I didn’t know I was addicted.
Okay, that’s not true; I knew, in my heart. But I didn’t want to admit it to myself. And so I fudged, fibbed, kept how much I dipped sort of hazy. With my buddies, it was great to just whip out the Copenhagen can. But my wife had asked me not to dip, and so had my daughter. I felt shame, and guilt, and decided I’d quit.
In fact, I quit a number of times. Get it? That’s not really quitting.
But I wasn’t really an addict, and a bit now and then wasn’t really breaking a promise. Besides, they didn’t know that it helped me calm my nerves. Or stay awake on a long drive. Or wake up in the morning. Or give me something to distract me during a boring or tense meeting. They didn’t know how nice it is to have a dip in while fishing. Or doing yard work. Blah blah blah blah blah.
So … if it was that good a thing, why did I hide it? Why did I start using pouches so it wouldn’t show as much when I had a dip in? Why did I buy snuff at the gas station when I bought gas, so no one – including myself – would really add it up and see what I was spending?
And why did I have this nagging, shaming voice all the time? That said, “You know you’re weak to keep doing this. You know you can make a better choice. You know this can give you mouth cancer. What will you do then?” I always put that voice off by saying, “Well, nobody lives forever.” But I was afraid that if I did get mouth cancer, even if I survived it, that’d be the end of my career. And my life.
See, I’m a pastor and teacher and writer and speaker. So, without a jaw, it would be difficult to preach and teach and speak. Was it worth it?
And the addict part of me – the shame-based part of me – wanted me to hide and not try too hard to be clear and congruent about who I really am.
After all – look how unique and hard and special it’s been for me. A traumatic childhood? Check. Absent father? Check. Alcoholism in the family tree? Check. Tobacco addictions everywhere? Check. Shame-based discipline and family systems? Check.
All the reasons why I could just accept that doing something this potentially harmful to myself was justified. That I deserved the treat … or that I deserved the penalty.
I knew. I just didn’t want to admit it.
This past December, I turn 51 years old. My life is great. My marriage of nearly 30 years has weathered many storms and my wife and I truly respect and love each other. My kids are 24 and 20.
I put a dip in one evening before family game night, and in a few minutes get up to do the first spit. I have to get up from the table where we’re all playing a game, walk to the bathroom, act like I’m using it, spit, wash my hands or whatever, and come back, hoping I haven’t dribbled on my shirt. And it hit me:
what the fuck am I doing? Is this me? Like, really who I am?
I went online that night to find alternatives to dip. I found KTC.
I saw the accountability and honesty; I need that in my life. I’m addicted, and I will fudge and fib and hide and lie. I saw the support and love; I need that in my life. Like most of us, I’m just scared most of the time.
I joined. Started posting roll. Got phone numbers from some vets (thanks to so many – Wastepanel from the very beginning) and fellow April quitters. I am so grateful for all of you.
The first week was hell. The second week was a fog. The third week all I could think of was my quit. I texted brothers, went online, posted roll. Every day.
Now I can’t imagine NOT posting roll – it’s part of my life. (Sunday’s my big workday and when things are especially crazy – like this last Sunday, which was Easter [nice that Day 100 and Easter were together], I ran out to help with a prayer vigil and forgot until I got to the church – so I texted a brother and asked him to post roll for me, because I am Quit. He did.)
Somehow, miraculously, I stepped into giving this gift of Quit to myself. And so, to the world.
I am Quit today. Just today. It’s Day 105 – but it is only one day.
I quit with humility and awareness, grateful to my brothers and sisters of KTC.
I quit with hope and courage, because it feels SO GOOD TO BE FREE.
I quit with laughter and a sense that I am not alone, because of this group.
If you are considering quitting, DO IT.
DO IT NOW.
DO IT TODAY.
I was terrified to let go of my crutch, my pacifier, my little secret, my happy place.
I told my brothers and sisters I was terrified. Turns out they were too. And it is alright. And facing the fear gives you POWER.
We made it. You can too.