It’s a long story but one worth telling. I grew up very poor. My father and my mother were both addicts. Alcoholics and addicted to meth. They had a functioning meth addiction. My father worked but we moved around once a year. Never in one place for too long. I must have gone to 14 different schools growing up. We would live on my grandmother’s sporadically and her basement with my other cousins and other aunts and uncles. A lot of cats and dogs… a lot of squalor. Cockroach infestations so bad your legs would be covered in black. I grew up with it, so I thought it was normal. I always clung to my video games, books and art. I was playing in bands at a very young age… singing, bass, drums… whatever I could get my hands on.
All that was an outlet. Then I started smoking marijuana at 13. My aunt and uncle gave me my first mushrooms when I was 14. Then I started sneaking alcohol. It all really went over the edge when my parents told me they were moving me from Tennessee to Vermont. I went and I started living with a friend instead of with my parents. There I was doing cocaine, drinking every night, and smoking till I couldn’t see straight. This is all when I was 14. Then I moved to Vermont. There I discovered I had a mushroom dealer close by and I mostly stuck to psychedelics and weed. But at the age of 15 I decided to move back to Tennessee on my own. My dad said if I wanted to go back I had to get a job and get a bus ticket. I did.
When I got back down to Tennessee I started hopping trains. With that came a lot more drug abuse and alcohol abuse. Meth, cocaine and alcohol. I would use glue every once in a while, but not frequently. That went on for about 3 or 4 years. When I turned 18 found a girlfriend and tried to relax. It didn’t happen. I found a punk rock club that I clung to, and it was the beginning of a self-destructive streak that would last the next 10 years. I ended up moving back to Vermont when I was 19. It wasn’t drugs it was alcohol. Don’t get me wrong, if drugs were around I would do them. Anything that could Band-Aid the trauma I was not addressing with my family. Keep in mind this is all generational. My father is an alcoholic, my mother is an alcoholic, and her father was an alcoholic that died at 70.
From the age of 19 till about 4 years ago I didn’t go longer than 3 days sober. Even that’s a stretch. I would drink until I couldn’t walk or think. I couldn’t stop either. I would start drinking and I would be up till 6:00 in the morning didn’t matter what was happening. I lost jobs and friends, and I almost lost my wife and daughter. But it didn’t stop me. I would get a 12 pack and a handle, and I would kill that, then go to the store and get more. Then, even when my band was taking off, I did not stop… I wouldn’t stop. I would get into fist fights and do everything I could to harm myself and others.
Then my wife’s father passed away in his sleep. At this point she had been sober from opioids for about 2 years. After he passed away, we planned a funeral. We planned it for a day and a half. I didn’t know what to do so I introduced my wife to Coheed and Cambria and the song “The Light in the Glass.” I thought it would help her grieve in some way. She had to write a letter that her brother was going to read at the funeral we just had our daughter (she was even a year old yet). She was listening to “The Light in the Glass” when we received a phone call on the next day that her brother, on the way to the funeral, fell from a bridge and died. Now we had to plan for a double funeral and the fracturing and destruction of my wife’s psyche and world.
This was the moment I chose to wake up and make a decision to better myself not just for her but for everyone.
It was the most difficult thing I had ever done. I had to be hospitalized because my brain didn’t know how to make dopamine anymore and I was experiencing mild psychosis from trying to cope with the lack of alcohol.
A 6 months and got a job working in a hospital. Every day I would walk in there with crippling anxiety. I would force myself to vomit in the bathroom and struggle with fears of heart attacks and death. The hospital knew me by my first name because of my frequent visits while I was drinking, thinking I was going to die. So, I had a good support system where I was working.
Then there was the damage that me and my wife were trying to mend. Not just to her but to all of us. Seeing death on that kind of scale changed everything. Then covid happened. It could have ruined everything but it didn’t. I end up leaving the hospital after covid because I needed to see if I still wanted to be involved with the restaurant industry. This was the real massive turn in my sobriety. I was 2 years sober and I met two young men that were working on bodybuilding. This changed me and my wife’s life. Mentally and physically. I started eating right exercising everyday and it was the best decision I ever made in my life. The dopamine came back the excitement the energy everything! My healing truly began.
In that time frame starting that job and me getting sober we took my wife’s credit score from 400 to 720. We decided we were going to buy a house. We worked so hard to get to that point. We looked at two houses and one just so happened to be right in our price range. With a little help, we were homeowners in September 2022.
This is something we never once expected. Neither of us expected to ever own a home. We felt unworthy. We felt like the dregs of society it was never something we even comprehended was a possibility. We ended up buying two cars I found my dream job working at an elder Care facility where I create food from scratch. My daughter is thriving and never wants for anything. All of these achievements I did but putting my head down doing the work and focusing. It’s never easy to admit you have a problem. It’s much easier to blame everything else. Nothing else is to blame you have to take responsibility you have to stand up and be the change you want to see in yourself.
I’m going to wrap this up but I want to say that my wife was instrumental in all of this change. After losing her entire family… mother, father and brother, she has gone above and beyond and become the best partner I could have ever dreamed of.
The cap on the story is really May 4th going to see Coheed and Cambria together. We started this horrific journey with “The Light in the Glass” and ended with the end complete. Everything lined up. My wife got to hug Josh. She had been following his story for years. She is now 8 years sober from opioids. She had an even harder upbringing than I did. We have overcome every obstacle that has been put in front of us and nothing will stop us.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share. Nothing is easy, but nothing worthwhile is.