addiction, Consequences, Recovery

My Story, Part Two.

(originally posted to Tumblr August 14, 2014)

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I began the 1992 fall semester at the NC State College of Design, majoring in graphic design – 60 total students accepted out of almost 3,000 applicants.

When I moved into my dorm, the first thing to appear wasn’t my class schedule, but credit card applications. Close to 10 of them, before I had even used the key to open the mailbox. By the end of my first year in college I would have 4 cards. I was not broke like my fellow “Design-O’s”…I worked 30 hours a week and always made my minimum payments. They gave me power – and they were my first addiction. I used them so frequently that I had to sell the bulk of my CD collection to make minimum payments. I also had to sell the first guitar that my mom had bought me. Despite all this, American Express sent me a Gold Rewards plus card with $1,000,000 in travel insurance. I thought I was hot shit, but riddle me this: what business does any 19-year-old have with a Gold Amex Card?

My senior year in high school I ended up dating a young lady who was a foreign exchange student from Colombia, South America. We dated over the summer, but of course she had to go back to her home country. I made a promise to visit her, so I bought a plane ticket to Colombia. Close to $1,000 in 1992. I emptied my savings account and sold my video game system and all the games to do it. I would not leave until December, so most of my semester was consumed thinking about the trip. I could never keep my mind on where I was – everything I cared about was far away. Not by default – by design. Here was this wonderful person, whom I loved – yet who I knew would eventually be thousands of miles away ebfore we even started dating. Maybe it was unconscious, maybe not. I spent hundreds on long-distance phone calls. Clearly my parents’ divorce had a profound impact on my view of relationships.

I should’ve asked questions about that, but I never knew to ask in the first place. I had never received any treatment or therapy.

That December after my first semester, I flew to visit her in South America and spent close to 3 weeks there. It was one of the most life changing experiences I’d had up to that point. My girlfriend’s family was beyond kind to me, and took me across the country. So much different, so much the same. It was also the second time I would take a drink – “Aguardiente” (“Agua” + “ardiente”) loosely translated “firewater” – which I begged people not to give me. But trying to explain your family background when you’re surrounded by 20,000 people who don’t speak your language, all dancing and celebrating Christmas with …Aguardiente …is difficult. I took a few sips and immediately spit it out. I hated it. She and I decided to end our relationship on good terms, and I came back to the US feeling empty. I also had to face a crazy roommate who ultimately threatened me with physical violence. I moved out of the room quickly while he was at tennis practice, and saw him only one time after that.

I would be in two more long distance relationships after that, one at the end of my sophomore year to a young woman who lived in Virginia and had to go home for the summer, and the other beginning the summer after my junior year. I had begun playing in my first college band toward the end of my junior year, and was introduced to her at a band practice. As with all things, I had my mind set on her. She was attending Cornell, and I spent about a quarter to a third of my semester in Ithaca. She was also the girl I lost my virginity to. When I learned that my father – who had told me for the majority of my life that sex before marriage was a sin – had moved in with my stepmother-to-be prior to getting married, I decided that if he could do it, I could do it. My father and got into a huge fight about it, which of course made our relationship more tenuous.

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I had been very involved in church since my freshman year, but many of my opinions and my taste in loud rock and electronic music did not serve me well there. I was frequently ostracized and decided I was done with religion. Now I was free, and all possibilities were open to me.

I also met my first drinking buddy, Yancy, who was just over four feet tall and suffered from a bone condition called O.I., which caused his bones to break easily. He could drink anyone I knew under the table. My third drinking experience took place in his dorm room, and it was the first time I would be drunk, two months before my 21st birthday. I was hungover for almost 24 hours. My head against the toilet bowl, I remember crying “I’m going to turn out just like my mom.”

