I’d like to begin by thanking you. This whole idea is phenomenal. I applaud you for being vulnerable, honest, and real. Your music as Weerd Science got me through so much shit. Thank you, Josh.
My addiction story started when I was a young lad. My story is painful. My mom was very abusive towards me. She would sit on me (she was pushing 350 lbs plus, and I wasn’t even a preteen), break my shit, or pawn it off. She would mentally manipulate me into believing my dad was a bad man. They got an ugly divorce when I was 6 or 7.
I’m going to give a trigger warning because the next topic surrounds sexual assault.
Before my parents got a divorce, I was sexually assaulted by my babysitter. My dad was working, and my mom was on “vacation” at that time. (“Vacation” means she was in a psych ward, but I didn’t know that at the time.) I was watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Saturday morning cartoons. I had the turtle van and action figure… all that. My babysitter said she wanted to show me something, so I followed. She began to kiss me and touch me. She asked me to lay down and she had me touch her. I was so young that I had no clue what was going on, but it left its mark.
My dad got custody of me after Child Protection Service was called on my mom for sending me to school dirty, with expired food, and a moldy sandwich. He moved to Iowa from Nebraska when I was 11 or 12 and I started in a new school for the 5th or 6th time. My first day of school in Iowa was the worst. I got picked on for being “from the city.” After gym class, all the boys that were in my class gave me a welcome. They threw my shoes in the toilet, held me down on a bench, and took turns spitting on me. My dislike for Iowa, country folk, and rednecks began. Thankfully, the first friend I made at school was from Nebraska, too. He took me under his wing and the bully shit slowed down. My first drink was shortly after these incidents. My regular drinking began when I was 16 or 17. My mom would buy me booze and smokes. This would spiral out of control two years later.
On April 17th, 2003, my friend Tyson was struck by a car and killed. I got to go see him while he was still “alive.” I didn’t recognize him. My stomach sank. My heart froze. This is what really got to me. I got on an elevator after I smoked to head back up to see his family. It opens and there is his mom with a blank expression. I walk in and she acknowledged I was there by shaking her head no. I knew what that meant. He wasn’t going to live. I was destroyed. I no longer cared about what I did.
Between 18 to 22 years old, I was smoking meth, drinking heavily, and basically doing anything that would give me a headrush. I was breaking into cars, stealing money, and whatever I could to get numb. I was lucky enough to be able to walk away from meth without a big battle. Not alcohol. My alcohol abuse was tightening its noose.
I had started therapy and seeing a psychologist when I was in my teens. I began abusing the pills in my 20s. I would get a six pack of bottles, open one, drop in a .5 mg Xanax, and chug. The Xanax reaction to alcohol is to foam up so as soon as you drop it in. That’s why you have to chug. I would do that with all six and drink more on top of that. Through one of my jobs, I met these fellas who said they rapped and could record. I figured I’d ask and see what would happen.
I began recording rap when I was in my early 20s and was writing before that. Recording rap initially wasn’t something I necessarily sought out, because it seemed like it would be a flash in the pan. I would just do this track, and that would be it. Those fellas loved my style. I really try to utilize vocabulary and odd rhyme schemes. One of those guys would become my partner in rhyme. I was still very, very fucked up at this time, and once we started booking shows in Omaha, I discovered more drugs; cocaine, pain killers, and copious amounts of alcohol to wash it down.
I’ve had two OWIs and my second one almost killed me. That was my moment where I said enough is enough. Of all the addictive drugs in the world, I get addicted to the one thing that can kill you when you detox. If you asked me the, if I still be alive at 38, well, in my 20s, I didn’t even want to make it to 30. Thankfully, I’ve now been sober for 8 years.
I told you in the beginning, your music as Weerd Science got me through so much. I even tried convincing my group to try and get a song with you. Every time we would start saving, something would happen. That’s how it goes.
6 months ago, I was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. That almost sent me back to alcohol. I was so mad. I thought that all my mental sickness and trauma manifested physically and I was so angry. Thank goodness I’m in therapy. I feel like I would have fell off the wagon if it weren’t for that. I am an unofficial, official advocate for men’s mental health. I share my story for hope. I urge anyone who’s struggling to seek out help. Therapy is the best thing that happened to me, besides getting married to my best friend. She’s my rock as I am hers.
I am looking forward to seeing you with Coheed in September, in Omaha! I appreciate you, Josh!