Apr 29, 2014 | By Tim Stoddart

Tim’s Story

Personal Addiction Recovery Stories

tims story

I used to think I was so different. I used to believe no one understood me or could relate to me. I still feel different. I probably will always feel like an outsider, but I am not alone anymore.

My name is Tim. I was born in Philadelphia at Chestnut Hill Hospital. Every time I tell my story I always mention that I had very young parents. I think they were 18 when they had me. I realize now what a challenge that must have been. Sometimes I talk to my Dad about it, and I compare it to my own life. I am 27, and I still struggle sometimes to raise and care for my dog. I can’t imagine caring for a kid in my teens.

I have heard a lot of people claiming that they didn’t feel loved. I never felt that. I always knew my parents loved me. They did all they could for me. Again, looking back at it, I used to be so resentful towards my parents because I hardly saw them. My dad worked all the time, 80 hours a week sometimes, to keep us fed. We never went hungry, we always had clothes and sneakers. They always showed up to my soccer and lacrosse games. When you are young you think these things just magically appear, you expect food on the table and new clothes on the first day of school. I never realized the sacrifice my parents gave to raise me.

We moved to a tiny house in Oreland. We had a yard, and my mom had the most amazing vegetable garden. I had a kick ass setup in the basement where I would work out and play guitar. When it rained my room would flood a lot which kind of sucked, but the point is that my folks did everything they could to give me and my sister a happy home.

Regardless, somewhere I caught the bug. People always kind of freaked me out. My sister was and still is the only person who I feel completely comfortable around. I made some friends but was always uncomfortable around them. I got picked on a lot. I would get really nervous talking to girls. I just felt anxious… all the time. I spent most of my time alone. I would come home from school and jump right on my skateboard and spend hours skating around. I would run through Valley Green (a park in Philadelphia) or read comic books. Once I got to high school I still was awkward and insecure. My insecurities got me into a lot of fist fights, and violence and anger became sort of a coping mechanism for me. AA says that its the disease. I am not sure if I believe that or not, but I do know that I felt different. Who knows why.

First time I smoked pot I was 12. There was an old train track over a creek that we used to call “The Bridge.” I got my first taste there. The night was a bit of a blur, but I remember feeling like I found something that I could count on to make me feel better. It was all downhill from there.

My first arrest I was 15. I got busted for underage drinking by some undercover cops at a Weezer concert at the Spectrum. I never regretted it. Nights like that were worth the trouble I got into. I had to go to a drug counseling class called Aldersgate. I remember being so stoned the first class I almost had a panic attack. We went around the room and introduced ourselves and my heart was pounding. Luckily I was last to go. I look back now like… what the fuck was I thinking? I know now that I was so uncomfortable with myself that I felt like I needed to be high to talk to strangers. It’s hard to explain but it makes sense to me. Luckily I got away with it.

I continued with my drug use for years. It wasn’t until I found opiates that my life changed. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll do any drug. I love to drink. I love cocaine and Adderall. But the first time I felt the euphoria of opiates, I knew I had found what I was looking for.

It didn’t take long. Opiates move fast. They consume you. I was living with a girlfriend in Northeast Philly. I was 22 or so. I loved her a lot, but I just kept letting her down. She knew what she was getting into when we started dating. She knew I was a little wild, and she knew that I had a knack for getting myself into trouble. I think that added to the excitement for her a little. She actually grounded me a bit. I would quit for a week or even a month. I even told her about my addiction, and she still loved me and tried to help me. I was hopeless at the time, because I had nothing to believe in.

Funny story. There was a church across the street from our apartment. It was a Christian Church for North Koreans. Think about that for a second. I would sit on my stoop on Sundays with my dog. I would watch these Koreans go into the church. I would think about how ridiculous that whole concept was. Korean immigrants coming from a communist country to come to America and praise Jesus. It all was such a crock of shit to me. But I could hear them singing. It was beautiful. I would sit there and smoke blunts and listen to them sing. They would come out and I would watch them hug each other and smile. I don’t speak Korean so I couldn’t understand them, but it wasn’t difficult to figure out what they were saying.

I should have gotten it then… but I didn’t.

Here’s where it ended for me. My heart was dying. I couldn’t sleep. I would spend my nights at the corner of my bed with my elbows on my knees and my face in my hands. I would try to be as still as possible to not wake my girlfriend. I would stay up all night and meet my dealer at 5 am before he left for work. It was awful.