I graduated college summer of 1996. As with the first 18 years, I’d dealt with a staggering amount of change in a short period of time. I now had a stepmother and step-siblings. The band had broken up. My faith in God had been deeply shaken. I was $8,000 in credit card debt and still working the same job I’d had as a freshman. I had broken up with my last girlfriend, the one I lost my virginity to, after finding out she had cheated on me. Really, what was I expecting? We were both so young, so far apart, and I was still as insecure and jealous as I had been in high school. In addition, I was drinking on a regular basis. Four years and I had learned nothing. The shadow of the divorce, the dissolution of my family and my mother’s alcoholism hung like a cloud over everything.

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During recording sessions for our band’s first album, I learned our engineer was as interested in electronic dance music as I was, and he began to teach me audio production. In fact, he had lived in Chicago during the early days of “house music” in the mid-1980s. I had discovered rave parties as a college sophomore in 1994, and though I loved the music I didn’t get the scene. Ironically, I was frightened by the drugs and the drama they brought. I began working my first job as a “computer graphics assistant” at Kinko’s and for 6 months, immersed myself in the rave scene while writing my first solo electronic album. I nearly went broke writing it and was close to 3 months behind on rent before it was finished. I also had my first experiences with ecstasy and marijuana at that time – but never seemed to experience the effects everyone else was. I decided to leave “drugs” behind and stick solely with drinking (clearly not a drug in my mind, because for me it was legal) – for almost nine years.

I finally got a “real” job as a graphic designer for IBM and worked there for 3 years. It was there I learned just how much I truly hated Powerpoint, and took my early steps into basic web design. In April 1998 I finished my first CD and had 1,000 physical copies pressed – we were still in the days before mp3 distribution. I was able to license my music for the first time, for use on MTV’s Real World. The album was called “breakup,” and as I had just begun DJ-ing in earnest, DJ FM became my stage name. So began my struggle between having a job “to pay the bills” and performing music “for the love.” In the process of purchasing new musical equipment, I began to go further into credit card debt and my drinking definitely increased.

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By Late 1999 I had begun a new job with a new company in North Carolina, and within a year I had begun yet another long-distance relationship with a young lady in Baltimore. The long drives got to me, and after a year I hurriedly decided to move to Baltimore. I found a job and an apartment, and even though I kept hearing this voice in the back of my mind telling me it was a bad idea, I felt i had no choice but to go through with it.

A side note: one of Janet Woititz’s “13 Characteristics of ACOAs” is as follows:
13. Adult children of alcoholics are impulsive. They tend to lock themselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternative behaviors or possible consequences. This impulsively leads to confusion, self-loathing and loss of control over their environment. In addition, they spend an excessive amount of energy cleaning up the mess.

Clearly, I had fallen right in line with that pattern.

Not surprisingly, within one week of moving there and beginning my job, she ended the relationship. Fortunately, my college friend Yancy was in Maryland as well working for the Navy, so I frequently drove down to visit him – where I drowned my sorrows in alcohol and he was all too happy to join me. Within two months, I had been let go from my job. Unable to pay my credit card debt, I found myself receiving calls from bill collectors day after day after week after month.

And then September 11th happened. Scared about further terrorist attacks, with no money, no job, and crestfallen about the relationship, I decided it was time to head back home. Driving back to my apartment in Baltimore to get the rest of my stuff, I drove past the Pentagon – which was still smoldering.

I lived with my mom for a short time, then managed to get my own apartment – a small room which I lovingly referred to as the Treehouse (part of Little Lake Hill). I took a job in Raleigh, but the boss was abusive and eventually the company went under. Still drinking, I was arrested for my first DUI in January of 2002, and convicted June 26th. I was once again broke, unable to pay rent, had no drivers license and was now $23,000 in credit card debt. One step away from bankruptcy, in desperation I entered credit counseling. This would be my first “come to jesus” moment, as I sat in the counselor’s office and with a pair of scissors, cut up all my credit cards. I also accepted a position in Wilmington, NC and was able to get a provisional license which would allow me to travel to and from work. I had stopped the bleeding for the time being – yet I was still drinking. My father and I got into a huge argument about my drinking and he kicked me out of the house that Christmas 2002, furthering the rift between us. My resentments had a body count.

