My name is, John Mangini, and I am in recovery. I come from a place where homelessness, isolation, desperation, and a bankrupt soul were easily submitted in an attempt to fulfill a craving for alcohol and drugs which was never satisfied but only intensified. I possessed an insidious skill set (if one could even consider it that) which included: theft, narcotics sale and manufacture, and in the end pan handling. When drunk or stoned I had tendencies to lie, cheat, steal, and/or abuse (mentally and/or physically) anyone who stood in my way.
I am 22, and come from the small shore town of Brielle. Known for its fishing tourism and bars – but talk to any resident about the growing heroin epidemic and its presence will be acknowledged even in these suburban areas. Growing up my buddies and I enjoyed body boarding which was something I obsessively practiced with hopes of one day going pro, and riding massive waves around the world – the way my mentors did. With that came the surfer and hippie lifestyle – and with that entered all sorts of alcohol and drugs – at around the age of 14. I didn’t think at age 16 that my recreational use of alcohol, weed, occasional pills, and hallucinogens would have been ending up on skid row – drinking Everclear and shooting dope. By the time I was 20 I had progressed to that.
My family had detached. So did my friends. I was unemployable, depending on criminal acts to support a physical and mental drug dependency. All self-esteem, dreams, goals, and hobbies went to the way side as my disease took immediate priority. Hell, I couldn’t even eat or sleep until I was right and loaded. I had reached a point of tolerance where the effect alcohol and drugs produced was no longer sufficient. I was an atheist and only the fear of the unknown deterred me from suicide. Thank God.
The last day of my active addiction is a vivid memory. By this time I had been in 4 rehabs, an IOP, 3 halfway houses, and a Methadone Program – as well as numerous psychiatric interventions and trips to flight decks. Upon leaving all of these facilities I would maybe get a few days, weeks, and sometimes even months sober….ending eventually with me believing the lie that this time would be different.
On September 19th, 2012 there was no longer a lie to believe. I was using to no avail, but fear of sobriety hindered me. There was a mustard seed planted about sobriety, and a microscopic particle of willingness inside of me to pursue this life. September 19th was my first day with a clean urine, I arrived in rehab 4 days prior, detoxing almost cold turkey, under a doctor’s supervision. God landed me in that rehab. I say this because it contradicted everything my will intended for me. I could not keep me sober, and I still cannot keep myself sober.
Now, but for the grace of that same God, almost 2 years later I am still sober. That dreaded word “God” was one that I was in full flight from for a long time. When I got sober, I entered into a 12-step program. It wasn’t my first rodeo with the rooms, but this time reflecting on my experience, I quickly saw where I had always failed. Staying sober was not possible left to my own devices. About 1 month sober I remember saying this prayer, “Hey God, I don’t know who or what you are, but I need your help.”
Now I would be lying if I said I had a white light experience at that very moment. For a long time after, I said that prayer and I did not believe that any change had occurred or spirituality had entered into my life. However looking back, in retrospect, I can see this Power working in my life. Not to say it wasn’t always present, Hell, the fact that I am alive illustrates that, but the abrupt spiritual experience lies in the ability to see him working.
Shortly after this prayer a friend came into my life armed with the truth about his disease in a way which carried depth and weight to the degree that I trusted him, and I identified with him. I was willing to follow his suggestions – in turn he taught me about service and spiritual principles. He also taught me that recovery is an inside job and I must be willing to grow every day.
Today I am free…. Through the blessings of God, service to others, my continuous membership, and attendance at a 12-step fellowship I have been able to stay sober. I can confidently say I am comfortable with my sobriety. Today I have the opportunity to be helpful to other men. I am an employee at a nursing home where I am able to be of service as well. As for my body boarding career – I have finally picked up where I left off at age 16. A professional career is on the horizon. Not the mention I enjoy nothing more than being in the water. My family for the most part is back in my life. They are really the people I took to and put through Hell.
I pray this life continues, and for anybody struggling I hope God brings them serenity.