Kane County Health Department
Tools and Resources for Opioid Overdose Prevention

The Naked Truth

My recovery story illustrates the depth of my addiction, the hopelessness and, how I found my voice of recovery.

I am a survivor of drug and sexual abuse as a child (non-family related) I can still see the scenes of myself and other children being directed. I do not remember being scared.

Addiction is very much a part of my family story, and I can remember growing up in bars and lots drugs and alcohol. I do have good memories and believe that I was loved with the best their abilities.

I have bounced around back and forth between my parents, and I don’t think there ever was a healthy relationship and is probably very typical when addiction is so prevalent especially when multi-generational. I never felt really excepted.

I really don’t care about blame and choose to look forward and be responsible for who and what I become. This is my recovery, and I like whom I have grown and have learned to love myself, and I’m not talking physically.

My life journey really starts in Texas, and there is where I met the mother of my children. However, due to illegal activity by my wife’s family, my family and I went to court, and got sole custody of children. There was a short time when I prospered and was a father figure and came to know joy.

Then I fell into addiction once again. My father asked me to allow him to be the father to my children that he was not to me.  I agreed, but THIS WAS WORST DECISION I EVER MADE. Even though I do feel he had the best of intentions, it was something akin to a doctor operating on himself.  My addiction did remove my ability to be a parent and do not judge them for intervening.

The outcome of my family raising my children had a hideous result. The fact is, they were financially taken care of but just as I have come to learn, you can change the outside appearance but the facade will never last. I remember a lot of rage and anger when I grew up and this ever never changed. Though I certainly was not a good family member and created a lot of harm myself.

I had brief interactions with my children during their teens, and at one point worked in recovery with my father and had my boy go through the same treatment center that my father owned just when I had a hope of a real relationship with my father.

Now I had treatment teams counseling them and myself in my father’s treatment center.
Yep, you guessed it that little experiment was so unhealthy and though there was no excuse, I was again in the depths of my addiction.

The last interaction was when one of them moved in with me and brought his best friend. I was sober as we all were but soon enough the dysfunction and having no real fathering skills coupled with a new marriage was disastrous.

He left, and I was given a choice of it was either her or them. I went running after him only to learn he was in the throes of addiction and I just wanted to be there for him and protect him. It didn’t take long, and I was in my addiction.

I was so lost. All I wanted to do is protect him, but my failure drove me deeper into my addiction. There was nothing I could do to save him and I nearly lost my freedom.

I now understand my early years of addiction and my father in young recovery and how hard that must have been for him. I honestly thought that when he took the children that I was giving them the hope of a different outcome. My sister would raise them with the help of who they would come to know as their father, and he would stand by them even after their relationship was over. I firmly believe they were genuinely loved.

Family relationships of the past seem to coagulate and pool when lensed from different perspectives.  Subjectively my ability to expand on family dynamic would create more, and that is not my objective.

I would learn later that they told them I abandon them. This was from my perspective untrue. This would drive my guilt and addiction further for many years to come, and the sad result raises the question of could I have done no worse given the end result. My hope one day is to write a book, documentary or even a movie and a portion of the proceeds would go to help fight the epidemic that our country faces.

I woke up in Montana it was the first time in years. Stability, recovery and even love fell into place. I was too immature and lost her. I truly loved her, and even now, we profess our love to one another, she said until I could take care of her we would have to love one another from afar.

I was lost again, and I would find an escape in the national parks and saw our national treasures as few have seen. It indeed is an awe-inspiring adventure that awaits you.

One day I hope to help start sober, mental health, disadvantaged, and early offender partnership programs. I believe this can profoundly change one’s perspective of the world we live in and ultimately change who we are on the inside.

Montana would prove to have more than just beauty of a state, as I would come to find. Here I would come to find the closest relationship to a family I have known. Elain and Mark took me in and believed in me. I would not have been able to survive and grow had it not been for their compassion.

To this day, they have stood by me, and they planted some of the first seeds of hope. Elain would come become a saving grace and lifeline to this very day. This long road of countless relapses coupled with insurmountable fear left me paralyzed, and I could never seem to complete anything and feared the wrath of judgment even though I felt great compassion.

My life would become transparent and no secret left hidden. Through modern science and social media, my addiction and mental illness would crash in and around me time after time set-up after set-up, but somehow mercy was given.

