Lost Without Direction

Time goes by so fast, and I was done wasting time, I have been on a mission ever since and I myself, cannot even believe I am even here. I have been through so much in my life already and it really is made for a movie. Well at least a Lifetime movie but it was crazy, nonetheless. I am in a completely different place in my life right now and that craziest part about my life now is how much I have accomplished in such a short amount of time. Over Forth of July weekend I was sober for the first time in a long time. Last time I was clean over Forth of July was 2016 and before that we are looking at about 2004. So, with that being said, it was quite the accomplishment, and it also marked my seven months clean date. This still does not sound like a lot of time to me considering how much I have done in the last six months. That first month, I was sick as fuck and was pretty useless, but since then I have been on a mission.

I never would have thought I would be in school for Psychology and have the SoberSteveRecovery Podcast, but as great as both of those things are they do not compare to the rest of my life that I have created for myself. The job I have and the people I see on a daily basis are just good, honest people that only have my best interest at heart when we are together. Rebuilding relationships with my family and some old friends has really been a huge part of finding balance in my life. I attribute most of my success to the relationship I have built with myself and by that, I mean I just have really taken the time to figure out who I am, what I want to be, and how I can or will get there. I have really been able to look deep inside myself and analyze what my weaknesses have been. It is not an easy task to look deep into your past and analyze yourself. It is so easy to analyze others, but when it comes to us, that is another story. I recently told my therapist that our talks are great, and it has been really nice having someone to talk to but if we are going to get into the things in my life that really bother me than we are going to have to do less talk about what is currently happening and talk more about what already has happened to me. The trauma I went through as a child and throughout my life has never been dealt with in a proper way. I have always self-medicated and taken my coping mechanisms into my own hands and we all know how that ended up. Talking to my therapist about what is happening in my life now is helpful and effective so we will still have our check in and if anything, crazy is going on I can talk about it, but it is really going to be more helpful long-term to discuss the things that have been bothering me since I was four years old. Those are the underlining reasons for why I continued to use drugs after I attempted to get clean so many times.

It does not help that life is accumulative and continues to compile life on top of life. Which for us just makes dealing with things that much harder. It really is crazy because the more I did not deal with what had already happened to me, the more new things continued to happen to me, and it just made everything exponentially worse until I found my escape. I never knew how much my life had taken a toll on my self-esteem and self-worth until I saw what my life had turned into after so many years of chronic heroin use. I was just a shell of my self and never really knew how to escape the trapped life that I was living but I never gave up trying to find a new way to live. It really was years of repeated trying and relentless attempts at beating detox and trying to find a way not to use through “The Obsession”. I was always so sick every day, and I was willing to do anything to finally get clean. I had clean time in the past, and I was able to get clean so many times, but it really was so hard to stay stopped. It was because I was not doing any work to help overcome my reasons for using and every time life became too stressful or something bad happened, I would cope by using. I remember I relapsed after my grandmas passed away early in 2016 and that led me into one of the worst years of my life based on some of the things that happened to me and the trouble, I got in. Dealing with the lost of the most amazing person I have ever known was really hard for me and all I know is that she would be really proud of me now. My lasting memory of my grandma is Christmas Day 2015, which I was sober for so I will always have that. The next worst relapse for me was when I was not granted custody of my son at the end of 2018 and by February of 2019, I overdosed for nine minutes and was given the max Narcan dose the paramedic can give before I woke up. Thank goodness I lived in a small town at the time and the police were able to reach me fast enough.

I saw the body cam video which I have talked about before in my writing and on my podcast so I will not go into all the details. But for me that was a turning point even though I had relapsed after that. I saw that video and I wanted to get control of my life and I was going to try as long as it took to get to where I know I can be in life. I was always pretty smart even though I was one of the youngest in my class, and I never had an issue with working hard. It was just always an issue of what should I be working hard towards. I thought that most of my life was such a waste of time because I was enthralled in the depths of addiction and seemingly had no way out. I lived a life on the streets that most people could never even imagine. I know that a lot of people go through tough times, and I know that there are countries whose whole population live worse than I ever did on the streets of Milwaukee. But for most people who grew up in the outer city, suburbs, that I did, they could never imagine some of the things that I have seen and been through. I panhandled and was basically a bum all of Spring and half of Summer of 2015 until I was arrested for stealing textbooks while I was on probation already. Stealing and panhandling while trying not to die on the city streets Milwaukee. If anyone knows Milwaukee, it is a tough city, and if you are living on the streets, it is a really tough city.

I never wanted to end up a panhandling bum, that was never my goal in life. If you asked me in fifth grade what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said a football player. Not a bum, or a heroin addict or someone who wasted everything good that had to offer. I knew that I was always sort of destined for more than I was doing. The only thing about destiny is that there is still work that must be done before anything will ever come to fruition. I do not know what my future has in store for me just yet, but I do know that if I keep going forward and continue to chip away at my goals, then the sky is the limit and everything I accomplish will because of me and my hard work, from living on the street to wherever I make it to. It will be exciting to see what comes of my life, but I already feel like a success story, but the success has just begun.

Life is what you make it and I wish I understood at a younger age about how fragile time and life is. As well as I wish I understood that no one is going to give you anything in life and unless you are born a Saudi Arabian Prince then you are going to have to work for everything that you want in life. Going through life without direction is how I got lost in the first place, so I will always be working towards my goals and always have my future with my son on my mind when it comes to anything I do and any decision I make. I only get him three hours a week on Thursdays, but he is on my mind 168 hours a week and he is the focus of my mission. Created a life for myself that creates the best version of me for him. That is what it is all about, connection and creating a life worth living, which is my focus every single day.

Progress Not Perfection

As my life evolves into something I could never have imagined even a year ago, I truly am thankful everyday for the life I created for myself. I knew that I deserved more and I always knew that I was destined for something far better than the way I was living. I remember biking to the hood to get my drugs thinking that this can’t be my life forever and that if I created a life worth living I would never want to go back to drugs. Drugs will always be there if a person chooses to go back, for me it was, get clean, get a plan and let me really focus on what is important to me, where I want my life to go, and what I have to do to get there. Everything I do during my days now are always striding towards my end goals. I work, work, work, do my homework for school and am constantly focused on my recovery.

This time last year, COVID had taken over the world, we were “safer at home” and I was biking to the inner city to score drugs. I knew that was what I had to do at the time because my addiction didn’t allow me to do anything else. I always just wanted to feel better and just have the obsession lifted, I knew that it could and would happen someday if I kept trying to get clean. I overdosed once in 2019 and that scared me straight for nine months, but then in 2020, I overdosed three times and I just kept using. I should have been dead four times for sure, if not countless more times where I just got lucky. A person doesn’t realize what the life of heroin addiction is like. Being sick everyday, and the only way to feel better that day is to poison ourselves with heroin, almost to the point of overdose but always trying not to die.

Looking back on what I went through everyday and how exhausting it was trying to maintain that lifestyle, I feel like I really am capable of doing anything I set my mind to. If I was willing to do the things I did for heroin, and the energy that was put into making sure I could use everyday, I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. I always used to say, “if we put half of the energy we did to use everyday, into anything else, we would be unbelievably successful.” Just half of the energy, think about that. The other quote I used to say to myself and other people was “I wouldn’t wish being dope sick on my worst enemy.”

Once I got detoxed and figured out what I wanted to do with myself, I started thinking about those quotes. If I wouldn’t wish being dope sick on my worst enemy, why was I putting myself through that everyday? Treating my mind and body so horribly for so long was hurting me, everyone around me and was definitely holding me back from a nice future. I never knew what my life would consist of and that was part of my personal issue with life in general. I just did not know who or what I wanted to be. I just felt so out of place and like I could do anything but didn’t fit anywhere. Life has an amazing way of working out if you just continue to live, it’s that whole dying thing that fucks shit up. I always said if I can just get out of this alive, I could do something with my life. Just getting out of it was the hardest thing I ever did and everyday is a reminder of where I once was. I never want to go back and that is where my other quote comes into play. I am lucky I have an exorbitant amount of energy and now with a focus, I just grind towards my goals everyday.

With everything that I do everyday building towards my short term and long term goals it has been a great experience finding myself again and truly working towards being the best version of myself everyday. I saw my doctor recently and he said it again, “the opposite of addiction is connection.” The connections you build with other people, things you do and places you go is just the start. The biggest connection a person has to make is within themselves. Figuring yourself out and being true to yourself is the best advice I can give a person early on in recovery. Only at the point of figuring out who you are can you begin to heal. We all have gone through crazy things in life and at the ages that most of us are, life has definitely taken its toll. I always say though, it isn’t what happens, but how you deal with it that matters.

