What Did You Do This Summer?

KTC Logo PurpleGi Kea’s HOF SPEECH

The whole premise of this speech seems a bit presumptuous to me. I am only a small step into a life-long journey. But, it is a significant step nonetheless. Therefore, I’m honored to chronicle my journey here. From the outset, I would like to say that I wrote this speech for three reasons:

  1. To chronicle my own story. My suspicion is that I will need to return to this story in the future when times are rough and I am on the verge of forgetting why I quit.
  1. To offer a testimony for all those who walked this path with me and helped me.
  1. To encourage– in the hopes that, like me, some who are struggling to find reasons to keep quitting will read my story and find that they are not alone

I took my first dip of snuff in an alley down the street from my house when I was seven years old. If memory serves me correctly, the first can I bought, “Um, yes sir, my dad told me to come here and buy him a can of Copenhagen” (who actually believed that?) cost less than a dollar. My first memory of feeling addicted to smokeless tobacco was age twelve. I was a snuff dipper for well over seventeen years.

“So, What did you do this summer?”

You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to answer this question. As a university student doing post-graduate research, it’s a question I’ve had to answer no fewer than 10,000 times since classes resumed in September. Heck, I didn’t even have to wait until classes resumed, because as a student, this is pretty much the question you get asked all during the summer as well.

In my world, the question is kind of smug, but people are expecting a number of answers: went someplace special to do research; got an article published in a journal; got three chapters finished…you get the drift.

The problem with this question is, I can’t tell them the answer. Oh, I can give them a few basics…my wife and I traveled a bit, got to celebrate our anniversary with good friends (Ignatius J Reilly & his wife), and got to hang out with my nephew and family.

I can give people the Vancouver answers as well– we spent tons of time in the mountains, walked every day at the beach, made it up to Squamish… But, ultimately, this has nothing to do with how I spent my summer. And, if you’re reading this HOF speech, you know exactly why.

On July 11, 2006, I stopped using Smokeless Tobacco. Forever.

Before you cheer too loudly, do me a favor and keep it down. Nobody knows I quit because nobody knew that I dipped. Well, lots of people didn’t know that I dipped, and most of the others think that I quit in 1996. Actually, it’s kind of complicated…

The Life of a Ninja Dipper

I am one of the many shame ridden scoundrels that the October 2006 Cohesive Units affectionately refer to as a “ninja dipper.” In some ways, ninjas are worse off than regular dippers, and in other ways, we’ve got it better. The difference is, not only have we spent countless addicted years jamming ground-up cancer causing leaves into out mouths, but we’ve also been hiding it from somebody. Depending on our level of ninja skills, we’ve probably been hiding it from most people. Worse still, we’re hiding it from people that we care about.

It’s my belief that ninjas buy into the “friendship lie” of smokeless tobacco in even deeper ways. Not only do we have a friend that helps us face our problems— we have a secret little friend that we run away to play with. My little secret ninja play-pal kept me from spending time with my friends and my wife– and always had me running off to bathroom stalls and driving strange patterns with my car to spend time with him. As strange as it sounds, I loved my little secret ninja snuff pal.

Thank God, my wife didn’t. She found my little friend…on several occasions. This caused a great deal of tension between us (go figure, lying causes relational problems) and so I found a remedy– stop hiding snuff from my wife. No, no– I didn’t quit. I just started doing it in front of her. The only problem was, my addiction and the damage I was doing to my body made her feel distant from me, so I often wound up alone anyway– even though I wasn’t hiding from her anymore. As embarrassing as it sounds to admit it, if given the choice of hanging out with my wife or my little secret ninja friend– I chose my little friend.

To make a long story short, I couldn’t handle the turmoil this caused in my own soul and in my marriage…and I was guilt stricken about cancer and addiction and a million other things…and I was tired of waiting to find “the perfect reason” to quit dipping, so…

Let Me Finally Tell You What I did this summer:

I stopped “scheduling quits.”

I stopped justifying caves.

I stopped lying to myself. You know those lies you tell yourself: “I really don’t dip that much;” “Lots of other people dip more than me;” “I will quit after ____ for ____ because _____;” “snuff is OK or necessary in this situation because____.” They sound pretty ridiculous to type, and my guess is that I believed some that were way more ridiculous than that.

