Pain it seems, is our greatest motivator.
With websites, it is easy to portray an image. An idea or a perception that you want people to think of you. The internet allows us to show the world exactly what we want them to see. Very rarely do we get a personal and intimate understanding of what goes on behind the scenes. It is for that reason that I make sure to personally write about my own experience, so that people can get a glimpse of what Sober Nation is about. We are people, with our own experiences.
The reason why Sober Nation works is because our community has personal interest in each other. We can share openly, about anything. That is what makes us special. No matter where you came from or how you got into recovery, Sober Nation will accept you. I feel no different about myself. I look at myself and at our team, and we are just as much a part of the group as anyone else. No more, no less. With that being said, I’d like to share with you a story, about what it took for me to get clean.
The first time I remember thinking “I need to stop” I was 17 or so. My sister had torn her ACL. My sis was a nationally ranked swimmer, and for her to not be able to swim was a huge blow for her. Not to mention ACL rehab sucks. You are in a straight leg cast for weeks. My sister means the world to me, and to know she was going through this should have been reason to man up and be the big brother she needed.
It was a Saturday when my sister had her surgery. I remember waking up and being glad to have the house to myself. We had a small back porch, and I sat outside and got stoned. My father called me shortly after and told me the surgery went fine but that my sister was in a lot of pain and to have the place ready for her. Our house was very small, so there wasn’t much room for her to lay around. Either way, my sister is my best friend, I would do anything for her. However, as soon as I got off the phone with my Dad, I forgot about everything he has said to me. I will never forgot my Dad busting through the door with my sister hanging off of him. She couldn’t walk for shit and she was bursting in tears. I had nothing prepared for her. I just got high and didn’t do anything. I felt so terrible. It must have been 10 years ago, and when I look back on the moment, I still have this feeling of guilt over come me.
Of course hind sight is 20-20. I was just a teenager. I didn’t understand what I was doing or why I felt the way I felt. I didn’t know where addiction would bring me. I was just a kid. I feel guilty about that moment, but I wasn’t even close to a bottom. What I did was stupid. It wasn’t anything more than that. My real bottom was still to come.
Over the course of the next few years, my behavior got me into some real shitty situations. I got robbed a few times, got thrown in jail a few times. I was lucky to never get convicted of any felonies, somehow I always got out of trouble. Either way, I was really pressing my luck. Eventually when the opiates took over, my body started breaking down. I always partied, and I always had this ability to keep going. I was never the guy to pass out in the corner, or puke and pass out in the very back of the yard. The Oxy’s though, it was a different level. It broke me.
Here’s where it ended for me… Here is my redemption story.
I got a call from my Mother. She was living in Germantown with her boyfriend, and I was living in North East Philly with a girlfriend. My Mom asked me to come over. I drove to her place, and I was shocked at what I saw. I walked up to the front door and she was sitting on a bench out front. I looked at her and her one eye was pointing the wrong way. She also had numbness in her arm. We thought she was having a stroke, but she wasn’t.
It took us months to figure out what was going on. She has this super rare condition, in which she has these tiny bleeds in her brain and the bleeds would clot and she ended up with a walnut sized ball of dried blood on her brain stem. Everything just stopped working. It was the freakiest thing I have ever seen, and she was so scared. Everyone was scared. Everyone except for me, I had other shit to worry about.
In Sept of 2009, we flew to California. There was only one doctor in the country who had ever done this kind of surgery. My mom was in a wheelchair at this point. I was also very sick. I don’t mean cough and cold type sick. I mean dope sick. The flight to Cali was 7 hours total, including the transfer through Phoenix. I was withdrawing so hard. I slammed back as many rum and cokes as I could, and they cut me off pretty quickly. Everyone was looking at me. I wasn’t being reckless or a jerk, I just couldn’t sit still. I couldn’t get comfortable in my skin. I smuggled two OC 80’s in a bottle of vitamins in my suitcase, so I couldn’t get to them until I got to the hotel.
Here is what happened. My Mother was going to a preliminary appointment, where the surgeon was going to explain the procedure to her. He was going to explain to her about how he was going to cut her head open, and stick a knife in her brain. She had to sign the papers in case she died. No one was under any kind of false presence. This was a serious surgery, I was prepared for her to die.
I was sitting in the hotel going through my bag so I could find my pills and stop these awful withdrawals. At that exact moment my moms boyfriend wheeled her into the room, and my mom asked me if I would come to see the surgeon with her. She was scared. My Mother couldn’t walk, she had an eye patch over one eye. Half of her face stopped working. All she wanted was some support from her son, the day before she underwent surgery that she was not supposed to survive. I told her no. I told her that I was tired, and that I didn’t want to go with her. The reality was that I was sick, and I needed my fix.
This was my Mother. The woman who taught me compassion. The woman who taught me how to grow a garden and who gave me my passion for literature. This was the woman who showed me off as her greatest achievement. The woman who had overcome so much in her life. Who raised two kids on welfare and put herself through nursing school and who saved peoples lives. This wasn’t just any person. This was my Mom. The woman who made me, and I told her no.
She left for her appointment, I snorted my pill. I felt the sickness leave my body, and I felt shame like I never felt before.
I knew then I needed help, but I didn’t know what to do. Eventually my Uncle and my Dad cornered me, and talked to me straight up about what was going on. Everyone already knew, I just needed someone to extend themselves. After that moment with my Mom, I hated myself. Since that day, things have been getting better all the time.
I had a short lived relapse about 5 months in, but it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t even a bottom, it was more of a “well this sucks” type deal. I knew at that point that getting high would never be the same. I had tasted sobriety, and the drugs lost their magic. I needed that bottom. My Mom survived the surgery. She still has some serious issues with her mobility, but she is alive. I try every second to pay her back for what I took from her that day. I took from everyone.
That week in Cali was hell on earth. I kicked so hard, for so long. I couldn’t stay still, but it hurt to walk. I couldn’t eat, but I was always so hungry. I was useless to everyone that needed me. That will never happen again. When we deal with people that need treatment, you can always tell if they haven’t hit a bottom yet. Our team will be talking to people on the phone that obviously need help, but they just aren’t ready. They haven’t felt enough pain yet. When that moment finds you, don’t ever forget. Keep that bottom close, because it will keep you from picking up. When push comes to shove, when a beer gets pushed in from of me and I imagine myself slugging that cold brew, I think of that week in Cali. I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone. For me, that is what I needed. I am grateful for my bottom. It got me where I am today.
For me, this has all been a chance for redemption. Everyone likes a good comeback story!
If you or a loved on is struggling with addiction, call Sober Nation today! We will help you. 866-317-7050.