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Flavius Victor

Two Years

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Two Years

By: Bluesman

November 4, 2003

 

 

I spent the entire late summer and fall on a soccer field. Four nights per week, and usually both days on the weekends, with the earthy smell of Fall air. Having played football all of my life, soccer was a “sport” that I did not like or understand … a low-scoring game, played by foreigners and children with over-protective parents. Now I get it. Now, there are few things in life that I enjoy more than watching my players, tearing up the field, crossing the ball, and drilling one into the back of the net. So many moments-in-time … my God, if we could only capture them and hold them forever. But I will tell you, I really had to work very hard myself at learning how to coach this game … attending coaching clinics, reading books/articles, trial-and-error on the field, really anything to stay one step ahead of the kids, who absorb everything you say and do anything you ask. They trusted me to get it right, to keep it fun, to make them better players. I kept their trust. I am now a very good soccer coach.

 

At the same time, I have to say, I am really struggling with motivation at work. Whether its stress or a mild “career burnout” or just boredom, I have been in a slump at work lately. From that outside looking in, it still looks exactly like the playbook … a successful, profitable trial attorney in a large firm in my hometown. But, in the back of my head, I keep hearing myself saying, “Okay, that’s all great, but what’s next?” I have been pounding away at that question, for what seems like a very long time, and still do not know “what’s next.” In the meantime, I am going to have to find a way to “unslump myself,” in the words of the immortal Dr. Seuss, and probably set of some new career goals.

 

So at this point, you are all probably asking yourself, “Hey Bluesman, what does any of this have to do with chewing tobacco and addiction?”

 

Not a damn thing.

 

Two years ago today, I would have answered that question very differently. I viewed my life through eyes of a person addicted to chewing tobacco. Slumping at work? I need to chew tobacco to concentrate and get going. You are going to coach soccer? Better put off that quit until the end of the season. Heck, it’s practically illegal to be outdoors without chewing. Feeling drained and out of gas? Probably just need a pinch.

 

To the tobacco junkie, there is ALWAYS a cause-and-effect relationship between life and tobacco. Tobacco addiction takes every event and circumstance in your life, and then connects it to a perceived need for chewing tobacco, like a thousand of stretched rubber bands running though your mind. Time and abstinence will break these connections, day-by-day, one-by-one, until you are free of the addiction. True, it stings a little bit when those bands come snapping back (ouch), and the process can be long and tedious, but the results are guaranteed. When you break free from the addiction, you do not crave tobacco.

 

Tobacco addiction is a condition, but tobacco use is a choice, a conscious decision that you make on a moment-by-moment basis. You cannot quit chewing tobacco “forever.” You can make the commitment, but you still have to make the decision to abstain from using tobacco in the present. When you get to a certain point, when you have broken enough of those “rubber bands” with the passage of time, you do not even consciously make “the decision” anymore. You just do not use tobacco anymore. But I make the same decision today, on my two-year anniversary, that you are making on Day 1.

 

You also cannot “cure” yourself from tobacco addiction. I think this is the mistake that some of our fallen HOF members have made. Time and abstinence will heal the mind, but like cancer, the addition is merely in remission. If you are reading this post, you cannot be “cured,” and you are not capable of being a “casual user.” Casual users do not need support to quit using tobacco and they are not surfing the internet for a website like this. You are irrefutably presumed to be incapable of “just one,” at any time in your life. That isolated experience will reconnect you to the addiction, laying dormant in your mind. It’s like hopping the chain-linked fence and jabbing an angry pitbull with a sharp stick … to no one’s surprise, the pit bull will bite you.

 

The reality is that we are always $5.00 and five minutes away from an everyday, all-the-time tobacco addiction. Candidly, I use to be little angry, and more than a little scared, about this fact. I wanted to be “cured” of tobacco addiction, and the thought of having to exercise “self-discipline” for the rest of my life was just overwhelming. “You mean I am always going to fight this for the rest of my life?” But then I realized that, in real life, we spend nearly every waking moment engaged in some form of “self-discipline,” reining in our impulses and controlling our behavior. You do not ram your car into the vehicle that just cut you off in traffic. You do not get loaded and drive home. You do not punch out your annoying co-worker. And you do not accept when a friend unwittingly extends an open tin towards you, with an inviting nod to have “just one.” In your case, the stakes are too high to have another lapse in judgment, to “cave” to a mere impulse, because one dip is the same as 10,000. It’s like voluntarily walking into a prison cell, with an indefinite life sentence … because you just never know if or when you will have the courage to try again.

