Where do I start? The years and years of active addiction? The anger? The PTSD/ my childhood? Yea well all of that and more. As with lots of addicts the past life is sorta blurred, going from childhood to a young man so lost after trying to kill someone, then some time in a psych ward (where I learned that drugs were good).
I was a country boy, small town Alberta, who stuttered and was bullied for that. Growing up life was stable, loving parents and family. Then after a close friend committed suicide at 13, I put a gun in my mouth. The bullet misfired, but that started my long dance with suicide. It still haunts me today, like that old friend, or a closet no one ever opened. Somewhere around then, all the guns in our house disappeared, due to my growing anger. Nothing was done or said, and my anger lived on for decades.
Then after an intense experience at 4H club week at Olds collage, I had what then was called a nervous breakdown, crying and shaking, making a spectacle of myself around other kids who had no clue, and facilitators for club week who could do nothing. So after not being able to sleep for a couple days I came home a wreck. Then over nothing, I completely lost it and began chocking a close family member. When they escaped and were running across the field to the highway, I took my .22, which I had been given back on trust, and lined up a shot through a window, but I just could not pull the trigger. I then made a whole bunch of Molotov’s, to throw at the cops, then fueled the family car and left. I drove around for hours, but then finally went home. The police were there and took me into custody. I was put in jail for a while, then transferred in a straitjacket to a psych ward. I spent the summer there, and was sent to boarding school, against the wishes of my counsellor. That of course was when I started to hate myself, had no self-trust, and lost all hope in having a future. My family had many members in military, so that was all I had ever wanted to do. But that of course that was lost, and so was I. So I played up the crazy part, from being in the psych ward, and hating myself I played up the anger. Alcohol fed the crazies and anger gave me power, but never could assuage the broken child inside.
And that’s how it went for years, the self-hate and suicidal acts, pushing everything to the limit. Of course the drugs got less effective at masking the pain and I found myself with a 15 year needle habit. I lost friends and ended up suicidal enough for four more mental health arrests. Finally after months on the wait list at Fresh Start and another couple arrests and time in the psych ward I was accepted in to treatment at FSRC.
I don’t know now how I made it through the first bit, being so angry and still suffering from drug induced psychosis. To this day I thank Stacey and Bruce and all staff for seeing past the madman I was then.
I remember hearing about a spiritual awaking but could only start to slowly rid myself of all the anger and pain.
I was in a NA meeting and remember listing to some new comer share, and all I heard was bitch, bitch, bitch, all about his problem, with nothing about a solution. He of course was me. Earlier that evening I was rolling butts from the ash can at Fresh Start and only wanted to be left alone to be miserable, when Bruce came outside, saw I was hurting, and pulled me up into one of his famous bear hugs. One of the first times I cried, but only after he left (cowboy up and all that macho shit).
Then months went by, and I was back at work, I was losing it again, and ended up back in the psych ward again. I had been in psych counseling the whole time, but this time was different. That started an eight year journey with one of the counsellors at FAOS. I slowly started to work in earnest on all my anger and other problems, dealing with being straight with no drugs to hide behind. That counsellor saw me through thick and thin, and with great patience guided me along. Then somewhere in all of that, through meetings and work I met an incredible woman who saw through all my pain and anger, a lovable man.
After almost five years of working construction (my 30 plus years of employment), my girl (now my wife) and I had to move, so we borrowed the FSRC cube truck. She had of course been encouraging me to apply at FSRC, for a couple of years. So in order to give back I put my name in to work the front desk as relief staff, aiming to keep working construction during the week. Well serendipity stepped in and an opening appeared for night shift, just as a winter lay off happened in my stucco job. I have never looked back. FSRC gave me the home and belonging I so desperately needed and so many chances to give back, so I stayed.
So my ten year journey has been one with many, many setbacks and pain, but ultimately so much opportunity for growth. The NA/AA programs and steps let me see who I was, and all the love and encouragement I received from friends and family led me to a life worth living.
You can ask me has it been easy. No! I have never worked so hard in all my years. Yet the work goes on, progress, not perfection! Every day brings me closer to the man I should be, and further from the wretch I was. Keeping growth and gratitude is difficult, but the grace of God and the love I receive, keeps me there.
Is it easy? No! Is it worth it Yes, yes and yes!