I flick my lighter three times and pull the half-smoked Newport out from behind my ear. In between nodding off, I bring the flame to the tip of my cigarette, and if only for an instant, everything seemed right in my world. When I would use, my addiction would tell me all sorts of lies like this. Heroin was that peaceful silence in the dead of night after a massive snow storm. Heroin was that calming smell of a summertime rainstorm. Heroin was that picturesque view of a shoreline sunrise that appears frozen in time. Heroin was that feeling of pure joy that one can only experience as a child on Christmas morning. None of it was real. It was all just smoke and mirrors fed to me by my disease. My addiction was the tense sound of a New York City construction site on a busy day. I had beeping horns and jackhammers in my head all day long. My addiction was the anxious smell of a stale room on the tough side of town. My addiction was the dim lit alley way that only drums up negative feelings and emotions. My addiction was the feeling of pure despair that one can only experience after losing everything and everyone in their life. Addiction is great at using slight of hand to convince us we are in control. It can manipulate and connive us in ways that turn us against ourselves and everyone around us. Let someone help you see things for what they truly are until you can see it for yourself.
It was a week before Christmas in 2014 and I was so dope sick that I didn’t know how I was going to make it through the next hour of my life. My nose was running, my eyes were watering, my skin was crawling, my legs were restless, and I needed to find a way to get high. All my bridges were burned, and my family’s patience was wearing thin. I took a “personal day” from my dead-end job and made my way back to my parents’ house. My dad came home and went directly upstairs with some cash he had taken out of his bank account for Christmas gifts. I stood perfectly still downstairs listening to the creaky wooden floor while counting his footsteps as he entered his bedroom. At this point he was hiding anything from me that had any real value. I found the envelop and stole most of the money that he was going to use for Christmas that year. I was forced out of their house and into a treatment center just four days later. It took me nearly a decade of situations exactly like this until I finally got sober. It wasn’t an overnight process and it surely wasn’t something I ever thought I would be able to accomplish. But instead of counting footsteps, I followed in the footsteps of the people that came before me. Recovery works – so please reach out if you need to follow in someone’s footsteps that was once where you are.
I don’t always give my father the credit he deserves because he has always been the glue that held my family together. He has always pulled himself up by his bootstraps and fought through any unfortunate situation he was presented with. My drug addiction put a serious strain on our relationship for many years, and it seemed like we couldn’t see eye to eye on anything. Today, I can finally say that I have the relationship with my father that I always wanted. After all, he has always been a hero of mine because of how he built a life for himself though his own hard work and dedication. Being home for the holidays and watching football together for the first time in years was one of the best Christmas gifts I could have asked for. Thanks for everything Dad.
Transformation Tuesday! Three years ago, I left my parents’ house to go to a treatment center two days before Christmas. I was in such a bad place mentally, spiritually and emotionally that I couldn’t even hold on for 48 hours and spend the holidays with my family. The next year, I spent Thanksgiving in a treatment center and was released two weeks before Christmas. I spent the holiday living in halfway house 1,500 miles away from my family. Last year I had over a year of sobriety for the first time in my life, and because I was in the right frame of mind, I was able to spend Christmas with my family and my best friend. It was the first time I was with my family physically and emotionally in a long time. My point is – if your struggling – please get help the help you need whenever you need It. Don’t put it off until after the holidays, because a lot can happen in just a few weeks. I know how hard this time of year can be for addicts and their families, so please reach out if you need some help or support. I’m always just a message or a phone call away. Prayers for all the families affected by addiction this year.
Over the last month or so I have released many articles telling my story and detailing the phases of my own personal recovery. This last piece is something I had to actively participate in while I was continuing to get sober. However, this doesn’t just apply to people getting sober, I believe this last piece of advice can apply everyone and anyone trying to make their life more fulfilling. As I have stated on multiple occasions, addiction is a very selfish and self-seeking disease. It creates the illusion that the world revolves around the person in active addiction, and blinds them to the fact that nothing could be further from the truth. I say this because I was that addict for nearly a decade, and this was undoubtedly my truth. (more…)
My first year of sobriety was unlike anything I had experienced before because it was NOT just about putting down the drugs and alcohol. This year was also about growing and developing how I treated myself. If anyone out there is reading this and still struggling with the concept of sobriety, I will try to shed a little light on what it actually means to me. (more…)