Out of the blue, my mother got very sick. She developed a brain disorder. She was going to die. We all flew out to Stanford in California for an emergency surgery. It was one of the most difficult three days of my life. I was withdrawing so bad. I couldn’t get comfortable anywhere. If I stood, or sat down, or laid down or walked around. My body wanted to come out of my skin. Hours later my mother miraculously survived the surgery. That was my bottom, because I could not be there for my family. For my sister. My whole family kept asking me if I was ok. I couldn’t deal.

When we got back to Philly my Dad and my Uncle confronted me. I knew that they knew. By that point my parents had been split up for years but my family has always been pretty tight. There was no hiding it. I was off to treatment the next day.

After treatment I moved to Florida to go to a halfway house. I came home about 5 months sober, and I had a short relapse. It was good for me though. I realized there was nothing left for me in Philly. I finally got the courage to leave it behind. I finally had the courage to have faith in something bigger then myself. On the flight back to Florida, I knew I was in it for the long haul. I knew the gig was up. I knew that just one tiny bit of any substance set off some kind of reaction in me, and I couldn’t stop. My whole life, I could never stop. I have never looked back.

Since that day, life has been indescribably wonderful. It’s not to say it wasn’t hard. My first year was awful. I had no money. At one point I had to walk around with peanut butter and jelly and loafs of bread cause its all I had to eat. I had to take a bus every day to work in a call center where I would front phone calls trying to sell debt settlement. Pretty much I got told to go fuck myself over and over again by people right before they hung up on me. I made 8 bucks an hour, but I showed up every day. I just kept showing up. I’m not even sure if what I was doing was legal, but I knew I had to keep showing up. I was always worrying about my mom and my family and how she was doing. They even sent me some money a few times and I felt so guilty because I should have been there helping my mom who still had health problems. I felt so guilty taking money from them because I knew they didn’t have it. I was seriously broken. I don’t know how I got through it.

Here is what my life has become.

Fear no longer holds me back. If I want to do something, I just do it. Doesn’t mean I am not afraid, but I have learned that fear is really an illusion. It’s not real. Fear is a liar. Most of the time, after I get through something that I was afraid of, I realize it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

I wake up every morning, in my own bed. My own apartment. My dog. I have plenty of money. The air feels cleaner, the sun feels warmer. Since I have been sober I have learned to try and see the beauty in all things. The world really is a beautiful place. Sobriety has given me a life that I never thought I deserved. I am free to live and love and feel, in a way that I wasn’t able to before. I don’t need drugs to escape. I can handle life as it comes to me. I can handle loss and pain and joy. Those things used to scare the shit out of me. I used to live in a constant state of fear. Even if things were going well, I would convince myself that something would go wrong, at any second the rug would be pulled out from under me.

These days, if the rug gets pulled out from under me, I just get back up. No big deal. I have a conception of God. I believe in the Universe, and I feel comfort in the fact that we all our just small pieces of an enormous interconnected flow of energy. I allow the Universe guide me. When I don’t fight, and I let the Universe take me where it will, things work a lot better.

I am happy. Most days I am content. Above anything, I am free.

38 responses to “Tim’s Story

  • Wow! Thank you for sharing ..a beautiful heartfelt story. May God continue to bless you

  • joey chinnici

    10 years ago

    Wow this is deep and almost me down to a mirror reflection !!! Only I’m just starting

  • carl lisk

    10 years ago

    great share ,reminds me of me today I have 3 years and 101 days ,.thank you God !

  • Im in my way once again!28 days sober!sounds like amovie In saw!

  • Dawna Elam

    10 years ago

    Thank You for your story. I have been sober May 6 will be 3 Years,But I have been in a dark place for a while.Stories like yours really bring me some light..Thank You and God Bless

  • Thanks for sharing ur story was really heart felt and inspiring

  • Wow! It is funny how someone do far away from u , difference in age total strangers , still I see so much of myself in your story . God bless you

  • Lauren DiTucci RN

    10 years ago

    I read your story to my patients on a substance abuse detox unit and I share it with all. You are the true definition of winning. No matter what, you keep going. I appreciate your openness and I am praying for you. Such beautiful honest words and humility. You are so blessed!

  • Thank you for this beautiful story. My cousin is going through this now. He is two years sober from an opiate addiction. Your story gives me hope that he can continue to lead a positive life like you are.

  • Wow: I wish my brother could think like this. Drunks are no fun to live with!