Now days I still go through a lot of trials and tribulations and life happens everyday. I still deal with a lot when it comes to being able to see my son, the stressors of school and work, and just everyday life. I just don’t let anything knock me off my square. I face everything head on, I am open and vocal about what I am dealing with and I use much better coping mechanisms than I used to. Drugs technically isn’t coping, it is avoiding and masking, so that never helps anything. Drugs only magnify the issues that are already there and has a way of creating new ones. I tend to break out in handcuffs and that never ends well. Now it is different though, I have great friends and family to turn to, many different recovery skills, and I view life in such a different way than I used to. This really allows me to deal with anything that comes my way and feel confident that I am doing the right thing.

Being who I am today and where I am in life right now is truly a miracle and I am thankful everyday that I got out of that life. I just did my first bike race in about 20 years and it went amazingly well for a guy that had a needle in his arm at this time last year. I actually did well in general, but it definitely would not have been possible at all if I was still using. Getting back into bike racing and doing other things that I used to do before the drugs took over my life has been so rewarding. Now I can’t wait for the next race and really just enjoyed feeling like I was finally living life again. Drug addiction is not living, it is like being in a prison of the mind and it is like being forced to do something you don’t want to do everyday no matter what. I finally feel like I am living again and I honestly couldn’t be happier right now.

I am so ahead of where I thought I would ever be and the fact that I am right in the middle of so many things only 6 months after getting clean for the last time is a true testament to my drive and desire for a better life. I started using heroin in 2008 and by 2008 I wanted to quit. That is the truth of the matter, and the first time I actually tried to get clean for real was 2011. Even after really wanting to get clean over the next 5 years I would be in and out of jail and rehabs like a revolving door. Friends dying continuously and their friends would ask me where they got the dope because it must be good. Such a convoluted thought process we have as heroin users, if someone dies it must be good, and we want to try it. How about it just killed my friends, I should probably stay away from that batch and all batches for that matter. From 2016 until the end of 2020 when I got clean finally I had been clean longer than I used for but as a chronic relapser I just could never say never again and I seemed to always fall back into the cycle. The craziest thing for a drug user is when they quit and go back; very quickly do they end up right where they left off, if the first use doesn’t kill them like it did two of my really good friends. RIP Swiss & Pat.

Always wanting to get clean but never truly knowing how to stay clean was always my biggest issue. I could go to detox or detox myself once or twice a week but after a few days “the obsession” (read same title) would be too overwhelming and I would feel like I had to use. I remember trying to fight the obsession and literally wanting to knock myself out just to get relief for a few minutes where I didn’t have to be in my own body or mind. I don’t know how it exactly works but once the obsession lifted finally, I closed the door on that forever. I can finally say never again, I have no reservations about using, and I created a life for myself that I do not want anything to ever interfere with.

Life is not perfect and some days are stressful and tiring but the worst day in this life is better than the best day in addiction. Some people say they wouldn’t change what they went through because it makes them who they are today and they are able to use their experiences to help other people. Well, I am one of those people, but it couldn’t be more true. I sometimes wish that I didn’t waste 13 years doing heroin and another 2 years before that doing cocaine because no one should ever have to go through that. Not only because I never deserved doing that to myself, but 15 years is a long time to not be productive and moving forward. But it led to the life I have today, with the people I have in it and the things that I am doing, and going to be doing, so was it a waste…

I guess it depends on what I do with my future. If I stay on my goal train and the path that I am on, then the sky’s the limit. If I think I can use it just one time or think I can use it successfully this time, then it all goes away. The cliche NA line, 1 is too many, 1,000 is never enough. That is the reality of it and couldn’t be more true. I never lose sight of where I want to be and I definitely never forget where I came out of. My tomorrow looks fulfilling and my future looks bright. Better get them new sunglasses. Progress not perfection. I live by that mantra everyday. I never will be perfect but I can always be better.

“Started From the Bottom Now Im Here”

I have been through rehab more times than I can count and a lot of the time it felt like the movie groundhog day where I just was reliving my cycle of addiction. In and out of rehabs and jails and back on the streets with a needle in my arm. Life was basically a prison of solitude within myself and not knowing how to break away from that. Everyday was so horrible, I was forced, everyday, no matter what, to chase the high in order to feel I could function “normally”. There is no normal when you are addicted to drugs and the life you are living is not a life at all. Just trying to score drugs everyday gets exhausting and it is so sketchy, and risky, and dangerous that it really shows a lack of self. Why am I allowing myself to be put in these situations, in these dangerous areas, around people who may also be dangerous? The drugs take us to places that we never thought we would go or see. At first drugs seemed to be fun and seemed like it could take me places when it came to drug dealing. Pretty quickly though, partying became using alone in a bathroom, and then drug dealing became panhandling under the highway in Milwaukee off McKinley. That wasn’t how life was supposed to go and that was never how I pictured myself. Started from the bottom, Now i’m here.

When I was 17 and began selling weed, it really was new and exciting and cool. Things quickly went from let’s see if I can sell an ounce a week, to my guy fronting me 4lbs a week roughly within three months and that was making me almost a crazy amount of money after being broke my whole life. I never had the coolest clothes, or the nicest shoes. I never owned a pair of Js. For one, my dad doesn’t understand shoes and would never spend that much on them and two, I just knew we didn’t have that kind of money for me to have shoes. It wasn’t just about the money though, for once in my life, I felt like I was popular or cool because now everyone needed me and I had good product for good prices and I would deliver. I also had five guys that worked for me and a driver. Things were crazy and by the time I was 20 years old, I made about a million dollars that we blew, moved to a nice apartment on the eastside of Milwaukee, had a beautiful girlfriend, a great dog, a lot of friends and I was about to become a senior in college studying Environmental Science. Nothing could stop me.

Granted. Since I was 18, I was basically doing and selling powder cocaine everyday. The weed market I was in, turned to coke, Molly or X, LSD, shrooms, pills, K, and in order to promote my product I had to try it all of course. I should have listened to BIGGIE and not got high on my own supply, but we really were making so much money that I did way too much drugs. I took ‘candy flippin’ and ‘hippie trippin’ to whole new levels. I was kinda like “Mikey” he’ll try anything. It seemed like it was ok at the time because of everything I had going in my life which looking back was a complete disaster, but trying heroin ended everything.

When heroin came into my life, it started taking my friends away, then where I lived had to change, I couldn’t go to school and other business ventures ended because of snitches.It was a perfect storm for heroin to take over my life. Oxy had switched from OC to OP and that made heroin use skyrocket, a lot of my friends were in perks or doing pills and once it was too hard to find pills, they all switched to heroin and so I started selling heroin. Selling heroin as a heroin user is a terrible idea, heroin is a terrible idea either way but with the money and resources I had, I really did a lot those first years, really making that canyon in my brain deep and long and really hard to climb out of. (Please read “The Obsession”)

Heroin took over my life and I lost everything, the girl, the friends, the life, the respect, the dog was even killed indirectly because of my drug use. (Please Read Pink Diary), and I was broke and dropped out of school and moved countless times all over Wisconsin. Until I went to rehab in Florida to really try to get clean. This was October 25, 2012. I got clean December 5th 2020. It is not about want. I wanted to get clean since I started using in 2008. Rehab in Florida is where I really tried to get clean and did take direction and I did listen, I just was a young punk and was still fighting the treatment. I didn’t want to face my problems and I really didn’t even know which problems were bothering me the most. It takes a lot of growth and maturity to realize what issues there are and what it takes to get through those issues. I attempted rehabs so many different times and I did understand what they were trying to say, it was just putting it all together and using what worked for me in order to change who I am and what kind of person I wanted to be. It is progress, not perfection, every single day.In and out of rehabs all over the country, literally and they all basically had a similar message. Go to meetings, get a sponsor, work the steps, and that works for many people and I am all for it if it works for you, I used my own version of all of those and I prefer 1 on 1 counseling, but I am not opposed to NA/AA at all. I just feel everyone needs their own treatment program and that each person has specific needs when it comes to their individual treatment. I understand that the 12 Steps have worked for a lot of people and I actually really like the 12 Principles but I still think treatment plans must be individualized for everyone. Going through all the groups and meetings that I have, coping skills, what they are, and how to use them is one of the pivotal tools you will learn in treatment.

Not one drug treatment tool we learn in rehab is going to keep us sober. It is using everything we’ve learned and applying that to our lives in order to create a life so worth living that drugs have no place in it anymore. Coping skills are cool because they can be anything and for everyone they are different. A coping skill is doing anything to deal with your problems, stress, or anxiety that doesn’t involve using drugs or alcohol. Doing anything to cope with life besides drugs, which only created more problems anyway. Coping skills can be unique to each person and although there are some common ones, finding the coping skills that suit you are going to be one of the most important things you do for yourself in recovery.

