“Keep it Simple”

I have been trying to get outside after a Covid filled 2020 and another Wisconsin winter, so I tried to bike yesterday but it was March 1st and Wisconsin wasn’t ready. Trying to get back into the lifestyle I lived before drugs is not only hard to do, it’s hard to remember. I mean I started smoking pot about 16 years ago, and since then it has been off to the races. As I became a teenager I was on my own so I did bike with friends a lot and that ended once one of us got a car. I was 15 when my buddy got a car and that ended our biking around faze. I did not realise how much I needed that time on the bike. I was never a gym rat, and was never much for running, left that to my brother. But anyform of stress relief, anxiety release, whatever you want to call it, went out the window. I never dealt with the issues that bothered me as a young child and as a teenager I was so worried about girls and having fun. That fun carried me into a crazy lifestyle and I was really trying to mask the sadness I felt as a kid. The correlation between childhood trauma and drug use, self esteem and drug use, and adolescent encouragement and drug use, is overwhelming.

I just was asked about being part of UW Health’s research about the relationship between childhood trauma and drug use. Which shows they are finally making that connection. I ask a lot of people why they use drugs or drink and it always comes back to trauma of some kind. My childhood trauma was really the only reason why drugs like cocaine and heroin were even an option. The Psychiatrist at the Behavioral Health and Recovery Clinic will probably be stunned by my whole story, so I will let you know how that goes. Still a few weeks away. I think we all started using drugs for different reasons but we all kept using drugs for similar reasons.I was not a rich kid from the suburbs who just did some cocaine and got hooked like Lindsay Lohan, lol. My life has had its time where I had money, but usually it was just my family around me who had money. That never turned into tangible money for me to just blow on whatever I wanted though. I had my first job at 13, and I cleaned a dentist office and then worked at Taco Bell before I graduated. We bought our first weed from our manager at TB, his name was Corn. LOL. But anyway, I had a stable home setting otherwise I guess is the best way to put it considering my mom unavailable and my dad was busy all the time. I had the necessities and that would have been enough. If I wasn’t ready so sad from when I was four.

A lot happened to me at four. I was sexually abused by 3 sisters who were close to my age but it was still weird. Then I was split up from my mother who had been the main caretaker for me since I was born. Starting a new life with my dad who really didn’t know what to do with a four year old lol. Who would, it’s like the movie Big Daddy, my dad was strict though, so it was a weird balance because I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing or if what I was doing was right. I was given negativity in everything I wanted to do so I just lost purpose for what I should be doing.That was part of the appeal in those early days of selling a little weed, a feeling of being wanted, or needed, and seemingly, finding a purpose. For so long I always felt like, what is my purpose? That’s a question I think we have all asked. Why are we here? Well that’s pretty deep, I wasn’t talking about like, the reason for life; more so, what was I going to do for the rest of my life. Career wise. Nonetheless. I had not really thought about it leading to high school graduation and because of that I actually started college undeclared until I switched to Journalism, initially. I was Journalism and Mass Communications for my first two and a half years of college, I was half way done and I wanted to switch my focal point to Environmental Science. Which I still love, but because of the drug use I never was able to take completely serious. I was so close to graduating still, even though it was 2011 when I finally dropped out until 2015….

All through college I never did much athletically to really deal with my stress or anxiety. THe stress of the life I was living with the drugs, and having to hide the drugs from family and school made it so that I did more drugs because that was how I dealt with my problems. It really is just an awful cycle to get into because the only way you know how to deal with anything is with drugs. I started needing less of a reason then that to use because of the physical sickness. Twitching awake at 6am because withdrawal is kicking in and I will be puking by noon unless I get a fix.

Drugs should never have even been even an option in my life. I should have had enough self esteem, and self respect to avoid that lifestyle. I am not talking about smoking pot or even dealing, although that was one of the contributing factors, all the connections I made to grow my drug use opportunities. Which I took full advantage of. But before I tried heroin for the first time I had already been doing cocaine pretty much every day from 18.5 until I switched to heroin. At first I was doing both because I had the money and I liked it. It is not normal for a senior in college to be doing blow and Afghan heroin everyday, or being able to afford it everyday. For a college kid, the drug dealing money was cool at the time but dealing with the lifestyle I lived was so stressful. Worried about cops, worrying about overdosing, getting dope everyday, and trying to keep it from my family. It all added to the stress and it was just a vicious cycle.

My self esteem was given a boost with the drug dealing and the lifestyle but the stress of that life spiraled me back to using more and that just was how it went. Doing cocaine every morning before class was not ideal for a student to learn. From Fall of ‘08 to Spring of 11’ I tried to go to school and maintain my heroin habit. Classes were passed, but I failed 9 classes in that time. If I would have passed just two of them. I would have my degree….

