“I was homeschooled up until high school. I come from a really Christian conservative family. I was always pretty involved in the church but mostly just because my family was… and for the good times. Maybe the girls too. I remember going to church and seeing people that were really moved by God, often emotional and crying and having amazing experiences. For me though, I never remember really feeling that. I never felt connected. Around the middle of high school I started to drift away from being involved in the church. I stayed out of trouble though because I dated a girl from church and she was a really good girl. When I started smoking weed that was pretty much the main reason the relationship ended because she wasn’t down with all that. I eventually started selling weed to pay for my own habit. I kind of felt like what I was doing was pretty gangster. I started hanging out with different people than the different crowd that I had grown up with. That really started to change the path I was on.
“After high school I went to community college. I eventually stopped going even though I was only 2 classes short of having associate’s degree. I just kind of gave up and I thought what I was doing was more profitable. At that point I had started dabbling in other stuff- psychedelics and drinking occasionally. I can remember clearly telling myself I would never do cocaine. I got in some trouble and got put on probation so that got me drinking a lot because I couldn’t smoke and still pass a UA. And a year after that I was doing cocaine and drinking even more heavily. It all increased pretty rapidly in the span of about three years. My parents would find things and get hints of what I was doing but I always denied it, said it wasn’t mine and talked my way out of it. They were fearful and wanted me to see that I was going the wrong way, but I responded by just trying to stay away. I would just try to avoid going home to face them. Looking back I was ashamed and avoiding them was a sign that I was living wrong. They definitely saw that and talking to them now, there were sleepless nights and they were scared to death that they were going to get a call that I was in jail again. Or worse.
“The year prior to me going to rehab I was in and out of legal trouble and probation. It eventually got revoked and I went to jail to serve the time out. The night that I got released from jail I walked out and was waiting for a ride and of course I ran into someone that asked if I wanted to get high with him. So jail hadn’t changed my plans. Two weeks after that I got put right back on probation. I didn’t have a job, a car or a phone. Also at this point, I had a baby on the way. I got hooked up with a job through my girlfriend’s family though. I started making pretty good money but I was spending it all on alcohol. The more pregnant she got the more loaded I got. I was just out doing whatever I wanted. Started doing cocaine all day every day. Looking back, I don’t even know how my girlfriend stuck with me you know? The things I did to her, or didn’t do for her when she was pregnant and needed that love, support and attention. But at the time, again, I just couldn’t see it. There was almost no consciousness of what I was doing. I was just so wrapped up in myself that I either couldn’t see or couldn’t care. She would ask me if I felt responsibility for the child and the need to get it together. But it just wasn’t real for me at the time.
“My daughter was born and I was still doing the same thing. I thought once I became a dad I would get it together but it just didn’t happen. My daughter got sick when she was 2 months old. We had to go stay at the hospital with her and I was still going out to the parking lot to chug beers. I finally failed another drug test. I had to go meet my PO and the night before I was out doing cocaine. There was a chance I was going to prison and I was pretty scared honestly. Even then though I couldn’t stay sober. All that and some help from my parents led me to Brazos. Once I was in rehab and I started to look back at it all I started being able to see what I had been missing. I remember reading the book, that part that says we can’t remember the suffering or humiliation of even a week or month ago. I had just had a daughter and CPS had gotten involved. So there was a chance I could have my daughter taken away AND I was possibly going to prison. I had so many reasons to stop doing what I was doing and still couldn’t. But that’s the insanity of addiction.”
“So I said I’d stop if I had a kid and that didn’t happen. I said I would stop if I was facing prison and that didn’t happen. And all that started jumping out at me once I was in rehab. I started seeing how insane I had been. When I first went, it definitely wasn’t because I thought I needed it. Forces in my life had put some ultimatums on me and you could say I had a lot of motivation to go. But once I got there and I had the truth presented to me, I could look back and it gave me an opportunity to reflect on what was really going on in my life.
The book opened my eyes pretty quickly, which before I never would have believed. Here’s two guys back in the 1930’s who were twice my age. What could that have to do with me you know? But Brazos told me to look for how it related to me, not how it was different for me. Reading through and having it explained to me helped me see Step 1, that I was an alcoholic and an addict. I would have never wanted to admit that before. I just thought of myself as a weekend warrior and felt like I was controlling it, despite all the proof that I wasn’t.
“One of the other things that happened in there for me was I started to realize what having real friends was like. You go through life thinking you’ve got friends but they’re really just people you know. I started learning to talk about real stuff I was dealing with. Before I had mostly socialized with people just because we were drinking or using together. But nobody knew who I was. We all hung out but none of us really knew how to care for each other. That’s one thing I started to learn in Brazos and even more so after I got out. I went from there to a sober house situation. It wasn’t really what I wanted but really, I needed that kind of structure. Going from living such a chaotic lifestyle to that is huge. Waking up and meditating, studying the book and just having people around you reminding you of the truth, all that’s important and a big part of why I’ve made it this far.
“I have a vivid memory of when i began to feel that God was really there. It was not a burning bush moment by any means. But after my 4th step I was reviewing all of my character defects and all the work that I had done up to this point. I started thinking about the 3rd Step and turning my life over to God. I realized that even though i felt like I didn’t even understand how to begin to have a relationship with Him, that i already had begun and I was going to keep trying. Sincerely, you know? Like, this is going to happen or it’s not going to happen but I’m going to do what I can to make it happen. And I started to feel an internal peace that it was going to happen. Because coming from my family, a lot of times I just felt like they were spiritual giants. There’s no way I was going to get on that level. But I’ve asked God to help me trust in him and it’s gradually happened. A year later I still don’t totally know what I’m doing but I have a better idea of how I’m approaching Him. I talked to my dad about it too and he said that it’s not like he’s perfect and on his knees praying every second of every day. He struggles with trusting God too and he told me I’m not crazy. And that really made it clear for me that even these spiritual rocks, these guys that I look up to, nobody actually knows what they’re doing. They’re all just trying. So that’s what i’m doing too.
“But with my parents, I mean I’m still learning. How to be a better son and to interact with them in a healthy way. Similar to my relationship with God, I sometimes still only come to them when I need something. Trying more to not just ask for things or swing by the house only to pick some of my things up. They continue to love me and be there for me and it’s just something I’m working on, to do the same for them. More and more I’m able to just appreciate being with them. Probably the dopest thing in my life right now though is being a father. I’ve never had this much love for another person, at least not in this exact way. I want to be the best dad that I can be for her and the best future husband I can be for her mother. Our families and spouses love us but kids are this whole other level of someone who looks up to you and adores you and needs you. You don’t want to do the exact opposite of what they need and end up letting them down or scarring them. It’s a scary thought. Any time I talk about my story I realize things could have gone way different and way worse. Before she was born I almost got locked up and my daughter almost got taken away by CPS and I almost ruined my relationship with her mother. What if that had all gone south? So I have huge gratitude in me for how our life has turned out. If I struggle to trust God now, all I have to do is look back over my life and it’s really clear he’s been there all the way.”