My coping skills start with the basics like talking to my sobriety coach, venting to friends or family, and talking to my therapist. Anything can be a coping skill as long as it doesn’t involve using drugs or drinking. The whole purpose is to replace drugs and alcohol as your coping mechanism with something that is going to benefit you in the long run. Something that is not harmful to your future and that doesn’t steal your soul, preferably. Drugs and alcohol may mask your feelings the way you want, they may make you not feel, or feel invisible, but the problem isn’t with the drugs, the problem is within ourselves. The way we treat ourselves, reflects how we feel about ourselves and that is directly related to which coping mechanisms we use. The healthy ones, like talking to a friend and going for a bike ride, or listening to music and walking the dog, writing and playing with your kids, or anything that isn’t drug use.

I used to not need much of a reason to use drugs. If my eyes opened that day, my obsession started and drugs were it. Getting sober a million times but never really doing all the work it takes to stay clean. Getting clean these last few times and really starting to figure it out. I still relapsed and I had 19 months clean before around when my son was born and another 9 months after my first overdose. I used bits and pieces from every recovery center, detox and rehab that I went to, all of my jail time and just living life, going through everything I have and things still have a long way to go. But I don’t use drugs to cope with life anymore, I am done being passive and hurting myself because of it. Life is too short not to take full advantage of every moment and really strive for the impossible. I never thought I would be where I am today and of course there will always be work to do when it comes to staying clean. Coping with the stresses of the world in a different way has really been the biggest change for me in my life. It isn’t what happens to you, but how you react to what happens to you that is going to define you.

“Create A Life Worth Living”

I have been trying to get clean for over a decade, I wanted to get clean, I needed to get clean, and I knew life would be better if I got clean. But, the addiction does not care what I wanted, I was obsessed with heroin and escaping life which seemed like how my life would end. They say we aren’t addicted to the drugs themselves, rather we are addicted to the way they make us feel and the escaping power they have on our lives. It really turns into a horrible cycle which is hard for some people to understand. The more we use, the more we feel like shit about ourselves, the guilt, and shame, and then we go through the physical sickness and that is awful, but to avoid that we use. Starting the cycle over and over again. I hear all the time that the user will not get clean unless they want to, which 100% I agree with, however, the want to get clean is not always enough, there really is so much more to it.

Even after we get clean for a month, three, twelve, life still happens and it is not always easy. Life really has a crazy way of throwing things at us that we think we can’t handle. Somehow, someway, we figure it out and that is what life’s about. It really is not what happens to us that dictates who we are or how we are going to live our lives. Rather, it is how we deal with what happens in our lives that is going to dictate who we are and who we become in our lives. Changing how I deal with things and what I ALLOW to bother me has really been a big step forward in my recovery. We have no control over what other people do, and life happens, so it isn’t what happens, rather how you deal with what happens that is important.

I always thought if I were able to get rid of the drugs, or eliminate the drugs from my life, that the work to stay clean would be easy. Early on in my addiction I really thought that if I could just get over the physical illness that everything else would be easy. The physical withdrawals are so intense, literally it feels like I am about to die, but I don’t, I keep living through it, feeling every second of it. Escaping how I felt about myself and my life is really what lead to my relapses every time. I may have cleaned the drugs out of my system, and detoxed so many times that it just became normal, but I thought that was all I needed for my treatment, was to get over the physical sickness. I really couldn’t even process the mental addiction the drugs had on my brain, read the “Obsession” if you haven’t, and because of that, I never really was able to or wanted to address some of the major reasons why I continue to use. A lot of people may try drugs or alcohol, but to become an addict takes a perfect storm of circumstances that leads us to thinking that drugs are the only option for us to feel better about ourselves.It comes down to personal self worth, self esteem, and value of self, that is why we treat ourselves so good, or so bad depending on how we are living. One of the biggest things for me was thinking that I wouldn’t wish dope sickness, and withdrawal on my worst enemy, but I put myself through it everyday. If that isn’t the most convoluted statement ever. The self destructive behavior had to stop and once I was able to realize that I wasn’t getting high because I wanted to, I was getting high to cover up how I felt about myself. Then I had to figure out why I felt that way about myself and change my focus, change what I wanted to have important to my life.

I did have a lot of trauma happen to me as a child, mostly at 4 years old, is when everything happened. Sexual abuse, Abandonment, Cop Car, Foster Care, and then being sent to live with my father who I hadn’t know that well at that point. Then in 2012 when my ex girlfriend murdered my dog and it became world news, please read “Pink Diary”, my PTSD from that has really taken a toll on me. For a long time, and sometimes still today I feel guilty for not protecting MJ. Makes me sad, but she would be happy to know that because of her, I got away from that woman, and maybe she would have killed me next, she is back in prison now, but if MJ could see me now, her tail would be waggin for sure, with those floppy ears.

Anyway, Since 2008, when my first two friends passed away during college, a month apart, I have had forty more friends pass away and having to save the life of a few of my buddies and a few girlfriends, has really taken its toll on my mind and thoughts. It is scary and I have saved more lives, and had more friends die than anyone I know combined, besides the ones in the medical field. That is crazy! My point is, regardless of all of that, I can sit down, feel sorry for myself and do nothing. For a while, getting high, I thought was working, but it just compounds the issues and creates more issues, and how I lived like that is mind boggling to me. I never wanted anyone to feel sorry for me but I wanted to share my story and some people took that as a narcissistic attempt to get people to feel sorry for me. I never wanted that at all, just wanted to share what I went through and the pain that I was masking with drugs. This was me sharing my story before I created SoberSteveRecovery and was called that then, so imagine some of what I deal with now. It really is crazy, but the reason I shared my story was so people could maybe understand why I was the way I was and what I dealt with in my life that makes me who I am. Everyone says, I went through hard times as well, and that may be the case, and I completely understand that everyone goes through life and things happen to all of us. Again it is how we deal with things that really makes us who we are. For the most part, addiction issues stem from some kind of childhood trauma mixed with a lack of nurture during the pivotal years of about 4-14, where children really start to form who they are going to become and how they feel about themselves.

Not everyone is predisposed through genetics to have addiction issues and even some who are may never be exposed to drugs so their addiction never starts. I say this a lot and it’s like the movie ‘Perfect Storm’, and that is how I explain how I became addicted to heroin. All aspects of my life, how I felt about myself, who was in my life and how the flow of everyday went, when I first tried heroin, I really did not think about the long term devastation it was about to cause in my life. I didn’t really know, but I was smart enough too, just the variables lined up and my addiction started, by the time I thought it may be a problem I was hooked and I guess embarrassed and ashamed to say anything so I just started to dictate my life. Using is just such a terrible cycle, we use to feel better about ourselves and to physically feel better, but the drugs make us feel worse about ourselves for doing them, and when we do not have them, we get sick. Even coming off of uppers, like meth and crack the crash makes us feel like such shit, the endorphins and serotonin gets so messed up that the crash is like being dope sick, just completely depressed and then we use drugs to mask that or feel better. And so the cycle continues.

Everyone asks what to do to get clean or how they can help their loved one get clean. I am currently trying to help a pregnant wife in South Africa with her ‘stone’ addicted husband into treatment. I believe that is meth. But the main thing is if the person wants to get clean, then the work begins, nothing can happen unless the person wants to get clean and like me, even then, it can take 13 years and 40 rehabs to get clean. I never gave up on myself, or my future and now I am creating the type of life I always knew I deserved. Once, the person says they want help, I am starting to recommend a 28 day inpatient rehab center. The week-long detox is not long enough, and for people who say they can’t go somewhere for 28 days, if you don’t you could be dead and that is forever. So just be willing, and open to try to go outside of your comfort zone for a better life long term. The 28 day detox will start out with a lot of withdrawal and sickness and being medically monitored really helps, they try to make it a little more bearable. Then building up the body and getting physically stronger is what those week 2 and 3 are about. The brain will be so scattered with drug dreams, cravings, racing thoughts, and in the beginning stages of healing. Do not overwhelm yourself too quickly into recovery. Too many times I tried rushing back to life and without doing any work to stay clean, that’s leading to relapse for sure. That last week of impatient treatment is where the work really starts to begin.

Through the first few weeks, there are groups to attend and it is laying the groundwork for the long term treatment plan. Which I strongly believe is different for everyone, but basically follows a template. Relapse Prevention Plan, Coping Skills, and a Crisis Plan in case of major catastrophic events, on to a daily recovery plan, it does take work everyday. I also have a Therapist, Psychiatrist, and great Medical doctor, and his two nurses, and an amazing sobriety coach who has been by my side since the beginning of my recovery journey which has been a big help. Going to a 60 year old man in AA for my sponsor just was not going to be conducive to my recovery and I knew that. Like I said, 40 rehabs, I did 90 in 90, meaning meetings, and then did it again. I really was always open to trying things to get clean, and I followed directions. It just was that the cure is not the exact same for everyone.

The cycle of addiction is literally the devil at work, and he is constantly waiting for a lapse, or a moment of vulnerability or weakness so he can squeeze back into our lives. Everyday that we use the tools we have to defeat our addiction is one more day built on our foundation to recovery. Our addiction never took any days off, and either does our work in recovery. They say we mentally and emotionally relapse before we ever pick up the drink or drugs and physically relapse. It is important to stay focused, have a solid treatment plan, and build a really great support system around you. The idea is to create a life for yourself that is so great and so amazing, that even when hardships occur, living this recovery life is indispensable.

