Eugene

Date With Destiny
2005-12-25 22:22:53 (UTC)

The View From Three Years

The View From Three Years-Don't Quit 5 Minutes Before The
Miracle! A Troutnut1 Tale... (Long)
From troutnut1 on 2/28/2004 4:42:08 PM

Two recovering nicotine addicts were sitting at a traffic
light when a cigarette truck pulled up next to them. “Boy,
I sure could use one of them right now!” one says. “Yeah”
says the other, “but then where would we get the NEXT
truck?”

That’s sure how it was for me! One sickarette was never
enough.

My addition is progressive and demanding. And as it
progressed, one pack just left me wanting. What started as
a pleasurable way to entertain myself and kill pain
started to turn into an expensive annoyance. Still the
progression continued. Thirty five years, and I don’t know
how many truckloads later, my addiction just laughed as I
blew away 3.5 packs a day. And still it demanded
more. “How can you smoke 3.5 packs a day?” friends would
ask. It was a good question, but I found it impossible to
explain to them that, even at that level, the addict
inside me still wasn’t completely satisfied. It wanted
more.

I guess the “moderator” I was supposed to have been issued
was either missing at birth, or the one I got was
defective. Its never worked the way it was supposed to,
and I still find it almost impossible to do anything in
moderation. I’m an all or nothing kind of guy, though I
was the last one to know, at 45 I found myself in a body
badly deteriorated from chronic alcoholism, and a rather
severe addiction to nicotine. Even more disturbing was the
fact that I found myself completely and totally powerless
to do anything about either one of my addictions.
Countless vain attempts to quit proved futile. Breathing
problems landed me in the ER twice. They pumped me full of
steroids, ran me by the nebulizer, and sent me home with
inhalers. Still I was powerless to stop. In spite of the
pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization that only an
addict can know, I couldn’t stop taking that FIRST puff or
that FIRST drink of alcohol. I knew then that I would die
the slow painful death that my grandfather did. I’d seen
it all, and it wasn’t pretty. The black cloud of impending
doom was hanging out with me daily by then, and it
followed me wherever I went.

Then the Miracle happened. And I’m sorry that I cannot
fully explain it to you today. I woke up one morning with
the full and complete realization that I was an alcoholic
and a nicotine addict. Not just a little realization mind
you. But a realization that reached to my soul. To my
innermost self. And I remember saying to myself “My God!
I’m an alcoholic and a nicotine addict, and I’d better do
something fast or its gonna kill me!”. I was sick and
hungover, and barely able to breath. I picked up the phone
book and found the listing for AA. I knew it had worked
for friends and it just seemed like a good place to start.
Though it scared me to attend my first meeting, I had
finally reached a place where it scared me more not to. I
met my Higher Power on my way home from that first
meeting, in a blinding snowstorm, just south of the Conner
Cutoff on Hwy 93 South. That’s the part I can’t find words
to explain. November 21st of 1998 had been my last drink
of alcohol, though I didn’t know it at that time.

Amazingly. Slowly. Surely. It worked. It worked just as
well for me as it had for millions of others. Newly sober
and thrilled with a new joy, I tried to quit sickarettes
too. That quit lasted only three months. I cheated. I fell
for the “just one” lie. I didn’t yet have all the tools I
needed, and I didn’t understand it was that FIRST puff
that had always gotten me in the past, just as it was the
FIRST drink that had always gotten me drunk. But I
remained sober, and I continued to gather tools at regular
AA meetings.

In February of 2001, Mrs. Troutnut had decided to quit for
her birthday, and I decided to throw in with her. I’d be
lying if I told you I wasn’t scared. I chain smoked until
late the night before trying to consume all my remaining
sickarettes. But I was unsuccessful, and ended up with
three quarters of a pack un-smoked the next morning. As
the sun came up, I took them across the street to the
Bitterroot River and threw them as hard as I could into
the middle. Sadly, they landed high and dry on a car sized
iceberg. The ONLY iceberg in the entire river I might add!
So with tears in my eyes, I watched them slowly fade out
of sight, while my addict brain tried desperately to
calculate the next several bridge crossings, and places
where they might be retrieved.

I wish I could tell you it was easy. I wish I could tell
you it was quick. One day at a time, I refused to take
that FIRST puff. What I can tell you today is that it was
worth every second. I wouldn’t trade my adventure, or
where I am today, for any amount of gold or silver. The
demon hasn't visitied in a very long time, though I still
expect him to make brief visits from time to time. I love
my sobriety. I love being smoke free. My health returned.
I bought two nice trucks(cash!), and lots of toys with the
approximately $15,000 Mrs. Troutnut and I have saved not
taking that FIRST puff. And I have had the amazing gift of
helping many others along the way. What a joy that has
been!

Without the miracle, I would likely by now be just another
old guy killed by sickarettes and booze. Instead I am
healthy, happy, and free, one day at a time. I enjoy every
day. I'm a good insurance risk again. My doctor's proud of
me. So is Mrs. Troutnut and my friends and co-workers. I
have a boatload of friends that I love and care about, and
that love and care about me, many of them at the Q. I got
the biggest raise of my life financially. I don’t cough
and hack and spit. I can breath freely and deeply. I don't
smell bad. I’ve got my self-respect back. And I’ve gotten
back the outdoor life that I love and that my addictions
tried to steal from me. Truely, I am one of the luckiest
guys in the world. Best of all, I am going to bed as a
WINNER tonight! How cool is that?

Newbies listen up! There is a miracle waiting for you too!
Your job is to not give up 5 minutes before the miracle
happens, and to not take that FIRST puff of nicotine. This
is an adventure you must not miss!

This is what I have learned in three years here:

Don’t take that FIRST puff, and it is physically
impossible to fail!

Don’t take that FIRST puff, and you are absolutely,
positively, 100% guaranteed to go to bed as a WINNER
tonight!

Your friend in Montana

Troutnut1 (Dennis)
1 day at a time
1095 in a row
1 sickarette not smoked
twas that FIRST one you know!