“My past…has taught me lessons that i could not have learned in a thousand years without the pain and struggle that came with it”
The man I am today is not the man I’ve always been. But the man I used to be still walks beside me. That shadow reminds me of where I’ve been and where I should not go. I am not defined by my past but it is a huge part of me. It has taught me lessons that I could not have learned in a thousand years without the pain and struggle that came with it. I have learned to love my previous self. I have learned to love the pain and love the darkness as God has used it to mold my heart. I have made an incredible journey over the past 12 months. The past couple months have been the most incredible but we will get to that. Today I share my journey with addiction, mental health, suicide, grace, humility and rebirth. Today I promise to be open, honest and transparent with you in hopes that my story will open up doors, knock down barriers, and add value to many people in many ways.
I’ll share with you the majority of lessons that I’ve learned but I think the greatest is this: finding your true self and operating in that truth, day in and day out, is paramount to a purpose driven life. Going against that can destroy a person emotionally, physically and mentally and wreak havoc on everything inside and outside of you.
Let’s put it this way, I have A LOT of folks in my family that have struggled with mental health, addiction and alcoholism. That’s not an excuse but if you know anything about addiction, it’s very much hereditary. I also struggled with my home life, specifically in high school. My parents hurt me continuously and I’ll just leave it at that.
I started smoking weed and cigarettes at the age of 15. From there, it became habitual use every day. I started drinking at 16 and got to the point where I was drinking 6-7 days a week some weeks. I went on multiple benders that lasted weeks or a month plus. At the age of 19, I had already been arrested 3 times, once for possession of marijuana paraphernalia, once for public intoxication, and another time spent an overnight in jail for consumption of alcohol and public intoxication. This led to me being suspended for a year at Indiana University. A broken kid with addiction issues, no money and no school to go back to, of course took it a step further. On May 23, 2012 a cop tried to pull me over, after my first real night drinking in a bar. He clocked me doing 70+ in a 40 mile per hour zone and I hit the gas. The chase only lasted a couple of minutes before I totaled my car by running it straight into a tree.
It was very apparent that addiction, pain and struggle were big parts of my life, but at the young age of 19, with 4 run-ins with the cops in a year, I was not ready to end that by choice. I took a year off from school but continued down my path.
Throughout college and beyond I continued to drink copious amounts of alcohol. In college, the likelihood of me doing cocaine or Xanax along with drinking was very high. I would use Xanax, weed, cocaine and other drugs repetitively and felt the full effects after using these drugs multiple days or weeks in a row.
Fast forward almost 7 days to the day from my drunk driving accident, I had been invited to a wedding in Boca Raton for one of my best friends. The six months prior I tried hard a couple times to get sober. I would get 30 days or so under my belt and then find a reason to drink, which would usually end poorly, especially since I knew I had a problem. On and off the bandwagon I fell. One of the last benders I went on was for a bachelor party in Scottsdale, where I used alcohol and cocaine for multiple days straight after not using for multiple weeks. I ended up not being able to get on my plane home and ended up spending the night at a very expensive hotel and paid for a new ticket for the next day. The expenses of my alcoholism, addiction and the problems that came with it would be in the multiple 10s of 1000s of dollars, if not $100,000+. All of this led to a wedding for one of my best friends.
I started drinking three days before the wedding and I didn’t stop during that time. The morning I was supposed to fly out, I woke up two hours past my alarm. I called the airline quickly and got a new flight (I had already started drinking / smoking as I awoke) a couple hours later. I packed and made some stiff drinks, smoked a couple bongs and went to the airport. I made friends with a guy in the airport bar and we happened to be on the same flight with two layovers (now that I missed my original flight). We drank double vodka tonics all the way to Florida. I arrived in Florida about 5 hours late. I missed the wedding party dinner that night and showed up late to the cocktail reception. That night I was boo’d by old friends after making a terrible speech and ended up falling and hitting my head, resulting in a concussion and some abrasions on my face.
The next day I woke and kept drinking hard all day, at which point I had been drinking for 3 days straight. Long story short, I ended up passing out and was not able to stand up for one of my best friends. They asked that I leave and go back to my resort to sober up and return to enjoy after. On the shuttle back to my hotel room, I decided to kill myself. I got another final drink and got up to my resort hotel room. I passed out again and woke up confused and called my mother and brother. Sometime in between those calls and making the decision, I decided not to kill myself.
What happened? I made the decision that there were no more excuses for drinking. I knew at this point if I kept doing what I had done, I would die. It didn’t matter if it was a wedding, a bachelor party, a long day or week, I’m not drinking anymore. I have used mentorship, sponsorship and accountability with friends and family as tools to recovery, as well as daily exercise (145+ days in a row as I write this). I have removed objects, people and processes from my life that get in the way of my sobriety or growth. These in conjunction are helping me recover and grow everyday.
That was the last time I drank. I’ve experienced chronic pain in my abdomen since I quit, which has been a wild experience in itself as doctor’s can’t really explain my pain. My problems have become much smaller and my relationships have improved. I started CRUSHING goals at work and as a 25 year old, was the top salesperson at my company of 70+ people the year I quit. My life has dramatically changed and I am incredibly grateful for everything I’ve learned throughout the pain, addiction and suffering.