It was a day like any other day. Me and my little brother were gearing up to go down to the lake fishing. It was August 27th1979, and I was 9 going on 10 years old. My little brother was 8 going on 9. My mom told me not to take my little brother down to the lake. I was a rebellious, Irish-Catholic kid, so I disobeyed and off we went.
That year there was a horrible rain. The lakes were very high, the causeway was flooded, and the current was fast. We tried to cross the causeway anyway. I made it, but my brother did not. He began to tread water and I quickly realized that he was in trouble. I ran as fast as my little nine year old legs could take me back home. I got my two older brothers (14 and 12) and we all ran back to the lake. I was terrified that my mother would find out, so I didn’t tell her. By this time some neighbors had tried to swim out to my brother on floating devices. My two older brothers began to drown as well.
I remember vividly my mother coming down and jumping in the lake to save my brother. She succeeded in saving him, but lost her life in the process. She was gone
My two older brothers were taken to the hospital. They had been revived in the ambulance. My little brother was okay as well.
I was taken to my Aunt’s house where I waited for hours, what seemed like a lifetime. They told me my mommy was gone. “She went home to be with God” is what my aunt said.
I’m not sure if losing my mother in this way is why I became an addict or not. I do know that addiction runs in my family. Drinking alcohol was a regular occurrence with my father, aunts, and uncles. I do know that something changed for me that day and that my life would never be the same.
My father, at this time, was a Union Carpenter. He made a decision to jump in the bottle, and has remained there to this day. He is currently 73 years old and is drinking himself to death.
I began to seek relief from the pain of being a kid in the 80’s who grew up without a mother, and with an absent alcoholic father. I used fantasy and anger. I was angry at my reality so I pretended to be anyone but me. My older brothers seemed to be adjusting better than me and my little brother.
By the time I was in the 8th grade my dad remarried. This woman was supposed to love and nurture us, and help us grow into the men my Mother would have wanted us to be. Instead we became victims of child abuse. My stepmom was an alcoholic as well as a terrorist. She abused us mentally, physically, and emotionally.
During this time I began drinking and smoking weed with my friends and cousins. I was 12 or 13 years old. This is when my addiction took off, and I seemed to be unable to turn it off once I started. I knew immediately that my drinking and drugging was a problem, but I wasn’t going to stop till “the party” was over.
I quit high school my junior year, and it was off to the races. By the time I was 18, I was a morning drinker. No one wanted to be around me because I could not be trusted. I was angry and hurt. I had swallowed years of tears at this point in my life, and I was sure they were never coming out.
Due to my drug use, I committed a crime at 19 years old. I was sent to prison for three years. When I came home from prison I began the “substitution game.” I was determined to figure this “using successfully” thing out.
To my surprise there was no such thing. Things continued to get worse for me. I ended up returning to jail and prison. At first I went to 12 step meetings geared toward alcohol because I believed alcohol was my only problem. That theory was quickly proven wrong because I ended up in prison yet again. This time it was for possession of a controlled dangerous substance. I came home again, and swore that I would never go back! I could not live with all the pain, guilt, shame, and embarrassment. This is when, I believe, God used Heroin the get my attention. Heroin removed everything from my life. I became homeless, helpless, and hopeless. I yearned for change. I used dirty needles regularly. I was no longer getting high. I just didn’t want to be sick.
I never thought I would end up in such a horrible place. I was always great at sports, an awesome artist and designer. I had a way with people and I could always make them laugh. I always knew my passion was to help people. I also loved dogs and animals. Unfortunately, I was living like one. I was a creature of the night. I hid in the shadow so I wouldn’t get caught. My biggest fear was kicking in jail. My fears were realized when I got another 5 year prison bid. I used every day in jail for 32 months. I got out early and used again one last time.
I was 31 years old, no drivers license, no high school diploma, nothing to offer anyone; or so I thought. On May 5th 2001, God rescued me from me. I went to treatment yet again, but something was different this time. There was a surrender in my spirit, and a willingness I had never experienced before.
After treatment I went on to live in a recovery house with 8 other men. I began to embark on a 12 step journey that would change my life forever. I got very involved in recovery activities, and took on a commitment at a treatment facility. I made a good impression on someone, because they offered me a position working with adolescents. From there I went on to be a counselor in their inpatient and outpatient programs. I even assisted in implementing a family program as well.
During this time I also went back to school and got my high school diploma as well as my drivers license. I worked in the treatment field for almost 10 years. I also started a small construction company. I found hope! There still was a passion in me to spread this hope to others.
My recovery journey changed my attitudes and behaviors about a lot of things in my life. Who would ever think that I would be husband material? Today I am. I am married to my best friend. She is the love of my life and I’m truly grateful for her love and support. As an added bonus my wife is in recovery as well. She has 10 years.
After many years in recovery I have seen many young people come and go. I also have seen death and overdose as well. Because of this, I came to the realization that there should be a safe place to go for addicts seeking recovery. A place where there is hope all day, every day! I shared this passion with my wife and some of my close friends in recovery. With this in mind, we founded The Hope All Day Foundation.
Today, along with some of my closest friends in recovery, we opened The Hope All Day Recovery Center. We are a 9000 square foot peer to peer Recovery Center. Our mission is to provide programs, projects, and services that foster long term recovery through peer support.
The recovery center is a dream for me that has come true. I am truly grateful for all the hard work and dedication that the volunteers at the center provide. They spend their time freely to support my dream of helping others. It is an amazing experience.
I have a life full of hope today. There is nothing I cannot do. I mean after all, I went from “DOC” to “CEO!” My name is Chris Macomber. I am a person in long term recovery, and I am not Anonymous!
Thank you God! The Hope Hustler!