‘Crawfish ‘n the Bayou’

“This is supposed to be a road, trip. All we’re doing is driving all the time.”

It was my cousin’s graduation from high school and I went to California for a trip with my dad and step mom. 52 hours in Cali and that was it in 13 years….

That was my first trip anywhere since I went to Gulf Shores, Alabama after Christmas in 2008. I mean I did get shipped to rehab in Florida, but that was hardly a vacation. Ending up homeless and rehab hopping towards the end there in Florida was hardly my idea of a vacation. I ended up going to Las Vegas for my 21st birthday in September of 2008. I also taped heroin to my nut sack for that trip. Gulf Shores I had brought enough for the trip and actually ran out, can you believe that. Well, I toughed it out as long as I could and the first second someone talked about going home, I said I’ll drive lol. I did that drive from Gulf Shores to Milwaukee in less than 10 hours and I realized that was the last time I could go on vacation as long as I was on heroin. 

    I would even just go away for a weekend and I couldn’t manage it. There was too much I had to plan for and I never had enough money to just buy enough supply to travel with. That never worked out anyway and I just decided against traveling all together. The few times I had clean time over the years I was able to do a few things but I never really went anywhere besides Cali for my cousin’s graduation party. I never thought I would stop traveling in my life because I had already been to about 30 states and Mexico and the Boundary Waters by Canada so traveling was always a big deal to me. I loved going to California with my Grandma to visit our family that still lives there. When I was like 12-16 I went to Cali like 10 times probably with my Grandma and it really was part of my peace. 

    I loved California and the beach so much that when I was 14 my dad and I talked about moving there, but I wanted to be in High School with my friends, that was what we had been waiting for so I wasn’t going to move. I did love Cali though and the memories I have with my grandma are unforgettable and since she passed in 2015 I have only gone to California one time. Traveling has definitely not been a priority during my addiction to heroin and I really missed being able to explore. I haven’t even seen all of the U.S. and I want to do the rest of the world too. Being addicted to heroin, I would never have been able to go anywhere cool and I used to actually pass up going on a trip because I knew I physically couldn’t get through the trip without getting super dope sick and it just wasn’t worth it. 

    I always am up for a road trip and I have even hitch hiked a little bit in my time, well, more than five times for real and I love road trips, the Tom Green movie and actual road trips. I have driven from Wisconsin, to Florida and then Florida to Taos, New Mexico and then back to Wisconsin. I have driven back from Denver with my Brother and with the late B Cubed, I road tripped from Orlando to South Beach Miami. Those are just a few of my road trips, and there were many more. I plan to do many more and now that I am sober I really can do whatever I want which is a beautiful thing. 

    I woke up this morning in New Orleans, Louisiana. Actually just to the East of New Orleans across Lake Pontchartrain which is almost like a lake in the sense that it has water. The locals told me that there are Bull Sharks, although, they said, “don’t worry, they are just baby four footer bull sharks,” I mean that doesnt help me much considering lakes that I am used to have no sharks. Just an idea. They built they the longest bridges in the world across the lake, it’s like 26 miles long and is actually quite the site to see if you ever are able to get to New Orleans. I did find some areas off the main drag and in the deep Louisiana South where there was still some debri  from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. New Orleans has always been on my list of cities that I wanted to visit and I always love seeing the ocean. How can you not love the power, beauty and sanctity of the ocean. The sound of the waves and the wildlife are so peaceful and just being in a calm environment and away from the drama of everyday life. 

    There is a lot to do when I get back next week, firstly, I get to see my son on Thursday’s starting after Easter and then I have a lot regarding school and work that I have to get caught up on. But right now I am focused on finally giving my mind and body a vacation from active addiction which isn’t fun at all, regardless of what people think, and now a vacation from all the stress I have been putting on myself building my life back. I love it, and everyday is better than the last, but everyone deserves a vacation and I haven’t been on one in 14 years. My cousin’s graduation was a 52 hour trip to Cali. I’m glad I got to go but I wish I would have been able to stay longer but it was still good to get away. I did get into the ocean and swim with my cousins before they both went and go off to college. Cali I will definitely do again and I wouldn’t mind doing parts of Florida, but there is a whole world I want to explore now that I am sober. I plan to do a lot of traveling, schedule permitting, but none of that would be possible if I was still obsessing about getting high everyday. It really is a miracle and amazing that my brain is finally able to think about something else and I am able to live a semi normal life.LOL.

    Life in the Bayou is much slower and much more laid back then life outside of Madison. Talking to the guy working the crawfish stand, he sells 1200lbs a week of crawfish and has over 6,000 crab traps which is a lot. I mean this is these guys lives and it is all they know and everything they know. Crawfish is good but just the whole thing is unusual for me because in Lake Michigan I catch big SmallMouth Bass on crawfish so to be the one eating them was different. The meat is really good though, not gonna lie, it is. The gator was good too, and I already know I love oysters but I had some really good ones. They really are able to live off of the land down here and they definitely do not waste any opportunity to fry something and eat it. 

Being on the Bayou with family and seeing how they live down here has been quite the learning experience. From Hollygrove where Lil Wayne is from to the tip of the boot of Louisiana and out to Biloxi Mississippi, a road trip like this never would have been possible if I was still using. I woke up everyday sick with the  how to get drugs today mentality and that controlled everyday of my life. I never had much control over what I was going to do with my day or week. 

    Tomorrow I get to spend the day with my brother and his family in New Orleans exploring the historic Bourbon and Canal St. I already drove through there because after driving 12 hours I wanted to actually get to the heart of New Orleans instead of just the outskirts. But it will be super fun to explore Nawlins with the fam.

    The life I am creating without heroin in it has been so fulfilling and it literally just started with the rest of my life to build on the foundation I have created. There are so many things happening with SoberSteveRecovery and with transferring colleges and with working that it is so sweet that my schedule is pretty flexible as long as I get my work done. That is how it is going to be for me and that is perfect. I am excited about my life and watching my son grow up. Everything will continue to progress and it really is going to be the life I dreamt about when I was stuck using drugs everyday. I literally would just think to myself or say out loud that I just want to feel normal. I almost said be normal, I’ll never be normal, but at least I can feel content without drugs and my future has just begun.

“Getting Clean During Covid-19”

Coronavirus- Covid-19- Corona- Rona- the vid

Getting clean during the Pandemic:

