As I sit here and consider where I’ve been, where I am, and the path traveled this has been a very humbling experience for me. Thoughts of where the journey to addiction to nicotine began for me goes back all the way back to being an early teen. It stated with the occasional stealing of a can of skoal wintergreen here and there from my Dads stash in the freezer. This set me on this path. That path began between the ages of 13-14 running to 22 yrs of age. My first stoppage was right before I got married. This was a 13 year stoppage for me. My hopes are that I may be an example of the importance of never letting your guard down in this. No matter where you are in your quit you can not by any means drop your guard. You must remain diligent and recognize the the rational that addiction speaks that everyone uses to justify buying that first can. The only one’s, or I can quit at anytime seems that are a lie and appear to be acceptable.
For me, I allowed a financial hardship accompanied by witnessing a long time mentor crumble mentally and emotionally before my very eyes. He needed nerve pills to get through the day. I opted for the can. Candidly speaking, I had lost 2.5 million dollars in a bad business deal and the threat of loosing other businesses loomed. I struggled with stress, anxiety, chest pains at 36 years of age. This is how I rationalized that just a little chew would help… I felt it would be better than me being hooked on happy pills. Little did I know the difficulty in putting it back down. One evening, while getting a launch ticket to go fishing, out of the blue I bought a can. Shortly thereafter I caved. Funny thing is that I told myself, I would just take one to two dips a day for a can or two, then quit. After that first can, it was game on for me. I was back in it like I never stopped. That scared me at first, but I just kept on going. I thought it was helping me get through one of the most trying times of my life.
I quickly realized this was a horrible decision. You get the sinking feeling that you are back into the full swing of nicotine addiction. I told my wife soon after I caved. She of course was devastated by this. We have both lost several close relatives to cancer. My decision to cave created plenty of turmoil in my life. We argued back and forth for over a year about chewing and that lead to me hiding it. I eventually got better at hiding it and had my dirty little secret down to a science. She didn’t ask, and I didn’t tell. This was a very dark time for us. She has always been my best friend, and nothing has ever been between us until this point in our relationship. It was shameful, but those of us who suffer from this addiction understand the importance of the user to choose freedom for themselves and not others. The addict must be ready to quit for themselves and themselves alone! In a sense I was, but I was battling not wanting to be told to quit and not wanting to give up my crutch at this time.
With that I first came to KTC in 2012. The first few days where awful and I bailed quickly. I recall blowing up anyone and anything in my path. Having said that, I will never forget the day I caved. I was in my bathroom getting out of the shower from a fishing trip. My wife came in there an engaged me in an argument. It got ugly very quickly. She said to me, quit acting like this. If you want to kill yourself go ahead and get yourself and can and give us some peace around here. Internally, I felt like she gave up on me that day. It crushed my spirit that day, and I said you know what your right! I did not have the staying power I needed at that time. I jumped in my truck, went the store and bought a can…. and caved.
As I said above, she stopped asking and I shut her out of that part of my life. I despised the fact that I hid this addiction from those closest to me. I never chewed in front of my wife or my daughters. Late in June, my wife tagged me on a Facebook post about a coach in Louisiana who died from oral cancer. This article impacted me. His family said that he was a great man, who had a beautiful family, who used smokeless tobacco, and left his family early when he lost his life to oral cancer. I was sad because that could be any chewer. His wife and children left to spreading his message due to his decision to chew over live. Not sure why but this was like a dagger in my heart. I began to wonder, what would I do if I got sick. How would I explain this to my then 14 year old, and 12 year old. They are my life and above all they never have seen me chew. I felt the shame in that, and the hurt they would have without me. I knew that I had to do something to shake the can. The first challenge was we were leaving for vacation the next day. I couldn’t imagine myself fighting withdrawals on vacation. So I decreased my usage only to make our trip worth taking. When we arrived home, I knew I had to have accountability. I saw the benefits of that when I had my first short stent here. I quit a few days on my own in July. I locked myself in my man cave, and I came back to the site the following week. Admittedly, the first time I came here I didn’t use the site to its potential. I didn’t connect, I didn’t read, I just posted roll and carried on for the day. Quitting scared me at the time, and it was a battle I was not yet prepared for.
Members immediately engaged me demanding the three questions answered. I hadn’t seen that before, and honestly most everyone has the same response. Its arrogance…. I struggled between rational mind vs. nicless fog mind and had to work through the inner turmoil in order to be granted access to the site. The concept of letting my former quit group know never crossed my mind. Nor did the fact that I needed to earn the trust of my new group. Its amazing how the mind of a person is a wreck when you remove the drug of nicotine.
Over the next few hours I worked thought it. With a lot of senseless babble over that day and quite a few days beyond that. There were are few people within my group that reached out to me right away. Those were Bam, Lim, and Southpaw. I am thankful for them because at this point I was in fight or flight mode. They saved me from myself that day. This is where you see a lot of re-treads come back but are not willing to humble themselves to gain access to the fold. Being humble isn’t part of an addicts arsenal. Nonetheless, I have learned much about myself and quite a bit about this addiction. I do not think I could have gotten to this point without the use of this site, and the friendships made up to this point. I know that deep down I am never cured of this addiction. Sadly, I have had thoughts of using within these 105 days. The saving grace has been posting early, and honoring my word, and trying to talk to others daily. It keeps me quit, as does looking back on the struggle that I have had. And trying to help those early in their struggle as well. Peering into the this addiction and the turmoil it causes is a real eye opener. Thanks for allowing me to experience true freedom again, and helping me to say no to bondage and nicotine one 24 hour period at a time.