Sadly, in February of 2003 my friend Yancy was killed in a drunk driving accident. He was returning home from the same bar in Maryland which we had visited time and time again. It truly broke my heart – what his bone condition hadn’t done in 26 years, a drunk driving accident took from him in seconds. Warning signs were all around me but I didn’t heed them. I was too heartbroken to care.

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I spent the next 5 years in credit counseling, paying down my massive credit card debt while dodging bankruptcy. My license was reinstated in June of 2003, and moved from Wilmington back to Raleigh at the end of 2003. I spent the next 4 years working for different ad agencies specializing in advertising for the real estate industry, which at the time was flourishing because of the “bubble.” I had partnered with a friend and we began DJ-ing at a new club on Glenwood Avenue, an area of Raleigh which was being gentrified from abandoned warehouses to living spaces, restaurants and clubs. It was high profile. I was still drinking, but my DUI was behind me and I was getting ever closer to paying down my credit card debt. I had been seriously dating someone for close to a year and a half. I also joined a band which I was a part of for over a year. I felt like my life was really starting to pick up.

Then the summer of 2007 happened.

After a disagreement with the lead singer, I quit the band and began DJ-ing more than ever. The young lady I had been dating and I split up, about as amicably as you could – we are still friends. I made my last payment to the credit counseling service, and was no longer knee-deep in debt. I began a new job in nearby Chapel Hill making double the money I had been. I started living with a long-time friend who had been a former co-worker at Kinkos, and also a raver who was plugged in to online drug sources. Between my love of alcohol, and his love for and ability to get drugs, I joked once that we had a cottage industry. I was single, newly employed, out of debt, rich (for me), and DJ-ing everywhere. This was the beginning of the end.

That summer I was reintroduced to ecstasy after a 9-year hiatus from drugs of any kind (save for alcohol), and I was floored. It worked, and it worked in a big way. I finally understood what everyone had been telling me. It was an “ah ha” moment. Ecstasy (MDMA) is essentially a really powerful SSRI – instead of intermittent doses to your frontal cortex, Ecstasy tells your brain “HAVE IT ALL!” I began to realize that there was a level of communication which I’d been missing my entire life. And while the vast majority of my experiences with ecstasy were simply “chasing the dragon” and “pushing the envelope,” I have to say that Ecstasy made me aware of a world of openness and caring that I had been missing – one which I now happily experience without the benefit of substances. But there you have it. Without Ecstasy, I would’ve never known it existed.

I was also introduced to a club drug called GBL – a prodrug of GHB which had first been popularized in the UK. It combined the buzz of alcohol with the body buzz of ecstasy. Of all the substances I have taken in my life, it was my “crack,” my “heroin,” the drug I would have stolen for, lied for…and all I had to do was order it online. Many underground websites in Europe sold it. I would use my credit card, and in two weeks it was at my door. No street dealers, no cops, no nothing. A great buzz delivered via air mail. Like GHB, it was also ridiculously easy to OD on if you weren’t careful when you took it.

My drug use and my alcohol use were beginning to skyrocket in parallel. In February I was introduced to the woman I’d be dating for the next 5 years. She was beautiful, smart as a whip and had a huge heart. Coming from the west coast, she introduced me to Burning Man, the culture of “burns” and the lifestyle. I introduced her to how cheap drugs were on the east coast, and we became partners in crime. Competitive and never to be outdone, she matched me shot for shot, pill for pill, dose for dose. We partied weekend after weekend, and together eventually went to Burning Man in 2008. We agreed when we got home that we would slow our use, but it didn’t happen. It accelerated. And as our “honeymoon” phase wore off, the drugs and our personal and emotional issues took their toll. We were fighting quite often and the only times it seemed we weren’t is when we did ecstasy together.

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I began January of 2009 collecting unemployment. I spent 9 months at home. Getting drunk, getting high, still going out night after night. All while my girlfriend was at her job. I sank deeper and deeper into my own little world, and eventually she nagged me into accepting a new job, which I was absolutely not in any shape to take on. I also had one of the worst, most cutting, critical and mean direct supervisors I’d had the pleasure of working with. That, combined with my daily drug and alcohol use made life a nightmare.

