There was a time not to too long ago when no one in my family wanted to speak with me… it’s not that they didn’t love me… it’s just that dealing with me and my addiction became too much for them to handle. As all of you new to the program know… deep down we don’t know why we do what we do… it’s just something we do… right?… it’s just what we do to get by… it’s our only way to deal with everyday life. For me, if I was going to a concert… I had to get drunk or high beforehand… if I was going to a movie… I had to get drunk or high beforehand… if I was going to the grocery store… if I was going to play golf or mow the lawn… it was the same… feeling numb was my normal state of mind… it was the only thing I knew how to do… thank God for this program… now I know why I behaved the way I did… I now have the tools to recognize the signs when I’m falling back into old patterns.
In the years leading up to my arrest in Fort Myers I had been in four car wrecks, I had been hospitalized 3 times, including one 28 day program, and one attempted suicide… prior to that I lost my wife of five years, my job, and our new home all as a direct result of my drinking and drug use. I wasn’t always like that. My childhood was as perfect as anyone could ever dream of. I had everything I could ever want to be happy, maybe too much. Growing up we had snowmobiles, we went skiing in Northern, MI, we had an in ground pool. Cars. I was spoiled. I have a college degree from the University of Florida, which was paid for. I’ve never had to struggle for anything. My parents are wonderful beautiful people… this August they’ll celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary… they’re the best people I know.
My first year of high school was when I first noticed something wasn’t right with me… I was painfully shy, to the point of panic, not just speaking in public but, just having a brief conversation would send me spinning… it’s an awful feeling… it’s like the feeling you get when you’re looking down off a ledge… or the feeling you get when avoiding a rear end collision, that feeling you get when you have to slam on your brakes…. this problem was never dealt with until I entered mental health court three years ago. Having this personality was incredibly hard… I was the shyest/friendliest person you’ll ever meet. I was actually voted the friendliest and the shyest person in my high school class… inside I was feeling so incredibly scared to speak that when anyone took the time to speak to me I was so thankful that they took the pressure off me that I’d be their friend for life. The chance of me randomly starting a conversation with a girl is still about zero but I’m getting better at it.
My first two years of college were when my character defects started to become glaringly obvious. My inability to speak to people became overwhelming and debilitating. I rarely left my dorm room to do anything… my solution was to join a fraternity, I needed some friends. I left without speaking to anyone the first few nights of what they called “Rush,” it wasn’t until I decided to get drunk and show up to one of the parties later in the evening that I was able to speak. Some of the best times I ever had in my life were at that fraternity… the only problem with it was that I used alcohol every day to mask the fear I was feeling. When it came time to graduate my job interviews were not going well either… that feeling of panic like standing on a ledge was freezing me up in interviews… it wasn’t until I went into an interview after taking a few shots that I felt comfortable enough to sell myself… these types of scenarios of drinking for courage continued to repeat and repeat after graduation with things like performing sales calls for work… I could go on and on.
After losing my wife, job, and home I moved back in with my Mom and Dad here in Fort Myers… I was working making minimum wage and drinking vodka every day, and all day long, trying to hide it from everyone… I was arrested for DUI at 11:00am with a blood alcohol content of .42 not .042 but .42… while making deliveries for the company I was working for… I was having a seizure at the wheel. This was the beginning of the end for me… that DUI was thrown out on a technicality, which in my mind gave me the green light to drink again… even though my parents were carting me around to every AA meeting in town I couldn’t stop drinking… so my parents gave me an ultimatum if I was going to drink myself to death I was going to have to do it somewhere else… it was time for me to go. So I did… after they told me to leave I drove to the Panhandle to go fishing… I thought maybe I would move there and become a fishing guide… it sounded like a good idea to me at the time… the second day I was there I wrecked a boat, I was charged with BUI in one county, and felony resisting arrest in another.
One month later I returned to Fort Myers… I was living in a hotel using what was left of my credit cards. While I was there I tried to end my life. I tried to drown myself. I remember drinking a quart or so of vodka getting in the pool and laying my head on the side knowing full well I would pass out and drown. I have no memory of what happened other than storming out if the hospital upset that an employee at the hotel had pulled me from the bottom. That still wasn’t enough to get me to quit drinking… I still had some fight in me… my life was still manageable in my mind… I was still making deals with myself…. I thought maybe I’ll quit after the Super Bowl.
I didn’t make it to the Super Bowl… I was arrested for running from the police after I side swiped an officer… there were four charges in total, resisting, fleeing, damage to property, and battery… because the car was considered a weapon… that was the last night I drank alcohol, or any other substance…. I was so scared… my only thought when I saw the officers was that I was on felony probation and I needed to get out of there. I meant no harm to anyone. I actually may have gotten away if I hadn’t gone back to the officer to say I was sorry.. that is how crazy I was…. the officers didn’t take kindly to me coming back to the scene… they used a taser on me, they dislocated my shoulder, while handcuffed an officer emptied a can of mace in my eyes… then poured a full big gulp of Pepsi on my head… when I was in the holding cell an officer crushed my head against the wall for using my cell phone to call my father… I’ll leave that up to you to decide what was excessive… my mug shot looks scary.
I don’t know what other type of crisis intervention could have been used on me that night…. maybe a hug? …I don’t know. I guess what I would like to get across in my story is that I wasn’t a bad person, the people in the program in this room are not bad people… they are lost and need love most of all…. they need a chance to heal. For whatever it’s worth… I know that it’s not possible in a majority of the cases out there… but just try and remember the people you’re dealing with may be just like me, just a lost…shy… spoiled… broken down lonely kid looking for help. In all seriousness, I couldn’t see at the time why God was saving me all those times I was so close to death.. Maybe I was brought back to tell you my story here today. Who knows? Three months ago I was hired at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Fort Myers as a Behavioral Health Tech… maybe that’s why I was kept alive… maybe I’m alive to help other addicts like me get through what they’re going through… I hope that’s the reason… my mother always said that someday I would do great things… maybe this is what she was talking about… maybe something I say to them will save their life… maybe I’ll plant a seed in one of their minds that my save their life someday ….for whatever reason God kept me here… I know that I’m going to be here and I’m going to do it sober.
Good or bad I’ll make it through. Follow the program …. it’s easy… you’ll figure out why you’re doing the things you did too… your life will gets so good it’s crazy… trust me. You’ll be able to repair relationships that you never thought could be repaired. All those things that you secretly wish you could have are possible… whether it’s going to college or having a family… whatever it is you really want in life you can have it. I am 3 1/2 years sober now… I didn’t have a friend in the world when I got here… now I can’t get a moment alone, but I love it. I know for a fact that you are good men and women… that you have done things you wouldn’t have done if you were sober. I know it for a fact. We’re all good people that have made one bad decision after another after another. I know it’s not who you are…. it’s definitely not who I was. This program will help you identify what it is in you that needs to be fixed, I promise. Life gets better… as long as you do the work necessary to get there.
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