Hello, my name is John and I am a person in recovery. For as long as I can remember I have always felt I never fit in. At an early age I dealt with sexual abuse and the threat of losing my mother to a spinal tumor. While all of this was happening my parents were told I had attention deficit hyperactive disorder and I was prescribed Ritalin. This was the first time I realized I didn’t have to feel the emotional pain I was enduring.
This started my journey into addiction and the highs and lows through my teenage years into my early twenties. At first, abusing medication and partaking in recreational alcohol and drug use was fun. At that time there were no immediate repercussions, but as I got older all of these so called fun times would be replaced with depression, emotional instability, loss of friends and severed ties with family members.
I was in active addiction for roughly 15 years and the last two years were by far the worst. I remember always looking down on people who had alcohol and drug problems, saying to myself I would never be them. But in those last two years of my addiction every time I looked in the mirror I saw those people because I had become one of them.
Drugs and alcohol have claimed a lot of my friends either due to incarceration, over dosing, or being murdered by drug dealers. Yet, none of this ever stopped me until I watched one of my childhood best friends lying in a casket. I wish I could say I got clean right after his wake, but things got much worse before they got better. I was unable to visit my parents’ house without them crying and asking what was happening to their child. I was in complete denial of how bad my addiction was. I was so scared to tell anyone, especially my family that I thought I had a problem. One of my biggest fears while active was having my parents bury their only son. I remember writing a card for my father on his birthday and telling him I loved him for the first time in 18 years. I told him I could never fill such a great man’s shoes, not because it’s what you’re suppose to say to the man who raised you and loves you, but because I didn’t think I would be around to say it next year. A few months after writing that card and mourning the loss of my friend I had finally had enough. I couldn’t live like this and keep hurting the ones I loved so I finally gathered the strength to ask for help.
I remember asking my father to go for a ride and telling him I was an addict and that I couldn’t stop what I was doing. His response was, I just had to “man up and stop.” I immediately broke down hysterically crying saying I can’t and that I was completely powerless over my addiction. I could never imagine the pain this man felt watching his son like this and having no magical parental powers to instantly take my pain away. I pray I will never have to either, but through all that pain I now have the best relationship a father and a son could ever ask for.
After our ride, I started my journey into recovery and I’m not going to lie I was scared. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to cope with life, that no one would want to hang out with me, that music would never sound the same again. In the beginning of my journey I stuck by a couple of rules, to be rigorously honest and to give this all I had. I knew that if I didn’t I might end up with nothing at all, including my life.
In the beginning, I had a hard time since I had been repressing all my feelings with drugs and alcohol for so many years. I was scared that people would judge me for who I had become. However, to my surprise the sober community welcomed me with open arms and understood where I was coming from. This was the first time in my life I didn’t have to try to fit in, I just did.
My perception of alcoholics and addicts was shattered once I saw these people had lived similar experiences as I did and were now recovered. They were normal people who had gotten their life back. So I held on to that discovery in hopes that I would be one of them someday as long as I was willing to put the work into my recovery.
That was over two years ago and today, I can honestly tell you I am still 100% rigorously honest and I will do anything I can to stay sober. One of those ways is to pass on my story to people who are new into recovery. I can’t tell you how many concerts I’ve been too and music sounds better than ever. I have traveled all over the place with other sober people, finally enjoying what life really has to offer. I’ve fallen in love and I’m preparing to marry the love of my life. I have a relationship with my family that I could have never dreamed of.
So after hearing all that you might think I would regret or want to change something about my past, but I can honestly tell you there is not one thing I would change. All of the experiences made me the person I am today. I am a person who is not afraid to say I have gone through hard times and has recovered. I am not afraid to say I am sober. I say this in hopes that maybe someone out there who needs help might be inspired by my story or can relate, and in doing so that gives them a spark of hope that maybe someday, they too can be recovered.
Today I am a free man, I no longer worry about what people perceive me as because for the first time in my life I am comfortable in my own skin. As long as I stay sober I can do anything and be the person I was meant to be.