September 29, 2009, I was let go from my job. Depressed, I dosed myself on GBL. 3 hours later, I found myself in the parking lot of a convenience store one county over, with 3 police cars behind me. Since I hadn’t been drinking, I blew a zero on the breathalyzer. But they had probably cause to arrest me considering my behavior, and they confiscated my conical of GBL. I spent the afternoon in a holding cell, and missed a couples counseling session with my girlfriend. When I bailed myself out and made it home, she hid the GBL from me. I, of course, found it and began using it again, along with alcohol. A little more than 2 weeks later I ended up overdosing on it at a friend’s house and spent 4 days in the hospital. This friend, the same friend I had lived with during the “salad days” of my using – who had performed CPR on me and kept me alive long enough for the paramedics to show up – was taken into custody and had my drugs pinned on him, even though he was completely innocent of any charges. Unconscious, I could do nothing to speak on his behalf. I found all of this out when I woke up in the emergency room.

All of this took place in less than 3 weeks.

A month later, I was sleeping on his floor, drinking in secret, once again going broke and facing $25,000 in hospital bills – with no health insurance. Even after trying to get individual coverage, BCBS denied me because of “pre-existing conditions.” I was separated from my girlfriend and was doing nothing. He discovered I’d been drinking in secret, and took me to Wake County Alcoholism Treatment Center, where his girlfriend at the time waited with me for close to 5 hours before a bed opened up. She had to fill out the forms for me, as my hands were shaking so badly I couldn’t fill them out myself – the early stages of delerium tremens (or the “DT’s”).

This was two days before Thanksgiving, 2009. 

This was rock-bottom.

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You can read Part One of my story here:
https://mylaststand.org/2016/10/19/my-story-part-one/

Or, read Part Three:
https://mylaststand.org/2016/10/24/my-story-part-three/

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addiction, Adult Child of an Alcoholic, Recovery

My Story, Part One.

(originally posted on Since Right Now, July 31, 2014)

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I WAS BORN IN DANVILLE, PA ON NOVEMBER 6, 1973, THE SON OF TWO UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS.

I’d grown up on university campuses and around academics for the majority of my early life. My father accepted a job with NC State University in 1976, so we moved – and save for two self-imposed moves on my part (one to Baltimore, MD, and one to Wilmington, NC), I’ve lived and worked in the Triangle area of central NC for most of my life. North Carolina truly is my home.

For the first 12 years, things were pretty typical. While my parents certainly weren’t well off, I never wanted for anything. There was always food to eat, a roof over my head, and I always felt loved. As an only child, I was spooled rotten, and rarely if ever was asked to do chores. As early as I can remember I was anxious, my hands always had a slight tremor, and frequently I would bite my fingernails and wring my hands. I had stage fright which only seemed to worsen as I entered adolescence. I was also terrible at athletics, though my dad desperately tried to teach me baseball and basketball. I was painfully shy and introverted, living most of my life in my own head and imagination. Ultimately, this imagination provided me an escape – writing stories, drawing, listening to tons of music, and making animations on one of the earliest Apple Macintosh computers, which my father purchased in 1985.

I HAD RARELY IF EVER SEEN MY PARENTS DRINK, AND CERTAINLY NEVER SAW MY PARENTS DRUNK. 1986 CHANGED ALL THAT.

My mom had begun teaching at a prestigious private school in Raleigh, which I had the (mis)fortune of being able to attend because I was her son. She began attending faculty functions where alcohol was served, functions which my Dad really didn’t enjoy. So he and I would frequently go see movies whenever my mom went out. On one particular occasion my dad and I came home to find mom’s car parked sideways in the driveway. Scared, we both went inside and found her sitting indian style on the floor, blackout drunk (which I didn’t understand at the time). The only example of a drunk person I’d ever seen was Otis from “The Andy Griffith Show.” This was quite different. The next day my parents sat me down, my mom explained what happened, and that it wouldn’t happen again.

