Recovery Spotlight: Brian F

Hi my name is Brian and I’m an addict in recovery. I am going try to make a long story short. I grew up with two loving and caring parents and an older sister. I grew up in a good family environment and I wasn’t abused as a child like many other people in recovery and my parents were never separated or divorced. My parents always did the best they could for me and my sister. I always made the honor roll with all A’s and B’s. I always won the mile run that my elementary school held every year and played different sports. Something was always a little off though because I can remember never enjoying school. I had trouble with peers and I always hated going to practice. I would get home sick very easily and I couldn’t swim! But I had a solution, I remember going to the skating rink with my older sister and her older friends on school nights and I always had “cool” clothes and tennis shoes. I even had the Charlotte Hornets starter jacket. I really wanted to fit in with the older kids. I even spent school nights in bars and billiards with my family while my dad drank beer and played Keno and my mom who didn’t drink would play trivia. I was really having a good time! My childhood was great and I was spoiled. I can even remember getting my ear pierced in the second grade and people were calling my mom freaking out on her. When the DARE program came to my fourth grade class I was intrigued by the drugs on the diagram they were showing us. It was about drug education and I wanted to learn more. My parents were doing pretty well in life and my mom moved our family from working class Maryland City to the “Big Bricks” in luscious green Howard County, Maryland.  I had no problem making great friends. I even had the best teacher in the world, Mrs. Sandberg. We had a great community and neighbors and we always played games together like flash light tag and laser tag. Life was exciting, but I did have some behavioral issues and I wanted to get in trouble. My parents were always at work and I was always left to my own devices. I was the Latch Key child. My new friends and I started getting into trouble. We got our hands on lighters and we set things on fire. When we found a pack of cigarettes, without question we started smoking them. Besides, I saw my older sister smoking out of her bedroom window once. By 11 I was smoking cigarettes, smoking weed, and hitting our parent’s liquor cabinets. I managed to keep getting good grades throughout middle school. Going into high school I was entered into honors and gifted and talented classes. Did I mention I hated school? I was 14 and by this time my using was becoming habitual. I had every opportunity in the world for success and I was even approached by the nationally ranked wrestling team to join them. I had my life in front of me but I was using marijuana and alcohol habitually and I dropped all of my GT classes because they were “too hard” and my using was causing serious unmanageability in my life. Smoking pot was more important than anything and my friends who weren’t great at this point were becoming worse. It’s a harsh truth but I was becoming a loser. It progressed from there and I was trying different drugs, I eventually flunked out of High School and it all went downhill from there. I was selling drugs in my community and I got my apartment raided. Jails, Institution’s, and near death experiences were becoming my new way of life. To speed it up my addiction progressed, I lived to use and used to live. There was nothing I wouldn’t do for one more drug. Lie, cheat, steal. I was in full blown active addiction and because I was getting in so much trouble Howard County did everything they could to help me. I couldn’t stop! This whirl wind of life went on for years. In 2006, I had to go to my girlfriend’s funeral in secrecy because the guilt and shame was unbearable and how could I face her friends and family and I was a using addict. Her death still wasn’t enough for me to stop. I wanted to stop using drug so many times but I how could I? I did find out about recovery along the way though because I had been in and out of treatment facilities since I was 17 years old. I met people in recovery along the way who didn’t use drugs and they were happy, joyous, and free. They would be powerful tools for me later on in life when I was ready. By the way my parents who were my greatest enablers always loved me unconditionally even after all the hell I put them through. My parents always believed in me and it must have been heartbreaking for them to watch their only son killing himself, my mom took out a Life Insurance policy on me, I don’t think they would have covered the way I was about to die. I was on the streets of Baltimore when I found out my dad had cancer and my mom invited me to come home so I could help take care of him. I was in full blown active addiction and using was the most important thing to me and I was happy because I could get off the streets and use at home again. I did the best I could for my father while he fought this nasty disease but I was on drugs, I couldn’t stop if I wanted to. I was there but I was a shell. My dad was in the fight for his life and I was too and didn’t even know it, I