I realized that one of the fundamental differences between a dipper and a quitter is that the quitter finally stops listening to the insane logic of the addict. The quitter stops listening to the excuses the addict makes. The quitter stops thinking that he is a victim and takes responsibility for his actions. Nobody “falls” back into tobacco addiction. They go to the store. They buy a can. And they take dip after dip after guilt-ridden dip. The addict tells you this is justified, necessary– that you’re unique. The addict coddles you and tells you that snuff is your friend.

The quitter grabs the addict by the throat and begins the long war of beating the addict into submission.

This summer, I stopped waiting for the perfect reason; stopped making failed promises to my wife, stopped lying to my wife; stopped living in delusion and fear– and started quitting. This summer, I declared war.

“Umm…”, you ask again tentatively, “So what exactly did you do this summer?”

This started out like every other failed quit attempt of my past, except for the fact that I decided I wasn’t going to chew nicotine gum or smoke cigarettes as a method of quitting. By the end of the third day, I was on the verge of insanity. Like virtually all of you reading this, I performed an act of total desperation. Thinking that I couldn’t make it another minute, I googled “quit smokeless tobacco.”

Unlike most of you, I couldn’t get the site to load when I found it. QS.org was nothing but a white screen for me. So, I told my wife on her way out the door that I thought I was just going to have to go buy some cigarettes. Knowing that smoking would inevitably lead back to Copenhagen, she gave me that heart-breaking look of disappointment that I had seen countless times before. “I love you,” she said as she headed out the door.

Later that night, however, I tried the site again. It was like finding a desert Oasis. I read Matt’s intro letter, every single thing linked (including ), and then started plowing my way through HOF speeches. 100 days– my gosh, that seemed so far outside the realm of possibility, I just tried to think about making it to the next day. And, strengthened by the solidarity I had found at QS, I went to bed encouraged.

For the next several days, I just plowed through the main page– reading the archived HOF speeches and re-reading all the articles, looking at cancer pic galleries, etc. I tried the chat function several times, but being a night owl on the west coast isn’t always conducive to such things. It wasn’t until several days later that I clicked the community link and entered a whole new world. A day or so later, I was directed to the October 2006 quit group and posted my first roll call.

After that, I just battened down the hatches and tried to embrace the suck. These days were absolute hell for me. I wasn’t getting a dang thing done as far as research goes, I was bitter, I couldn’t think, and I could actually hear myself getting fatter. But, I just kept reading {WHAT PRICE TO SAVE OURSELVES} and telling myself that it would all be worth it. There are sacrifices to make in war.

I printed the CONTRACT TO GIVE UP and carried it with me everywhere.

I started experiencing a pretty significant round of depression. As a result of reading the advice of many on the boards, I made the decision to battle the craves, the fog, and my depression with exercise. I took long vigorous walks for roughly one hour intervals every-time the craves were too intense, the fog came on strong, or I felt that my depression was going to get the best of me. There were days when my wife would come home from work and ask me about my day. Some days, my answer would be “I walked 16 miles and drank almost two gallons of water” and others my answer was less positive, “I didn’t do anything but stay quit.”

But I did stay quit. One day at a time, uttering the motto 7Iron taught me: “No Tobacco Today”

TWO DEFINING MOMENTS OF MY QUIT:

  1. CLOSING THE DOOR

I can’t remember when it happened exactly, but the single most significant decision in my quit was “Closing the Door”

For me, this happened shortly after a particular member of our group caved because of the death of a family member. This was roughly 30-40 days into my quit. I remember thinking at the time that he had a valid reason to cave. What I didn’t realize immediately was that thought put my own quit in serious jeopardy. Though it was unintentional, I had told myself that, in certain situations, it was OK to cave.

For the next several days, I found myself getting more depressed, the craves coming back stronger, and my own resolve to quit dwindling. I soon realized that these feelings were the result of my own subconscious decision to cave. In saying that someone had a legitimate reason to give up their quit, I had decided that there was a legitimate reason to give up my own.  The increased craves, depression, and anger were merely the result of me realizing that it was only a matter of time until my valid reason came, so why was I enduring all of this?