THIS WAS A PROMISE THAT WOULD BE BROKEN OVER AND OVER.

I also became aware during this time that my mom had begun a relationship with one of the other teachers, who happened to be a woman. My parents were fighting quite often, and I couldn’t parse any of it. My mom couldn’t possibly be gay, I thought, because I *existed*. I was “proof,” right? I simply had no understanding, and no one was explaining anything to me. I would frequently sit at the top of the stairs holding the cat, listening to them yell. One Saturday morning, my dad came downstairs as I was watching cartoons and told me mom was moving out. He probably remembers what he said better than I do, and I can’t imagine how hard that must’ve been for him. It wasn’t until much later in life that I would understand all of my mom’s struggles. What I know for certain is that within a year of seeing my mom drunk for the first time, my family – such as I had known it – was over. I would never trust or rely on the idea of “family” the same way again.

I began doing things which were very uncharacteristic for me. Back in public school, I came close to failing the 8th grade and to conceal the fact, began forging my dad’s signatures on official school documents so that he wouldn’t find out. I also began shoplifting, mostly CDs and porn magazines. All of this came to my dad’s attention at different times, and while he was very, very angry with me for it he never seemed to take it as a warning sign that something in me was changing, and not for the better. I never saw a therapist, was never told to go to one, and was never made to attend an Alanon meeting. To the best of my knowledge, neither did he. We did, however, start going to church – which I began to immerse myself in as time went on.

I was able to turn things around in high school, got my grades back up to A’s and B’s, and started playing trumpet in the marching band. I was bullied almost daily by a popular upperclassman, which made high school a scary place to be. No matter who I told, no one seemed able or inclined to do anything. But no matter how scared, anxious or hurt I was, I never picked up a drink. Friends would periodically offer them to me, but I turned them down flat. After seeing what had happened with my mom, I wanted no part of it – for the time being. She began reaching out to me, so that we could begin rebuilding our relationship. One day after school, probably in 1990, I’d gone over to her apartment to rest, and sitting on her dining room table were the divorce papers. It had been finalized in 1988, but no one had told me. What I realized at that moment was until I’d seen those papers, there was a tiny part of me that had always hoped my parents would get back together. No longer.

My dad and I also had a strained relationship at times, and no wonder. We were two angry men – one of whom had lost a wife, the other a mother – living in a big, empty house which for my dad probably represented everything he hoped their marriage would be. Now, it was an albatross around his neck. And neither of us were getting any help for our pain, save for church. I was also a latch-key kid, because my father had to teach sometimes until 7pm. By the time he got home he was tired and probably not in the mood to deal with a teenager. Sometimes, I would be the typical smartass adolescent and start arguments, sometimes my dad would just be in a foul mood and lose his temper. So while I kept my grades up and kept quiet, I confided in him less and less as time went by. The only times I knew for certain that we would be okay (i.e.. not arguing) were on Sundays. Church, it seems, brought us together – more for the shared experience of it than the spirituality I think. But my dad always did his best to explain and discuss scripture with me, and we prayed together nightly.

My mom bought me my first guitar at age 16 and I began listening to very loud, angry metal music. It was an ideal release for me and I still play guitar to this day, at least an hour a day. I also met my first girlfriend in high school, which was a transformative experience to say the least. The night I called her up to ask her out, she had been drinking. Her parents allowed her to drink alcohol as long as she and her friends remained in the house. Again, I never partook and was always very clear about it. We broke up at least 3-4 times that I’m aware of – but such is the nature of high school relationships. With all my “mommy issues” I imagine I was an insecure mess to say the least.

