To new readers and followers of my blog, it will become obvious that I hold nothing back when it comes to my life before and since recovery from addiction. I became aware many years ago that the power of truth and transparency would set me free from my damaging secrets and false ego. I believe that real recovery from sunstance-use as well as other addictions begins with a bold paradigm shift inside. I have helped clients focus on discovering their real selves as well as their supressed feelings, desires, goals, and ambitions. Recovery and sobriety eluded me for many years, just as it did for hundreds of clients I have guided on the path to true freedom and release from worry and despair.
The truth, in all it’s sometimes ugly reality, is that human beings have made mistakes in their life. Addiction to mood-altering substances became a multiplier of those mistakes for most of us. The most powerful step in real recovery is dependant on acceptance of our mistakes. An understanding that the stigma of embarrasing and guilt-ridden addiction behavior is a road block to freedom from the very illness that we wish to recover from. Things we’ve done in our mind-bending addiction episodes are not attributed to moral failings. These mistakes are simply symptoms of the brain disease of addiction. My message to all of you who wish to end your damanging relationship with drugs and alcohol is that you move toward self-forgiveness of your past so that you can enter a new season in life. My recovery began when I understood that I had to be willing to empty the heavy backpack of shame I carried before I could become the sane and sober person I was meant to be. This idea is the foundation of my Recovery Journey Addiction Freedom Course.
There are some shocking details in my story “The Fall’, and I hope that you understand the necessity for my candor. My story takes me from a hopeless, sellfish, and even criminal-minded soul, to a committed professional on a mission to lead fellow sufferers to a new and wonderful reality. I hope that sharing my story provides evidence that even the worst of the past can lead to a life of caring, understanding, and a desire to love and help others.
The following events are true, names were changed or omitted to protect the many innocent victims. Love, gratitude, peace and respect go out to the unnamed in this story including those who remained unrecognized and unknown to me. My efforts at healing and making amends to those identified began nearly 26 years ago and continues …
In August of that year, in the wake of my awful treatment of this woman and theft of personal valuables from her home, money from her bank accounts, and inventory from her businesses, her family went to the authorities and filed criminal complaints. I was soon arrested, and a bond was set way out of my reach. The prosecution would turn those charges into “robbery cases”. The courts had all the evidence they needed to send me away for something close to life. I was facing 25 years on each of 12 counts and 10 years each on several more. Now, keeping in mind what I wrote at the beginning of this story; these events are true.
Now for a twist in this chapter of the story that is surely, the most impactful and unbelievable up to this point at least. This woman, the one that I had treated so badly, stolen from and lied to, whose family wanted me out of their life and “under the jail”, hired a criminal attorney for me. It came as a complete surprise. I had not spoken with her in months as I was fading away in the county jail awaiting the next move by a public defense lawyer. The attorney she hired came and spoke with me at the jail for an hour, a week later, November 14th, I was hauled off to court where he spoke to me in hushed tones just before my case was called. He told me he had worked out a plea agreement on my behalf. I was to plead guilty to numerous counts including robbery and that the prosecution would agree to a 20-year sentence for all charges to run concurrently and that I would be eligible for parole in 4- ½ years. Of course, I had no money in jail and no one to supply me with drugs while there, so I was completely sober-at least enough so to recognize this offer as a good deal for a scoundrel like me.
Standing in front of the judge and what seemed like the whole world, fancy attorney at my side, I said yes to guilty and the agreed sentence was invoked. Here’s where unexpected action comes out of left field, this would as it turns out, change my life. When the judge finished his part, he asked my attorney if there was anything else. My attorney replied, “yes your honor, if it pleases the court we would ask that my client be released from custody today and be allowed 30 days to get his affairs in order before reporting to the sheriff to begin his sentence”. What? Did he really ask that? Doesn’t this judge know that I am wanted for bad check charges in 2 other states, is this just a joke for the courtroom by my attorney? The judge looked to his left, looked to his right, looked over his glasses at the clerk and said with a resounding voice- “so ordered, the defendant will report to the sheriff’s office on December 15th. Next case!” I was released from jail that day, my full intention: never return.
