I’m reading a book by Don Miller called, A Million Miles In A Thousand Years.
It’s about how to live a better story. So naturally, it has me thinking about my story.
What is my story?
And how could I be living a better one?
I know the answer to the first one but not to the second, not yet at least.
So today I want to share part of my story with you.
I’ve told “my story” several times from the front of a room. First in A.A. meetings and then in prison (not as an inmate, thankfully, but as a volunteer).
But I haven’t shared it on this blog yet.
So I figured it’d be a good idea to pull back the curtains and open up a little. I appreciate writers and bloggers who are honest. It inspires me to be real in my writing instead of trying to pretend to be someone I’m not.
So here’s (part of) my story…
I was a drug addict and a drug dealer who used to have a $500/day cocaine habit that almost killed me.
I made good money selling drugs. I could easily make a $1,000 in a night. And for a 19-year-old kid who grew up poor that was a lot of money. Especially when you don’t pay taxes on it.
And since I was “somebody” in my little dark world I also attracted a lot of beautiful women who liked to party at my place and have sex. Like the girls who were high school cheerleaders, who in high school, would never date me because I wasn’t a jock but now had a change of heart since I was “somebody.”
But snorting cocaine gave me more pleasure than having sex, so after a while the girls simply got in the way of what I really wanted to do, which was lock myself in my room all night with my drugs, a razor and a mirror.
At first it was fun. I’d feel great and we’d all have fun snorting coke while listening to Tom Petty play on repeat. But the fun only lasted about a month.
After that I became angry and super-paranoid. Toward the end of my using it was not uncommon for me to spend hours staring at my monitor which was hooked up to a video surveillance camera I had pointed at my parking lot.
And then there were the times I swore the cops were going to break in and arrest me so I would push all the furniture in front of my door to create a barricade.
I wasn’t some mafia or gang leader. I was a big fish in a small pond. But I was known in my little town as the guy who had the best drugs and selection. And as someone who wouldn’t screw you over.
For example, some drug dealers would add baking soda to cocaine so they could make more money. I thought that was bad business and I wanted to do “the right thing” and give people what they paid for.
So if they bought an 8-ball of coke for $120 I would measure out exactly 3.5 grams on my scale. The customer could also buy marijuana, morphine, vicoden or ambien. And I made sure to keep enough smaller bills in my safe so I could make change for people who only had larger bills. The only thing I didn’t do was accept check or credit cards.
I took my business, even though it was illegal and destructive, very seriously. The people who I bought my drugs from appreciated this too. So I ended up forming some partnerships with some serious players. People who wouldn’t think twice about shooting you if you tried to screw them over.
So anyway, I had everything my little carnal heart could desire back then: drugs, sex, money and respect.
But I also lost my mind.
I ended up in the E.R. after staying up for 7 days straight on a binge, scared to death the cops who were watching my apartment were ready to move in on me and take me down. I was later diagnosed by a medical professional as having “paranoid induced psychosis.” So when I say I lost my mind I mean it.
After my lovely trip to the E.R. I found myself at one of the best rehab clinics in the country, Hazelden Springbrook. A place celebrities (i.e. Robin Williams), doctors and lawyers go to get clean.
It cost $28,000 for a month of treatment. When I was younger my Mom tried about six different rehabs for her addiction so my family had a pretty good lay of the land when they found out I needed help. So my Dad helped me get into the best place money (and insurance) could buy.
In rehab I heard a minister say there was a difference between religion and spirituality. My mind was blown. And I was all in for spirituality! I gave myself to my spiritual pursuits almost as hard as I gave myself to drugs.
I got deep into Transcendental Meditation, Toltec teachings, Buddhism and of course Christianity, I mean I was still an American after-all. 😉
I left rehab after 30 days and went to A.A. meetings every day. But I still struggled with a lot of mental disorders like depression, anxiety and bi-polar. On top of that I had regular suicidal thoughts.
After 6 months of being sober I relapsed on alcohol and marijuana after going to hang out with some old friends one night. I ended up drunk and stoned, passed out in a hallway next to some girl at the party after a failed attempt to find cocaine.
Then I tried even harder to be clean. More meetings. More 12-step work. More talks with my sponsor. Better meds. I was going to beat this thing! And then 3 months later I relapsed on cocaine.
I thought that was it. I was sure I was going to die that night. The paranoia was worse than ever. And I kept hearing a voice tell me, “You’re going to die because God is going to use you as an example of what happens when people get 2nd and 3rd chances and then screw them up!”
I hate to spoil the story but I have to let you know something: I didn’t die.
Anyway, it was after this experience where I found myself back at my parent’s house on the bathroom floor. “On the bottom, looking down,” as they say. I think I wanted to die but I didn’t even have enough energy to entertain the thought of suicide for too long.
This is when I got on my knees on the bathroom floor and said a simple, but honest, prayer:
“Jesus, if you’re real save me.”
I looked around at the lights and the mirror and nothing happened. I didn’t hear anything either. But something happened inside me. I felt a new feeling I couldn’t remember feeling before. I later discovered that this was what they call “hope.”
But at the time all I knew was that I was finally excited about the future. Before I hated thinking about the future or the past. I just wanted to get high all the time. Before this spiritual experience I figured I would live fast and die young. I couldn’t imagine living past 30.
Now I’m 32. So I’m already ahead 2 years!
Oh, and I’ve never once had a craving to do drugs since that day 12 years ago. That in itself is a miracle.
So yes, I became a born-again Christian on May 24, 2004 at the age of 20. I discovered God is real. That He is good. And that He loves me.
I also found out that the minister I heard in rehab was right when he said there’s a difference between religion and spirituality. I love spirituality but not religion.
I’ve also discovered God is a supernatural God and He’s still in the business of doing miracles, signs and wonders (something I found a lot of religious people don’t like for whatever reason).
Everything didn’t change right away. There was still a lot of wreckage from the past to clean up and thought patterns to change. But thankfully I had some amazing people in my life who took me under their wings to mentor me.
And five years later I got to marry the most beautiful girl in the world, my best friend, Lacie Joy! 🙂
I also ended up quitting my job before Emma was born, in May of 2011, to become a full-time freelance copywriter.
That’s also part of my story that you can read more about here. I’ve been freelancing for the last 5 years, but for 2 years I took a full-time job as a marketing director for a software company while I continued to freelance on the side.
So there you go. That’s “my story,” or at least part of it in a nutshell. Of course there’s a lot more to that story but it’s hard to condense the last 12 years into 1,700 words.
But now you know it all… the good, the bad, the ugly!
I feel like now that I’ve shared that on here I’m free to be myself and to be the type of writer I respect: an honest one.
Plus, I wish more people would share their stories like this because I feel it would help remove the stigma of addiction.
If you have any questions about addiction or want to share any part of your story feel free to leave a comment below (if you can’t see where to leave a comment that means you need to click on the title of this post and then you should see it below).