At that moment, by the grace of God, I closed the door.

[QUOTE FROM7’s Speech]

I decided that there was nothing in the world that would legitimize giving up my quit. And, just to make sure, I spent the rest of the day writing out possible scenarios and my response should any of these situations arise. This exercise started with scenarios as trivial as “car wreck” and “bad day at work” and ended with me asking the question “What if _________ died” and systematically filling in the blank with each of my closest friends, family members, and finally my wife.

What if Katie died? Even considering this possibility was absolutely devastating to me, but it was a necessary question to answer if I wanted to close the door on my addiction. And I did. “If Katie dies, I will not use smokeless tobacco.” I wrote it down on paper.

  1. AT DAY 80, SOMETHING CHANGED

To be honest, I think it was my attitude more than anything. I had closed the door a month or so earlier, but I was still whining about it. I hadn’t let it go, and was still grieving the loss of my cancer causing friend. The craves were gone for the most part, and the fog that had been so heavy for so long was beginning to lift…but I was still sulking.

At Day 80, I posted roll and just decided that I wasn’t going to live another day like I had been. I was still actively fighting the war of my quit, but I decided it was time to get on with life. I got much more aggressive in fighting the mental battles– even saying out-loud, “No, this would not be easier/better/more fun with Copenhagen” when necessary. Oh yeah, and I started working on the near pound a day I had gained since beginning my quit.

I started posting in other groups, and trying to follow the example of 7Iron that had been such an encouragement to me. In doing this, I discovered that encouraging others was a constant force giving strength to me in my own quit. This proved to be another major way in which this site, and the men and women on it, have saved my life.

Since Day 80, I have been fighting the fight just the same was as I did during the initial days. I post roll call. I read advice from vets further down the path than me. I stop by to encourage the new guys…just following the same example that had been set for me by folks like 7, Al, Remshot, and WhoDey (among many others).

A Random List of Things I DID NOT Do this summer

  1. Leave parties early to get home and get a fatty.
  2. Sit on the couch for hours and not get outside or do anything productive just because the dip was so good.
  3. Buy $60 of snuff at the gas station while my wife was out of town just to make her think I had filled up the car with gas.
  4. Have four active hiding spots for my can
  5. Smoke cigarettes with people just because I hadn’t been home to get a dip
  6. Buy 20oz drinks on the way to the library everyday and then chug half of them fast just so I could have something to spit in.
  7. Get pissed when guests stayed too long.
  8. Get pissed when friends “dropped by”
  9. Sit on the floor of the shower just to get a few more minutes of that precious “secret snuff time”
  10. Make up strange excuses to close friends for why I really wanted to buy a can for some trumped up “special occasion”
  11. Lie about the special occasion and say “Man, I haven’t had a dip in forever”
  12. Clean the computer keyboard 26 times a week because the half-can of grains inside was causing errors.
  13. Buy cigarettes and hate smoking every one of them because “I was quitting”
  14. Smoke cigarettes so my wife would think I was quitting, but keep dipping anyway
  15. Buy Starbucks right before getting on a plane, just so I could have a cup with a lid to spit in
  16. Spit down straws and try to pretend that I was drinking
  17. Grab random bag of half full popcorn out of trash at the movie and spit in it
  18. Spit in my own popcorn bag at the movie cause I had to have one “right then”
  19. Act surprised when convenient store clerks had cans waiting for me on the counter
  20. Tell my wife that this was “the first one of the day”
  21. Tell my wife that this was “the last one of the day”
  22. Tell my wife that this was “the only one of the day”
  23. Tell my wife that this was “the first one in two days”
  24. Tell my wife I was cutting back
  25. Burn with guilt
  26. Fetch cans out of dumpsters that I had thrown away the night before.
  27. Buy a can, get a dip, throw out the can because “This is the last one”
  28. Buy a can, get a dip, put can in drawer because you hope “this is the last one” but are tired of buying two cans a day and only getting two dips out of them.
  29. Choose hiding in my study over hanging out with my wife.