Not everyone who has trauma issues, and self esteem issues turn to drugs though. I get it, and I know that, and I do take responsibility for spiraling down from weed through the drugs to heroin. It was kind of a perfect storm of people, places and things that led to heroin entering my life. The mindset I was in, the people around me and the fact that I had done every other drug to the max, and nothing bad happened yet so I thought I tried it all already so fuck it. That fuck it cost me 13 years of my life. My self esteem issues cost me 13 years of my life. I never tried much as a child either because I was afraid to fail because I thought if I failed then my dad wouldn’t want me, since I was already “abandoned” by my mom.

That really scared me into being a good kid for all of my childhood. I was always worried about getting in trouble with my dad. I never cared about what the cops thought. Just what my dad would think or do and how he would make me feel. It wasn’t fair, I should not have been so afraid to get into trouble or fail that I didn’t try things. Ironically I got arrested for the first time 4 days after I turned 18. What luck huh? But that was only the beginning, I have been arrested 13 times I think and I was only arrested two times for the 7 cases in 6 counties in 12 days in 2012 that I caught. Point is I cared so much as a kid that I didn’t do anything. Then after 18 it was like, the ones close to me didn’t ask me about college, or the military or a career, it was like no one really cared, even my highschool advisor and mind you I have an exceptional IQ, and automatically entered into UWM without even doing one whole section of my ACT. I read more books in jail than I did in college. That is not a joke, getting clean being in jail I wanted to read and learn. My drug filled mind otherwise just did not care. That is what is so sad about this, it took years of self discovery, and I am still working on building my self esteem everyday. For me to get out of the shadow of my childhood and try to just build on my strengths and work to improve my weaknesses. Having a son helped me, all my treatment helped me, getting sober helped me, and aligning what I make important now helped me. Creating small reachable goals that I can achieve on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, as well as long term goals, that may take 5 to 15 years to achieve. THe point is to progress everyday towards being the best version of myself that I can be. Not only being better for myself, because I deserve it, but being better for myself because my family deserves it and my future deserves it. The ironic thing about all of my treatments and everything that I have been through is that I am a very complicated person. Many girlfriends have said they thought they had me figured out, but did not have a clue. THe complexity of my life, is what I brought to my recovery. It made it impossible to work on my trauma issues or my self esteem issues because I was trying to solve everything at the same time. Keep it Simple. It made so much sense, finally. I had heard it a million times before. With all the tools I learned like coping skills, my biking, or writing, of course, and connecting with positive people again, I still needed something to click. My self esteem would build as I worked towards goals and my trauma is being worked through with a therapist so all the tools I needed to really create a great life for myself was right in front of me. I still had reservations about using though. Like I had every other time before. When my doctor said that the “opposite of addiction is connection” it really made sense to me and I have really used that as half of the final piece. Connection with myself has made all the difference but ultimately that connection with the still sick and suffering. Wanting to inspire hope and encourage a new way of thinking. If I could get out of that life and stop using finally after 40 failed rehab attempts. I got clean this last time without a rehab or detox center. I will tell you how I did it another time.

I have been talking to friends and family more than ever before and spending time with my brother and nieces a lot. “Uncle Steve.” It’s great. I made it simple for myself. Keep it simple, stupid. As they say in the meetings. I ultimately had to make a decision, a heroin death, or a life with my son. After everything I have been through and all of the failed attempts, any moments of weakness, I just think about him, and I will not let anyone or anything ever get in the way of that. And that has extra on it for personal reasons. But it had to be black or white for me, or heads or tails. There was no grey area or both option. It was one or the other. The confidence it takes to pull your life out of the death I created, shows me I am on the right track in my recovery process. Hopefully Wisconsin warms up soon, adding outdoor biking to my routine can only better my life so Im excited. I am not perfect by any means, and I do admit promptly when I am wrong now. I realised it’s ok to be wrong sometimes, that the problem really is never trying at all. Do not give up on yourself and never give up on your dreams.

Published by SoberSteveRecovery

It was a home birth on the Eastside of Milwaukee on September, 11th 1987. I have lived all over Wisconsin, and even lived in Florida for a year. UW-MILWAUKEE is where I studied Journalism and History and I eventually switched my major to Environmental Science. My love for the planet equals my love for humanity and now I am focused on finishing up a degree in Addiction Counseling because I just want to help. Continuing school until I have a PhD so I can teach which is my long term goal. Everything I do is to be better for my son. Hopefully we can save some lives as well. ☮️ ❤️ ♾️

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