Meet Recovery Rockstar, Shane
I knew I was alcoholic and had addictive traits as a child. I knew this long before I had my first drink or drug. I may not have been conscious of these feelings in my mind, but I felt them in my spirit. When I look back now, I felt I knew I would take the path I took. I felt I knew I would end up here today. This was my vision.
I was born in July, 1981, in Vallejo, California. Both of my parents were 18 years old when my mother gave birth to me. They did the best they could, but being a young couple without a great deal of life experience and a limited budget must have been difficult. Regardless of the circumstances, they loved me, and I realize today that their love was and still is the only thing that matters.
My parents had the classic dysfunctional marriage and eventually divorced around the time I turned 21. My Father drank on a daily basis. The uncertainty of how the mood would be at home on any given day made it a tense and unpredictable environment to grow up in. I can't count the many times the police were called to our house to break up fights or defuse a volatile situation, usually with my younger sister and I caught in the middle. I guess over time, I just got used to it. I don't want to make it seem like it was bad all the time, it wasn't. There were some good times I'm sure. The thing is, I cant really remember any of them. The conditioning of my mind to focus only on negative situations and block out emotion carried into my adult life. It continues to be a challenge for me and I must consciously recognize it when it stops in to tell me I'm not good enough.
In 2003 I started dating a beautiful girl named Jess whom I had known and had a huge crush on since the 6th grade. We had many good times together, shared many mutual friends, and also shared a love for smoking copious amounts of weed and spending late nights talking about our dreams and aspirations. By this time in my life, I had a hard time opening up to anybody, but talking to Jess was different. She knew how to listen, and she cared. She would do anything she could to help anyone she cared about. Our late nights turned into early mornings, with various substances and alcohol always around to complement our experience. Friends came and went. In July 2008, we got married. The lifestyle we were living continued up until August of 2009 when we found out Jess was pregnant.
Our beautiful daughter Lucy was born in May of 2010. Talk about turning life upside down. Jess and I weren't quite sure what to do. We were torn between this old life we had known, and being thrust into the life of being parents for the first time. It was pretty stressful at first, financially and mentally. That being said, we were both proud parents and had a deep love for our little girl. We completely loved each other, but one problem that was evident was that we really didn't know how to connect unless we were drinking. I had no patience. I grew irritable, restless, and discontent with every waking day. I continued to drink whenever I needed to numb any feelings that I didn't know how to deal with. I also continued to drink because I liked the way it made me feel. I was free to do and say whatever I wanted, with no regrets or remorse until the following morning. It was the only way I knew how to cope with life. To the outside world, I may have seemed fine. On the inside, I was battling a war inside my head.
My drinking and drug use got progressively worse. In November of 2012 I decided I was going to quit. A great friend of mine Seth had gotten sober a couple of years before, and he introduced me to AA and tried explaining this thing called sobriety to me. I stayed sober for about 2 months, mostly to satisfy my wife's growing concern for my stupid unpredictable actions. I never was able to admit that I was an alcoholic or an addict. I was in denial. By this point, I was also deeply disconnected from reality. I was more miserable now than when I had been drinking. It seemed that Jess and I's relationship had gotten worse too. I didn't understand, I thought not drinking was supposed to magically fix all of my problems. I decided for the sake of our marriage, and the fact that I had this thing under control now, It would be a good idea to have a glass of wine on New Year's Eve.
Fast forward about a year. I had a good job with a major utility company in Sacramento. I was working a swing shift, but was eager to get back to working a day shift. Working nights left me vulnerable to my own self destruction, and I knew this. I would get off of work and stay up til 2 or 3 in the morning drinking and daydreaming about what life could be like if everybody else would just get their shit together. After two failed interview attempts at a day shift position, I began to really take a turn for the worst. I had developed a disgusting case of the "fuck Its". I hated everything. I had deep seeded resentments in all aspects of my life. I was a victim of circumstance, and everyone else was to blame. I was waking up daily, swearing up and down I was not going to drink, only to find myself drunk and driving by noon. It was a force that all of the sudden had me by the balls. The one you hear about on corny TV commercials but write off because you think it could never happen to you. Something kept telling me that if i didn't get help, something terribly bad was about to happen.
I pondered this idea of asking for help for about a week or so. What would people think once these secrets were all out in the open? What would my family think? What would my friends think? Most importantly, what would my Wife think? How would I deal with the fact of knowing that I could never have another drink or drug in my life? How would I make amends to anyone I had hurt? These were some of the many questions racing through my mind. I decided I had two choices. I could either ask for help, or I could die. I did not want to die. Something told me that my journey in life had just begun.
I met my wife that Sunday at a restaurant and bar we sometimes went to. As I chugged down the last of a double screwdriver, I reluctantly began to tell her of the secret and excessive drinking. The hiding of bottles around the house. The fact that I was driving drunk on a daily basis, sometimes with my daughter in the car. The fact that I had lost control to choose if i was going to have a drink or not. I told her I couldn't take it anymore. I told her that I needed help. I remember when those words "I need help" came out, it was literally like a great weight was lifted from my shoulders. Not like all of the sudden I was cured from my alcoholism and addiction, but more like a small light was cast on my inner darkness. This light was bittersweet. I felt guilty and ashamed, like I was now placing this heavy burden on the woman I so much loved. Jess was definitely caught by surprise, but I think more of the surprise came from the realization that our lives were about to change forever. She told me that she was glad that I came to her and that she could sense something hadn't been right with me for a while. She accepted it for what it was, and promised to stick by my side and assist in any way possible to get me the help that I needed. Her support and love made me feel secure in the decision I had made. At that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have my wife, my daughter, and my life. Everyone's rock bottom is different. This was mine.
That night I met up with Seth. I'm confident he already knew what I asked him there for. I told him I was an Alcoholic, and I needed help. He looked at me and said, "I had a feeling you were gonna say that". We talked for a while, and with some good advice from him I decided the best thing for me was to go to a 30 day alcohol and drug treatment center. I knew it would be impossible for me to get sober on my own. That ship had already sunk. Seth recommended a place he was very familiar with. An in house treatment facility in Sebastopol, CA. Three days later, on September 11th 2013, Jess and Seth accompanied me to Azure Acres. My journey had just begun.
Today, my life has changed drastically. I am no longer my own worst enemy. My life has meaning again. God has blessed me with all the wonderful things any man could ask for. Do not mistake what I am saying for perfection. The only thing I am perfect at is being imperfect. I still have challenges every day. The difference between now and then is precisely this: Now I am capable of dealing with all of life's challenges, seeing them for what they really are, uncontrollable. I am at peace with the fact that my life has been predetermined, but it is up to me to make the right choices along the way. Let me be very clear about something. My alcoholism and addiction is merely a symptom of a boy trying to be a man in Gods world. Everything I see or do, my job, my car, my home, all my possessions, all of my wants, all of my wisdom, even the clothes on my back and the shoes on my feet, are Vanity. We were born with nothing, and we will die with nothing. When the day comes to take my last breath, the love and forgiveness I have shown others will be the only thing that will have mattered. This alone brings me peace and contentment.
My recovery is a daily work in progress. I will never be cured from this disease, it runs in my blood. What I will do is enjoy every waking moment each day. I'll give thanks that I was one of the lucky ones with an opportunity to start over. I will be honest with myself, and those around me. My daughter, or my son will never see their dad drunk. That is a good feeling, and I am proud to say it.