In a strange way, the answer to the question “What did I do this summer?” is even more profound than I can presently grasp– because, put simply, what I did this summer will define and describe what I do for every day of the rest of my life. I will keep quitting, one day at a time.

What did I do this summer? I began the lifelong process of learning how to live free. I did this summer what I have done each day this fall– pledge to myself and others, “No Tobacco Today.” Lord willing, if you ask me next year “What did I do this summer?”– my answer will be the same. I QUIT SMOKELESS TOBACCO.

People to thank

My wife | I wouldn’t even know where to start. Thanks a million. I’ve told you a million times how much I appreciate your help, confidence, and support. I’ll tell you again in front of all these folks, just so that they know you’re my #1 Fan! I’m sorry that I drug you through this quit. I know you had no idea you would have this to deal with when you said vows, but I’m glad you’ve stuck with me. I don’t deserve you buddy– but I’m incredibly thankful!

Ignatius J. Riley | Even though you stole the nickname I use for most things, I really appreciate you man. I know that our friendship was forged by long conversations and a shared can, but I’m excited to hang with you again without Hagen. I love that this is the first time we started a quit and meant it– and didn’t call one another wondering if the other had caved so we could blame them for our cave and buy a can (or to blame you for the can I bought three days earlier)! It seems like we don’t talk as much when we’re not both hiding in some public place with a wedge, but I’m more than happy to talk less and live longer. Thanks for your friendship and your encouragement. We’ve given good gifts to our families in this quit.

7Iron | You sent me my first PM and were faithful to check in on me. I don’t know what it was about seeing a guy that was almost exactly 100 days ahead of me, but I drew a lot of strength from your words, as I know many others have. Thanks for your encouragement– both on the board and in PM’s. I pray that I can be the same encouragement to others that follow.

Chewie | Who doesn’t have you to thank for their quits man? I’m sure this isn’t true, but it seemed like you came along right when I started doing more than posting roll. Thanks for support, laughter, challenge, and solidarity. You have been a good friend to me, I don’t think there is any better compliment I could pay than that.

The  Ninjas| Malibu and Dionnja. Few know our struggles and our world. It was so fun to find that we all shared our ninja-ness in common– and that we all crossed the 100 day mark together! You two strengthened my quit daily just knowing that you were quitting in secret as well. Plus, both of you gave me a lot of laughs along the way. Thanks :ph43r:

Stacy Clark | Thanks for the laughs, the good conversations in PM, and your attitude on the boards. I look forward to hanging out with you and the Mrs. when we come down to Ft. Worth.

Steevo | Even though you’re going to be the first person I sucker punch in St Louis (after you pay my way there, of course), I appreciate you for a reason you’re not even aware of. You sent me PMs and bugged me about putting my picture on The Units site until I finally did it. At the time, that was way less anonymity than I had planned on– and something about emailing Chewie that picture strengthened my resolve even more to quit, and was the catalyst to raise my posting to unprecedented whoring levels.

SBTZC | Shut Up! I was kidding about thanking you. Moron. Thanks for the laughs and the support! You’re a good brother, and you encouraged me a great deal. In all seriousness, shut up moron!

GMS | What an amazing way to get me across the 100 day line– finding someone who was in a dang near exact quitting predicament as me. Thanks for those PM’s in the late doldrums. I can’t believe you spit on the library carpet– you’re disgusting 😀

Russter | You’re from my home state, I don’t need another reason to thank you!

COHESIVE UNITS | I remember we had a thread run about who had been most helpful in our quits. I posted that all of you collectively had been the most help for me. This is no joke. I gained strength from all of you as you posted roll, participated on the boards, and made me laugh. Thanks to all of you! Those of you that I neglected to mention by name, please forgive me. I truly appreciate you all.

THE REST | So many folks to thank. Rem, WhoDey, & all the vets, December Nic o Frees, the academy, Matt & Flavius (even though you are both mysterious people to me…or are you the same person…)

In no small way, I owe all of you my life. You helped me buy my freedom.

That’s what I did this summer.

 NOTE: This piece written by KillTheCan.org forum member GiKea

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