Ben Patterson

Ben Patterson

“I started using at a pretty young age. When I first started getting high and smoking weed it felt like that was the answer. Like that was the one thing I was missing to make me feel like everyone else in the world… to make me feel human. That quickly progressed into drugs like acid to methamphetamine and then on to cocaine. When I was 16 years old, I got into a lot of trouble and my parents sent me to a boy’s home in Indiana where I lived for a year. About 2 weeks into that I got saved and was first introduced to God and spiritual principles. But within a week or two of getting back home and hooking back up with my buddies, the drug use returned. It progressed from there to a carnival of chaos. When I was 21 my daughter was born. Now that should have been the point I turned it around. I felt that most people, if they had a kid, would stop doing this kind of stuff. I could see what other somewhat normal parents were like and I definitely wasn’t one. My daughter’s mother died when she was 1 years old, from drinking and driving. So after that it was just me and Paige for the first couple of years. Eventually, my family had to step in and make the decision to allow my aunt and uncle to raise her. I was just a mess and was exposing her to all of that. So I was very thankful that I had family that could step in and do that. Around that time I started to get really suicidal and it just increased with my drug use. I eventually got so depressed that I put a loaded gun to my chest and pulled the trigger. I barely missed my heart and I’m not sure how I survived that. Another time I got shot in the back of the head buying dope in South Dallas. Waking up after things like that, I knew I had a problem but I had no clue what to do. Most people, if they experienced something like that would draw a line, realize they’d hit bottom and find a way to stop. I don’t remember a lot of what happened in those years though, I just know that I never stopped. I didn’t know things that I know now like addiction being a disease, obsessions of the mind, physical allergies and all that. I just knew that I was messed up and I could not say no.”

“In 1997, after getting arrested a few times and picking up a couple of felonies, it scared me. I decided to move down here to Lake Whitney to try and get sober. And I stayed sober for 5 years but it was more about going to meetings. I really thought that if I went to a certain number of meetings, that I would be okay. And this is a sharp contrast to what I believe today. But in 2002, after being sober for 5 years, my dad passed away. Back then I would have told you that that was why I relapsed, because my dad passed away and I found him dead. Looking back now though, I wasn’t doing any step work or anything to foster a relationship with God, I was just hanging out and going to meetings and that wasn’t enough to keep me sober. For the next 7 years, I can’t tell you a lot about what happened but it was the darkest time of my entire life. There were small periods of sobriety. My daughter ended up moving back in with me when she was 14. And through all these years, my big thing was that I somehow wanted to be a good dad. I hadn’t been there for Paige for so many years. I was plagued with guilt and regret about what I had become. And when she finally moved back in with me, I wasn’t ready at all. I didn’t have the tools and I didn’t know how to raise a child. She eventually started following in my foot steps and got involved in drugs. She also became aware of my addiction, as much as I tried to hide it, and there was a time when the police had to call my 16 year old to come and pick me up because I too drunk to drive. So that was pretty humiliating. How do you look at your kid the next day after something like that?”

“I was sick of the program and the book and all of that, but I went to treatment one more time. I was only there for 8 days and I was a wreck and crying uncontrollably the whole time. Because I had destroyed my life and even worse, I had destroyed my daughter’s life. And the day before I left there, I’ll never forget it, these guys showed up at the treatment center to bring a meeting. They were all young guys and for me, it was an odd moment. I hadn’t seen young drug addicts that were like me carrying a serious message before. And there was something about the way they presented it that I finally understood what Step 1 meant. One of the guys said that it didn’t matter how much I wanted to stay sober, that if I didn’t work these steps and do something different that I wasn’t going to be able to. And I believed him. I knew what he was saying was my truth. So I got busy. And for those first 6 months there wasn’t a day my nose wasn’t buried in the book. I was by no means perfect at taking suggestions and doing this deal. But the one thing I didn’t do wrong was developing a relationship with God and actually experiencing a connection with this power. That spark that first began in that treatment center found some sort of accelerant and it exploded inside of me.”