 

If you are trying to find the courage to walk out of the prison cell, to take the first step, the keys are right there on the wall, just like old Mayberry cell. … It’s a website called quitsmokeless.org. This free website contains all of the information, advice, and support that you ever need to break free from tobacco addiction and to reclaim your life from the chemically-treated, cancer-causing dried tobacco leaves that are stuff in your pocket. You do not need to quit forever … if fact, you cannot quit a behavior addiction “forever.” You simply need to abstain from chewing tobacco today, at this exact moment in time.

 

The essence of this addiction is a false belief that you actually need chewing tobacco. Day 1 is the first step towards exploding that lie, snapping one of those “connections” in your mind, by proving that you can make it one twenty-four hour period without using chewing tobacco. Day 1 proves you can do it.

 

But the first step is to make your commitment public, by introducing yourself to the members here and posting “Day 1” in this forum. It is very important to make your commitment public (not merely lurk), because there is only one reason to keep the quit quiet. It’s like shorting the stock market … you are telling yourself that the smart money is betting against you. And please keep in mind that you do not need to ramble on and on and on like me. You just need to say “Day 1 – no tobacco today” (do a search on Notdeadyet).

 

At that point, you have broken out of your prison cell, the alarms have sounded, and it’s game on. My advice to you? GET MOVING! If you want freedom, you are going to have to work for it. No one can carry your load … you have to bear it. No one can give you your freedom … you have to earn it. And no one can tell you that tobacco addiction is a lie … you have to discover it. During the initial stage, you must do anything and everything in your power to keep moving, to move from this moment in time to the next moment in time, without chewing tobacco. At ground zero, you just breathe in and out without chewing tobacco. Each moment is another step towards freedom.

 

As you move forward, you will experience moments in this struggle when the mental torment is absolutely palpable, and every fiber in your body is urging you to just give up and start chewing again. At this level, success is surviving the moment with your commitment intact. I can distinctly recall these early battles, even after two years, and the things that I did to “keep moving” ... drinking water, chewing gum, using herbal chews (SMC), working out, prayer, running, reading and posting here … anything and everything to keep moving. I can also recall the unbelievable feelings of joy and pride that I felt when I survived those challenges … true personal freedom is an amazing feeling.

 

After you master the art of “keeping moving,” you need to weather the “dog days” of the Big Quit and work a little bit on the other side of the equation … redefining yourself in a tobacco-free world. On the next level, you fight through the “drudgery” … the fog, nervous tension, anger, exhaustion, boredom, depression, and other lesser mind games of the addiction … better known by its clinical name, Post Traumatic Dip Disorder. My advice to you is stay close to the Café, and keep reading and posting every single day. You are still too close and too connected to the addiction to wander too far. Your judgment and decision-making skills are still suspect, and you are mentally exhausted from spending the entire day, fighting this addiction. You see some form of this despair in nearly every post from Day 30 to Day 80 … “tell me this drudgery will pass, tell me it is worth it, tell me I can get there from here.”

 

If you are at this stage, you need to click on the “Hall of Fame” link above, and read and reread the story of nearly 500 people, just like you, who have directly answered these questions. But let me summarize them for you here … There will come a day when you do not actively fight the addiction. There will come a day when you do not even think about chewing tobacco. And you will feel triumph, proud and free, in a very raw and fundamental way, like you did when you received your diploma, or kissed your wife at the alter, or held your child for the first time.

 

From the vantage point of two years, I view my success against tobacco addiction as the example for making positive change in all aspects of my life … work, career, family, spiritual, physical fitness, everything. I have learned self-determination through a personal commitment, hard work, and community support. I can redefine myself – as a tobacco-free person, or a physical fitness fanatic, or a soccer coach – if that is my choice.

 

Matt, I still have no words to adequate express my gratitude to you. You have saved lives, including my own, with your vision and hard work. You have also raised the bar for all of us, in setting the standard for what it means to “give back to the community” and make a positive difference in the lives of others. Thank you, Matt.

 

Tonight, I have to unload the soccer balls from my trunk and load up the basketballs … the season starts in a couple of days, and another group of parents and children (including my own) are counting on me to get it right, to keep it fun, to make them better players. I could probably come up with some kind of meaningful analogy for you, but really, it’s doesn't have anything to do with tobacco at all ... it's life without tobacco.

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