It wasn’t always this way….
It wasn’t always a life with a gorgeous wife, who’s in the kitchen cleaning up from dinner while I sit in our cozy office room writing this inspirational article. I never used to have things to call my own, but, instead I was addicted to heroin and desolated from the normal day-to-day in society. Looking back on it all though, it did make me tougher. I remember times that I would come home to my trailer near Detroit and some of my things would be missing because my roommate was selling them to the dope man for crack. Or there was the fact that I was getting myself ready to end my final relapse, six years ago, and check into a halfway house. It wasn’t something I’d call ideal. But… six years ago I was homeless. And today, I am a homeowner, in a house that I call, “The House That Recovery Built!”
So let me break the ice here and get into some sappy, inspirational, and motivational speaking…
Today, I have been a homeowner for roughly one month. And in about ten days I’ll have been married for an entire year! It’s been a long time coming since the horrible place I was in six years ago, or even, a few years ago because of my early recovery and mental health. I’d gone from heroin, to cold turkey in the snap of a finger. Right then and there, I lost my house and my family. But, I was ready to work, and ready to make my life so much better. But all that I had to do was stay on top of being clean, sober, and bettering myself for recovery. Easy right? Haha! Nope.
The first few years of my recovery I was battling some mental health issues, not to mention I’d started my recovery from heroin at a morbidly obese body fat percentage and decided not eating was the way for me to heal. I’d then gone and dropped a massive amount of weight through battles with Anorexia and obsessive calorie burning, sweat in-fueled workouts. And I’m not saying that this was easy either, but the weight was shedding off me as the stretch marks were constant reminders of my past, and now current debate in life: “To eat and hurt, or, to not eat, and hurt?”
Because of my Anorexia I’d developed a serious deficiency in my immune system and been diagnosed with a full body nerve damaged illness—auto immune deficiency—that almost killed me. It was surely a wakeup call, but if you don’t know anything about auto-immune coupled with Anorexia it’s hard to get food down because your mind doesn’t want you to eat, and then if you do eat, the auto-immune attacks any foreign object you try to digest; causing more inflammation and damage to my nerves. But with the help of dieticians, a personal weight trainer, and a few trips to U-of-M’s Adult Psychiatric unit for hold I was learning to get better.
The psychiatric unit was no fun either but it was necessary for me to discover a part of myself without hurting that I couldn’t do anywhere else, or without the threat of suicide because of the pain and suffering I was enduring. It would be hard to say that if I wasn’t locked up during those times I wouldn’t have chosen my method of suicide as a purposeful overdose. And if you’re wondering that doesn’t make me weak, it just makes me human. Heck! It was all I’d ever known that got rid of the pain…
When the pain was gone and I was finally ready to begin a new life, now two years into my recovery, and substance free, I decided I’d try to finish college at a prestigious University two hours away from my old stomping grounds. The move was difficult as I tried to fit in while staying sober on a drunken campus. It was especially difficult to stay on top of studies without my father by my side, too. He was always great with resolving issues and my headaches! But, somehow I got myself through the University, without making too many friends besides the professors. But something even more remarkable happened.
I developed a name for myself at the University and pretty soon everyone started calling me, “Sir!” It was so weird, but, they respected that I’d now published my first book on my life story through addiction into mental health battles. Not many people, even the professors there, had done such a feat. But, I didn’t stop there! I soon met the love of my life who helped me start Substance For You and I was now a business owner in my last few years of college. It was hard for us though because she was 8,000 miles away in the Philippines for a while. But, the day that changed was the day that changed me into the best man I could be!
We married December 18th, 2015 and she was so fond of my stories she told me that was how she fell in love with me! By this time, Substance For You was nearing the end of its first year in helping people and I only had a semester and a half before I was finished with college! God! I know I wouldn’t have made it to that 8 A.M. class for my capstone unless Patricia (my wife) was there to get me up and make me breakfast! Such a sweetheart… Oh the ways that recovery has grown me up and taught me responsibility not just for myself, but for others here, and in my love life, too!
The teachers in my Substance Abuse classes were fond advocates of my work and I graduated with honors in many different programs, but my favorite honor was Cum Laude for my grade point! Although I know I wasn’t continuing forward, and deciding to focus on Substance For You instead of graduate school, my recovery held me liable to keep great grades. And I will forever cherish that, as I can look back and tell my kids the things I went through in order to achieve, well, anything I put my mind to! And that right there is how I continued to build a solid foundation in recovery, as education was a huge part of my resilience!
But, after I graduated what was next? I didn’t want to live with my parents forever! And the advocacy work I was doing was really booming, so I knew that more responsibility was in need to further my recovery…
The house that recovery built didn’t come because I had nowhere else to live! My parents had two connected houses, heck, I had it all! They were on four acres with two horses and a loving backbone to it all. But, for my recovery, my wife’s sanity, and my own peace of mind we both decided that if I could overcome so much in my life that the next stepping stone to a NEAR perfect marriage and home life was to achieve homeownership myself. And I know, I know for a fact, that I couldn’t have done it unless I stayed clean throughout all the misery the first years of recovery put me through. And yes! I may have had a hell of a bad past, but if anything I know is true it’s that if you stay clean and do the right thing, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE! That’s why the saying goes, “Recovery Is Possible!” and “Stick with it” or “The Promises Will Come!” And you know what? They are all true!
Today, I am alive and well. I don’t use intravenous drugs anymore. I will have six years clean and sober on Christmas of this year. I will have one year married to an amazing young lady on December 18th of this year. And I will be hosting Christmas, on the day, in the house that recovery built! Why? How? Because, like I said, “Recovery is possible if you stay clean and do the right thing!” So you know what? It doesn’t just apply to drugs either… Heck get out there and build your own life lasting memories! I know that I am, one day at a time, because God is good and recovery is something I strive for bettering every day. Recovery is good, and it’s only getting better. Thank the Lord for another day clean and I hope you are inspired to be that next miracle as I keep living the dream every day, helping thousands in their recovery with Substance For You, too. That’s what it’s about right? Helping ourselves so we can help others! Go get em’ Tiger! I believe in you!