Family: The One True Constant In My Life

So many things change in our lives. Our address. Our income level. Our mood. Our tolerance and acceptance of others. We are in constant flux. Some changes are subtle, while others are profound. Earth shattering. Some of us have to change our last names (as in when we marry). Others have to change their approach to life in order to adjust to their surroundings. Many of us find our faith in God to be in constant fluidity. Some days we’re very much in tune with God, and other days we’re in complete doubt. I can’t tell you how many times my faith has wavered over the years.

I was unfortunately quite the young hellion while growing up. My behavior was, at times, reprehensible. I discovered booze and drugs at age eighteen. Being in an altered state seemed to be a way to avoid fear and uncertainty. I loved being drunk or high. But the alcohol and marijuana changed my personality and my behavior. Morals became a thing of the past. I started out on a pathway to destruction that landed me in prison for three years at age nineteen.

The one true constant at that time was my family. They traveled hours to visit me every month at the state correctional facility. When I was granted pre-release to a halfway house in the last six months of my sentence, my family allowed me to come home to visit on weekend furloughs. Initially, I had been visiting with my wife and daughter on furlough, but she decided she wanted a divorce. This was a truly unexpected change in my life. I had been writing letters to my family on a regular basis while incarcerated. I had renewed my faith in God, and often shared my feelings about Jesus in my letters. When my wife asked me to stop coming home on furlough, my family allowed me to come home to visit with them.

There were many changes over the years since my release from prison. I went through a divorce. I started college. I dropped out of school and got a job at a Pizza Hut. I became a shift leader and then an assistant manager. But again, drugs became part of my routine. I started smoking pot again and discovered cocaine. My drug use ultimately cost me my job as assistant manager. Although this was a self-inflicted change, I was truly shocked that I was once again facing failure.

I had met a woman in college and we became very close. There was a lot that would change over the ten years we were married. We became parents at a fairly young age. Two wonderful sons. Because I could not seem to stop drinking and getting high, and was therefore not willing to do whatever it took to improve my life, my second wife filed for divorce. Once again, a major change.

This ridiculous behavior continued for decades. I drank and did drugs for thirty-seven years. As you can imagine, there was not much personal growth in my life for decades. Quite the contrary, there were many changes and numerous setbacks. There were far too many stops and starts in my sobriety. I started attending Alcoholics Anonymous in 2001 after nearly being evicted by my younger brother. (We were sharing an apartment.) I did well for a number of years, but had several relapses. I managed to stop drinking and smoking marijuana in 2008, and haven’t had anything since that time. Unfortunately, I developed an opiate addiction, which started when I was prescribed narcotic painkillers for chronic back pain. When I couldn’t get enough pills on my own through various doctors and pharmacies, I started stealing painkillers from family members. I was not able to quit on my own. My family conducted an intervention this past December, and I agreed to go to rehab.

The most amazing thing is this: I just spent Easter Sunday with my siblings, my mother and my aunt. Everyone was genuinely glad to see me. They had forgiven me for my actions, and welcomed me back into their lives. Despite all the ups and downs, starts and stops, and lapses in sobriety over the my life, my family was still in my corner. They were the one true constant in my life. For that, I am extremely grateful. There is only one way to thank them. That is to live a sober and generous life. An honest life. To make amends by my actions.

I know now that many of my failures and unfinished projects, especially writing projects, were due to my addiction. My lack of creativity and courage were because I was nearly always drunk or high. In the beginning, I thought writing while drunk or stoned would allow me to write in a deep and profound manner. Funny, but many of my writings made absolutely no sense when I read them the morning after. Guess I thought I could be the next Hemingway.

Deciding to start a blog has been one of the best decisions I’ve made since deciding I wanted to be sober. I am writing at a deeper level. I am consistent, writing a blog post nearly every day. I am getting at the root of things on a creative, sober and spiritual basis. God has blessed me with a muse I can connect with. God is the Great Creator. As Julia Cameron writes in her fantastic book “The Artist’s Way,” we need to allow our inner child to express himself. We’re all creative. We all have hidden talents. I believe life truly begins when we learn to let those talents shine.

I feel like I contribute something today. And for a recovering addict and alcoholic, that is a tremendous thing. I believe my blogging exercises are slowly peeling back the many layers that have built up during my addiction and my being miserable. I think I can finally share my experiences, my ruminations, my talents with those around me. I believe only good can come from blogging. From expressing myself. From getting at the root of who I really am. Of what my purpose for existence is. I feel truly blessed by God, and I am very grateful for my family.

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