It was 1982. I had just finished serving three years in state prison. Drugs and alcohol took me to some very dark places. Caused my behavior to change overnight. No longer was I the good student, volunteering for projects like local history and the yearbook. Participating in Speech and Debate. Now I was a thug. A hellion. A criminal, with no respect for my parents, for authority, for my neighbor, or for my God. I was now the god of my own universe. My rules, my way. I continued to behave badly for three-and-a-half decades. Using people. Drinking. Using drugs. Lying, cheating, stealing.
It took another encounter with the police in 2008 to get my attention. I was arrested on a warrant for failure to maintain a payment schedule on fines from my original criminal case. I wanted to end my life that night in county jail. I spoke up, and the guards put me on suicide watch. I had a few more missteps after getting out of the county jail: three relapses involving an addiction to opioid painkillers, and a 21-day stay at a rehab following a family intervention. I had unfortunately been stealing pain medication from family members and abusing my benzodiazepines. My mother continued to show me unconditional love. I was determined to break free from the bondage of addiction. I turned to the only thing I hadn’t tried in years. I went back to the church of my youth where I was led to Christ and baptized.
I got on my knees and sought God’s direction and purpose for my life. I knew all this suffering had to be leading me somewhere. God made it clear: I am called to become an addictions counselor, working with teenagers and young adults. I returned to college online at Colorado Christian University in the Spring of 2016 in order to complete my undergraduate degree in psychology. I was able to stay away from narcotics for ten months. As is often the occasion, I stole pain medication from my mother twice again. I justified taking her pain meds due to severe low back pain, but truthfully it was the addict inside that wanted to wallow in euphoria. (It took my mother 18 months for her to begin speaking to me again.) I have now been clean from narcotics since August 2016.
I am also no longer taking any psychotropic medications, such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety pills, or sleeping pills. I am truly amazed at how great I feel. I no longer cry at puppy commercials or suffer from mood swings, I am not plagued by panic attacks, and I sleep like a baby without Ambien. In addition to attending 12-step meetings, I participated for several months in outpatient individual and group addictions counseling, and sought treatment from a Christian psychotherapist who helped me work through a poor self-image and resentments I was holding about things that happened to me in the past. Today, I am able to maintain my sobriety by maintaining a close daily relationship with Christ, attending 12-step meetings, and staying away from addictive substances. I will graduate from Colorado Christian University in August of 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and will be starting my master’s degree in Religious Studies in September of 2018. I intend to focus on writing and teaching, and will be starting a prison ministry through my home church in the Summer of 2018.
Writing has always been one of my passions. Something I’ve been doing for a long time. I have discovered the poet within me over the last few years. It is amazing what happens when we settle down and get in touch with the gifts and talents we’ve been given by God, whatever they may be. One of the most amazing experiences I’ve had is to ride a wave of creativity and write something I never knew I had inside me. Now that I write poetry, fiction and prose on a regular basis, a whole universe of emotions and nuances have opened up to me. I struggled most of my life with self-esteem and self-worth, especially regarding my writing abilities, so this is new territory for me. I’m getting better at seeing the good in something I’ve written. I used to throw out a lot of what I wrote. I realize today that I was drowning in the deep dark sea of addiction, and that getting sober had to happen before I could begin to form coherent sentences, well-planned paragraphs, and believable prose. My gifts and talents were buried beneath self-doubt, laziness, lack of ambition, and the morass of booze and drugs.
Poetry and metaphor go together like cookies and milk. They help us deal with much more than just contradiction or ambiguity. Metaphor is about association and resonance and connectivity. For example, snow is a blanket upon the earth. A blanket that ironically keeps me toasty warm. Metaphor creates connections and resonances among the people and things of the world. We live in a network of relationships. Poetry, fiction and prose make the world vibrate: touch one string, and another hums along. Where there is no metaphor, nothing is like anything else – there is no comparison – and nothing reverberates. Without metaphor, the world is just a jumble of discrete objects resting on a lonely plane, devoid of meaning and harmony. And that’s just sad.
Other than getting clean and sober, and renewing my relationship with Jesus Christ, starting this blog is one of the best things I’ve done in the last ten years. My vision for this site was clear from the beginning. I wanted to post articles and original work regarding spirituality, recovery and creativity in order to share information, hope, experience, solutions, freedom, and testimony. It is very freeing to be able to share my thoughts and ideas with others. I have come to realize that I have to write. I started blogging because I needed tangible proof that I could put original thoughts together and put them out there for others to experience. This blog site has afforded me the chance to be disciplined about writing. Now that I no longer feel less-than, or inadequate, or fake, I am willing to take chances and let others read what I have to say.
I am so glad you’ve decided to stop here and spend some time reading. I hope you will come back again. You may not agree with everything I write; you might not even believe in the Christian God, or in any god, but I can only hope you are inspired to contemplate and consider. I hope I spark conversation. Most importantly, if you are struggling in any way with addiction or mental illness, I pray you reach out. Get help. There is no shame in being afflicted. There is, however, missed opportunity when we don’t ask for help.