For a long time I was not able to be honest with myself. I didn’t even really know who I was.
Even before substance abuse I experienced issues in my life. I never felt right or like I belonged anywhere. I always felt like the world was against me and that I wasn’t wanted. Growing up, I was a small kid. I was bullied by my peers and became a very angry person. I remember just hating the world and throughout the years the hatred got stronger.
As I grew and got older I turned the tables. I became the bully. I used all the hate that had built up inside and turned it on everyone around me. Of course, anger is just a cover up for pain. I had a lot of that.
I remember always hearing things like,
Can’t you do anything right?
Take responsibility for yourself!
Why do you act like that?
Why are you so angry?
Don’t you think about anyone but yourself?
I just wanted to escape
Once I had that first high I felt untouchable. Invisible. I gained the ability to do anything without having to think or care about consequence or the negative impact my actions had on others. I became completely wrapped up in my own self image and how I wanted people to see me. In that, I lost the ability to see who I really was.
I was lost inside myself.
But why? Why was I that guy who had so much potential but always screwed everything up?
My anger, confusion and inability to make sense of my life led me further down the path of addiction. There didn’t seem to be an end to this cycle of destruction repeating itself again and again. And then something different happened.
I woke up in a jail not knowing how I had got there. It was my 4th time being arrested. I felt a strong feeling come over my body. It was the feeling of shame, guilt, fear, anger, and hate. I was so angry, —but I was also tired. I was tired of repeating the same rollercoaster of events that always led me to the same results.
I was tired of who I had become.
I was done.
I gave up.
I cant explain why and how, but for some reason I got this feeling in me, this moment of clarity that changed my entire perception of things. You can call it what you want, but I call it divine intervention. It took me 16 years, and at 28 years old I realized I had to change. If I didn’t change I would probably not live too much longer or I would end up in jail permanently.
For the first time in my life I didn’t have any answers. I realized I was sick, —mentally and physical sick. I walked out of jail and called my mom. I put my pride, my ego and even my anger down. I uttered the words, “I need help.”
I had surrendered…
She guided me to Highwatch Recovery in Kent, Connecticut. I’m sure it is no coincidence that I had my first drink in Kent, Connecticut 16 years prior. At that time I had no idea alcoholism was a disease.
I remember the ride to treatment. It seemed surreal, like it wasn’t really happening to me. I didn’t say much to my mother and I barely expressed any feelings when she dropped me off.
Before I walked in the doors it was clear to me that this was it. My moment was right now. I had to agree to let it all out here and hold nothing back. If I wanted to live a good life I was going to have to do the things I feared. I was going to have to walk through the shame and tell these people everything I didn’t want people to know about me so that I can come out on the other side a new man. If I really wanted to change I had to be vulnerable.
This was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
I walked through the doors after I promised myself I would do everything I needed to do to change my life.
And so my journey in recovery began
While in treatment, I realized I couldn’t only change what I wanted to change, —I had to change everything. I had to be willing to do whatever it takes. The second day in treatment I stepped through the fear and raised my hand at my first meeting. I briefly told everyone in the room what had led me to this point and I didn’t hold anything back. For the first time in my life I felt relief. After the meeting I was approached by other men who identified with the things I shared.
I was not alone.
What I came to believe is that all the steps I took after leaving that jail cell were steps I took directly next to God. My entire life God has been there and all I had to do was put myself in His hand so He could guide me on a righteous path.
My disease blinded me from that truth.
I have a disease. It’s not a moral failing. It’s not a choice. I drank one day because I needed something to take away the feeling I didn’t want to feel. Who knew that 16 years away from that day I would want to feel all the feelings I used to not want to feel and rejuvenate the life that once died inside of me.
I can now say that I am a recovered alcoholic.
By recovered I mean I am free from the thought and obsession that alcohol will solve my problems. I don’t think about taking a drink anymore. The problem wasn’t my parents or the environment they built to protect me. The problem was within me.
What I now know is that we are all children of God and we all have a right to be here. Everyone deserves to be loved, no matter what.
During treatment I was shown love.
This love gave me hope.
The hope gave me that little bit of willingness to make my beginning.
The willingness helped me ask God for forgiveness.
Then I started to believe.
Belief… over time turned in to faith.
Today I am happy in a way I have never been. Even on my worst day I am still happy because I’ve learned how to live my life. I don’t need to have all the answers today because I know that God will take care of me. I connect with people on an entirely different level. There is no more hate and anger in my heart. I love everyone.
My hope for you, whoever is reading this right now, is that you would find and walk in the freedom I have found.
No matter where you are right now, no matter what you’ve done with your life…if you’re feeling lost, let today be your first step in the direction of recovery.