“At first though, I didn’t know how to help another addict and was scared to. I’d only been sober a few months. But I remember calling my sponsor one Friday night and he basically told me I was either gonna go carry the message and help another addict or that I was gonna smoke crack. And he hung up the phone on me. So I went up to a treatment center to take a meeting in there. I didn’t think I was gonna meet anybody, I was just doing some footwork. And it was literally as if God had ordained the entire thing. I was standing outside, smoking a cigarette with all of the clients. And this kid I started talking to was a crack smoker and he ends up asking me to sponsor him. That experience I had when that kid asked me to sponsor him was unlike anything else I’d ever known in my entire life. That night I felt the undeniable presence of God in my life in a way I never had. I felt something inside of me saying ‘Finally. This is what you’re supposed to be doing’. And I felt like a human being in a way that I had never felt before. I don’t know if that makes sense but that’s the best way I can say it. I felt human for the very first time. From there I started sponsoring guys and carrying the message all the time. And eventually, I had a house that was empty and somehow it became a sober house. It became Ebby’s Place. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I had a great career and was making great money. But I felt like there was something more important I was supposed to be doing and that God wanted me to run this sober house. So that’s what I did. It was pretty hard, too. Trust me, when you’re living with 6 or 7 newly sober addicts, it’s not easy. But I got to see so many lives change through that in truly amazing ways. And over time, that evolved into what is now Brazos. The property here became available and someone basically threw it in my lap. And it’s grown into something that I never would have dreamt of. To come from full blown alcoholism and addiction to a life in recovery and to walk side by side with those on the front lines, fighting this disease. I feel blessed beyond anything I had ever dreamed.”

“I’m always very grateful that I’m sober and that life has become what it has for me. The changes I’ve personally experienced on this journey and the work I get to do here at Brazos are more than I could have ever imagined. Beyond that, I’m married to a woman who I love dearly and who has been a godsend for me. Even with all these blessings though, it doesn’t mean that life has been perfect. Life still happens to us all. In 2013 I got the phone call from the Ft. Worth Police that my daughter had overdosed and died. It’s hard for me to even put into words what it’s like to lose a child in this life, especially what it’s like for someone who is in recovery to go through that kind of loss. I felt like I had tried to change, to be a good father, to lay down my life to help other addicts and families struggling with addiction… and then this happened. I always knew addicts could die and that families could experience that. But I never thought it was gonna be me. I own a treatment center you know? I understand the illness and what we’re fighting against. And yet it did happen. To my own child. And it truly blindsided me. I wasn’t sure if I could stay sober through the grief that followed. Wasn’t sure if I would even stay alive. Somehow I did though. I was surrounded by people in recovery who pushed me to do spiritual work and continue to seek God in even the worst of times. I’m not gonna say that I got through it though. I’m still in the process of trying to make sense of it all. But I will say that had I not had people in recovery surrounding me through all this, I wouldn’t be here now.”

“It’s hard to say in words though how I feel about that and how it makes me feel about Brazos. I get emails or phone calls sometimes from parents who are really grateful and who thank me for the part I do in this place. And I’m very grateful and excited that people’s lives are changing and turning around. But there’s also this part of me that is just devastated that the one person’s life that I wanted the most to change, my own daughter… that that wasn’t able to happen. It’s hard to put that into words. Today I’m relatively happy, still working steps and all that and I feel that God has a purpose for everything. I am grateful that Paige got to experience 4 years of me being sober. Our relationship through those 4 years was awesome. Like I said before, being a dad was the one thing I had always wanted to do. I think every parent has plans and dreams about what their kid’s life and what that relationship they share is going to be like. And when you lose a kid, all that goes out the window. It’s almost like every thought, emotion, dream and plan you had just gets scattered in every direction by a storm. And then you spend the rest of your life trying to pick up all those scattered pieces of what you thought life would be and put them back together. And a lot of that process for me is continuing to do 12 step work to continue trying to figure out what I’m supposed to do from here. I thought I was going to pass on all the good things I had found in this life to Paige. So what is my purpose now? The answer I’ve been given is this place here. Even though she isn’t here anymore, I can still do my part to keep this place open and help other addicts and other families. And that is my purpose now I feel like. Keeping the lights on. Because somebody kept the light on for me. No matter what happened before or what happens next, I know this is what I’m supposed to do.”

2018-04-18T21:09:42+00:00