The night of my high school graduation, some friends and I went out and snuck into a local pool which, at 10pm, was locked up. So we scaled the fence. They’d brought some vodka and sprite with them, which I broke down and took a few sips of. I don’t recall feeling anything, nor did I really like what I was tasting. My dad found out and the next day and confronted me. He told me the following, unequivocally:

“SOME DAY, YOU’LL BE OLD ENOUGH TO BUY ALCOHOL, AND WHEN THAT DAY COMES YOU’LL HAVE A CHOICE TO MAKE. I HOPE YOU WILL CHOOSE NOT TO, BUT IT WILL BE YOUR CHOICE. HOWEVER, GIVEN YOUR FAMILY HISTORY AND YOUR GENETIC MAKE-UP, IF YOU CHOOSE TO DRINK YOU ARE PLAYING WITH FIRE!”

By my senior year I had already tuned out his warning messages, and the messages of my mother. I didn’t trust or care about either of their opinions. In my eyes they could barely keep their own lives and sanity together, and college was my first opportunity to try my own hand at living life. I was a ticking time-bomb: insecure; naïve; self-righteous; and under a *lot* of pressure to perform. I was already adept at lying and stealing – no drugs or alcohol required.

When I moved into my dorm, I snapped a “selfie” on an old Pentax K-1000. This picture would represent the last time either of my parents could reach me.

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Read part Two of my story here >

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addiction, Adult Child of an Alcoholic, Consequences, Recovery

Adult Child.

(originally posted to tumblr Feb 5th, 2014 – revised, edited and re-written)

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In addition to being an alcoholic and addict myself, I am also the “adult child of an alcoholic.” So what does that look like? During the early part of my life the only drug I had ever seen with my own two eyes was alcohol. It was mass media that gave me my first inklings of drugs other than alcohol. My parents drank wine occasionally, but I never saw beer or liquor in the house.

As a kid in the mid-1980s, crack cocaine was all over the news, and “just say no” was the catch-phrase of the moment. I can tell you for a fact that my parents had no access to crack cocaine, wouldn’t have known where to buy it, and probably wouldn’t have been able to buy it from a street dealer even if they wanted to.

Of course, crack wasn’t the only drug I’d learned about through the media. The first time I’d heard of LSD was the case of Jeffrey MacDonald, a clean-cut Green Beret and doctor who was convicted in 1979 of killing of his pregnant wife and their two daughters. He himself blamed the killings on Charles Manson-like hippies doped up on LSD. He was first indicted by a North Carolina grand jury in 1975, so the case was all over the local news, and spawned the book “Fatal Vision.”

I didn’t know what LSD looked like, didn’t know what it did, and knew of no one I could buy it from. However, based on what I’d heard from those many news reports, I thought I “knew” two things:
– LSD makes you want to kill people.
– Hippies are dangerous.

That remained my impression for many, many years. In my real-world experience, I have found neither to be remotely true. All of it seemed so far removed from me.

The only “drunk” person I’d ever seen up to that point was Otis of “The Andy Griffith Show.” He seemed silly, clumsy, and I could never understand why he would go to the courthouse and lock himself in jail – all the while the TV sitcom laugh track running in the background. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized he was doing for the sheriff what the sheriff would’ve done anyway: lock him up so he could sleep off the booze.

None of this is reality. But I was about to face reality for the first time.

I had never seen either of my parents drunk until 1986. My mom had gone to a faculty function at the private school where she taught, and my dad and I went to see the movie “Gung Ho” with Michael Keaton. It was a typical mid-1980s movie about American superiority over other world cultures, and this case the Japanese and car manufacturing. We both enjoyed it a lot, and it was during those trips to the movies that I really got to know my dad for the first time. We drove home laughing all the way.

(Side note: it was through watching movies that I was first able to find ways of coping with cravings for alcohol and drugs in early recovery.)

Once we got home, the laughter came to swift end. My mom’s car was parked to the left of the driveway, diagonally and very close to the lone tree in the middle of our front yard. Dad and I looked at one another, and were both concerned (read: terrified). When we walked into the house, I called out “Mom? Mom?” Her response was delayed…”I’m right here.” It was faint, and at first I thought I heard it coming from the living room. So we went into the living room, and she was not there.

“Where are you mom?”

“I’m right here,” her response again.

