I picked up at fourteen years old and used right up until I was thirty-one. I dabbled with everything. In my Senior year of High School, I had an accident and I got introduced to pain killers. That’s where my disease really took off and flourished. I found exactly what I was looking for and exactly how I wanted to feel. It allowed me to do things that I couldn’t do before.
I grew up around addiction. I always swore that I wouldn’t be like my mother but I turned out to be everything she was. My drug use took me to dark places – like jails and institutions – but none of that stuff scared me. I had no idea what recovery actually had to offer. I was fine with the idea of just trying to be abstinent. I didn’t know I could get a reprieve by working the twelve steps or telling another person my problems and deepest, darkest secrets.
When my daughter was born, it was one of my darkest times. I couldn’t wait to leave. I weaseled my way out of the delivery room so I could go use. Her birth didn’t stop me. On the happiest day of my life, my disease called the shots. It was ugly. I ended up homeless. I was one hundred and thirty pounds; I was barely eating, not taking care of myself, not brushing my teeth… I lived on an animalistic level.
I went to a Twelve Step fellowship for all the wrong reasons. I went to make the P.O. happy or because of other external motivations. However, I had come in and out long enough to see the same faces. Toward the end of my drug use, I was beat up. I hadn’t seen my daughter in seven months. I knew there was a better way of life. I finally became willing and I checked into treatment. I knew I had to do everything differently than before. Seeing all those familiar faces at meetings was huge for me. It was a shot of hope. I had been coming in and out of meetings for three or four years… and those people were still there. They were still coming and still smiling. Something about it had to work. That was the turning point for me. I was sleeping on a park bench, I hadn’t eaten in weeks, and I was about to lose my job. I knew that if I didn’t make a change, I was going to end up back in jail or dead.
The biggest thing for me was diving into the twelve steps. I needed to uncover my underlying issues. I stirred up all the stuff from the past that I had buried for years. I knew that if I didn’t deal with it, I was going to use again. I got heavily involved in the fellowship. I had service positions, I got a sponsor and called him, and I attended meetings at least once a day. I hit the pavement and I chased recovery like I chased the drug.
It’s not always easy…but the gifts are amazing. I am a father today. I went from not being able to see my daughter to having her half the time. That’s probably the biggest gift. I don’t put my daughter in harms way anymore. Her mother knows I’m going to show up when I tell her I’m going to be there. If I tell her I’m going to be there at 9:00, I’m there at 9:00.
I wouldn’t have made it through without all the people I’ve met. I had to change the people, places, and things around me. There’s not one person I talk to who still has anything to do with using. I got clean in my back yard. The geographical cure thing didn’t work. It was huge for me to be around people in recovery.
The steps teach us that there is nothing we can’t get through clean. I buried my best friend and, two weeks later, I buried another friend, and three days after that my grandmother passed away. A day after my grandmother passed, I found out that I am going to be a dad again. It’s the full circle of life. I am blessed that I can be present and I don’t have to go through what I went through with my daughter. I can actually be there for all this stuff and that is amazing. I have choices today. I couldn’t be more grateful for that.
I never thought in a million years that I could put a day clean together. The key is to just show up and watch the miracle happen. When you see a miracle, you become a miracle. Give yourself a chance. That’s all it comes down to. If you don’t, you’ll never know the beauty this life has to offer.
Closed mouths don’t get fed. You can’t get help if people don’t know what’s really going on. Some of the best relationships I have are because I put my hand up and said: “Hey, this is what’s happening and I don’t know how to deal with it”. It’s okay to not be okay and it’s okay to not know. It’s all normal. Just ask for help.
Recovering addicts are the most creative people in the world. We can make anything happen. We can fix your house and take care of your kids. Recovering addicts do everything. If we have a dream, we can do it. When you take the drink and drug away, we are some of the best people. I don’t think anybody understands or gives unconditional love like a recovering addict. We want to give and we expect nothing in return. We do it out of the goodness of our heart because that’s what we are taught in recovery: to be very selfless.