Funny story, I had a mini freak-out the other night. But I stayed strong though the ordeal, and only got a little panicked, but for good reason. I guess I need to mention two things (maybe 3) before telling the story, so I'll just start with those...
1) If you've read my other blog entries, you know I'm the kind of dipper that's one pinch away from a can-a-day habit. During the course of this quit I've realized that. Up until now, the two times I've tried to "quit" have really been me going through and substituting one form of nicotine for another while I pat the hell out of my own back about how tough quitting is. I'm just that kind of dipper. It's a part of me and it will always be. So, if I want this quit to last, there can be no exceptions. No cigars with the guys I was deployed with during reunions. No cigarettes with friends on summer Seattle nights down at the bars. I can drink, but I just can't have any nicotine.
2) My family and I go on one skiing/snowboarding trip each year to my wife's tiny hometown in Northeastern Washington over the long weekend in January. The kids have fun. My wife and I have fun. It happens one time annually, so the equipment doesn't get a big workout but once a year. I board with a small backpack so that I have hand warmers and chapstick and stuff for the kids. It stays in the A-bag I have my other boarding stuff in and it only comes out for air at this time every year.
2.5) My wife travels for work sometimes and she was gone last Thursday night.
So, there I was. Trying to be the good dad and get my own shit together before dogging all the kids to make sure they had hats and gloves and everything the needed for the ski trip next weekend. I keep all my equipment/clothing in one of my big military bags that can hold a surprisingly large amount of stuff. I was going through it making sure that I still had enough of everything and that all was up to date (enough bandaids, motrin, emergency vials of whiskey, etc.) and I found my boarding backpack. Just a small Camelback that my unit got for us all a long time ago that fits pretty well under my coat. It can carry everything I need on the slopes for a day. As I pulled it out of the A-bag, the backpack hit my helmet and made a sound. A solid, but metallic sound. A "clink" and a "thump" at the same time. It could only be one thing. Last season, I had always kept an emergency can of dip in the iPod pocket of this backpack just to make damn sure I wouldn't be stuck without a stash. I found last year's sealed stash last Thursday. My wife was out of town, so the self-discipline to do what needed to be done was entirely up to me. I didn't care that it was expired for 9 months. I mean, how healthy is that shit to begin with??? Does it need an expiration date? Anyway, I unzipped the compartment and a pristine maroon can of Skoal long cut straight slid out into my hand just perfectly. I grabbed the can in the habitual grip, gave it a thump with my finger and a well-practiced flick of the wrist. It sounded...perfect. I can still hear the paper seal tearing as I slid my fingernail around the familiar "open here to kill yourself slowly...painfully...and without any control" groove and popped off the lid. I held it up to my nose thinking that it would smell bad...that I wouldn't like it. I know reformed smokers who say that they now can't stand the smell of cigarette smoke. I think those guys are effing liars. It was glorious. My eyes were slightly watering as was my mouth. And I freaked out a bit.
I hadn't yet crossed the line into "nobody will know or find out" land, but I didn't want to get there. I immediately bolted for the bathroom. There was no fucking way I could ever throw this can away. I'd be digging that bitch out of the trash soon enough. It wouldn't matter if it were buried under used kitty litter, the can is sealed...it's probably fine. More drastic measures had to happen. I flushed the contents. Three times. Then, took the empty can to the sink and washed both the can and the lid out with soap, then put them back together, walked back to my 2nd floor bedroom window, and flung the empty can into the 4-degree night. If I had the damn thing in my room, there's a chance I would have smelled it for two hours before finally breaking down and heading to the store for another can and a refill for my Xyban...(which worked for me, by the way, for those of you thinking about using it). After that, I was satisfied at my exorcism of demons put on this earth to haunt me and was able to go back to what I was doing...getting my shit ready to take my family skiing.
The point of the story is this: cravings make zero sense. We all have to be strong and ever ready to take whatever drastic measures are required to violently stomp down cravings whenever they appear. I am at 66 days quit today. So I had been quit for 64 days when I found that year-old can in my snowboarding bag. I hadn't had as much as a single thought about dip for 72 hours. My last minor craving was when my wife went to the airport on Tuesday for her trip. Other then thinking in good fun, "She'll never catch my slip-up now" I didn't have a single thought about dip from that day until Thursday night at 11PM. But when it hit, it brought a fucking sledge. But, I fought back. I fought back in a crazy "I'm going to show up to your door with a hacksaw and a bag of lime" kind of way, but that's what it takes with this addiction for me. I can't pull any punches. I have to do whatever it takes. I'm not giving up on my quit. I'm proud of my 66 days, even though it may not sound like much to some of the guys on here. One day, it'll be 660 days, then 6600. And that won't change what I'm going though now and it won't cheapen my current fight later. I have a healthy respect for the strength of my addition...and I'm damn sure afraid of it. I'm not going to assume I have a craving beat, and I'm not taking chances. We're all in this together, but it's an individual struggle that we all must fight.
I'm going to keep going overboard, however crazy/funny/absurd the actions I take to keep the quit alive. I'm done dipping, but dip will never be done with me. I know that about myself and I fight that every day. You can do that too.