It was about August of 2008 that I really started to realize I was physically addicted to heroin. I had been using since April of 2008 and pretty much right away my family was notified by some friends about what I was doing but I lied my way out of it and made that go away but me, myself, wanted to stop pretty quickly after starting. I really did try to get clean myself, but those first few times going through withdrawal my body had no clue what was going on and literally I was a complete mess. I didn’t last long detoxing, and relapse was always easier than going through withdrawal, and detox, and facing our problems. Those first few times it was just so shocking how fucking sick it made me that I really was in disbelief and just used to deal with that. Moving forward I was raided in February of 09’ and had a little bit of heroin and again lied about why I had that. Still no one really knew that I was dealing with this heroin obsession everyday. I had to go to treatment in 09’ for my drug case but I lied my way through that program and it just became the norm. Anyway, this is not a story about using, this is my journey of recovery. I always wish I would have documented more of myself during active addiction, but maybe nobody wants to see that and there is no way I would have thought of that during all my years of being strung out. I did try to get clean about a thousand times on my own but I really have been to about 40 rehab or treatment programs and getting clean last year during CoronaVirus, Covid-19, seemed like it would have been impossible. Last Winter I had relapsed and going into 2020 I was already using everyday, this led to losing a job but I thought it was a new year, and I was ready to start new. I had some money, but I would just get clean and find a job I liked and start fresh. Well, using all of January, turned to February, and right as I thought maybe I will get clean from heroin, finally, Covid-19 was first reported and any hope of getting a job or starting over pretty much stopped. It’s not like I needed much more of a reason to use, or to keep using, but a worldwide pandemic that scares everyone fit right into my addictions hands because now I would have to isolate and distance and at first everyone was so afraid it was really easy to just do whatever I wanted without more people caring. It isn’t funny but I had a friend that would always ask me, doesn’t anyone care that you’re killing yourself. And it was like, kinda yea, no, I don’t know, I assume so, but what are they gonna do about it. It is not like Covid created my addiction but using during Covid just was easy and it went together because there were no expectations for me to do anything else. I could use and go home and go home and use and this was everyday because everyone was afraid r. I remember one day I was just leaving and my dad had stopped over so I had to turn around and just chill but I was so anxious to use, just an everyday obsession. It never gave up, not even one day off, everyday you think maybe you won’t have to deal with your addiction, boom it’s there needing to be handled. It really rips you away from every part of life in order for it to be filled. I had a car for a few months early on during Covid but I got my OWI on March 26th and literally by early April I basically drove the wheels off of my car. My addiction didn’t stop just because I didn’t have a car and so I began biking 25 miles one way in order to score my drugs, sometimes I had to bike dope sick, or in the freezing cold, or the pouring rain. I even did the bike trip twice in one day a few times and I think the most I tallied in one day for dope was 120 miles on a bicycle. Some people wouldn’t even do that just for fun and I was doing it just for dope. It was really nuts, I really did just keep pedaling and while becoming skinny and not eating, I saw the city for what it really was up close. All Spring and Summer I biked through the city streets of Milwaukee and I saw the protests, the inequality in the streets, the destruction and the sadness. It really was eye opening for what was going on in the world. Every morning I would bike through the city and just hope for change. A change in me. A change in society. A change in the City. A change in the world. I don’t know what we will change but starting with changing myself was a good start. I didn’t want to be hooked on heroin but once I was finding something to replace my love for heroin seemed nearly impossible. I wrote “The Obsession” explaining how our brains are so fixated on the drug and how the obsession rules all. Eliminating or lifting the obsession is that part that needs figuring out. For everyone lifting the obsession is different, and it is so different that it may take 13 years and 40 attempts and going all over the country trying everything before they get it. It is your journey, and however you get there is fine. Do not let anyone tell you that your sobriety isn’t enough or that you’re not clean because you’re on medication. If your life is semi normal, and by normal I mean, you don’t have to drug seek all day. Then just forget them. People always like to talk shit when we aren’t doing well. But as soon as we do good, they run out of shit to say. People rarely will tell you how good you are doing, slip up, then you’ll hear them, never let how others look at you control your motivation. I always let how others talked about me affect my recovery and just used it as reasons to relapse. Those days are over, and now there is no reason to relapse. I have so many coping skills, that I don’t even have to use most of them because the ones I use work, but I have back ups. I heard about having a crisis plan, just in case during recovery, let’s say in 6 months, something crazy happens. Well, it is good to have a crisis plan, no one could have accounted for MaryJane being killed but maybe if I had a crisis plan I may have been able to deal with it better. But it is important early on in recovery to always have a plan or people to turn to in case of moments of anxiety and depression. I never thought I would really get clean during a pandemic, let alone live during a time that we are forced to wear masks. My addiction doesn’t care that we have to social distance and wear a mask, I still had to get my drugs everyday. It really was awful having to deal with everything that was freaking society out and dealing with how people interacted, meanwhile, I am trying to use a public bathroom in the “hood” so I can shoot my drugs. What a scene, it is a predominantly black neighborhood, the white boy on the bicycle stops to use the bathroom for 20 minutes, because I have so many layers of clothes on, and I am so dehydrated that I have no veins to use. I have spent 45 minutes in a public bathroom covered in blood trying to get myself unsick. It really isn’t a nice seen. I hate that that was my life and I hate that it still is some people’s lives. I would always find other “rigs” and “kits” in the bathroom that showed me that someone else had been there that day to get high. Pretty crazy but I saw that all over every city I’ve been in, signs of drug use. It really is the pandemic behind the pandemic. Dealing with trying to live a lifestyle where biking 5 hours a day for heroin makes sense is really hard sometimes. I am a smart guy, not the show, but like most people who use, we have so much potential and thinking about how my life was is really sad to me. I just fight every day to never have to live that way and if sharing the bull shit and horror I dealt with and lived through helps keep the next person from living that life, then it is all worth it. Getting clean during Covid was never part of the plan because Covid was never part of the plan but getting clean was what had to be done and even though for most of the year I just used and knew I was using. I did try to go to detox, and I did detox myself a bunch of times, my mind just drove me crazy and at like day 4 or 5 the obsession would win and I “had” to use and then it was start over. I fight for my life everyday, but to get clean during Covid, and I quit smoking, it saves me 10 bucks a pack on my green menthol cigs every other day, which is nice, it seemed impossible that I was going to be able to do all of that and now all of this and still have more that I am doing and to look forward too. Getting clean during Covid, was especially hard because we are told to distance from family and friends and we are forced to stay home, bored, and alone, so they even have statistics that say, drug use, depression, and sadly suicide rates are all higher during the Pandemic because people feel so alone. For me it was more of a I am just so sick of this life I have lived, I know what I have to do, and I am going to do it to the fullest because if I don’t I am going to die. If I die then I am gone, but I am worthless and I really wanted to at least try to fulfill my potential. I wasted this much time fucking around, and I still work at this recovery stuff everyday. I am not perfect and I still have a long way to go. I do know that I do not put a needle in my arm to function normally anymore and that is always a plus. I do know that nothing short of amazing things have happened since I became Sober Steve and since I got clean I have really had some blessings happen in my life and it really is only the beginning. Getting clean during Covid seemed impossible and I really am still in shock that this is my life and that it really is only the beginning. So many great things have happened already and I still have so much I want to accomplish, learn, and do, so I will continue to share my current journey and my past as it all creates who I am today. If anyone needs anything don’t be afraid to reach out. Search for the SoberSteveRecovery Podcast anywhere you listen to your Podcasts.

“The Obsession”

Imagine the Colorado River, slowly carving what we know as the Grand Canyon into the desert of the Southeastern United States. The cliffs of the Canyon being so dangerous and steep. I was with my brother and we had quite a scare one year at the Grand Canyon, but that is a different story. Let’s just say I fell into the Canyon and I wanted to get out. Now imagine the river is heroin addiction flowing through my brain and the canyon is literally forming, deeper and deeper and longer and longer in my brain. The more we use drugs the deeper and steeper the canyon gets which is why addiction is a progressive disease. The drugs really make these tracks on our brains, as we make tracks on our arms. I always seemed to fall back into the same using patterns and dosage amounts that I was using when I quit and that all happened pretty quickly after a relapse. It takes 6 months to a year of no drugs for the brain to start healing THE GRAND CANYON that we made with drugs in our brain. It takes about two years for the brain to really start to heal and that is only the beginning. I have to be constantly working at my recovery or my addiction might try to take advantage of that. Being deep in the canyon obviously makes fighting to get out of our addiction that much harder. When we are within our addiction it is much easier to stay down and use drugs than it is to stand up face the cliffs of our obsession. 

    Explaining the obsession finally came out in a way that made sense after I had been talking to some friends that I was close to from before 2008, when everything started to go really down hill, and of course they had lots of questions for me. I welcome all questions all the time of course and a lot of the time, I will get the, I don’t want to upset you or don’t get mad for asking… 

I am not going to get mad, and I enjoy sharing because it helps everyone understand better, and I am learning more about myself everyday so it is just all about growth. But in trying to verbalize the overwhelmingness of the obsession I realised that it was harder than I thought to explain. Imagine waking up everyday and having only One thing on your mind. Being focused on something like lunch during your work day is not what I am talking about. This One thing doesn’t allow anyone or anything to come before it. Until we take care of that one thing, we pretty much are useless. Won’t be able to think about anything else, do anything else, care about anything else, until that one thing is taken care of. I explained to my friend why it was impossible to make plans, or commit to doing anything because how can I plan a day if I have no idea when or even if I will be able to take care of this one thing. Sometimes I might have spent all day taking care of that one thing just for it not to be good enough to tame it fully. This one thing did not take any days off, it didn’t care if we had school, had to work, a birthday, christmas, it took no days off. The stress of trying to hide this One thing plus control leads us back to it anyway so it really becomes an everyday all day cycle because even if the one thing is handled intermittently the next day is still right around the corner and there is no stopping it or delaying it. That One thing is our obsession with our drug of choice. Our obsession was never satisfied even after we thought we satisfied it and it was an everyday cycle and explaining how the obsession works is the hardest part because people can’t grasp the concept of just having one thing on your mind, life actually one, not a fake, all I can think about is tacos. Type shit. We are not the same.

    Going back to the Grand Canyon analogy which is actually pretty great because while using the concept of the steep cliffs and visual presence that it brings, it shows the complexity it takes for us to battle our addiction. Then to add to the analogy, imagine the heroin river of addiction is meandering through our lives while the river hits rapids and rough waters and there is no way we are going to get clean while we are battling the addiction, trying to hide the addiction, and dealing with life. Then lets say, we even get a break from life for a few minutes during a slow part of the river, or lets say a week in detox.

    This, it would seem, would be the time to pull ourselves up away from the river and back to the top of the canyon. Easier said than done because after 18 years of drinking, drugging and hard drugging, my Canyon was almost at the Point Of No Return. Having the time after detox, our break from the river, really did nothing for the long term issues that our brains deal with after being wired around drugs for too long. Everyone expects that we are just fixed all of a sudden because we have been separated from the drugs for a week, or two, or a month. 