It was November 16th, when I heard the sliding steel door of the jail shut behind me, I walked out the into the street, nothing to my name except the dirty clothes on my back and my mind racing with fear and clamoring for a plan. Even though I was physically clean and sober at the moment after a couple of months behind bars, I was still thinking with an untreated addict brain. My immediate concern was to quickly get as far away from the jail and courthouse as possible before someone back there realized the error of their ways and changed their mind about giving me a 30 day respite to “get my affairs in order”. Of course, I had no affairs to get in order. My only thoughts were fear of what comes next, how to get relief from that fear as soon as possible, and transport myself and “my affairs” as far away from that city as I could. I ducked into a nearby hotel lobby and used a house phone to call anyone I could think of that might fall for a story that would get me away from this part of the city. I finally reached a friendly woman who bartended at place I did quite a bit of drinking at and convinced her to pick me up on her way in to work. She did so and even served me a few drinks on the house over several hours while she worked her shift and with each drink I became less concerned with reality and more focused on how to play my great escape from the impending prison sentence 29 days away. I went home with my bartender friend that night, cleaned up, washed my clothes and tried to come up with a plan to finance my journey to a faraway place.
I want to point out a recurring subtext to this story that deserves another mention here. All along the way since the beginning of my alcohol and drug using career, people had stepped in, or at least many times had been somewhere near my path to catch me when I was falling. Parents, friends, wives, girlfriends, judges, treatment centers and the like showed up in my orbit with a hand up for me. There were also business partners, employers and of course the woman mentioned earlier, they would all become victims of my disease and the behaviors that it produced. My friend the bartender would soon become another person on that list as well as a friend of hers whom she introduced me to. He owned a business and was pretty easily convinced that I was a great candidate for a job in his organization. Over a few beers at my bartender friend’s workplace I was hired and would start working for the man the next day. He kindly dropped me a small salary advance on the bar, told me where to be the next morning and informed me that I would have to sign a liability waiver for the company vehicle which came with the position.
Things were, once again beginning to take a turn for me, and I had cash to make a small dope purchase for the evening’s celebration. November 24th arrived, and I began working the new job with gusto, followed every direction, learned the in’s and out’s and gained the trust of my new employer. On the first payday a week later, I was offered a potential raise in the form of a commission and accepted it with overflowing gratitude and appreciation. I was keeping up my end of the employment bargain and spoke all the right words in continued diligence to impress the boss. Meanwhile I had stretched my welcome at my bartender friend’s apartment to the limit. My lack of romantic interest in her must have been apparent, as I spent the final couple of days on her sofa. I didn’t realize until later that she had expressed to my new boss, a regular at the bar around 4:30 every day, that my arrangement at her place was temporary and needed to come to an end soon.
On the next payday, December 8th, the boss handed me three envelopes, one with my regular agreed upon paycheck, a second one with a considerable commission check, and the third held a check for $1000 with a memo line stating “housing advance-due back over 60 days”. I left work early that payday Friday (in my company vehicle-fuel supplied) and headed straight to the bank. I cashed the checks, made a dash to my bartender friend’s apartment to gather my few belongings (and a couple of hers), I informed her that I had found my own place and would be “moving out” in the morning but would see her at the bar tomorrow night, everything was fine I said. More of the story to come. Be safe and care for one another.
More of the story to come.
Be well and stay safe,
As a trained professional in the field of substance-use recovery, a practicing recovery coach, and more importantly, a person in successful recovery from addiction for over 26 years, I have some knowledge to share and lots of hope for anyone who’s ready for change.
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Asking for Medical Help
If you or someone you know exhibits withdrawal symptoms, psychological problems, or any signs of self-harming behavior, contact your medical professional, call 911, or reach out to SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)