100 days ago, I quit dip for the last time. Like most of you, I have a history of 3 day stoppages, chewing right through planned quit dates and lying to loved ones. I had romanticized my relationship with tobacco and I never truly wanted to be free of it. Although I knew I was spending too much money and that I was rapidly degrading my health, I had developed such an attachment to the stuff, I could not envision myself without it. I’d even come across KTC at one point, although I didn’t sign up.
When I was using, I would entertain thoughts like “By the time I get cancer, they’ll probably have cured it,” and “I know that this is going to disfigure or kill me, but it’s too late, I’m in too deep.” Just sick, addict garbage.
So what made this time different? The short answer is KTC, the long answer follows.
Setting out on my quit, I think my mindset was not all that different from any of my previous stoppages. My goal certainly was not “Never Again.” I just wanted to not be an addict anymore. I wanted to use because I wanted to, not because I needed to. Why couldn’t I just use on my terms?
On Day 5, I hopped in my truck and began the process of a cave. But I stopped. This was not on my terms. This wasn’t going to be a “sitting by the campfire with an old buddy, chawing and jawing” dip, this was an “anxiety-ridden, panicked addict, rushing to the Shell in the middle of the day” dip. I got out of the truck and signed up for KTC.
I was desperate and needed help. I was at a spot in my life where I was willing to humble myself to the point of asking strangers on the internet for help. That’s not an easy place for me to be. I’m not exactly open and emotional in person. I know that might be hard to believe, based on my post count, but I am very even-keeled and I don’t share this kind of stuff in “real life.” (Disclaimer – Naturally, that goes out the window if I get to sipping brown liquor).
When I signed up, my intention was to use KTC solely as a sounding board. I was told that price of entry was roll, so I posted up (Side Note: I was somewhat annoyed that I needed to post roll. My first post only had my day number and nothing else, the only time I’ve done that). I was encouraged to exchange numbers, consider these random screen names my “brothers,” and to actually text with them. No way. Not giving my number to a bunch of random internet people. I need to be here for 100 days, every day? NOPE! What if my fiancée found out?! And could they really expect me not to have a dip at my bachelor party?
Obviously my mindset has evolved. It took me very little time to dive into KTC and become a true believer in the system here. I hounded this site for hours. I dumped my brain all over the pages. I welcomed new quitters, challenged cavers, tried to encourage my August peers, and even argued with the vets on occasion.
Eventually, I looped my lady into what I was going through. This was a critical step. I was no longer hiding anything. I no longer had to sneak around with my quit like I had with my addiction. It also allowed me to tap into the network here in a more significant way. I’ve since shared my digits with every single member of August and many others. (Side Note: for those of you on the fence about telling your spouse about the quit – a side-effect of honesty is a corresponding increase in the frequency and vigor of sexy time shenanigans.)
I’ve written volumes on what I’ve struggled with and why digging into KTC is so valuable, so I won’t rehash it all here (if you’re interested, check out my Intro http://forum.killthecan.org/topic/11629920/1/). However, I will make one point. The reason that I have been successful is because I used the tools here to the fullest extent that I knew how to. I made caving so intolerable that it became impossible. I dug in. I made a plan. I made myself accountable and I developed relationships that I care about and don’t want to damage. It’s a daily promise, but it’s so much more than that.
So why is this Quit different? How was I able to go through a major career change, my bachelor party and innumerable daily triggers without falling back into the can? It’s because I really committed to my quit. I educated myself about addiction. I dove into the culture on this site. I surrounded myself with reasons to stay clean and penalties for failing. I learned to hate nicotine. I still occasionally crave it, but I no longer romanticize it.
I think this site is kind of funny in a way – like the guys who are most active are perceived to be the biggest Bad-Asses, or to have it all figured out. I can only speak for myself, but I sure as hell don’t have it all figured out. I struggle. I struggle every day. This hasn’t been easy on me and that’s why I’m so active on this site. KTC gives me an outlet and a distraction and the things I write here force me to stay committed.
Now I’m going forward into unknown (but not uncharted) territory. I’m in the HOF, but it certainly doesn’t feel like I’m cured. When I started, 100 days seemed like an impossibly long time. Well, after doing it one day at a time, it still feels like I’ve only started this journey. I still crave. I still have dip dreams. I still get the occasional idea of “come on, just one, for old time’s sake.” Hell, in the next two months hunting, fall fishing and college football will all be starting. That’s a whole new set of triggers and no way am I going through that on my own.
So I’ll still be here. I’ll still be welcoming the new folks, passing my number around like it’s gonorrhea in the freshman dorm, being the August nanny (not that we need one anymore) and staying Quit. I’ll do it because I need to and because helping others helps me. Maybe one day I won’t, but I don’t worry too much about tomorrow, because my promise is only good for today.
I can’t begin to thank everyone by name, because there are simply too many and I don’t want to leave anyone out. But to the folks who run and moderate this site, you are truly lifesavers. I could not have done this without the resource you provide. In 100 days, there are 1,000 times where I would have failed without my commitment here. To the members at all stages of your quits, keep fighting, keep posting and keep reaching out. To my August brothers, we have gone through something special. It’s not unique, but it matters and my hope is that you will continue to fight with me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you all.