was already dead really. The last time I wanted to see my father it was too inconvenient with my drug schedule. I chose to keep driving instead of going back to the hospital. When my father passed away, someone asked me if I was going to say something at his viewing which was an amazing tribute to his life. He was a Senior Chief Petty Officer in the US NAVY, Vietnam Veteran, 27 years enlisted! What was I going to say? I was 27 year old drug addict with nothing to my name and nothing to stand on! I was at an all-time low. I knew about recovery at this point and I had even made some connections in recovery throughout the years when I was court ordered to meetings. I even had a sponsor who showed up to my father’s funeral unannounced. I hadn’t talked to him in a long time and he cared about my life more than I did. Him and some other people from the rooms came to his service and they didn’t lecture me, they were “Carrying the Message” just by being present. After his service, I kept using but my mom had enough with me. I was at the end of the road. My mom and her friend drove me to Baltimore to drop me off. They thought they were taking me to the hospital but I manipulated them into taking me to the Western Union where I had 50 dollars wired to me. They were adamant about taking me to the hospital but there was no stopping me. This wasn’t the first time I had put my mom through this madness. When they dropped me off in one of the worst neighborhoods in the country, West Baltimore I’m sure they thought they might never see me again. I did end up making it to the hospital and I began detox again. It was a rough road. My brain chemistry was completely messed up because of all the different drugs I was using. I met someone in detox who told me about a program in Baltimore. I had nowhere else to go so I went. That’s where I was given yet another chance. I was completely out of my mind but I had some fight in me. I was at a point in my life where it was fight or flight. I was already running long enough, so I was ready to fight. I got into intensive outpatient. I was in a recovery house and I was going to meetings and asking for help! I couldn’t live without drugs; I couldn’t do it alone. I used all the resources available to me and I started attending 12 step meetings every day! My recovery was my responsibility and it was becoming my number one priority. I was utilizing my sponsor, my mom was happy, I was calling my sister in California and I had hope. One day at a time I was staying clean. People believed in me. I wasn’t sleeping for almost two months and I was completely nuts but I wasn’t using! I got a home group and service position in that home group. I was getting plugged in. I had HOPE and a reason to live. I was even working. I was looking for a more permanent job and my life was moving forward when a young woman in the rooms with a few years clean told me she could get me a job. Not long after that I was in a relationship with this young lady. I had 90 days clean and I was still nuts. 90 days after that she found out she was pregnant. We had only been together 3 months, I wasn’t ready to have a kid. I couldn’t even take care of myself and I didn’t even know if I wanted to be in a relationship with this girl at all. I was clean now though so I could think a little more clearly. I made the decision to man up and do the right thing whatever that may be and we had a beautiful little girl together. There was a major problem though! Close to the birth of our daughter I started using in secrecy and I even celebrated 1 year clean on a lie. I couldn’t let anyone down. I had been doing so well who could I tell? Besides, I was using “successfully”. What a joke. The real Brian is back, I felt like a fraud. I had a beautiful baby girl and I wasn’t high when she was born but I was still living a lie and I was holding on to a deadly secret. My girlfriend and other friends confronted me and my girlfriend who had years clean at this time told me that if I don’t stop using that she was going to pack the baby up and move to Frederick where I would never see my daughter again! I was locked and loaded with money in the bank, a place of my own, and a job where it was easy to use drugs. I was thinking what a wonderful idea it is that she leaves. I didn’t really want to be a father did I? I wanted to keep getting high! I thought about my successes in recovery. I thought about all the guilt and shame I already had from my lost opportunities, my girlfriend’s funeral, my dad’s funeral, all of the people I hurt and the communities that tried to help me. All the wasted time of 16 years using drugs. I had my back against the wall again and I wanted to die. I couldn’t live with or without drugs! The guilt and shame this time was unbearable! I was getting ready to go on a run that I wasn’t going to make it back from. I didn’t want to be a father and I was now living a new lie. At this point I had put some work into my life and my recovery and I really did have a lot to be grateful for. I had a beautiful little baby girl, an awesome girlfriend, great family, awesome new friends who cared about me and wanted to help me in my recovery and a GOD. I made the decision; I was going to keep fighting