    Literally even if we are able to get a week to go to detox, as soon as we are done we are expected to go right back to our lives and just have a group meeting and that is supposed to fix everything. Not only has the drug created this Canyon in our brains so deep that its seemingly impossible to get out of, we have to deal with the continuous stressors of life as well as imagine along the edge of the cliffs are all of our triggers and as we close in on maybe making some progress in getting out of the canyon, these triggers keep hitting us in the face as we are trying to find our way out. 

    Fresh off of detox my main triggers that would get me to use would be:

  1. People not believing that I am actually clean
  2. Accused of using or being high
  3. Being Berated for my previous behavior
  4. Triggers can be any, PEOPLE, PLACEs, or THINGS
  5. Guilt and Shame after 2012 for what happened to MJ (read “Pink Diary)
  6. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem
  7. “It’s not personal, its business.” (Listen to Episode 6)

Those really were some of the easiest excuses to use. My main trigger was always there, the obsession, though no matter what I did it doesn’t go away until it is either fed or lifted. Triggers are different for everyone. The obsession is very much the same. It is the basis for the canyon analogy, the obsession that our brains put on these drugs is unreal and the obsession is so overwhelming and powerful that no other thoughts can even enter our minds, and it is even irritating to think about something else and until we take care of the obsession by using. We literally drive ourselves insane because we do not want to do more drugs but the only thing that will shut off our obsessed brain is the drugs.            

Having a drug obsessed brain is like needing something to drink when you are thirsty. Cant talk, dry mouth, lips sticking to your teeth, thirsty. But while your brain and thoughts are all about fixing your thirst issue. The solution you are told by everyone around you is to start telling yourself you aren’t thirsty. How ridiculous does that sound and instead of having a group of people keeping you in your Canyon, you need a group of people ready to pull you out. Right before you drink something after you work out next time. Dont. Just mess with the obsession for a little bit. Imagine. Being so thirsty and trying to talk yourself out of it. This is what it is like for us when we are struggling with our addiction and we are newly off drugs.

In the grand scheme of healing and treatment, we have to stop looking at drug treatment like a bandaid that is just a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Well addiction is not a temporary problem and a bandaid is not going to be enough. Addiction is a life threatening disease, we did not choose to become drug addicted human beings, we may have chosen to try drugs, but we never chose to live this life. That is where education needs to be implemented. Not one of my friends who struggles with drugs ever thought this would be their lives. We all have different stories for what leads us to using drugs. The reasons that we all kept using drugs, that reason is much more universal. Self Esteem.

    Spending days and weeks sick in contemplation mode knowing what the right thing to do is but knowing the wrong way is easier. Getting clean from the drugs was hardly the main issue, I could stop using and I would make myself suffer through detox for a few days just to relapse after a few days clean because I literally was going insane from the obsession for heroin that my brain had. The obsession does not just lift because the drugs have been removed from our lives for a few days. The mental strain that these drugs put on the human brain is so detrimental to how we function on a day to day basis. Being “clean” from the drugs for a little while is not enough to heal our brains and the drug obsession is real.

Some times, I would be completely out of the physical sickness stage and be on the other side of the intense withdrawal but the obsession would be just overwhelming.I have gotten “clean” so many times that I actually have no clue how many times that I got clean from the drugs for a f. Getting clean was never really the hard part. I would force myself to detox for a few days just randomly and I would be completely useless for a few days but I would at least be off the drugs for a few days. It was such an obsession though in my mind and my thoughts were only focused on one thing so even after a few days of not using opiates, the obsession would just get greater and greater. Anyone who has ever been obsessed with anything knows that it is so hard to shut off the obsession. There were days that I just submitted to my addiction and that would go on for weeks or months at a time without even a thought of quitting. I keep trying to think of a good analogy for why it is so hard to stay clean from drugs once we do get a few days or even weeks clean. 

    Everyone looked at me like I was a failure or that I was not really trying because in their minds it should have been much easier to get clean than it has been. It literally took me 12 years of trying and failing to finally figure out a treatment plan that worked for me. I still have to work at my recovery everyday and I am always going to have to do that and that is ok with me. I really enjoy sharing my story to create awareness and I hope my transparency really helps others.

    If we put half as much energy into our recovery as we did our addictions, there is no reason we can’t be successful. We used to jokingly say this but not it really could not be more true. It is common for people who struggle with addiction to have about average IQ but also have mental illness or childhood trauma/ abandonment issues that lead to their drug use. Take the drugs away and remove the obsession and there really is unlimited potential there. 

    I wish I had an exact timetable for when the obsession lifts or what makes that voice in our heads stop shouting that it needs drugs. For some people it happens quickly. I was not one of them, even when I had 16 months clean when my son was born, I still had reservations about using drugs. I always wanted to keep the option open to use if I ever needed to. It is never an option ever again but for 13 years it was the only way that I knew how to cope or deal with anything. The obsession has been lifted and now I use so many different coping mechanisms and process and handling things so much different and I am still continuing to grow that way.

It really is just a one track, one focus obsession and I would say that I would not wish being dope sick on even my worst enemy. But I would put myself through it every single day. It really does not make sense when I was able to step away from it all. The self destructive and high risk behavior occurs because I didn’t value myself. It is time to really embrace my life and fulfill my potential. Trying to explain the obsession of drugs has been one of the harder topics for me to explain. I hope anyone that is trying to understand why their loved one just can’t stop using drugs reads this and it helps them understand what we are going through. We do not want to be this way, but the longer we do damage to our spirit, body and mind with drugs, the deeper and stronger the obsession becomes and therefore harder to stop. Everyone is different but we no matter what treatment plan we choose for ourselves, a support group is a must. With the pandemic and the way some groups made me feel, I created a group online that anyone can be a part of to ask questions or get support whether it is for them or for a loved one who struggles with addiction. Someone is always available to talk from all over the world. We are in this together, and together. WE can destroy the stigma.

If you aren’t already a member check out the Facebook Group SoberSteveRecovery Or visit us on Instagram or watch my YouTube Channel. Please also check out the SoberSteveRecovery Podcast anywhere you listen to your Podcasts. 

Brain Imagery to show a little perspective.

“Like Pieces to a Recovery Puzzle”

