My name is Bryan Kennedy and I am a person in long-term recovery. A bit of background regarding my story… The 'before recovery' part.
I was born and raised in Chester County. A product of West Chester, Pennsylvania. Son to Daniel and Dorothy, brother to Courtney. My family entertained a lot. Lots of pool parties and neighborhood barbecues. As a young boy I saw a great deal of laughter and smiles going on. With these smiles and laughter I saw cups in their hands. I knew then that I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to get one of those cups in my hand, so that I could laugh and smile like they were. The social awkwardness I had always felt would one day be fixed if and when I could just get my hands on this magic liquid elixir that they were consuming.
As I entered my teenage years alcohol was pretty easy to get my hands on. I found that when I put alcohol in my body everything else seemed to be easier to deal with. I felt more confident, more at ease. The tightness that I felt inside my gut and head seemed to unwind. Alcohol became my solution to all of my life problems. Marijuana eventually turned up in life and provided the same kind of relief as well. Xanax and Valium were introduced to me and I once again found another love. Life got easier. Or so I thought. I was very involved in High School, played sports, was involved in student council, and had a great deal of friends. I went off to college and got my first taste of freedom away from the parent’s sobriety checkpoints and ran with it.
I began choosing drinking and drug use over attending class and because of this my grades eventually slipped and I had to leave that University. I returned to the area and got a job as a bartender. I had unlimited alcohol at my disposal and could drink while at work. I had found my dream occupation. Cocaine came into play in the form of tips. Then I had to seek out my own in order to keep up with my habit. I soon formed a physical dependency with alcohol. I would wake up the next day with my hands shaking and tremors. I quickly realized that when I returned to work and began to drink those shakes and tremors went away. Again, the solution to my problem was found.
I would eventually make my way to rehab centers as my drinking and drug use started taking a toll on the people that cared about me. I went in and out of rehabs many times in the next couple of years with the great obsession of trying to be able to drink and do drugs successfully. I failed time and time again and eventually while living in West Palm Beach, Florida I found myself with a needle filled with heroin in my arm.
On April 4th of 2010, I put my final drink and mind altering substance into my body. I checked myself into Mirmont Treatment Center located in Media, Pa. I went through a very uncomfortable detoxification there from alcohol and benzodiazepines. I realized that something had to change. Something came over me at this time that brought on a new willingness to make these changes and I became open-minded to taking suggestions on how to maintain a life free from alcohol and drugs.
I was then sent to a recovery house in Levittown, Pennsylvania. The conditions of the house I went to were deplorable to say the least. I had nowhere else to go though. I had burned all my bridges. The men from this house gathered around me and showed me a new way to live. They showed me that I could have fun in recovery and that I could turn my life around by following some suggestions and making some changes in all aspects of my life. They talked to me about the 12 Step programs that they were involved in, sponsorship, home groups and commitments at them. They told me about what kind of service I could get involved with in order to help others just like me. I was attracted to it immediately.
I started to return to Mirmont Treatment Center on Wednesday evenings to share what I had found with the patients there. I wanted to give back the same hope that was given to me. I eventually took on a job as the Intake coordinator for this recovery house program. I would speak to men on the phone just like me that would be transitioning from rehab to the recovery house and do my best to help them through the fear and anxiety of change. I would eventually put the phone down and drive to these rehabs and sit with them in person as I felt they deserved a more personable experience from me.
I became the Executive Director of this program in time and ran it to the best of my ability. I would eventually leave my position at that company for personal reasons. After a great deal of requests and push from my counselor and administrative friends at the rehab centers, I opened my own business in the form of Independence Lodge LLC., a sober living residence for the recovering male alcoholic and drug addict. Something like this was only a dream to me. With the help of a great deal of support of people that believed in me, and this cause that I was so passionate about, we made the dream a reality. I love my job!
Today, my life is amazing. I get to work with men of all ages who come to my houses in effort to turn their lives around just as I did. I get to see them eventually become responsible members of society again. I get to see them get jobs, volunteer in the community, and become accountable to those around them. I get to see smiling faces on their family members as they embrace them during their visits. I get to witness the changes that go on in these men’s lives that transition them from a hopeless state of body and mind back to men that now own their own Website Design companies, Defense attorney’s, Mental Health professionals, and Teachers. I get to see young men enroll for college. I get to see men become good brothers, good sons, and good fathers once again. I get to speak at meetings up and down the coast and sometimes across the country carrying a message of hope that we can recover and that our lives can be changed in an amazing way that we never imagined was even possible.
I believe that fear of change is a struggle for most. That entering a life in Recovery for the most part is thought of as boring and depressing. I am extremely grateful that I made the changes necessary to find this freedom and new way of life. My life is filled with hope, happiness, and filled days of purpose that I never dreamed were possible in this world.
I am so grateful that those before me showed me that this life was possible and am forever in their debt. The best way I know to return it is to carry this message to those that will follow. I am proud to be a person in long-term recovery. I Hope my story is testimony that life this way can really be…. Beyond your wildest dreams.
My name is Bryan Kennedy and I am a person in long-term recovery. My sobriety date is April 4th, 2010.