If it reaches even one lost soul and brings them back to light, that’s one more survivor, one more person that can help the next poor soul back from the edge of darkness.

I wasn’t born on the wrong side of town, to a junkie or an alcoholic, nor was I a victim by any means.  The truth is my family environment was a loving one, in a good neighborhood.  Both my parents served in the Army, in fact, I come from a long line of soldiers.  Afterwards, they became police officers and doctors.  I couldn’t have had a more normal and nurturing home as a child.

Maybe it was boredom.  Maybe it was social acceptance or a lack of self-acceptance that led me to drugs.  I was looking for fun and adventure, but what started out as fun rapidly turned into a self-destructive journey of chaos and self-hate.  What started off as social became something far darker and left me alone, scared, insane and yes, even suicidal.

I was sneaking alcohol from the age of ten, whenever the chance presented itself.  By 14, I was smoking pot and selling it.  Soon I was trying anything that came my way.  The harder the better, I thought.  I was chasing that high that had long since eluded me.  Then as years went by, I was simply trying to level off my depression and anxiety.

I tried to quit more than a dozen times on my own, often through substitution.  However, anything that got me lit brought me back to where I was….rock bottom.  My family thought it was cute, a phase, part of growing up, but after wrecking several cars, losing job after job, and having a few run-ins with the law they long since lost their fondness of my experimenting.  I must have promised I was done over a hundred times right to my mothers face, knowing I was lying to her, only to go right back to using.

This lifestyle began eating me up inside.  They couldn’t trust me, I was their own flesh and blood.  I had no friends left, only people looking to get high for the night. I’d rob, cheat, lie and steal for the next hit.  Work, whatever I could find, couldn’t keep my habits going.  Paychecks were gone in a night, two if I was lucky, and I wasn’t very lucky.  I can still remember crying after receiving my paycheck, knowing it was going toward drugs and there was nothing I could do about it.  I lived to get high, I worked to get high and all I wanted to do was never wake up ever again.  The only peace I found was in my sleep and often it was riddled with nightmares.  I tried to kill myself numerous times through various methods, but to no avail.  I guess I am lucky.

In August of 2003, I checked myself into rehab and after 28 days I was born anew, ready to face the world.  Or so I thought.  I found a meeting where I felt welcomed but I was back in the real world and dealers still knew me and I knew them.  I went right back to using, but this time I also found people willing to help me, to show me a better life.  People who had also been known as the “crackhead” the “junkie” the “loser” the “failure” and had turned their lives around and become successful in life.  They had started families, could keep a car and a job, had kids, and so I started listening to them.  Working with them.  Staying away from people, places and things that I knew of when I was active.

Unconditional love, not just for me but for the world around me filled my heart and soul.

I found friends that genuinely cared about me.  Me, the “junkie crackhead loser.”  My family began to trust me little by little until they finally let me back in to their lives.  Unconditional love, not just for me but for the world around me filled my heart and soul.  I found peace within myself.  Today, I can sit in silence without the constant screaming in my head.  Today I have many things, a car, a job, even a bank account, but more than that I have myself.  I’m not the “crackhead” or the “failure” I once was.

My last bender was in 2009.  As of March 21st 2009, I am a man that doesn’t have to resort to drugs to face the world or my fears.  I enjoy life on life’s terms, the good days and the bad.  I can walk with my head up and know the pain I’ve experienced and offer it to others that are going through it now.

I wanted to be a part of this project because if it reaches even one lost soul and brings them back to light, that’s one more survivor, one more person that can help the next soul back from the edge of darkness.  And for that I am responsible.