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Taking the First Step

The words I never thought I’d hear my daughter say … I read while I was in addiction treatment.

“Daddy. I am so proud of you for taking step one.”

It all started with marijuana. Eventually, that ramped up to cocaine. I was afraid, but I did it – and that was all it took. For the next 30 years, drugs were the most important thing in my life. While everyone else was doing it occasionally, I took it to a whole different level. I started spending over $200 a day on drugs. I started doing things I never thought I would do.

It’s crazy, the things you’ll do to get what you need. I stole from every employer I’ve ever had. I took advantage of everyone in every situation. It was a horrible way to live, but I didn’t know any better. The only thing I knew was how to get through the day.

I kept it a secret for years. My wife thought I was going to work – but I knew it was only a matter of time before I got caught. And that’s exactly what happened.

A year spent in prison, away from my wife and daughter, still couldn’t get me to stop.

The FBI showing up at my door couldn’t get me to stop.

The endless court dates, charges, and “what now?” couldn’t get me to stop.

Guns pointed at me and getting robbed couldn’t get me to stop.

The only thing that could get me to stop: me.

My wife stopped caring what I did – and that was scarier than when she cared too much. All of a sudden it hit me: I could lose everything. I’d be all on my own. And when I was ready to get help – whenever that day would be – I wouldn’t have anyone to help me get there.

Suddenly, my promise of “one day” didn’t seem possible anymore. I knew I would either end up in jail or dead.

So on February 18th, I called RCA. They came and picked me up. The first few hours were a blur, but I remember waking up that first day thinking, What did I get myself into?

I sat down and opened up the Big Book I brought with me. And somehow, my daughter – who had yet to give up on me – had snuck a note in there.

“I’m so proud of you, Daddy, for taking the first step.”

That’s when I knew I had to make this work. I had to give this everything I had left. And it wasn’t much. Luckily, the other patients know what it’s like to wake up with that pit in your stomach the first day. They look out for the new guys and tell you how things work. I had the guidance from amazing staff members, who actually cared about me and wanted me to succeed.

Coming home after 30 days was terrifying. My wife felt like I was a stranger. To be honest, I felt like a stranger to myself. But I stuck it out – I went right into Outpatient treatment and joined the Alumni Association. My Outpatient therapist didn’t just help me; she helped me and my wife. There was a lot of lying and deceit over the last 30 years. A lot of stuff to work through. But we did it.

Our relationship has been completely transformed. Now, if I feel anything – good, bad, whatever – I can be open and honest with her.

Honesty. There’s something I never thought I’d be capable of again.

We aren’t perfect. But she’s not asking for perfection and neither am I. I’m still working on a lot of different behaviors that I had developed over 30 years of active addiction.

I’m so grateful for this second chance I’ve been given. Someday, I will give back this gift that’s been given to me.


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