  • Thank you sooo much for sharing!!!! You basically took the words right out of my mouth, but said it much more eloquently that I could have!!! I have almost one year and I am starting to reap the rewards. Keep up the fantastic work – I’m told it only gets better and I’m hanging onto that!!!!!

  • Bridgette Mclean

    10 years ago

    You are an inspiration to me and many.. thank you so much for your story….I am going through this with my 21 year old daughter and thanks to Sober Nation and YPR with all there help… we are so trying to get her where she needs to be….I just pray she get’s it this time because it is a choice and you have to be ready….I am so glad for you and your family….<3

  • Bill Winn

    10 years ago

    Congratulations…there is nothing wrong with being different, just like there’s nothing wrong with being a drunk in recovery! Live the life you always wanted!

  • Thank you for sharing. My son is 22 and is going through this right now in a psyche ward. I believe your story is very similar to his. I am hoping when he is released he will agree to come stay with me so I can get him involved in sober groups near my place. If he stays where he is I am afraid he will fall back into the vicious circle expecting different results only to fall back into the same stuff. Thank you again, I would like to share your story with him.

  • Thank you so much for your story. I am 128 days sober and most days I don’t know how I’ve made it through that day. I keep telling myself it will get better it will get easier just keep holding on. I’m glad you’re still sober and that for whatever reason God placed thus story before my eyes tonight. Thank you.

  • Thanks for sharing, I’m on my 3rd month of sobriety after being a meth user for 10 years and to tell u the truth it feels awesome I just hope god keeps me strong. God bless u and thanks again.

  • WOW!! first of all. You r a strong person to stick in there like that,i hope I have the courage to become a stronger person like you . You give hope to those who seem like there’s NO tomorrow… THANKS !!

  • Thank you for sharing your story, my son is in recovery now, i just keep asking myself, what did i do wrong ? I never left his side, i have such a sence of piece now knowing hes in a safe place. Thank you again


  • Elizabeth

    10 years ago

    Wow. I, like you, have always felt I was so different from most everybody. Sad when I realized that the few people I have really felt connected with in the last several years, well they’ve died. All right around 50. When I turned 50, that caught my attention…heart attacks, but they drank like I did. That got me sober.

    Going into the rooms…finding out I was them, they were me…that’s helping to keep me sober. Thank you for telling your story, we were discussing our fear-driven lives just tonight. Plus, things are just all around pretty good these days!

  • Thank you for sharing your story. So different yet so much the same. God bless.

  • Kimberly Ann

    10 years ago

    I know it is not easy to share such personal information about addiction and the horrors it causes. I admire your courage to not only share this but also to express every aspect of the process. Congratulations on overcoming your addictions. If your post can help even just one person then bless them and bless you for sharing. The numbers are astonishing that approximately only 3% of opiate addicts without counseling, inpatient treatment, rehab, etc end up relapsing. Stay strong and be proud of you that you have overcome and now can appreciate the beauty of the simple things in life. Inspiring,truthful, and humbling recollection of events for others to hopefully steer away from or overcome their addictions as you did.

  • Kelly Fitzgerald

    10 years ago

    You are straight up AMAZIN. This line says it all “I am happy. Most days I am content. Above anything, I am free.” Thank you. 🙂

  • Thank you for sharing your recovery story! Incredible….I am so gloss you’re able to share with the world! Keep it up, you are a true inspiration!

  • Thanks for sharing you message my friend…. after two years of sobriety myself i kno at times it can be diffucult to do…. keep doin what your doin man you are truly an inspiration….

  • Stephanie

    9 years ago

    You hit the nail on the head!! “[F]ear is really an illusion. It’s not real. Fear is a liar. Most of the time, after I get through something that I was afraid of, I realize it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.” I LOVE it!! I wish I could convey this to my friends that still party every night. Thank you for sharing your story. <3

  • Thank you for sharing. I’m 96 days sober with days of grateful bliss and other days of painful darkness. Your story reminds me that it is, and will be a happier life sober.

  • What an AWESOME story, and brings back so many memories of my past until I finally found RECOVERY…..

  • Great article, Tim! That’s awesome that you’re now free of substances and feel that freeness. Thumbs up

  • Thank you for sharing your story man keep doing good I’m a month clean it feels great but I steal have a long way to go

  • Betty Oliver

    9 years ago

    Awesome share, thanx for sharing your experience, strength, hope, o.d.a.a.t

  • Carl L Medus

    7 years ago

    I can relate. 35 years of sober living and I can still relate. I struggled for years sober but stayed for the miracle.

    Carl M

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