My name is Marv, but I go by "One Rep Marv" for the help I give to the recovery community in fitness and recreation.
My clean date is June 22, 2013!
I am a 30-year-old male living in sunny Southern California. I identify as a recovering alcoholic-addict; although when left to my own devices I am a self-loathing narcissist, a procrastinating-perfectionist, a self-victimizer, a self-saboteur, a liar, a cheat, a thief, and quite frankly…a total and utter train-wreck.
With such a lovely introduction don’t you wish you knew me personally?!? So, the question I get a lot these days is when did I know I was a drug addict-alcoholic?
That’s easy… I pretty much knew immediately the first time I ever got drunk I was going to have a problem with it. I may not have exactly phrased it in my mind as, “Oh boy this going to be a problem.” but rather, “This….solves…..eeeeeeeeeverything!”
It fixed everything for me – I became smarter, sexier, more confident, able to talk to girls fearlessly, able to escape from the “uncomfortability” of being me; you name a problem and alcohol solved it.
Reflecting on my life today, I know I exhibited alcoholic-addict thinking long before I ever picked up that first drink or drug.
While I firmly believe that I didn’t come out of the womb as someone full of self-loathing and self-hatred; somehow I learned those behaviors at such a young age they became engrained in me as my natural state of being. I was beyond uncomfortable in my own skin, I had zero sense of personal identity, and my first escape from my reality was intense day-dreaming to a scope I still don’t fully comprehend.
I couldn’t explain why, but I just felt, different, than my peers. I didn’t fit in, I didn’t relate.
Because of this I constantly sought out validation from whomever would happen to give it to me for whatever reason they were willing to give it to me.
On top of this I had some pretty serious medical problems that resulted in several major surgeries by the time I started 8th grade with a total of 9 operations and a head injury by the time I was 22 years old.
These surgeries and medical issues taught me the power of playing the victim in order to get sympathy from others.
While my personal life as a child was a mess, my family life was not.
I grew up in an upper middle class, religious family with heavily involved loving parents and a younger sister.
As you can see the disease of addiction has no bias, it does not discriminate: it does not care if you are white, black, brown, green, purple, rich, poor, have divorced parents, single parent, loving parents, religious up-bringing, agnostic up-bringing, live in the first-world, live in the third-world; it simply does not care.
My family environment was extremely anti-drinking, -drugging, -sex, -profanity. You name it! If it wasn’t a value on Leave it to Beaver it wasn’t supported in our household.
Well, I rebelled against this, and I rebelled hard.
At seventeen years old, I took my first drink. Shortly after that came my first drug. And then, within a year I was drinking and using hard drugs daily before I even graduated high school.
Before flunking out of college my freshman year, I got in way over my head with the wrong crowd and quite frankly am lucky to have made it out alive.
I was sent to an outpatient program where I “got off the hard stuff” which was good enough for me at the time – “everyone drinks at my age right????”
Casual drinking and the using of “milder” drugs slowly escalated as feelings of inadequacy, isolation, and ineptitude started to take hold once again.
My early twenties were complicated, to say the least.
I was now back at a four-year university, and as one of the “rules” I had set in place, in order to justify my daily drug use and blackout drinking, was to get perfect grades (I was only allowed to use certain drugs however, because these were the “safe” drugs).
“I work hard to party harder,” was my motto.
"I work hard to party harder."
Without going into detail, let’s just say that my disease of addiction has many faces, and as I was living on my own, with no reason to even attempt to keep those in check, I was full bore with my party lifestyle and all that it entailed. During this time, I portrayed an image of confidence bordering on cockiness, yet inside I was petrified.
Petrified people would realize I wasn’t as cool or smart or funny as they thought. Petrified people would realize I was nothing but a scam artist and a fake. It was false-pride encapsulating self-loathing and it was the only way I knew to exist.
