Today’s July 24th. It’s just a pretty average day for most folks unless it happens to fall on their birthday or a weekend (unfortunately this year it’s a Tuesday). For me however, July 24th is a big day… it’s the anniversary of the day I quit chewing tobacco.
6 years ago today (July 24th, 2006 for those who don’t want to do the math) I quit killing myself. I started to take control of my life back and started to make a healthier me. I did it for all of the reasons that typically give for wanting to quit dipping or smoking:
- I’ll quit for my wife
- … for my kids
- … for my health
- … because it was too expensive
But most of all, I quit for me. I was sick and tired of being a slave to a little round can in my back pocket. I was also a huge fan of the side pocket of my cargo shorts cause I thought my wife didn’t know it was there. I’m sure she knew and just chose not to fight that particular battle. More proof of just how stupid I was.
I’ve told the story before so I won’t rehash it here, but that morning I woke up and made my decision to quit dipping. It wasn’t an easy decision by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a decision that I’d finally come to on my own. “I” made that decision. Not my wife, not my kids, not my family and not my friends. I did. And that simple fact made all the difference for me. It allowed me to no longer place blame on anyone buy myself. It allowed me to be accountable for the decision that I made and to really own my quit.
As the years have gone by in my quit, I think about the “concept” of my quit less and less. I still visit the KillTheCan.org forums on a daily basis to post roll, I write for this blog, keep the site updated, etc. But I can honestly tell you that I really don’t think about my quit anymore.
Today was different.
Today I thought about my quit. I thought long and hard about it. I thought about where it’s led me and what it’s given me. I thought about the friends that it’s given me, the personal and professional opportunities that it’s presented to me and the pain and suffering it’s caused me. These last 6 years of my quit have not been easy. Those first couple of days were damn near impossible. But as I’ve moved forward with the help of all the people at KillTheCan.org and my family and friends, I’ve learned some stuff about myself.
I’m still an addict. This is an unfortunate reality but it’s one that I’ve come to accept. Every now and then I’ll catch a whiff of Kodiak at a bar or on the golf course. Every once in a while I’ll have that “what if” thought flutter across my subconscious. I cannot have “just one”. Not now… and not ever. I’ve finally… after all of these years, really and truly accepted that fact. But the acceptance of this fact doesn’t mean that I’m cured. Far from it. It’s just a realization. I will never be cured. And that’s OK. I’m up for the fight.
I still need support. The outpouring of love and support that I’ve received today via Facebook, Twitter, forum messages, texts, phone calls and face to face talks has been absolutely flattering. All of these people took time out of their day to congratulate me and tell me how proud of me they are. No matter how old I get, being told I did a good job means a lot. It makes me feel good and it makes me realize that I don’t tell my wife and kids enough how much they mean to me. At the end of the day, when I say I quit for me, it really means I quit for them…. they’re my everything.
I’m still in a life or death battle. Last night I posted this story to the website: The Story of Randy & His Cancer. Like the Tom Kern story and many others before, it served as a blistering reminder that this is real. Nicotine and tobacco can kill you. I’m not trying to scare folks… this is the truth.
I’m here for the long haul. I’ve thought many times over the last year or so about walking away from KillTheCan.org. Going about my business, being quit and not worrying about blogs, or forums, or websites about how to quit dipping. I’ve been asked many times why I devote so much time and effort to my “Internet friends” who used to chew tobacco. And then I think about that scared guy 6 years ago looking for information on how to quit dipping. It may sound cliche, but if my effort, and the effort of my family at KillTheCan.org will help 1 person get or stay quit… then in my opinion it’s all worth it. The support that I receive from the folks at KTC is second to none and I’ve seen it play out time and time again.
Absolute strangers reach out and help one another defeat their own nicotine demons. When I explain KTC to people they just don’t “get it”. I get it. The brotherhood of KillTheCan.org is bigger than me, bigger than one quit group, bigger than mods or admins. I’m just proud to be a small part of it. I’m absolutely in awe to see the system work time and time again.
Thanks for sticking with me through this rambling. I didn’t intend for this to be so long when I sat down to write it. Thanks to those that offered their kinds words of congratulations and support today. I appreciate it more than you will ever know and I certainly wouldn’t be here today without it.