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Flavius Victor

Four Years

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Four Years

By: Bluesman

November 4, 2005



We use to have one of “those trees” … it was an enormous maple tree that dropped thousands of leaves on our backyard. And I would always start with most utilitarian of intentions, just “doing some yard work,” but not for long ... soon, the pile of leaves would be the size of a small pickup truck, just way too inviting to ignore, and the kids would be lining up to get launched into the pile. At the time, my children were 7, 6, and not quite 1 (the Bluesbaby), and they would just completely disappear upon entry, like the pile had swallowed them whole, leaving nothing but a gaping hole and a puff of fall leaves. Soon, every kid in the neighborhood was doing belly flops into the leaf pile. I became the guardian of the pile, responsible for keeping it raked properly for soft landings, throwing footballs just right for diving catches, and fishing out little kids before they got squashed by the older ones. My wife, hoping that the leaves would somehow get up before nightfall, just shook her head in mock disgust … knowing what was coming next, she would head inside. Before long, just about the entire neighborhood had meandered inside our kitchen, still pulling leaves from sweatshirts and shirt sleeves, looking for hot chocolate and cookies.


Today, my children are 11, 10, and 4. We have a new house, and it really does not have one of “those trees” ... my wife picked up the few leaves that did fall with the riding mower. I would probably throw my back out if I “launched” the older two, who seem twice the size now. And besides, our Fall Seasons are so busy now with 10,000 activities – school and overlapping sport seasons and coaching and church and family and home repairs and on and on and on – maybe I will put “build a leaf pile and launch children” on our weekend agenda/"to do" list ... they aren't THAT big yet.


Do not get me wrong … this is nostalgia without sadness, and my life is still filled with love and happiness and plenty of family activities like these (these days, it is soccer games and roller hockey, story time and movie nights, sleepovers with a dozen kids). But I cannot help but feeling a little ... whiplashed, from watching the time pass so quickly. It is like I blinked, and BAM … my children went from toddlers to pre-teens, from Seuss to Judy Bloom, and from Pokemon to SportsCenter.


So much has changed for me in four years …


* * * * *


Four years ago, I was 34 year old man, sitting in front of a computer screen with a wad of Skoal in my mouth. I had chewed tobacco everyday, nearly all-the-time, for more than twenty years before that moment. My father had recently passed away from tobacco-related cancer, I was on the verge of becoming a partner in my law firm, and my children were just getting to the point where they were starting to notice me, filling my lip with ... something.


Four years ago, I could not make it through a single day without chewing tobacco. Just couldn’t do it. Of course, I had tried to quit before … nearly all of these purported “quit efforts” were the “stealth” variety, though, where only I knew about it. Looking back, I must have been totally insane ... I would quit in the morning, throw out my chew on the way to work … then spend a couple of hours suffering through headaches and brain fog and all of the other withdraw symptoms, and then cave ... I was the tobacco masochist!! It was like I was starring in my own personal “Groundhog Day,” except I woke up everyday with sore gums and rumbled lips, rather than a Sonny & Cher song.


* * * * *


If you are still with me (and I will apologize now for being so long winded), you are likely wondering, “So what happened? How did you do it? What helped you break free from this deadly, cancer-causing addiction?” Here is your answer …




I found this website on evening of November 1, 2001. I originally registered with my initials (“AJ”) and then slowly morphed into the “Bluesman” as the online identity for the tobacco-free me. I joined this community, and made a PUBLIC commitment to the other members here, that I would not use tobacco today. I spent the next 100 days (and beyond), supporting and whining and encouraging and complaining, like … well, just like a recovering tobacco junkie. I posted 2-3 times per day (which was a lot in those days), and I read every single post in the history of the Café, at least at the time. By getting involved and staying involved, I created exactly what I needed to break from this addiction … accountability.


I discovered character traits inside myself – like courage, self-discipline, will-power, and “testicular fortitude” – that I had long since forgotten. And there is simply no other way to put this … I SAVED my life. One need only read the heartbreaking story of Tom Kern to recognize the truth in that statement.


This website contains all of the advice, information, encouragement, suggestions, and cyber support that you could possibly need to break free from an addiction to chewing tobacco. And that is why you are here …


If you were surfing this website, looking for an invitation to join our community, this posting is your invitation … please register, post at least the words “Day 1 ~ I will not use tobacco today,” and introduce yourself to your “quit group” (link above). Then, most importantly, keep your commitment, no matter what the cost. Be willing to do anything you must do in your “real world” to keep this one commitment, on a day-by-day, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute basis.


Each passing moment without tobacco is a moment of truth, as you destroy the lies of tobacco addiction. And, yes, I realize that the process can be hard, exhausting, unbearably slow at the beginning of the journey ... A single day without tobacco can feel like forever in the life of a tobacco junkie. But that is why I came back today, on the four-year anniversary of my own quit date. I want to share my perspective with you …


Time will heal your mind. Time will free your mind from tobacco addiction. And notwithstanding your current battle, the time will pass quickly. In the blink of an eye, the next four years will just evaporate, like a puff of fall leaves. All of the “pain” and hardship of the process will be a memory, all of your self-defeating lies and rationalizations and excuses will be forgotten, and all that will matter is that you made this commitment and kept this commitment.


And you make the choice, today, that ultimately will decide what happens in that "blink of an eye." The choices are very clear and well-defined, and they will put you on one of two diametrically opposing paths:


You can be exactly where you are today, living in your own personal “Groundhog Day,” whining and complaining and living each day in fear of the slow, painful, dehumanizing death of tobacco-related cancer.


Or you can be completely free of this addiction, celebrating your life without tobacco, with your only passing tobacco-related thought being, "Why in the hell did I EVER wait so long to break free from that moronic, juvenile, cancer-causing addiction?"


Choose wisely.


* * * * *


Today, four-years down the road, I could not be more proud of myself for my continuing success in the battle with tobacco addiction. This success remains one of my greatest personal accomplishments. I also could not be more thankful and appreciative for the work of the host of this website, Matt van Wyk, who has given YEARS of his time, money, energy, and support to all of us. Reading back over some of his posting this year, I simply would like to encourage you to be respectful of his incredibly generous gift to us, to give back to this community in a positive, supportive, and respectful manner, and make this website a valuable resource for the next generation of tobacco junkies, four years from today.


Finally, I want to say “thanks” to all of the QS members (and members of my own support group or “quit group,” before there were such things), including Blair, Kroch, Brett, Jogi, Otown Dave, Shane, Calgary Mike (kicks ass!!), Ted, Gregory, Bryce, Mex Bill, and TommyJ (to whom I will personally administer as ass kicking if I EVER see him anywhere south of the Hall of Fame again) from the old, old days … Rick in Tampa, JR, KM, LF, MayDay, 4Woogie, Northcreek, Mallowguy, the Rev, Breen77 and SPONGEBOB (CONGRATS ON THREE YEARS!!) from the just plain old days … and a special thanks to members like Penguin, Captain Kirk, and our resident Café Historian and Town Crier, RNT, for leading the way for the next generation of quitters.


If you truly want to break free from this addiction, read the posting from this groups and the other members of the QS Hall of Fame … follow their footsteps … make the right choice … and FREE YOUR MIND!!’


Good Luck!!

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