“I’d felt lost from an early age and always had a lot of questions about what life was and what I was supposed to do. By the time I hit high school I had been thinking I wanted to try out some sort of substance and I ended up settling on weed. I fell in right away with that group of people and it just felt right. This was what I wanted to do. I didn’t really experiment with any other drugs or drink until I was about 17 in my senior year of high school. I gradually started that and other pills here and there. Up until that point I had really big plans. I wanted to go to these grandiose colleges and I had opportunities to do so. But once my life became all about getting high so much that it became all I really cared about, all that got put on the sideline. When I graduated I had very little accomplishments to my name. So that summer, I tried to slow down a little. I didn’t do any drugs or drink or anything that whole summer. But I was white knuckling it and it was a struggle for sure. Around that time I started to realize that I had this void inside of me that I had been trying to fill and that without drugs, the hole was bigger.
“A week into college though I found out where I could buy weed and it all started again. I got into psychedelics and it became an every day thing, even while I was going to classes and doing homework. Around Christmas I remember a friend and I were messed up on X and we started talking and kind of admitted to each other that we had a problem. That we might be drug addicts. I had been really interested in spirituality, psychology and all of that but the more I looked into it all to try to figure myself out, the crazier I seemed to get. They were all just ideas and none of it seemed to work. One of the things I remember though is that my friend and I took a camping trip and took a lot of LSD and a lot of crazy stuff happened. There were these people that kind of rescued us and I remember I was riding back home with one of them. They were Christian and although I’m still not religious, I could feel that they had something different going on in their lives than what I had in mine. It was comforting. I thought in that moment that Ii really didn’t want to drink or get high anymore. I wanted to do it right this time. So I left college and moved back home. Two months later though, that thought popped back into my head… that I could just smoke weed. That led to Xanax and me getting really bad on those.
“As it progressed I remember just always feeling overwhelmed and as it got darker and darker I began to feel suicidal. I’d black out for hours and days at a time on Xanax but I liked that because I just didn’t want to be conscious. That last six months leading up to Brazos is all pretty hazy really and I don’t remember that much of it but I do remember the pain in between those blackouts. I’d wake up and my last memory would be a week before and people would have to tell me what I had been doing. The suicidal thoughts got worse too. I ended up seeing a psychiatrist and I really emphasized the idea that I had mental problems and totally glossed over the drug use. I had all these anxiety panic attacks and depression but I didn’t realize it was mostly from the drugs. When you’re in addiction the simple things are hard to see. Its just delusions on top of delusions. You can’t distinguish the true from the false.
“The end of all this was at Christmas. I came home to be with my family but ended up staying out all night on Christmas Eve doing cocaine. I got back home and couldn’t sleep because I was coked out of my mind and so I just laid there and watched the sun come up. Once everybody woke up I did the whole fake sleep thing and looking back, that one hurts. I wasn’t even there for my family. And not just that day. I lived there a whole year and I was just in and out. I never saw them and they didn’t really even know me anymore. Around New Years my mom mentioned the idea of treatment. I had this moment of clarity and thought that maybe this would be the answer I’d been looking for. I got to Brazos though and was immediately irritated. I thought it was going to be some kind of relaxed, luxurious place with horses, my feet propped up and getting massages and all that. My parents left and I was immediately second guessing being there. The first few meetings didn’t help either. They were talking about God and steps and none of it made sense to me. Slowly though, I began to notice how calm these people were, despite having stories just like mine. So I started thinking maybe there was something to this.”
“Now I had had previous spiritual experiences when I was younger because I grew up in a Pentecostal church. I never really knew what to make of them though. A few days into Brazos I sat down to pray and although I was scared to, I really wanted to do it. To see if something was there. Almost immediately I started to feel this spiritual connection hit me. And at first, I was just in tears. I think I was just relieved that I had found something. I had gone the last four or five years thinking there’s no way out of this… and then all of a sudden, I get this little taste that maybe there is. It’s good that it happened too because when I came in I was so tired. I really felt like either this was going to work or I was gonna kill myself.
”That psychic change that I started to feel though… I mean at first at Brazos it felt like a prison to me. After a while though it began to feel like a Buddhist temple. This sense of serenity came over me and I just started to feel differently. I’d notice little things like the smell of an orange. Or I’d go outside and see the trees and the stars and like really see them. And underneath all of that, I just became convinced that there was something to all of this. To life. I could see a higher power in all of it. And I stayed in the work and I got through the steps in those 30 days.
”A few months ago I started to realize that since I’d been out of Brazos that I’d been on this pink cloud where nothing really phased me. For a while it just felt like everything was going perfect. Once I started working for a while though and reintegrating into reality and into life, I feel like that’s where the rubber met the road. And after the newness of sobriety wore off a little, I struggled a little. I had always equated my spiritual connection with how I was feeling at the moment. So I had been creating these weird expectations that now that I was sober and on the spiritual path that I should always feel like a million bucks and that if I didn’t, something must be wrong. I did several hour long meditations and was chasing that initial feeling again. But then my sponsor told me that this was part of being human. That God has all this and that I just really needed to learn to trust and rely on him. The struggles are really when you see if you believe in what you say you believe in.
That really sunk in with me and I just started to level out. But I was still wondering a little if there was really fruit being bared from this while recovery experience. Was it all real? What really helped was this friend I had went through addiction with. I would go over to a treatment center and one day he said that what it took for him to know all that this was real was seeing one person. And he pointed to me and said, ‘It was this guy right here. He just seemed different’. And that’s what had got him into recovery. I began to realize that it wasn’t about my actions or how I was feeling or any of that.
It was what God was doing through me. I started to realize I’m just a mouthpiece for my higher power, right? I’m not here to get everything I want and not here to take the glory for the good things in my life. I just need to do what’s in front of me. So all of that was a turning point and really cool.
“The most recent thing would be that last weekend it was my sister’s birthday. I went and hung with her on Saturday and I actually had enough money to take her out and buy her a present. And I was able to just hang out with her like be present with her in the moment. We just went and did whatever she wanted to do and it was great. Because I had been a horrible brother to her and my little brother. I just was never there, you know? I would always use them however I could to benefit me in my addiction. When we were hanging out though, I got to make amends to her. We both teared up a little bit but I just got this whole sense of calm. In that moment it felt like God was telling me, ‘Look, this does bear fruit. You’re not just doing this because you were told to. You’re doing it for things like this. Things that matter.’ All that has come through my higher power and through working these steps. I say it all the time when I take meetings and do H & I’s. You put the man back together and the world just falls into place. And that’s how it’s been for me.”