      For so long I really thought I was a lost cause when it came to getting off of heroin. When it came to living a normal life that didn’t revolve around using drugs. It was an obsession every minute of every day and even though I had all of the tools to grow past a life of drugs. The drugs kept winning every day. Made it really hard to live a normal life and do things that I really enjoyed doing.
    Most of the relapse prevention and coping skills I learned over the 13 years of going to rehabs all over the country were always in my mind and I liked to tell others about them. Living them was a different story. The last five years of going to treatment I would joke that I could teach this “shit,” and I really could have. It was after going to treatment about 30 times between 09’ and 16’, which when it is put like that, sounds absolutely crazy, 10 times from about 16’ to 19’ and that is even a lot. The point is I really was able to finally implement some of the things I learned in all of those years of rehab.
         I really did start making my first real attempts at getting clean after my ex girlfriend killed MaryJane, read “Pink Diary” (Google (Animal Cruelty, 2012, Wausau, Mary)) Just so people know what I went through, it was on GMA and in USA Today. After that I went to rehab in Florida for 74 days and I really did try to learn about how to get and stay sober. I also always asked questions but then I did get side tracked and I got kicked out for going to South Beach with a girl. Yea, that happened. Funny Story. True Story. Real World True Story, 7 Strangers living in one house. Ask me about it sometime and I will tell everyone.
         All of my attempts at rehab and recovery were really just building blocks for me to finally get recovering. Getting through detox and then after the recovery stage, all of the things I have done to really change my life are much different than how I used to handle my life. I never was much for using coping skills and relapse prevention was never a thought. How I could relapse and now get caught. That was the usual thought process ever before I thought about how I could be prevented.
           That is the worst part about addiction, it is the only disease that tells us that we don’t have a disease. I always had people to turn to and talk to about my issues and to vent to, but I would always just turn to drugs because not only is it easier, it’s always there. Well it seemed like it was the best way to handle things. However, the self destructive behavior and not being able to just live a normal life because of the drugs made it obvious drugs were not the answer. Now getting off of them was the hard part.
Obviously you have to get through the detox portion of the recovery process.  Listen to my Podcast and read the other articles on this blog about how I detox and got through withdrawal. I really wish I made a withdrawal video. It was awful and it would have really been eye opening for people who have never seen someone withdrawal hard. It really is not a pleasant sight. I was quite sick, like the flu times 100. But it is too late now for that video but I have talked about it. Once you get through withdrawal, I recommend going to a detox facility and just get through the hardest part with some medical help. Then is when the real work begins.
       Relapse prevention really breaks down to the connections we build and the relationships we cherish. The people, places and things around us that we make important and that are healthy options for our treatment. I noticed that this time around things were much different. All of the relationships that I have built recently are extremely important and I would not let anything in the world interfere with those. Mostly with my son, but also with any of the family that I have recently reconnected with. Reconnection with myself has been really the biggest difference in my self esteem that I noticed. I lost who I was, I lost what I liked, and I lost what who made me me. Now getting back into things like skiing, biking, and fishing really are the things that I used to do that I cared about that occupied my time before drugs.
           That can be the hardest part at times, finding something, a hobby or interest that is either something new or something that you use to do and make that your new focal point of your time. I prefer to have a few, at least I will not get bored, but at least having one main interest is better than doing drugs. Back to those relationships we built, now that becomes my support system. That group of people that you now want to just be around and spend time with and will know if you are using or drunk because I act so different when I am all fucked up. It is nice having family back.
         I also have a team of professionals in my corner that have all really played a huge part in my recovery. Well my Primary Medical Doctor and my Therapist are super great. I have not met my Psychiatrist yet but he was referred by my Therapist and UW Health wants to hear my story and maybe study my brain. Pretty cool. My therapist is really great to talk to and that is always important. Having someone that has a non biased view on what they are hearing. He legit, has my best interest at heart. Then my MD. The man. He is who really did not give up on me like so many doctors have before. He stuck with me and we really worked together to try and get my clean once and for all.
         The craziest part is I just recently had blood work done for my Hepatitis C treatment and I was waiting to hear about the blood work so I would be able to start the treatment and get it over with. THe treatment is only 8 weeks and it would be cured. The carry always has the antibodies but not the active hep c virus. I just talked to the doctor and like Madonna and like 25% of people who get Hep C. I passed it on my own with my own natural immunity. Fancy that. “My Junkie, Crack Head, Loser” self cause I heard those a lot, beat Hep C without treatment and now I can kiss my son again without people worrying. It was pretty awesome, I really could not believe it when my doctor told me. I am going to get a doctor’s note to show people because it is almost not believable. My doctor even said it is like having a guardian angel…..
All of the treatment, and therapy and groups, meetings, and circle of family and friends are everything you need for relapse prevention. Learn what is important in life and the people close to you will help you get through most everything. However, being able to handle the stresses of fine on your own and dealing with things like an adult, without drugs, comes down to being able to cope. And that is where coping skills come into play. Coping skills really are any positive action that does not involve using drugs or drinking and does not involve anything that will lead to using. I mentioned skiing and biking, those are definitely coping skills, talking to family and friends also mentioned, also a coping skill. A lot of people get back into their artistic lifestyle and go back to drawing or painting which is very therapeutic. I suck at art but I still try, that is the most important part, just trying new things, figuring out what things I like again and maybe trying things that I know nothing about just to see if I can learn.
The most important part about coping skills is that it really is the opposite of the people, places and things that you are told to avoid regarding triggers. The opposite of a trigger is a coping skill. Triggers I don’t talk about much because to me just waking up was my trigger, it controlled me every day. Those opposite people places and things can be used as coping skills and having those things to turn to besides drugs is the only way to really have a solid structure for long term sobriety. Triggers are people, places, or things that “trigger” a person to use drugs or drink. Triggers can really be anyone or anything and that is what makes getting off of drugs and booze so impossible sometimes. Triggers are all around us and they are every day all day. The opposite of a trigger is a coping skill, and those coping skills are just positive people, places and things. If that makes sense. I never had it put to me like that.
Just makes sense to me and I really do deal with life in a much different way than I used to. I don’t always fight with people when I could. I try to pick my battles and just create the kind of drama free like that I really want to live. Not always correcting people when they are wrong like I used to has really gone a long way as well. Just minimizing my conflict, and maximizing the positive people, places, and things in my life. Getting back to the old me and finding out who I am and what I want to do with my life, well maybe not what I want to do. But I know I do not want to do heroin anymore, or be a slave in a life of addiction.
I wake up every morning and I do whatever I want. The first things I think of now are being thankful for another day, my son, and what I can do for my recovery today. I no longer am obsessed with using drugs and getting money for drugs. It is no way to live and it literally consumed my entire life. I am such a big advocate for everyone having a different treatment program. The same program will not work for everyone, and the AA book was written in 1939 by some older white males that struggled with alcohol. I am all for the 12 principles of the 12 steps and having a group united for a common goal. I do not think it is the only way to get clean and I think people get hung up on that idea and may think they can not be helped because some part of the AA and NA meetings does not click.
That is why I believe that everyone should follow their own treatment plan and do everything that they need to in order to just handle life differently. In order to cope with the anxiety and stresses of life, the relapse prevention plan and coping skills a person has are some of the most important parts of getting clean and staying clean. We all go through different stress and trauma in life and when we all use a common solution like drugs and alcohol, we have different ways we will overcome our addiction.

        My coping skills and relapse prevention tools on top of my MD and Therapist whom I actively speak to are all pieces of the recovery puzzle. Because that is honestly what it is like. 13 years and 40 rehabs of putting the pieces together. I finally have a life that I can say I enjoy. It also is just getting started. Follow my page and find me on Facebook and Instagram. Also Listen to my Podcast on Spotify. SoberSteveRecovery anywhere you go for your social media. I just recently found out that friend 42 has passed away. Please take a moment of silence for him, he was a good guy. That is why it is so important to carry Narcan, it does save lives. Please share my page with anyone you know who is still sick and struggling from the wrath of addiction.

“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.

“But You’re Still On Something”

When it comes to trying to get off of heroin, actually it’s fentanyl now, well, let’s say, opiates, because it’s all the same really. I have tried pretty much everything so when it comes to opiate maintenance drugs like methadone, suboxone, vivitrol, sublocade and subutex, yes, I not only tried them all, I have been prescribed them all. Since the first time I tried using methadone pills “met pills” is what the streets called  them then, all the way to the sublocade shot that I use now. As people who are addicted to opiates for extended periods of time we really mess up our brains and pain receptors, as well as the pleasure receptors. The purpose of the opiate maintenance drugs is not to transfer addictions, but to control that part of the brain that was so damaged. The maintenance allows for the addicted to live a normal life. I never sucked a dick for suboxone. The brain addicted to heroin is much different than a normal brain. Being addicted to heroin, and crack and meth are similar, the drug becomes the complete and only obsession. Only thing on the addictions mind is the drug. I say addictions mind, because as someone that was addicted to drugs, I hated the word addict, well and junkie, cause there is much more to us than the drug addiction.

I really did try to get clean the same year I started using heroin, that was 2008. Life could have been much different but then I wouldn’t have all of this awesome information for everyone. I did buy the methadone and suboxone off the streets, and did use subutex illicitly in a rehab environment. That is a valid point, but I also was prescribed all five of the maintenance drugs and luckily for me because the vivitrol is a shot in my ass and the sublocade is a subcutaneous shot in the abdomen. The first time I tried to get clean through a rehab place was 2011, shows how long I tried on my own and just could not get it. But I left the detox facility and was prescribed suboxone.

Initially suboxone worked well, it does help with the cravings but I was not doing much work that was useful for my recovery. I was prescribed 16mg a day originally, which is and 8 in the morning and an 8 at night, but as I recently found out; a lot of factors go into this. Diet, exercise, weight, and not taking it at exactly the same time all contribute to the buprenorphine which is the active opioid flooding the brain in waves so I would still wake up really sick, or feel nauseous. Suboxone was the one I bought the most off of the streets and the one that I knew would work to get through detox in the short term. I went to the ER from my primary doctors office when I got clean for the last time. Per the primary doctor the ER flooded me with about 32mg of suboxone to tone down how sick I was. Mind you that I puked for about 96 hours straight even after all of that. I was viciously dope sick. I was prescribed suboxone since 6 months before I got clean but I would sell my subs or I would sell my subs. LOL, That was really the most difficult part at first, I wanted to use, so there was that, and I could sell a lot of them, still use, and still have subs when I couldn’t get high. Even trying the suboxone the correct way I would get sick and having the option to take it or not everyday.

At the same time that I was deciding I want to be able to use when I want to but also I want to be able to not be sick when I don’t use. LOL. That was my idea of a perfect world back then. I decided to switch from suboxone to methadone at the clinic. No longer was I going to the suboxone clinic, now like Kid Rock, I was waiting in line at the methadone clinic. The methadone was a liquid dose that I would have to drink everyday, that was whatever and it did work. But I also could just get high on heroin on top of it. I started shooting my take home Sunday dose. I got one take home dose a week and by Monday morning I was sick. Methadone is bad for your tooth enamel and it is bad for your bones. Some people are on it and it saved them, and I think that is great. Sometimes the minor side effects from the methadone are better than being dead from heroin, so I never tell anyone to stop something that is working for them, if it is really working and only they know that. I was only at 50mg of methadone and the detox was horrible and long and it is really like two weeks of hell. I used heroin to detox off of methadone and then detoxing off of the heroin was easier. Either way, I never liked going to the clinics everyday and those programs are optional and for a lot of people having that option is not good for us. During a few of my detox and rehab center stays towards the middle of my use I would ask for subutex instead of suboxone.

