By: Nathan M., Transformations alumnus
It feels like just yesterday I was walking down the jetway to board a plane headed to South Florida. It became so real, right there at that moment, that I was embarking on a new path with a sliver of hope that somehow I could get my life back. I was scared, nervous, embarrassed, sad, and depressed that my life had come to this- leaving my family, my husband, my friends, and my career to go to rehab. It was really my only choice at this point, it was rehab or death. I chose rehab.
I’m not going to write out my whole story, I don’t want to bore all of you. But I will give you a little bit of my background. I’m 40 years old from Pittsburgh, PA. I had a pretty normal childhood I like to think in regards to family life. We moved around quite a bit growing up because of my dad’s job, which made it difficult to make a lot of friends. Even with the constant moving from city to city, state to state, I always felt different. I felt like I did not belong or fit in. By the time I was graduating high school, it became clear why I had always had those feelings, and why I had never felt comfortable in my own skin; I was gay. This is when I began to drink.
Drinking made me feel more comfortable around other people. People seemed to like me more when I drank. I had more friends and life really was getting better for me. Drinking progressed in my college years and well into my 20’s. By the time I was 28, life really was going well. I could handle my drinking, even though it was seven nights a week. I functioned well at work and it showed because I kept getting promoted. However, something still seemed off. I felt like I had it all; the career, a relationship, and friends- but deep inside I felt like something was missing but I didn’t know what it was.
It was the winter of 2008, I took a trip to South Beach with a group of friends. It was a trip I had taken many times before- but this time in my mind I was really going to live it up and make sure this was one of the best trips of my life. As we were going from club to club, we decided to stop at someone’s apartment- someone who had just joined our group at the previous club. The next thing I remember is being asked if I wanted to do a line of cocaine because it would sober me up and it would allow the night to last a lot longer. I was hesitant as I had always said no, but that night was different. I went ahead and did the line and we continued our night. I remember getting back to the hotel with my friends at noon the next day thinking, ‘that really was the best night of my life. I had never been able to make it until noon the next day before.’ How had I made it this far in life without ever knowing about this miracle drug? It made me feel so good inside. All the pain from growing up and not having friends was gone. I genuinely felt comfortable being who I was. I needed more!!!!
Fast forward seven years, cocaine had completely taken over my life. I was a full-blown addict. The drinking had come to a total end. I did not want to drink anymore, all I wanted to do was cocaine. I had lost my job and spent all my savings. I rarely spoke with my family because I didn’t want them to see what was going on. Money was quickly running out, but I still needed to get high. I found crystal meth. For me, it had the same effects, but for a much cheaper price. It didn’t take long to find out the price was much higher than I thought… After about a year of smoking it before I was shooting it. In the end, I was alone and just wanted to die. I had thoughts of killing myself after each time I put the needle down. Picking it back up was the only way to get those thoughts out of my head.
My husband finally had enough. March 2018 he moved out and urged me to get help. I continued to party for a couple more weeks until I saw a friend post something on Facebook about his stint in rehab and how it changed his life. I reached out to him and after asking a few questions, I started googling rehabs. I got on a plane five days later.
As I sat in this dirty old Crown Vic that picked me up from the airport, I still was nervous how rehab would be. I didn’t think I would fit in because I was not an addict like everyone else. Yes, I had a problem but I wasn’t homeless and I certainly did not look like the drug addicts they show on tv. How was I going to make it through the next 30 days? What could rehab teach me that I didn’t already know?
I won’t go through my experience at Transformations because if you are reading this, it’s possible you were there. We all had different experiences. Mine was life-changing.
Where am I now? It’s been two years, three months, and 17 days since I arrived at Transformations. It hasn’t been an easy couple of years, but with the tools and resources I’ve learned there, I know I can make it forward; One day at a time. Slowly the promises of the program came true. My relationship with my husband has never been better. I now talk to my mom every day. I have finally come to accept myself for who I am and no longer need to drink or get high to be around other people. I have had multiple spiritual awakenings on this new path, some more vibrant than others. Remaining mindful each and every day of my higher power makes a big difference. By giving up my will, it makes life so much easier.
My husband and I started a local non-profit which has been very fulfilling. We serve local homeless by providing clothing, meals, and act as a POC for many types of resources. Being able to share my experience, strength, and hope with others has helped light my path and keep me sober.
Today I write this with 514 days sober. It’s been a while since I counted the days like that as I now try to focus on each and every day, one at a time. I really don’t know if I will be sober tomorrow, but you can sure as hell bet on me being sober today.
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