for my life. It was a tough decision to make. After all, the truth is once we use one drug, if you are an addict like me, the choice is over. What makes me an addict is when I use one drug in any shape or form or take one drink I don’t get to decide when I stop. I lost my right to drink or use drugs years ago. My only explanation for how I made it was GOD. I already had second chances but the truth is that once an addict makes the decision to use, there is no guarantee that that will ever get another opportunity to stop using ever again. I am clean now. I do have a choice and if I use today it would be like issuing myself a death sentence or even worse a life sentence with no parole. Condemned to the bitter ends jails, institutions, death, dereliction, and degradation. I found myself back in the rooms not wanting to live, but not wanting to use. I held on for dear life to people in recovery. I was begging God to help me. I was going to events with friends and traveling. I went to a world convention in Philly with thousands and thousands of recovering addicts. I was slowly putting days clean together. I was still unhappy though, it wasn’t until I made a complete surrender that I can no longer drink or use drugs ever again if I want to live a happy, healthy, successful life. Once I finally made that surrender I have been able to live life on life’s terms. I had no idea that I could become a productive member of society. I celebrated a real year clean! My mom, aunt, daughter, girlfriend, the same sponsor who came to my dad’s funeral, and my girlfriends family were all there! The chains were being broken. I was becoming happy, joyous and free. I was even enjoying being a father. Come to find out what I thought was my biggest burden was my biggest blessing! Around this time my mom found out she had stage 4 cancer and it wasn’t a matter of if she was going to die, but how long it would take. We were all devastated with this news. This time I had put the work into my recovery and I was ready to deal with life on life’s terms. I was present while my mom fought cancer and I showed up. We even went to Disney World with my daughter and family members one last time. I can remember my mom saying at one point that she didn’t want to die. I had never heard anything so gut wrenching in my entire life. When my mom died, I had a little over a year clean. I have to tell you that I didn’t find an excuse this time to get high. I got through it clean, a scared little boy who couldn’t live with or without drugs. I was now planning my mother’s funeral. I was asked to do my mom’s eulogy and this time I was ready. This time I had something to say. I got to make an amends to my father, my sister, and my mother. I spoke in front of all of these people and didn’t even cry, it wasn’t because I wasn’t sad about my mother, I didn’t cry because I wasn’t riddled with the guilt and shame! I WAS FREE. I delivered a powerful eulogy and felt so great! The chains of addiction were broken. The same people who saw my skinny little punk drug addict ass at my dad’s funeral couldn’t even believe what they were seeing. What an honor it was to be able to represent my family that way in the right state of mind. Being in recovery is empowering and having a God is what put me in that position and taught me the confidence I needed to do it. At this time I was already used to sharing from the heart so it wasn’t as tough speaking in front of all those people. Today, I am a productive member of society. I am still with the same young lady who “got me a job”. I am employable (people want me to work for them) and come to find out I have a talent for sales and talking to people. I have integrity today and I even have good credit! My credit was so bad when I got clean that the bank mailed my money back to me when I tried to get a secured credit card! TRUE STORY. I am making an amends to society by paying my bills and doing the right thing. I even give anonymously whenever I can. Life is really good today. I have a new addition to my family; another beautiful little girl. My life is very busy but my fiancé and I are devoted to fighting addiction. We are raising two small children and we don’t find an excuse not to give back what was so freely given to us. We even helped start a meeting right here in our area. I am coming up on 4 years of complete abstinence from all drugs and yes that includes alcohol. I even quit smoking cigarettes 3 years ago. If I can help you or a family member in anyway with recovery, I will. You are not too young or too old to get help. There are plenty of resources available to help you so do not make that an excuse to not get help. If you are reading this I love you and if you are a family member of the sick and suffering person, I love you too! Don’t ever give up HOPE! If you have lost a family member to addiction or any accident relating to drugs or alcohol, I love you too. We need you. People are dying in record numbers right now so let’s do anything we can to raise awareness, educate the kids, and fight addiction. If you are clean and reading this, remember you have a choice now. Please choose LIFE and never give up. You never have to use again if you don’t want to.
With Love Sincerely, Brian