When Dad and I went upstairs, we saw my mom sitting indian-style on the bedroom floor, with a towel wrapped around her head. “Mom?” I said again. “I’m right here.” She thought that she was sitting in the bathtub taking a bath. She didn’t seem to be aware of where she was. I couldn’t understand the disconnect – did my mom not see me? Her eyes were sometimes closed, sometimes open, but she didn’t really seem to know I was there. It would be many more years before I saw another person who was black-out drunk, and several years after that before I’d find myself black-out drunk.

As with the fights my parents had during my childhood, my parents sat me down in the living room the morning after. My mom told me what had happened, that she’d had a mixed drink for the first time at the faculty party. That drink led to another, and before she knew it…you can probably extrapolate the rest. My guess it that it wasn’t the first time my mom had tasted a mixed drink. In any case, they reassured me that they loved me. This time, however, they promised me “it would never happen again.” Fights between parents were normal, drunkenness was not. As you can probably guess, her promise was broken time and time again.

All of it left me feeling sideways. I was still thinking about the version of my mom I’d seen the night before, thinking about Otis. It scared me to the core, and I remember thinking how wrong the media was in their portrayals of alcohol, drugs, and addiction. For me, this was the beginning of wisdom and betrayal.

For years I struggled with the pain of that moment. For years I imitated the examples I had been shown in both my parents: my mom, the active alcoholic trying to put her life together, slipping, getting back up, slipping; and my dad, the codependent and the rescuer, who also took some of his anger towards my mom out on me. At first, being terrified of alcohol, I was the rescuer – as well as wanting to be rescued myself. Neither of my parents really directed me towards any kind of therapy, so I had no idea that I was falling right into those typical self-destructive patterns. I honestly didn’t trust either of them anyway. They both seemed earth to me.

So once I finally gave in and indulged in my first drunk, I became the epitome of the walking wounded. I surpassed even my mom’s worst days, and over the course of 14 years probably consumed more drugs and alcohol that all the members of my family now living combined. I’m not proud of that. I wish my life could’ve gone any other way than it did. Today, I’m in long-term recovery and my life is better than it has ever been.

After I got sober the first time, my dad asked me, “what could I have done to prevent this from happening?” The simple fact is that an untreated ACOA is a ticking time bomb. Of course, there’s no guarantee that someone will go down that path. But the risk goes up exponentially, and in my case – even after years of fear being drilled into me, years of church, years of attempting to find friends in any social group that didn’t revolve around alcohol or drugs – ultimately I chose that path.

Scare tactics aren’t enough, fear isn’t enough, even love isn’t enough. If your child is the son or daughter of an alcoholic, and there has been trauma in the family, treatment is a necessity. Allow them to go to Alanon meetings, talk with them about their feelings, find a therapist they can talk to. And be active about it – not all therapists work with all kids, and not all support groups work for all people. Help them find the thing that works. Listen, be interested, be engaged – because while they are still young, they can still be reached.

Maybe we didn’t know in the 1980s the full extent of an ACOA’s dilemmas and struggles. But we know today. We have access to the sum total of human knowledge from our smartphones. Alanon meetings, therapists and help are a Google search away. We owe our children – our adult children – our best effort. To do anything less is to risk a life being caught up in the jaws of addiction.

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addiction, Podcast, Recovery, Uncategorized

Since Right Now.

Got to join the guys at SinceRightNow.com this past Wednesday 10/5 for a chat about recovery, music, yoga, love, cross-stitching and…well…yeah, it was a good time. You should check out the link below on Soundcloud:
https://soundcloud.com/klen-and-sobr/312-djfm-jon-g-djfm

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It’s not the only time I’ve been on Since Right Now…have a listen to my debut back in 2014!
https://soundcloud.com/klen-and-sobr/episode-18-jon-g-my-last-stand-dj-fm

That’s all for now…enjoy the rest of your weekend!

