My road to the HOF was similar and different to many that have been posted here already. I started my life with addiction in college after being introduced to dip by a roommate. I had grown up in a house of smokers but until that day as a freshmen in college I had never seen chew in person. The only reason I knew it existed was MLB and The Outlaw Josey Wales movie. I was 18 and had always been violently opposed to smoking. Obviously this was different I thought to myself. 22 years of deep addiction proved that foolish 18 year old wrong.
Throughout the years I did the old half ass quit attempts. Made every excuse in the book. Made big promises to myself at night only to run to the store in the morning to fend off my cowardly fear of withdrawl. I could probably count on one hand the number of days in the last 15 years I spent my whole day at home. Tried all the gums, patches, wellbutrin, chantix, zyban but they were all half ass lies trying to once again quell my fear of discomfort. I cried over my weakness, I beat myself for it, I hated myself for it, I felt like a shell of a man because of it.
Up until my quit day I was chewing 2-4 cans of Kodiak per day. I was the opposite of a ninja dipper. Everyone knew I chewed and I made no effort in hiding it. If I worked at it I could keep myself at 2. If I wasn’t watching myself it would be 3/day and long days 4/day. That equals $105/week or $5460/yr! I was blowing a yearly vacation on killing myself and my family was the one paying the price. My wife finally got to the point where she was actively saying that she did not like being physically close to me because I smelled like chew. My kids would tell me how disappointed they were in me. The nic bitch would always tell me sweet nothings to combat my sanity.
“If you quit you will become a complete ass and drive away your family”
“Your marriage will fall apart”
“If you quit your job will fall apart around you”.
“You will be so physically sick that you will have to go to the hospital and cost thousands of dollars”
I was becoming comfortable with the fact that I was going to die young and there was nothing I could do about it. I actually began keeping a mental list of music I would want played at my funeral.
Finally in April I felt a numbness in my left lower jaw. I have been getting screenings at the dentist but who knows when cancer will hit and what it will feel like. This was something I had never felt and it scared the shit out of me. I finally realized my mantra for my quit. If I can’t do it now what makes me think I will ever be able to do it. Unlike the conventional wisdom at KTC I made a quit plan and stuck with it. I made an appt at an acupuncture clinic which had helped with physical withdrawl in the past. I also looked on the net for a local support group and that is when KTC entered my life.
Post roll, nicotine is out of the question, wake up tomorrow and repeat. It will get better. The bitch will tell you any lie she can to get you back. These are the sayings that I raged against for the first week. Fuck you guys it won’t get better because I’m about to lose my mind. The world is moving so slow I want to pull my eyes out and it will never be normal again. As I cleared the fog every promise that my KTC brothers and sisters told me came out to be true. I read everything I could and drank the kool-aid down hard. There are 2 things I am certain of. If not for this site I would have somehow talked myself into the lie that just one would be OK to get me through a tough night. And even if that isn’t true this site has made my quit much easier than it would have been going it alone.
After 2 weeks my jaw went back to normal. I came to find out it was lingering nerve issues from wisdom teeth removal 4 months previous. I continue to be eternally grateful to God for sending me that message. The feeling of freedom from dependence is indescribably amazing. I am what I had hoped to be. If you are reading this while still being a slave I sincerely pity you and ask you to believe what I am saying here. Like you I would have never believed that life without chew could be better but like all my brothers and sisters here we are living proof of the truth.
While I was fighting the 20-30 day funk I came across a post on the caring bridge guestbook written by MacKenzie Kern to her dad. Most on this site have read the story of her dad Tom Kern who died of cancer. In reading that one message for some reason all of my fears finally had a reality to them. For 15 years I had battled with the fact that I would orphan my children way too early but it never felt real. Her words galvanized my quit down into my very soul and will always remind me of what lies in store for a caver. When I need to, I tackle my quit one day at a time, but I can say with all confidence that never again will I be so selfish as to actively put my children in her position. I hope it’s OK to repost her post
I have been thinking about you a lot. Lately I have been crying every night. I don’t know why but I feel like the pain is getting worse. It has been 6 years already, but I swear I remember it like it was just yesterday. I remember mom waking me and nikki up in the morning saying it wasn’t good. I remember Julie driving us to the hospital. I remember going to Walmart to get swim suits because we were going to go to john and shell’s and run through the sprinkler, until Dave called my phone and told us to come quick. I remember coming to the hospital scared of what might come next. I wanted to run out to the car to get my CD that has the song “Dance with my father” that I really wanted you to hear. Right as we were going to get on the elevator grandma yelled to have everyone come back into the room, we all new it was bad. I remember running back into the room, throwing myself on top on you at the end of the bed yelling “DADDY, PLEASE DON’T GO”, but then you did. Hearing you take your last breath, was like getting my heart ripped out of my chest. I remember laying there at the end of your bed crying and crying and crying, hoping and praying you were going to come back. I needed you, mom needed you, connor, alexa, and tori needed you. We needed you to be there for us, to cook me steak and tell me who I could and couldn’t date, you needed to coach tori and connor’s softball and baseball teams, you needed to watch alexa perform just ONE more time, mom needed your help to keep me out of trouble. It’s not fair. It’s not fair that such an amazing guy like you had to go. It’s not fair that alexa, tori, and I will never get to have you walk us down the isle or have our father daughter dance, it’s not fair that you will not get to see what a good pitcher connor is or see what an amazing guy he has become. it’s not fair that Kenra will never get to hear your laugh or have you give her one of those amazing hugs you gave. Dad I miss you so much and want you hear to tell me everything will be okay.
After 104 days I can write this…..
Becky and James,
Everything will be OK