Orlando Montalvo

Orlando Montalvo

“I grew up in an alcoholic home, but I didn’t know that at the time. I think the first time I got drunk I was around five years old. I was the bartender at one of my dad’s barbecues. I’d open the drinks for them and get to take a sip and before I knew it everyone was looking for me and I was passed out in my room. In 8th grade, I started smoking pot and had always been curious about it. So I started smoking with my buddies from school but nothing too bad at first. I was an A/B student all the way through high school and graduated with a scholarship to go play football and run track. I dropped out after my first year. After that I ended up getting married and that’s when my drinking really progressed to where I was doing it just about every day. I started doing coke too but it was just sporadic at first. It wasn’t until the early 80’s that I really started using cocaine heavily to the point where I would do an 8 ball in one sitting. That and taking Xanax was my daily routine. That led to a number of DWIs and other troubles. Seemed like I was on probation from ’78 until after I got sober. What got me into treatment though was a moment I experienced. I had been on a 72 hour binge and was in the shower getting ready to go to work. Something happened inside of me and I started to cry and just said I can’t do this anymore. I had lost everything and was divorced at the time. I had attempted suicide a few times through the years. And I had already been checking out treatment centers and making appointments and not showing up. But when that moment came that more, something shifted. I couldn’t do it anymore and I was at the treatment center knocking on the door at 7am the next morning.
 
“All of the stuff that led me to treatment was when I started to get an idea of what was really going on in my life and understanding step one. Steps two and three were relatively easy for me because I’ve always believed in God. I was an altar boy as a kid. But my spiritual awakening or my first spiritual experience occurred after I did a fourth step. And it was so profound that when I was done with it there was a question that I had to answer. It asked if I had answered all of the questions in faith or courage or are you wallowing in self pity. I pondered on the question and figured I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself so maybe I was answering the questions in faith and courage. See, I was really good at feeling sorry for myself for all my downfalls but this was the first time that I was actually being courageous about something. And the moment I said that and realized that, the tears started flowing. It was the first time in my life that I actually cried out of joy. I think what hit me so hard is that it was me finally accepting the fact that there was a God in my life and he had been there working all along. I’ve not looked back since and everything else in my life has improved from that day.
 
“I started working for the treatment center and a lot of other positive things started happening in my life. When I walked into treatment, I didn’t own a car and didn’t have anything to my name. After my first year of sobriety I bought my first vehicle. I had a savings account and a checking account. I became more responsible. Five years later down the road my ex and I got back together with our two children. I got to see my son play high school football and I got to see him play college ball as well. Also got to see my daughter participate in sports. If I wasn’t sober those things never would have happened. But still, my sobriety and all these other good things are only possible because my relationship with a higher power. That to me is key and my relationship with God today is the most important thing in my life, more so than even my relationship with my family. Because I know if I’m okay with Him, everything else around me is going to be okay. Not perfect because I’m far from perfect, but it’s going to work out.”
 
“After my first year of sobriety I started working for the treatment center I had went to. I had gone back to school to become either a psych nurse or a counselor. A nurse might have made more money but it was counseling where I felt like I could make a real difference in people’s lives. I’ve grown in the field. I started out as a Primary Counselor and have worked as a Clinical Supervisor, a Program Manager, Executive Director… I’ve worn a lot of hats in this field. I can’t take any credit for the good workI’ve been able to do and it’s not that I have ever been the smartest guy on the block. But I think my work ethic and my dedication to the field speaks for itself.
 
“Working with the guys in treatment, it’s all about getting to know them. Building that rapport with them from the very beginning. Finding out what we have in common with each other, aside from just the alcohol and drugs. I also realize the only difference between us is that I’ve been sober for a little while. I’m still an alcoholic and an addict. For me it’s really looking at the tangibles- where he’s at, what whatever he’s struggling with. It’s really me getting to know them and then that opens up the door. That’s what I love about the process group because you get to hear a lot of where they’re at and then when I do the individual session with that later, I can target that. It’s just about looking for ways to help them see the truth. And finding ways to make a difference in their lives.
 
“Back to my first treatment center… I had been in detox for four days.I went to my first group after detox and sat there and looked around and just thought no way. I’m leaving. I packed up my suitcase and tried to walk out. And all of a sudden I see this nurse. Her name was Kristi. She asks what I’m doing and I tell her I’m leaving. That those people in there are screwed up but I’m not that bad. She asked me if I would just talk with her for a few. And she told me the truth… that I was scared. I was afraid of being real for the first time in my life because I’d been such a fake for so many years. I’d been living off my past accomplishments as an athlete when I was in school, always telling people you know I was an All-American All-state who broke records, my name had been in the newspaper… all that. And then when that stopped, my life crashed. But she said now I had to look at who I really was. So she was the one that stopped me from leaving. I lost touch with her but always mentioned her when I told my story. Many years later, I was at the treatment center I worked at and having lunch with some of the other counselors. One of them was talking about their mother and the work she had done and for some reason, I asked what her mother’s name was. It was Kristi. The same person. The person who had kept me from leaving and who played a part in saving my life. And here I was working with her daughter in another place all these years later. But that’s the kind of work we are doing here. And sometimes I get to hear those phone calls from clients from the last 28 years who tell me that they are still sober today. And that’s what it’s all about.”

2018-07-25T15:04:55+00:00