again!” The headaches were a bitch, but they lasted only about a week. The “fog” was worse, and it lasted several weeks. The sleeplessness was the worst, especially since I’m not a great sleeper anyway. Waking up drenched in sweat and staying awake for hours royally sucked. I dealt with it. And I prayed. But I didn’t think about going back. That just wasn’t an option. When I said “I Quit,” I meant it.
The KTC site and the people I’ve connected with through it have been a Godsend. I take pride being a June 2020 Renegade of Quit, as I hope all my fellow Renegades do. I joined KTC on the first day of my quit, and I haven’t looked back. There’s nothing to look back at, anyway. Only forward through the day, one day at a time, keeping my promise to stay nic free. My Quit Group is badass, and so are the vets who reached out those first days and have stayed in touch – Muleman, BigDiesel90, Stillbrewing – these guys are solid, and I appreciate them.
My signature line on the KTC forum is a quote from one of my favorite poems, “Invictus.” It says, “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.” That’s how I feel about my quit. I control what goes into my mouth, and it’s my responsibility to keep the dip out of it. I asked myself this question, and you need to ask it of yourself: Am I going to keep allowing some cancer-causing worm dirt to have this kind of control, this kind of power over my life? Are my balls and my brains in this can? My answer was HELL NO. What about you? KTC will help you if your answer is “No,” too, by busting those balls and holding you accountable, holding you to your word. What’s your word worth? Your life? I hope so.
You and I, we are and always will be addicts, at 100 days clean or 10,000 days clean. There’s no arguing that point. We are what we are.
Our addiction, the addiction to nicotine, is almost an “acceptable” addiction. We know we’re addicted to nicotine, either through smoking or dipping or both; our families know we’re addicted; our friends know we’re addicted (unless, of course, we hid our addiction). Our addiction is sugar-coated, though, being called a “nasty habit.” When is the last time you overheard someone whisper about you, “Oh, he’s a nicotine addict. Bless his family. I hope he can get some help.”
Probably never, right? It was probably more like, “Ugh, gross. Who would ever want to kiss that mouth? That’s some nasty shit.” Our addiction isn’t looked at the same way a heroin addiction or alcohol addiction is, and should it be? Our addiction isn’t illegal or won’t land us in jail or rehab like other addictions, so is it as bad?
Maybe. Maybe not, but I’ll tell you where our addiction will land you… in chemo treatments or in the grave, or both.
My dipping never threatened to tear my family apart; it may have caused a few head shakes and eye rolls at worst. The monetary cost of my “habit” was more of a focus than the possible health cost of my addiction. I’ll probably never be called a “recovering nicotine addict,” and that’s okay. I know I am, and so does my family, and that’s enough.
Society may see nicotine abuse (because that’s really what it is) as an acceptable addiction, if they call it that at all, but I chose not to accept it anymore. One day at a time, I’m beating my addiction; I’m breaking my habit. Done, bitch. No more.
If I can offer any advice to a new quitter, it’s to get in your group, connect with your fellow quitters, and STAY CONNECTED. The poet John Donne wrote the phrase “No man is an island, entire of itself.” This phrase basically says humans tend to think and do some bad shit when isolated from others. We need each other. Quitting is hard enough; don’t make it harder by trying it alone. Join up. Post up. Just don’t freaking give up.
I’ve still got the last can I emptied on February 27, 2020. I keep it as a motivational tool. I look at the bear on that red can of Grizzly fine cut natural, and I say, “You can kiss my ass, tobacco, ‘cause you ain’t gettin’ in my mouth again!”