When I realized that things were not what they seemed I made a decision right there that I would not manipulate the experiment and would walk through this process to whatever end. How could I reach out?  But I must, even against my shame, fear of defeat, and exposure.

Deep within this lifeless vessel, a murky dark chasm from which seemingly no light could reach, existed a spirit so repressed just a scant mere shadow of a life lived apparently without purpose.
Even my cry for help could not escape the billowing echoes of my addiction, and still, fate would show its hand this would one day become the substance of my voice of recovery.

From the darkness came a light that and that light that had hue of kindness about it.  A deep resonance of truth and a longing for redemption  I reached out grasping in desperation and in failure turning in shame.

The arduous exploration into ones self-left me indeed vexed. It was at this moment that I felt that there was well I guess it was like my personality had split and just like in the previous major episodes of my life I would perform.

Performing phase of this experiment was like playing myself in the third person. To this point, the organic nature in which this experiment came into reality was of a magnitude I could barely conceptualize but, to keep any part of sanity, I think it is the only way my mind could cope.

The best I could do was find heroes that I could believe in.  Martin Luther King, Helen Keller, Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, Ellen, and don’t laugh but Taylor Swift (her music and passion have always moved me) strange I know, but honest.

My shout out to recovery causes goes to the Herren project https://theherrenproject.org(link is external). I remember seeing a photo of high school students in a full court press walking in a hallway of a school, they had on their game face on, and addiction didn’t have a chance. I have followed Chris Herren since then and have great respect for what he stands for.

President Obama and the first Lady were my north star. If light of such magnitude could notice such a lowly creature and with such empathy, amidst countless failures, I knew I could never give up, and for a long time it was the best I could do was believe in others until I could find it within myself.

Deep within me, I knew that I was a good person, but I could not slay the spirit of affliction that plagued me. How could I become so abased from who I really was? I often felt as though I was a prisoner in my own soul that desperately sought to escape.

Higher education would evade me time and time again. In retrospect, I believe it was a blessing in disguise for me personally. Fixing the outside would have obsessed, corrupted, and imploded having no real structure of useful purpose. The actual conquest laid within and only there would I find deliverance.

I had been following #metoo and it hit me like a slap in the face. The final blow was when I was watching the Golden Globe Awards, and I heard Oprah Winfrey speech, it struck me, and I broke down.

I remember thinking this is not who I am. What have I become? Why this would be, the final strike that would shatter the false persona that was born out of necessity but now no longer would suffice.

On some level of processing of transactional analysis where they were able to reach in through suggestive reasoning and conditioning that worked through a train of symptoms reactionary behavior to the inner essence of what existed before a condition thereby restoring the original state of being.

Now in a palpable state of being the resetting or the fracturing could be healed. This is where the sequencing of events upon inception seemed like maladjustment but once brought in to alignment and focus the success could only be measured in the context of the whole procedure.

Now we enter ever so closer to the current moment and what I have come to know in this post-op stage. This is the part that I love and get wide-eyed like and feel though I’m a kid. The solution became evident and realized there was much I was wrong about but what to do.

It was one of those moments where the answer was already planting seeds of action via again social media. I started participating in causes I believed in. For me, this would become part of the healing process and yes part of the cure. To support with action on behalf of others that either can’t or are in need of support is one of the most fulfilling acts that I have had the honor to participate in.

Again I would find in the sense of timing that was so uncanny how at that moment when I was desperate to find direction in my life. This would come from Tumblr and two voices would give me hope. Sofia Bush (actor and activist) and Bradley Cooper (actor) that maintains long-term sobriety. The timing couldn’t have been had been more perfect.

Google plus gave me my first real experience with social media and explored science and technology and it was the first and only time I felt excepted in social media.

I found a supportive friend in Mrs. Kinsler who helped me find a semblance amidst the chaos of my addictive reasoning.  Many others instilled hope and it would prove to be t the totality of collective empathy that would make recovery possible.

YouTube and its parity-driven humor coupled with all the spin doctoring certainly made me the butt end of all manner of jokes and dark humor. The humiliation was only digested by the commitment to walk through this no matter what though it did drive me deeper into addiction at times my saving plea within myself is the belief that it would educate the youth in prevention and illustrate the truth about addiction.

