At a very young age I was a victim of sexual abuse. Somewhere between 6 and 8 - I don’t remember exactly how old I was. Too little. It was traumatic. And that was probably the beginning of a life-long struggle with addiction. I spent most of my life living in fear over that. There was stuff that was said to me – if you tell we will kill your parents. So I learned how to start keeping secrets at an early age.
As I got older I started to blame myself for what happened to me. I should have known better, I shouldn’t have done that. It was a source of shame that stayed with me for a very long time. It allowed me to stay withdrawn. I was very guarded. I isolated myself from everyone and everything. I wouldn’t let anyone get to know me. I didn’t trust anyone. Life was miserable!
I went through school and life numb to the world. Whether I was drunk, stoned or high, I just didn’t want to feel. I got married when I was 18; she was 17 and we had our first child together. It was also then that I went into my first 30-day in-patient treatment facility. I wasn’t ready yet as I continued my downward spiral to the bottom. I always held employment. The first job I had, I held for 12 years. I was a functioning addict. I never missed any of my kid’s games or events. I was a husband, an employee. I was literally working two full- time lives - one I wanted everyone to see and one maintaining a rather large addiction to whatever I could take that would allow me to not feel.
Many years have passed by, my boys are grown and have families of their own. I got in trouble for the first time in my life. I got caught writing my own prescriptions. I received three felony forgeries for controlled substances. I was sitting in jail, called my wife and she said, “I’m divorcing you.” I knew it was coming. I’d put her through the ringer. She didn’t use, she wasn’t an addict. I sat on my little bunk, waited for lights out and cried like a little baby for a long time. I was married for 25 years.
I got tired of giving my stuff away. I say giving, not losing, because all the stuff I had given away -- myself, my relationships, my mortgages -- was a choice, a real bad choice! By this time in my life I have been to treatment six times. The last treatment was a two-year program through the Clark County Therapeutic Court systems (drug court). I’d never been accountable for anything in my life. Drug court taught me accountability and integrity. For the first time in my life at the age of 45 I felt freedom.
Today, for me it’s about giving back, it’s about accountability, it’s about freedom from self. I have a saying, "If I just take everything I want to do and just don't do it, I will be fine." I don’t live a life of lies anymore. I have found forgiveness and love through others who have been through similar life experiences. I am a mentor for drug court. I help others just like me get through the program. Watching them succeed proves to me that we are all worth a second chance.