Words of Wisdom

The Bluesman – 22 Years Later

The Bluesman - 22 Years Later
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos User yellow2j

The Bluesman Checks In…

Hello All –

I am an “old timers” from the days of quitsmokeless.org, a website started by Matt Van Wyk around the turn of the century.  Since that website is no longer functioning, I thought I would come here and just provide some perspective for you, wherever you may be on your quit journey.

By way of background, I was an everyday, all-the-time smokeless tobacco user for approximately 20 years, from early high school through 35 years old.  I quit using tobacco on November 3, 2001.  I was a “heavy user” of the forum at the time, which was little more than a “bulletin board” style chat forum, probably to a fault, but it was critical to my success in the battle with tobacco addiction.  Three things brought me back today.

I thought about QS.org because I had to use the “Count Days Between Dates” website for another purpose (to figure out a deadline) and, just for the heck of it, ran my old quit date through the calculator.  Today is Day 8,200.  I have not thought about smokeless tobacco is so long that the number blew me away.  I still remember how hard it felt, in the moment, to get to Day 4, and Day 30, and so on … and I just casually strolled up upon Day 8,200 without any awareness or thought of tobacco whatsoever.  I often forget that I even used tobacco at all.  This is what I mean by perspective.  At the beginning of this battle, you scratch and claw and fight to get from one moment in time, to just another moment in time, with your commitment intact.  It feels like a Herculean Task, and our mind is often on the “wrong side,” trying to convince us to give in, give up, stop suffering, etc., trying to make you believe you will have to fight this addiction like this for the rest of your life ….

And it’s just nonsense.  It is the addicted mind, the addiction itself, fighting for its own existence.  It is the core lie of addiction.  While it is true, in the early stages, hours must become days, days must become weeks, and so on, just think how ridiculous, absurd, and pathetic the lie is.  Let’s say that I actively suffered with tobacco addiction withdraw (mental and physical) for 100 days … the reality is that some days sucked (whiny, complaining, feeling sorry for myself), some days were awesome (proud of myself, feeling powerful), and some days were in between, but let’s just assume that the first 100 days sucked.  THAT WAS MORE THAN 22 FUCKING YEARS AGO.  I reclaimed my entire life and truly enjoyed the next 8,100 days, because I was willing to suffer and sacrifice 100 days of my life for these long-term benefits.  It is an absurd return on investment.  If you gave me the choice to invest in Apple on Day 1 or quit smokeless tobacco on Day 1, I would always choose the latter … money does not mean anything to dead people.

Second, I attended a high school reunion recently, and I was just floored to find out that many of my high school friends still chew, including some who did not originally chew tobacco in high school.  They were shocked to learn that I quit chewing tobacco more than 20 years ago, and I was shocked to discover that they were mid-50 year old men, still sticking a wad of chemically-treated, cancer-causing weed in their mouth and spitting into empty beer bottle.  In my head, I was like “you’re still chewing tobacco, what in the actual fuck???” … but then it occurred to me again.  My perspective.  I cannot even imagine what my life would look like, what I would think and feel about myself, what kind of health concerns I would have, if I had not made the decision on November 3, 2001 to just suffer through the quit withdrawal for a few months of time.

Which leads me to my third and perhaps most important point and piece of perspective.  If I had caved, if I had kept chewing in 2001, if I had found some excuse or rationalization to buy another tin, my life would have been completely different.  I changed the trajectory of my life.  My success in the battle with tobacco addiction is what (in my head) I call and refer to as a “Proof of Concept” … I proved to myself that, with a genuine personal commitment, with resilience and perseverance and patience, and with the support from family, friends, and colleagues, I can do fucking anything.  Anything.  I possess the power of Self-Determination, meaning I decide who I am, what I am, what I do, what success (and failure) I realized and achieve, and every other facet of my life, through volitional choice. Since quitting tobacco, I have achieved virtually every life goal that I set for myself … and I continue to do so, knowing that achievement is on the other side of a genuine personal commitment, a little resilience and perseverance and patience, and the love and support of my family, friends, and colleagues.

So if you are reading this, and you are considering whether you are ready to quit, or really need to quit, or whether you can put it off until next week, next month, next year, fill-in-the-blank-quit-deadline, here is the stone cold truth …  you are not merely wasting time, you are not only jeopardizing your long-term health and well-being (and that of your family and people you love), but you are denying yourself of the opportunity to achieve your First Great Accomplishment, your own Proof of Concept.  This is the testing ground for the kind of person you are now, and what kind of person you will become.  Your decision and success will resonate and reverberate through the years and decades of your life.  I think of that moment in Back to the Future, when George McFly changes his life, and the life of his entire family, by one courageous decision (in his case, standing up to the bully).  This is the moment when you can change your own life, and perhaps the lives of your family (and perhaps countless other people), by standing up to your own “bully” of addiction.  In support of my perspective, I present to you 8,100 Days, as my Proof of Concept, against the 100-Day challenge that stands before you.

If any old-timers still check in, including Matt Van Wyk, I again say thank you.  I still think of our success together as the springboard for broad scale success in my life.  The “Bleus kids” are now adults and moved out, still happily-married to the same gorgeous woman (approaching 34 years), still practicing law and enjoying it, still running and cycling, still playing guitar and listening to great music, old and new (latest recommendations are Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweat (go see them live) and Will Evans (latest album, love the song “Breathe”) … so life is good.

Take care all and good luck,

The Bluesman

NOTE: This piece written by Kill The Can forum member Bluesman

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