When it comes to swimming with the sharks, I found myself in depths only found in Twitter. School was in session and on the one hand, this would prove to be at times a harsh lesson from which I could have easily drowned in my pity.

On the other hand, I found that distant light and a chilling fear overtook me at times, but here I would discover a fulfillment so profound that my paradigm would shift. The experience gave some of the most eye opening, heartwarming and gut-wrenching lessons personally and in the world around me.

This brings me to Facebook and though I yearned for a connection. It was pointed out to me that Facebook was about family and friends, and it was odd that I had none. This was sad but true. One day this will change, but for now, it is quite depressing.

As far as network and paid channels, HBO’s Bill Maher gave me insight on a dreary day in Seattle when I had gone off script. It gave me a sense of validation, and I did not feel judged.

Even then, though I had fallen only to get up and freedom was once again hung in the balance.  I have never gone out looking for drugs since I left Alaska but I did stumble one last time due to a trick or treat as I have come to learn it was called.

This would stretch the limits of my sanity, and I felt that it was so wrong to test me in such a way and I would give them a show. I remember the show must go on. I proceeded to suggest suicide and give veiled threats, but in my mind, I rationalized it as performing. It seemed logical. Just as I had, in this whole experiment, tested myself and put myself in so many situations of peril but this would be my grand finale. I would show them.

I was in reality dancing with reality and insanity. The hours before the moment where time and space ceased to exist I consciously as well as unconsciously began tightening the loop of this unstable state until I was at the point of no return. I could hear nothing but the struggle from within.

As I approached, I remember that there was two no there were three distinct voices that summoned me to this bridge that I would not cross. The show must go on. No guts no glory! You are a sniveling, pathetic excuse if you do not do this! Drown it! Take it to its murky death from which it cannot escape.

Mentally illness and my addiction tried to drown me. There is a side of me that says it was for the show and that’s true though a dangerous and unhealthy warped perception of reality. I remember saying no guts no glory.

The truth is, and the point I am trying to illustrate here is that what was once a veiled threat for attention over time took the usual fail-safes of self-preservation and slowly over time removed fear and became an acceptable solution to eliminating pain. This subtle shift is deadly from which there is no return.

I cannot stress enough the danger of toying around with the idea that somehow there is at any time and in any way, that this is an acceptable course of action and if you entertaining any notion of suicide or in any way hurting yourself, please reach out!  You are not alone, and for this reason, I have shared my experience, which is one of the hardest topics I have ever had to share in a public forum.

No one reached out to me, and even now, I am ashamed to talk about it, but if my sharing could reach even one person, then I must reach out to those who struggle as I have. Some professionals have experience in how to find help, but you have to reach out.

At that, moment life had no meaning, and I had no worth. Today I have many of the same problems in my life but they are just momentary struggles that will not last, and I will overcome. Pain is a very personal feeling and if there is one thing, I have come to learn is that no one can tell you how you feel.

Sobriety is part of my life today. My struggles are just as real as they ever were but I choose not to mask my fears with drugs nor is harming myself an acceptable solution to my problems. No matter how difficult life is at this moment and believe me the struggle is real but my worst day is still a life worth living.

There are those moments where I absolutely feel alive, and at that moment, I am awake and know that I have a purpose and a reason for being. I am amazed at how I have changed internally in areas that I would not have thought possible.

The external worldview of me affects me significantly, and my past behavior and how I am perceived has prevented me from voicing the truth of who I am and the rejection that may occur. My constant failures embarrass me, and it is sad that the best I could do is recover.  But farther could be the truth. Not only have I survived, I have overcome great difficulties and reached beyond just mere survival I know today that I have a purpose and have become teachable.

The reality of mental illness and addiction is that it shades the truth to suit it’s purpose and beguiles with intent to destroy from within. The journey to one’s own recovery is as diverse as is the world we live in.

Even now as I am writing it feels as though I am sinking in quicksand from which there is no escape and those who depend on me with their very lives are at the gate of utter destruction.
Even in the light of this, I cannot give up nor can I go back to what I was.

So I must press forward against all fear by becoming a voice of recovery in the hope that others might hear my words and find the hope my story because we are all in it together and you are not alone.

We are wayward travelers that have come out of the darkness and found our path to recovery. Through sharing our journey, we see a collective voice of recovery so that those who are still in the dark may hear our stories and join us in the light!

(via SAMHSA)

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