JG

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Altruism, Recovery

Test.

carwreck1923

2-3 days ago I was out walking my dog. Ahead of me I saw people pushing a broken down SUV. I thought about walking the other way – why? Because if I were to stop and help, I’d have to attempt to tie the dog to a light post. Boots (my dog) has gotten off his leash before and is hard to catch. So do I attempt to wrap his leash around a post and help, but risk him running away? Do I turn around, take boots home and come back to help? Do I simply walk past?

I chose to walk past, assuming they would understand. One of the men pushing told the driver “there’s a dog behind the truck.”

I don’t give a fuck,” was the driver’s response. Clearly he was angry about his vehicle breaking down – but fuck his shit for wanting to hurt my dog.

14446118_10153835749282109_2595956819241902373_n(Really bro? You want to hurt mah dawg?)

Being the traditionally non-confrontational person that I am, as I passed I simply apologized for getting in their way. The driver, in a resentful and acerbic tone, said “thanks for your help.” All the things I’d thought about above, about Boots, about taking him home, tying him up, helping, all rushed through my mind. I was pissed off and wanted to explain myself to the driver. He was physically pretty imposing, and I didn’t want to start anything.

For days, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Pissed off at the driver’s attitude, my own indecision, second-guessing myself. It was awful. This is what my mind does to itself, regardless of the size of the situation. My girlfriend and I have a disagreement, and my brain goes into overdrive, panic… “rushing thoughts” I believe is what they call it.

So last night, the exact same scenario took place, just a different house and different driver. I was out walking Boots very late, and I watched a beat up old Honda Civic roll down a steep driveway and bump the curb. I could hear the driver trying to turn the car over, to no avail.

As I was walking up the hill, he said “hey man, can you give me a hand?”

I had the same debate with myself, for about 5 seconds. I said “sure, no problem.”

I tied Boots to the light post, and helped the guy get his car off to a running start. He had just installed a new starter, but it was a lemon. He reached his hand out the door and said “what’s your name?”

“Jon,” I said, shaking his hand.

“I’m James – man, thank you! Thank you so much. Now I can get to work!”

“No problem man, I know exactly where you’re at,” I said. And I did. I’ve had so many problems with cars over the years, either because of lack of maintenance/accidents/battle damage from my time in active addiction, or simple bad luck.

The moral of this story isn’t “Lord, it’s a miracle!” Is it coincidence that these two breakdowns occurred in my neighborhood within 2 days of each other…sure, probably. I’m out walking my dog all the time, and I bet that sort of thing happens once a day. Is it from my “higher power”? That depends on the individual, and I’m certainly not here to assign divinity. If you choose a spiritual path in recovery, there are infinite possibilities and we all must choose our own.

But it is a lesson, and it’s a lesson that life gave me another chance to learn.

I believe the lesson is this: altruism is impartial and consistent. If I see someone in need, and there is indeed something I can do for them – even if I have to plan for 20-30 seconds about what to do ahead of time – then I should.

The simple fact for me is that approaching strangers is hard for me. Why? Because I am afraid. Afraid of small talk. Afraid of conversation. Afraid they’ll get to know me. Afraid of what they might do to me. Afraid they’ll want to maintain contact with me. Afraid of losing something in the process of giving to someone else. Afraid of my dog running away. Just afraid.

Our media, our culture, our environment in this country has long taught us to fear the “other.” That fear (or at least mistrust) was first instilled in me by family, then in school, then in life. What I continue to learn in recovery is that I have a lifelong calling to be of service. I would believe that whether I was a 12-stepper or not (I am). A person in need, whether in recovery or not, is a person in need.

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addiction, Recovery

#RecoveryPosse

The one, the only, the G.O.A.T…originally posted to tumblr August 7, 2014:
http://djfmdotcom.tumblr.com/post/94124796592/rp

 

Who says recovery can’t be fun? (or viral). Made these last night and will continue adding to them. Please share, I don’t care where 🙂

FYI: this is what graphic designers in recovery do when they’re really bored 🙂

LETS DO THIS #RECOVERYPOSSE!

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(RIP Gene Wilder)

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