Well, I got those good grades that I needed to prove to my family I was doing ok. And I got that nice fancy car to show how awesome I was. And the cool party house, the fancy gadgets, the muscles, and whatever else I thought would impress people because I still so desperately needed validation from others to make myself feel okay.
Unless I found that validation the only other way I knew how to make myself feel okay was to get loaded, and that’s exactly what I did.
I vividly remember having my whiskey glass, my bottles of pills, my bong, and my syringe all out in front of me – emptying them all into my body one by one – then riding my bicycle to the university to go perform experiments in the exercise physiology lab as I was a Kinesiology major.
That’s right, I was studying how to repair and heal the human body, yet this was how “well” I treated myself.
I was insanely comfortable with it all, because those toxins were the only way I could shut the voice of addiction up inside my head.
The voice of self-doubt, the voice of self-punishment, the voice of negativity, inferiority, and fear.
If I ever once talked to a friend the way I talked to myself, that person would have surely slapped me or immediately erased me from their contacts list on their phone.
Well long story short, while I graduated that college with quite the impressive GPA (I turned my starting 1.75 GPA into a 3.68 GPA overall); I went off the rails shortly after and landed in the lock-down unit of a psych ward in 2011.
There I was introduced to the concept of recovery, to the concept of the 12 steps, to the concept of there being a better way to live.
Despite all the evidence proving that my only chance of basic SURVIVAL was to embrace recovery…I wasn’t ready just yet. No…being the smart, intelligent guy I was, I had those last few “theories.” “Theories” of why the only reason it got so bad was because events X, Y, & Z happened to me.
“Theories” of how I could drink and use like a gentleman in the future, because, “I learned my lesson.”
Well, let me tell you those theories failed miserably over the coming years, one by one.
During this time, I was back to leading a two-faced life – I was a secretary at 12 step meetings. I was “dirty”, I took “dirty” tokens, and I worked “dirty” steps.
Once again I was afraid to live, yet too scared to die. But, finally on June 22, 2013 I finally found my GOD – the “Gift of Desperation” – and I reached my bottom.
I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the day I finally admitted I was beat, that my disease had won and I was ready to finally surrender, ready to not pick or choose what parts of the program I was going to follow, or why a certain substance was fine to use, or why I wasn’t utterly and completely powerless and unmanageable.
And now, more than three years later here I sit, a changed man, a recovered man; a new man.
Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of the 12 steps my life is completely different.
I have something resembling self-esteem, self-worth, self-respect.
I no longer beat myself up over trivial things (well, most days I don’t at least); I no longer hide behind excuses or play the victim.
I can look myself in the mirror and look into my eyes and recognize the person looking back.
As a result of all those wonderful things my life has changed and blossomed.
Failure is no longer the inevitable “shoe waiting to fall.”
A true sense of personal identity exists and freedom finally has a home.
Today I am blessed, and I am grateful for the fact I am that dirty, grimy, hopeless drug addict-alcoholic.
Had I not been that person in my past I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
The only thing I regret is the wreckage of my past; which is why I work so hard at making living amends on a daily basis, by treating people with respect and dignity, by holding my tongue, and offering a helping hand when I can.
NOTE: Yes there is a big flashing siren in my head right now screaming
“EGO ALERT! EGO ALERT! EGO ALERT!” Thank you.
Life has not been all skittle rainbows, winning lottery ticket numbers, velvet ropes, and red carpets (I am still waiting on all that thought!).
Life on life’s terms happens and we must face it, clean and sober, without returning to our old “crutches.”
In my recovery I’ve lost my mother, my significant other has been diagnosed with and in turn beaten breast cancer, I’ve broken bones, lost friends and family members, worked a humbling job diligently and to the best of my ability without calling in sick, and more recently quit my corporate job to start my own business attempting to tie fitness into recovery.
And I’ve faced all of that, clean, sober, and free.
The only substance I want to flow through my body is that of the natural high of living a recovered life.
Hopefully you agree that’s the right substance for you too. My name is Marv and I’m a Recovered Man!