Life. It’s fascinating to me that there is one thing for sure about it, we all have a starting point in which we are born into and there is always an inevitable end. What we do in between these points is our decision, so I thought, but it is absolutely my experience that I lost the power of choice to addiction.
I would start with where and when I was born, but frankly none of that really matters. I am fortunate to have had two loving parents, and a younger sister who has, and always will be my world. To say I had a normal loving childhood would be a lie, though parts were indeed loving and as normal as they could be. My earliest childhood memory is that of my parents arguing intensely, the smell of wine lingering in the room with each breath. I remember feeling completely hopeless, scared and of no importance to them at the time, ironically a feeling that would have haunted me for years to come. I remember I struggled a lot with material possessions. I was never content with anything that I had, constantly shopping for the next best thing and consistently wanting more. More toys, more clothes, more friends, more time outside before bed, more holidays, ect. By the age of 5 my parents had separated. As for any 5 year old, at first it was an adjustment and rather difficult of my sister and I, but after a while I saw the beauty of it in a twisted way. I had more of everything a 5 year old would want. More presents on Christmas morning, two dinners, two deserts, and more importantly two parents vying to be the “better” parent giving my sister and I almost anything we ever wanted. As I look back I see how this obsession with more has become detrimental. I lived with a mom, to who struggled with alcoholism, which gave us a more laid back, calm environment and ultimately felt guilty leaving my father, and us kids without our Dad. On the other hand I had a Dad, old fashioned with high expectations set standards that were high for any child. Living this double life after a while had become extremely normal, almost as if I had presumed that everyone lives this way.
Middle school is tough for any kid. Realizing that I was different from the rest of the middle school boys I had grown up with my entire life was both a blessing and a curse. All of my friends were girls, teachers and parents thought I was a sweet kid; I didn’t like sports, hated gym class and instead obsessed over musical theater and image. Image has always been important to me, looking good feels good right? So as the ideological process I presumed as true for the majority of my life. Feeling different is both a blessing and a curse, you start to see yourself as an individual, however who wants to feel different from their peers at 12 years old. I was never horribly made fun of as a kid, but definitely an easy target. I was actually pretty popular with a lot of friends and handled confrontational situations with humor, as I had found it is easy to break tension with a laugh, making myself the bud of the joke.
At the end of the day it wasn’t feeling different or being made fun of in the 6th grade that contributed to me experiencing drugs and alcohol by the 7th grade, more so the feeling that drinking alcohol and using drugs gave me. The first time I tried alcohol and prescription pills I was in the 7th grade and I fell head over heels with my first love. It was in drinking that bottle I had found what I was constantly searching for since I was a child, security, confidence and just the overall perception that absolutely everything was exactly the way it needed to be at the moment. A lot of major things started happening to me shortly after I fell in love with alcohol and drugs. I finally came out at 13 admitting I was gay, I started dating the first guy I fell in love with, I was on a national TV show on Vh1, I started writing for competitions and winning, but most importantly I finally had started to learn to love myself for the things that set me apart from the rest of my peers. Life was starting to look up.
January 4th 2008 is a date that gives me chills down my spine. At a much deeper point in being a teenage drug addict and alcoholic I was finally getting some life changing consequences for my drinking and using. After drinking about a fifth of vodka and chasing it with a few Xanax, I left the house at 15 on my way to my first college party. Little did I know after entering my drunken friend’s car that night, it would be one of those slow motion moments like on a horror film that you wish you could just intervene with the character and change the inevitable outcome and make it a little less painful to watch. Never the less, my friend ran a stop sign at 80 mph and my door was t-boned at 60mph leaving me with a broken neck and back, lacerated kidney and liver and over 100 stitches in my face. I was told I would never be able to walk again and spent 5 weeks in ICU before I suddenly had feeling in my toes, which over time strengthened to my feet, which strengthened to my legs and in a neck and back brace, learned how to walk again. Although an eye opening experience, insanely enough it did not open my eyes.
High on Percocet’s and Xanax for “pain” and “anxiety” following my accident, I found it was easy to forget the struggles of my recent past. With medicine at my disposal, things escalated very quickly. Relationships ended, I was failing miserably in school, couldn’t hold a job and that illusion of confidence and security following that first drink disappeared with the reality of adulthood approaching. I graduated high school and started my journey running from what looked like bad circumstances, later to find out that those circumstances all had one thing in common, me. Moving from state to state, job to job and school to school were all stepping stones to my bottom. No matter how far I moved, or how much I used to forget, I never forgot to use.
At the age of 21, I checked into my first rehab. It was my first taste of recovery and South Florida. Although an amazing experience on many levels, I still hadn’t reached my bottom. Becoming a slave to heroin was probably one of the biggest blessings as I see it now that had ever occurred to me. I went to new levels to seek the high, ran harder and faster from my problems, however harder and faster to my bottom. After overdosing and going to jail within the course of 48 hours, I called The Watershed. I was ready to give up doing things my way on my time and was truly desperate enough to follow the path of others that were actually happy, and sober. It was my first time actually surrendering to a program and working steps. I took suggestions, although it wasn’t easy in the moments of questioning them I tried to remember the feeling of desperation I had while walking into The Watershed. More times than not, remembering that feeling is exactly the moment I realize that the nature of my problems today are not even comparable to my easiest day drinking and using.
I will have 6 months on August 7th and it’s through God’s grace that I have lived to see this day. Today I work a full time job, pay my rent, feed myself, answer the calls of others and genuinely care about other people. It is a combination of AA, The Watershed and the loving community of other addicts that have all worked with me in my miracle of recovery.