My name is Dan and I am 45 years old. I have futilely fumbled my way through my addictions for over 30 years; I should not be alive. It took a miracle to save my life.
Every person suffering with addiction has a chance to recover. Light can pierce the blackest corners of darkness if only you let it in. If you accept that the light is always there, waiting to embrace you completely, you will survive. Blind faith eventually brought me toward that light.
I walked in darkness most of my life. Though I would run toward the light, I was never able to stop looking back over my shoulder. Despair would engulf me; its darkness nearly destroyed me before I found freedom.
What causes a young boy who is happy and carefree to turn into a monster of addiction? What causes a child who loves with purity and passion to turn into a man who hurts everyone he loves and destroys everyone he hates?
Personally, I believe that at the heart and core of addiction is an all-powerful force capable of causing both the human will and the soul to surrender. That force is trauma. Whether spawned from the physical, verbal, emotional or sexual actions of others, trauma takes a part of us we often never get back. It lies to us, whispering, “You’re not good enough, you’re not smart enough, you’re a failure; you are worthless; and you deserve what you got.”
From the age of four, my childhood was rocked by abuse. I lost my innocence far too young, and my once happy childhood never returned. No more details are necessary. I was a victim. I didn’t want to remember or feel. I didn’t want to exist. I tried to block it out, but forgotten wounds can still cause pain.
I was depressed, suicidal and on medication for chronic depression. I gave up on living, teetering on the edge of existence until age 13, when I discovered that my family’s medicine cabinet held the answers to my pain: cough syrup and allergy pills. I didn’t need to feel anymore. Addiction became freedom.
At 14, I stole a car and ran away. I moved out at 17, drinking my emotions away. My disease progressed.
My first intervention gave me hope. I was 21. I found a sponsor, worked the Twelve Steps, dove into service, found two lovers and formed a triangle of love, sex and drama. Nine months later, it collapsed in chaos with an infant’s death and two lovers ripped from my life. I felt acute pain. I relapsed.
A three-week blackout commenced, ending in a hospital detox, followed by an admission into a psych ward. My mental breakdown resulted in amnesia; all my memories were destroyed.
If nothing changes, nothing changes. The next eleven years were a blur of mistakes. Meeting my wife sobered me up. Her love and sex became a familiar monkey on my back. We enjoyed four years of bliss before a disease, lupus, smacked me back into full addiction.
I went from being in the best shape of my life to being bedridden and sleeping for days from overmedication and lupus. One morning, I grabbed a drink instead of a handful of pills and stayed drunk for the next four years.
By 2015, I was drinking a gallon of vodka a day in a deadly combination with opiates and benzodiazepines. I had been hospitalized five times in three months and almost died from an overdose. My wife left with our son.
I was alone with my misery. I couldn’t get into treatment loaded or drunk. I was close to death. Everyone was just waiting for me to die.
Just in time, a miracle occurred. My good friend, Danny Murphy, helped my wife get in contact with Intervention, the American television show on A&E. I was labeled one of the worst alcoholics ever on the program. I gave up all hope during filming.
It took another nine months of bouncing in and out of treatment before I finally got it. More chaos had ensued. Again, no details are necessary. It was a learning experience through which my Higher Power carried me the entire way.
I had to lose everything to get it back. I had suffered too long. One morning during prayer and meditation, I experienced a spiritual awakening that changed my life forever. My Higher Power took my burden, and both my mental obsession and the physical compulsion left me completely. I immediately headed west to home. Everything I lost I got back.
Today, my life is amazing. I wake up thanking my Higher Power for another day of life and breath and sobriety. I have reconnected with family and reunited with my wife and son. The Promises are working.
It isn’t easy to own the damage and trauma I caused in the lives of those I love, but now I am able to love myself and also love other people. I respect myself, so I can respect others. I own my side of the street. There is gratitude and acceptance in everything I do. I no longer run from the past nor shut the door on it. I live every moment in the present with mindfulness.
My future is exciting; blessings are flowing into my life, so I can bless the lives of others. My story offers hope to others suffering through what I have survived. Today, I share my story at schools, on panels and with others in treatment.
If just one person’s life is saved in the process, it’s all worth it. The messages of hope and freedom need to be heard. I will carry them to everyone I meet in life.
Life is a gift. Embrace your worth every day. Be a glimmer of hope in the lives of others. Show them the way to sobriety and the blessings that follow. The world will be better for it.