Shawn’s Story

Shawn’s Story

“Towards the end, I was getting close to turning 40 and I felt like I had tried everything. I’d moved all over the United States to different jobs and different people, always eventually using again and then changing my number and moving again. I’d tried the religious route where I’m up at the church and I’m crying, bawling my eyes out. But again, four hours later I’d be smoking meth. And I had a 3 month cycle. Everybody that knew me knew that I could stay sober for about 3 months on my own but never longer. And it just got progressively worse.

“But I’ve been dealing with this for a long time. I’ve been using drugs since I was 15 and it all progressed rapidly for me. I mean it was pot for maybe about a year and then it was methamphetamine and then cocaine and everything else. For a while it was a good time but I always seemed to take it a little further than everyone else. But I still just chalked it up to being young and having a good time. Now fast forward to me being 28 in my garage apartment in Houston. I remember one night I climbed on top of the roof and I watched the sun come up. I remember telling myself that I was going to quit when I turned 30. And then I can specifically remember 30 coming around and being completely torn out of my mind that day, with no plans to stop. And I knew then that this was a major problem for me. I didn’t know what would work to fix it because I was too arrogant and self-centered to to ask anyone for help. As it got worse from there, I was using by myself mostly and i became really paranoid. Honestly, it was devastating. I would go for days being completely out of my mind and nobody’s checking on me because I was a loner who had pushed everyone away. Shortly thereafter, my mom showed up and found me. She took one look at me and said ‘you need some help’. I’m thinking I look good but I looked like skeletor. So she took me to a rehab and I got sober for a bit. I did the triggers list and my relapse prevention stuff but didn’t do anything with it once I got out. So of course, I stayed sober for about 3 months and got high again.

“There was a point when I was about 35 where I’d had enough. I just thought I can’t keep doing this to everybody around me. And I felt like I was ready to die. I remember coming down off of meth and pills and coke and drinking and driving myself to the top of a parking garage. I had a 9 year old daughter at the time and I wrote her a goodbye letter. I got out of the car and I stood and propped myself up on this pillar. I was looking down and there were trees below and I remember thinking I was probably gonna screw this up too and end up in a hospital for the rest of my life, eating through a tube. And I must have stood there for probably about 45 minutes, just crying and totally distraught. I remember looking behind me and there was an office building. There was a person just standing in the window looking at me and I don’t know if it was real or not. It was real to me though and I remember thinking that it might have been an angel or something. I felt like it wasn’t going to let me kill myself. So I got back down.

“I told everybody the next day that I’d been getting high and of course they already knew. I went to treatment again but continued to live as I had been. Just in an out. Eventually I got to the end of it all. I was married to a wonderful woman but was lying to her. I was embezzling money from the company that I was working for, a company who really cared about me and had tried to help me. And I just kind of had this moment a moment of clarity where I could see that I was killing myself. I started feeling guilty about all of it and I went home and told my wife everything. I ended up telling the owner of the company that I had stolen some money and he ended up having to let me go. I identified so much with my job I didn’t really know who I was without it. My wife ended up leaving and this time it was serious. She had always kept my problem from the family so this time was different. It all had come unraveled. She came back home the next day and I told her, ‘I need to get some help and I don’t have very much time’. Everyone we talked to kept pointing to Brazos but we needed to at least come up with some of the money before I went. While we were talking about it we got a phone call from a lady at our church. She said she’d been praying for me and that she had some money saved up and that God had told her to give it to us for my recovery. And it was the exact amount of money that I needed to get into Brazos. I mean the exact amount. It was pretty profound. As soon as we got that phone call we packed all my stuff and I was at Brazos 3 hours later. Still though, I got there utterly hopeless to be in rehab again. I was 40 years, old, married with 3 kids and no job. And I didn’t think treatment was going to work for me. But a few days in, something different started happening to me.”

“When I got to Brazos what hit me hardest was finally understanding the 1st Step. I remember they put the cycle of addiction up on the wall and I’m a very visual person, so it makes sense to me if I can see it. And I remember seeing him pull the words right out of the book that I was looking at and then put it up on the wall in a circle. I could see myself almost instantly. Everything that I could never figure out was right there in that circle. I started thinking that the people who wrote this book knew what they were talking about. And that’s when it became real for me. That’s when I told myself that I was going to do everything I possibly could to make this work and I was going to be thorough with it, for once. And that’s what I did.

“I started paying attention in class and all these little things started happening to me. I started to trust God one little prayer at a time. I can remember laying up in bed and I couldn’t sleep. My brain just would not turn off. I just kept thinking about what am I going to do when I get out, wondering if my wife was going to leave me… just all of these absurd things. And then I remembered I had asked this guy in here what God’s will was. He said he didn’t know but that he could tell me what God’s will wasn’t. And I’m laying in bed and I’m remembering that and I realized it was clearly God’s will was for me to come here. That was God’s will. But it wasn’t God’s will for me to stay up all night thinking about all this stupid crap. And I started praying for for peace with God’s will. That his will, not mine, be done because my will was keeping me up at night. The book says that we must carry God with us humbly saying to ourselves many times each day ‘thy will be done’. So I started doing that every night when the thoughts would come. I must have said it 80 or 90 times that first night. And I did it again the next night but it was just a little less. Pretty soon I found saying that short prayer all the time. And then I started to trust God because it worked for me. Before too long I was sleeping at night.

“I had a year and a half sober yesterday and my life today is unlike anything I’ve ever known. I don’t do it perfectly but I just keep myself open to learning more about life. Meditation is a huge deal for me. It’s something that I’ve been getting back into even more lately. I kind of fell off a little bit over the Christmas holidays and got out of my routine but it keeps me close to God so he can continue to show me what’s important. Other high points have been my wife telling me that she’s proud of me and me being able to look her in the eyes and accept it. There were times when she would say that to me when we first met and I just knew I didn’t deserve it. I can accept it now though. And something else happened over Christmas. I sent out some texts to people, probably almost a hundred of them, just saying Merry Christmas and that I was grateful they were in my life. And people started hitting me back and saying really kind and sincere things in return. They were saying things about me that people didn’t used to say. I’d never had many really good friends, like really meaningful friendships. I’d always been a loner. And now I have more people than I can count who really know me and really love me.

“One more thing too. I was having a hard time finding men to sponsor after I got out of treatment and honestly, I had a big fear of sponsorship. I was trying to talk to guys at meetings but it seemed like everyone else there was more qualified than me. There were all these recovery gurus and I was just a new guy. It was intimidating. And I was telling my sponsor that and he said for me to show up at the meeting 30 minutes early and that I needed to pray and to ask God to show me someone who I could help. He said I needed to leave right now if I was going to get there 30 minutes early. So I prayed and went up there. There were 2 or 3 guys in there and then this kid walks in and he looks distraught. I asked him how he was doing and he says, ‘Man, I just I can’t stop drinking’. And we started up a little conversation and I told him he needed a sponsor and asked him if he’d like to talk more after the meeting. Well at the end of the meeting they asked if anyone needed a sponsor and he raises his hand and all of these other guys lock eyes with him and after the meeting they all just rush over to him. In my mind I figured he would find somebody and may be that would be better for him anyway. I started to leave the meeting but I had this little voice in my mind that said, ‘Just stay, just stay and wait’. And I listened to it because I’ve come to know that voice. He came out about 10 minutes later and said he’d been looking for me. I asked him if he found a sponsor and he said no, because he was wanted to talk to me. I started working with him and you know what, he’s still sober today.”