Clean Date: October 11, 2019
From: Nashville, TN
“I’m from Nashville, TN, actually about 30 miles north. I grew up around here and I haven’t traveled much. I’ve been living with addiction of some sort since I was very young. It wasn’t drugs at first, you know, it was acting out; getting in trouble and stuff like that. I’ve always had this thing inside of me that wanted to do better, wanted to do right by others, but it was just a rough environment.
I always say I was a ‘habitual line stepper.’ Whatever rule was put down, I had to break it. It was for attention. I had this disease in me, and whether it was attention good or bad, I had to get it. I had to get a release of endorphins. That’s the high I was getting before I was introduced to the drugs, that pleasure of doing something I shouldn’t have been doing.
Active addiction was very, very rough. I feel like my spirit was broken. I know they talk about a broken brain and rewiring your brain and everything, but my morality was really bad. The bad felt good and the good felt bad. It was just a struggle everyday to wake up sad, go to sleep sad, and I didn’t laugh from my belly a whole lot. And I love laughing. I love being happy. And I just couldn’t be like that.
That feeling deep inside me that wanted to do right really brought me to recovery. The spirit part of it that kept me pushing when all hope was lost, when I was down at my lowest. There was something inside of me, I felt like something was always with me saying ‘you’re gonna be okay. You’re gonna help somebody. You’re gonna be able to beat this.’ And it just didn’t give up. Something made me resilient, and it definitely wasn’t me, because I was a quitter.
I was blessed with a great job. I had quit doing electrical work for 3 years and then I started at this company. Three months in, I signed my insurance papers and told them ‘hey, I need help,’ and they let me go [to treatment]. It’s a great job and it’s a big company in Nashville. They actually did Recovery Unplugged’s electrical in Brentwood. The guy I worked with, he came with me about 4 months ago right when they finished the building and told me about this place he was working in Brentwood. It just happened that Recovery Unplugged was the [treatment center] that answered, and said ‘come tomorrow,’ and I just happened to be the first patient here. It’s ironic. I got to go back to work after, and it’s just a great environment.
I lost my license for six years. I had to pay back about $15,000.00 to the state of Tennessee and I was a felon. I went 6 years without a driver’s license, without a vehicle, and nobody could help me. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t do what I loved and I fought and fought and fought. I paid all the fines back and I got the breathalyzer and I did everything I thought I never could get ahold of and conquer. If it wasn’t for sobriety there’s no way I could do it. And whenever people tell me ‘man I can’t get my license back,’ I say sit down, I promise you can! If you try, if you get sober, you work, you love other people and help other people, you can.
I’m 29. I had my birthday here [at the treatment center]. October 27th when I was here, they had cake and everything. It was just one good thing after another. It was a fantastic sober birthday. I got to see a ‘Tune-up Tuesday’ and I just can’t explain it. I couldn’t tell you all of the blessings that have happened.
My life now, in recovery, is amazing. I’m taking suggestions from a sponsor, which is crucial. I always ‘made it’ and was successful in some way by myself, but I always had to do so much along with it. And now, I don’t put so much in the future or what happened to me in the past, I just get to live each day from the beginning and start over the next day. I don’t put too many eggs in a basket and the ease of mind is beautiful. My spirit is way better than it was. You know, I still get sad, but I get to feel it. I don’t have to do anything extreme with it. And I get to laugh from my belly a whole lot. And I love that the most.
My advice for other people struggling is there is a way out. There’s a possibility. There’s so many people that will reach out and help you and will do anything. And you’re going to hear one of them, and they’re going to say exactly what you’re going through. Don’t give up, because if you fight, it’s so much more beautiful. As an addict, we get the lowest of lows, but there’s a polar opposite and the highest of highs, and it’s worth it. It’s a little hard work, it’s a little uncomfortable, but it’s worth every bit of it.
If you have a loved one struggling, be patient. And find God also, because putting your faith in another human being is probably going to let you down in some way eventually. Finding something to put your faith in, and just love them from a distance if you have to. But don’t co-sign them! Sometimes drawing back a little bit will save somebody’s life. I was lucky enough my family could never help me and that really made me more resilient. It made me not have an option but to get better. As much as it beat me down my whole life, and broke my spirit, it built my spirit. If you’re family, love is a hard thing. It’s unconditional, especially from a parent or from a brother or sister.
The compassion they gave me here [in treatment], and not being treated like a number, makes me want to give that compassion to other people. It lit a fire in me and gave me hope. And the love. It wasn’t just a process, there was love there and we can tell that.
As an addict, I feel like there’s police officers, judges, parents, brothers, sisters, teachers that will try to reach you and will never be able to. But as an addict, you have the ability to reach that person. Omission is just as bad as admission, so if you get sober and you get that gift, you can save somebody’s life. Keep the message going. It is crucial to your sobriety and everyone else’s. And you’ll be able to reach people that you thought were unreachable, just because you’ve been there and you can look them in the eye and they’ll feel the compassion. They’ll know that it’s there. It’s undeniable. And it’s a beautiful thing when it happens. Pay it forward.”