I was 15 when I started using and in a short five year period, my life spiraled out of control. I experienced a lot of consequences. For example, I had over twenty jobs in that timeframe and had become unemployable. I quit sports, I changed my circle of friends more than once, I did not graduate high school, I was arrested around 14 times in one year and I ended up overdosing and looking death in the eye. But more than that was the complete hopelessness I felt. There was no way out.
I felt alone. I had tried everything to stop. I did not want to put my family through any more pain. But the disease couldn’t care less about what I wanted. It was my master and I was its slave. I feared this was my life going forward.
Shortly after my visit in the hospital, I entered residential treatment and met people in long term recovery. I thought the recovery community was where fun went to die. I despised being sober and could not envision a life without drugs and alcohol. That is the crazy thing about this illness. As my life kept getting darker and smaller, my mind kept telling me that I was going to figure it out and be ok. However, something did catch my attention.These people were like me, but completely different at the same time.They had jobs, families, responsibilities, and they were peacefully happy. I on the other hand, wanted to crawl out of my skin while sober. I had to find out what happened to them. That was my beginning, my hope. I took a few of their suggestions, but was not ready to fully submit to the process.
Finally, the gift of desperation allowed me to fully join this way of life. I was finally able to try something different. As a result of listening and taking suggestions, I get to be a daddy, a husband, a son, a businessman, a giver, a mentor, a community leader, a college graduate, and I am still growing the list.
I have hope. I love my life and recovery is at the center. Since earning my GED, I have gone on the get a Masters degree and finish my doctorate coursework. Not bad for a guy who had a .75 GPA in high school. I learned my past does not equal my future. Unlike before, I am walking through whatever life brings me. I am not alone. In college, I was voted to serve as student government president. I was honored. It also made me laugh because in high school, the student body voted be to most likely end up on “Cops.”
I learned recovery is more than a clean urinalysis. I am as physically sober as I was over a decade ago. It’s what I do during each 24 hour period that makes the difference. With help, I am creating a life worth living. I am worth the effort.