Started From The Bottom

man holding compass

Started From The Bottom

My childhood was wonderful. Although my family had its struggles, it wasn’t nearly as traumatic as some of the stories I have heard other addicts and alcoholics share. Yet, at the age of 15, we had moved to a new city and I realized I was gay, and my whole world turned upside down. I had already
“experimented” with alcohol and weed, but at 15, and with an overwhelming sense of not belonging or fitting in, I did my first line of crystal meth. From that moment forward, my life would never be the same. I spent the next 30 years in a drug and alcohol induced haze.

What followed were two failed marriages, one to a woman and one to a man, and a surprising 27-year career in mortgage banking, 17 of which was for the same company. The health insurance policy that I had covered 14 visits to inpatient and residential treatment facilities, as well as countless trips to detox, mental health hospitals, and emergency rooms. Of course, my story would not be complete without a DUI and a night in jail. For all intents and purposes, I should not be here to share this with you today.

However, none of this was enough to stop the insane behavior that went on for three decades. It wasn’t until I had burned every bridge, destroyed every relationship, and exhausted every penny that I found myself alone and afraid. I was living in a one bedroom apartment, unemployed, with gout in both feet from drinking, and I had blown through almost $70,000.00; the entire 401k that I had spent 17 years saving. I was chain-smoking cigarettes, and there was nicotine dripping down the walls.

I could not walk, so I had a cooler full of beer, a trash can, the TV remote, and an empty Ragu bottle which I was using as a toilet. Death would have been easier than existing.

Although I am not sure what happened leading up to it, I found myself on my hands and knees on the living room floor, and out loud I asked God to, please, “kill me or cure me”. One of my last remaining friends came and took me to detox for what would be the last time. August 24th, 2015 is my sobriety date, and it is no longer a moving target.

After being discharged from detox, I immediately moved into a faith-based sober living program and stayed there for 18 months. I was the assistant to the Director of Ministries and managed the men’s and women’s houses. By the time I had 60 days of sobriety, I had already lost two friends to the disease. I had a very profound spiritual awakening and began to rely on a Higher Power, as I understood Him. I was changing so fast…mentally, physically, emotionally…it was overwhelming. But I surrounded myself with people that were really “doing the deal”, and I poured myself into a 12-Step program. The fellowship and the guidance of people that had gone before me helped me navigate life and become someone that I had never met before. I had gained genuine friendships, my family was back in my life, my niece and nephew had a present Uncle for the first time, and I became employable. My sobriety came before anything.

Almost 3 ½ years sober, I now have a life beyond my wildest dreams. I am the Director of Operations for a treatment center, I have my very first new car, a beautiful home, but most importantly I wake up each morning with a sense of optimism that I never knew existed. Today, I hit my knees every morning, but instead of asking God to kill me, I thank Him for another day of sobriety. I sponsor other addicts and alcoholics, and I even go back to the treatment centers where I was once a patient and share my story with others who are exactly where I have been. I just wanted to stop drinking and doing drugs. I didn’t know I would be given the life I have today. And for that, I am eternally grateful.