Made mostly for pregnant women, subutex is suboxone without the naloxone. The naloxone in the suboxone acts as an opiate blocker. The user can no longer feel the effects of using an opiate because of the naloxone. It is also the main drug in Narcan, the life saving nasal spray or injection, that everyone should have, to reverse overdoses. The active opiate in subutex and suboxone is the buprenorphine and it is used for pain and to curve cravings. I would ask for it because it did not have the blocker we could technically abuse it and of course I was always still trying to get high. However, I am not totally sure about the science behind giving subutex to pregnant women but I think if the baby is born addicted, it’s a quicker detox process if the baby is just on the subutex. I was prescribed it a few times at the detox centers I was at but they quickly realized why I asked for subutex so towards the last 5 years I really was trying to get useful tools out of treatment instead of just using it as a pit stop to get healthy for more drugs.

In 2016 I had my car stolen and was in a high speed chase in the same week. Needless to say it was a bad May but after I bailed out in August I jumped right into treatment and they had recommended the vivitrol shot. In my ass, now mind you, vivitrol is from 2006 and was developed for alcohol dependence treatment but they found out it blocks opiate use. I was in outpatient treatment but I was also scared because I was out on bail, still with the vivitrol, I did not relapse before I was sentenced to jail time. Now out on Huber, I did relapse, so maybe I should have pushed harder for the jail to keep me on the shot. That was the first time on vivtrol, the second time was after my first overdose, there were 4 total, but after the first one February 20th, 2019, I was clean long enough to get the vivitrol shot, which was rare. The one receiving the vivitrol shot has to be opiate free for 7 to 10 days, they use to say 14 days, but most people that are struggling with addiction, that is not enough time. Anyway, besides that factor with the vivitrol, I started it in February of that year and by May I was depressed and felt suicidal which never had happened to me before that. I knew I could not use heroin so I started smoking way too much crack. That was changing addictions. I got off the vivitrol around July and by the end of August I quit the crack which was what I was hoping would happen. Again though, I was off drugs but I was not doing any work to stay clean.

Getting off the drugs for a little bit is not enough for most of us to stay clean. A lot of us need help with every part of our lives when we get clean. I think using sublocade is the best route for when it comes to being able to stay clean but also focus on other things. Sublocade is a subcutaneous once a month shot that they give me in my stomach. It kind of burns going in but then it’s fine after a few seconds. The sublocade does not have the peaks and valleys of sick feeling that I got when taking a daily medication. The sublocade releases an even dose of suboxone and getting the shot once a month is nice for me and everyone that worries about whether or not I took my medication that day. The shot may have some first month side effects where your body is just adjusting but I mellowed out the second month and then the third month they lower the dose. I have been able to live a normal life on each one of the medications.

I always hate when people who are not educated say ” you’re just substituting one drug for another.” I never had a heroin prescription. Fun fact, Bayer, you know the apsirin people, their first product was Bayer Heroin. I have been prescribed and medically monitored on the treatment plans and was able to live a much different life then the one I lived on heroin, well fentanyl. Because the heroin we think we are buying is actually just cut fentynal. It’s hardly even heroin at all anymore. These treatment programs are not substituting one drug for another. The trade off for a normal life is very much worth it. ‘But you’re still on something’ I hear all the time. To that I say 90% of the population is on some kind of medication, or smokes cigarettes or, drinks caffeine or drinks alcohol. Those are all psychoactive drugs. The trade off for a normal life is worth it.

Trying all of the opiate maintenance treatment programs was not the plan, I just kept trying to do the next thing that I thought would work. I also was not afraid to try the program again. I tried suboxone a lot of times thinking I could just “do it myself” and I did do it myself for the most part, but I had to use a team of people to help guide me, I used everything I learned in 13 years of using, treatment and rehab, I really did try it all, and I have been through it all. Really is amazing that I am even still alive. It takes a team of support to help heal the addicted mind but with the right medications, treatment and guidance, We do recover. 

“Thank You MJ”

Also read the “Pink Diary”

Hustling on the streets of a city that isn’t that big, only 600,000 in the city limits, but as dangerous as it gets. We are only 90 miles north of Chicago and definitely have our share of shootings and armed robberies. I used to tell people I was from WIsconsin, and they would think, “with the cows and the cheese” and brats too I would say. Of course, but we also had Chicago people, Chicago Violence and Chicago drugs. Milwaukee is just a big suburb of Chicago that is just in a different state. I started selling a good amount of drugs from 06’ until the end of 08’ and then the beginning of 09’ I was raided. That’s another story. I was in a pretty cool position back then when it came to the business model. I was a mess when it came to life, school, day to day, hygiene, and direction. But the business model allowed me to get fronted anything that I wanted and I was able to just make a profit and never really have to warehouse drugs or keep drugs on me for too long. Everything that I had I would sell and just make the money, it was too easy not too and I assumed very little risk at the time. 

Well so I thought. And like everything that was going on at that time it was crazy. I had been doing heroin everyday at that point and really had no clue what was around the corner next. One early afternoon my buddy that I had known for a solid two years told me he had someone that wanted some weed. Was a typical request, seemed harmless enough. I called the weed man, and my friend called the guy that wanted the weed. A few people showed up and they just wanted to see the weed and had money. Well this is my apartment, for one, I never really had people come here unless it was friends of friends and I trusted it. Well he had brought so many people from his home town to me that I thought it was just more regular college kids. I didn’t know that he had only met them once and had smoked one bowl with them ever.

Now he’s telling them to come to my apartment where I sleep with the girlfriend and MJ. Well they had no money and in a really weird turn of events they would leave and come back about five times over the next 3 hours and still had no money and each time they asked for a little bit more weed. Now mind you, I still thought they were my buddies’ good friends so I was being patient with them and I could get any amount so anything they said was possible so we just were waiting to see the money. We went back and forth for hours and at one point they said something dumb like they wanted to put the weed in there coat so they could show the “girl” who wanted it. I just wanted to see the money, we had already wasted so much time. Anyway, eventually they left for the last time. I didn’t make a sale at all, and my buddy that could get the weed left. I was talking to my buddy who knows the kids and found out that he didn’t know them at all and I actually snapped at the dude and kicked him out of my apartment.

Later that night I was just chillen with the girlfriend and MJ and all of a sudden my alarm buzzed. I had a million clients and some rang the buzzer, so I asked who it was. And they said “hey were back we have the money.” Now they had come back more than 5 times and didnt have the money so I didn’t really believe them. So instead of just buzzing them in like I had been. I had no one else there, it was just me and the family at the time. From my second floor apartment I went to the front of the building where we had a balcony. I saw one of the kids with another guy I had not seen before. He said he was the brother of the girl who wanted the weed. I was yelling down to them about not having weed anymore and how everyone left cause they fucked it up. I didn’t see anyone around but I still prefer not to scream off the balcony about my weed selling habits. I decided I would walk down stairs by myself and approach them both and just say that it was over and I would try in the morning,

As I got down the stairs and was opening the door, I saw the two guys approaching the door and out of my peripheral I saw two other men step into the doorway wearing all black. From out of nowhere a chromed out .45 was pointed right at the middle of my forehead. “Where is the weed at motherfucker?” he said. “You’re not gonna shoot me motherfucker” I said back. Except we both didn’t say motherfucker…. As I finished those words I turned around and as fast as I ever could I hit the stairs and got around the staircase pretty quick. I was always pretty fast at doing stairs but I also never was running for my life. By the time I made it to the top of the staircase I didn’t want to look behind me, I still had to get to my door, open it and get it closed and locked before the four of them pushed the door in. I vowed to myself that after the first armed robbery, that’s a different story, that the next time someone pulled a gun I was going to make them shoot me. Bummer for these 4 black guys because this white boy was not afraid to die at that point. 

I finally got to my door, which seemed like it took forever. I had got the door open and was inside. I really moved as quickly as I could. A million things ran through my mind about what might happen if they got into our apartment. Besides robbing everything, that was the least of my worries. I had a beautiful girlfriend, MJ and a lot of valuable things around my apartment. This could  be so bad if I don’t get this door closed and locked before they are able to get in. As I opened the door and fluidly got inside, I remember thinking, I couldn’t have done that better or faster if I tried. I was slamming the door and right as I slammed the door shut. 

A foot pops into the doorway stopping it from closing. As the foot made first contact with the door, I was thinking fuck. At that same fuck split second the hand with the gun came into view through the door way. It was a matter of a second before the four of the them would push the door open and my life would be flipped upside down, would they shoot me, would they rob us, would they rape her. I didn’t want to know or find out. Then. The.Craziest thing happened.

Our puppy that we only had for about 6 months at this point ended up barking viciously. 

Now MaryJane was the cutest dog ever and we never really had anyone around her that would make her aggressive. I did have her wrestle other dogs that my friends had just for fun. But we never saw MJ bark like that and instantly the gun and foot no longer were in the doorway. I was able to slam the door shut and lock it. I don’t know what would or could have happened, I just know because of MaryJane, nothing happened and she possibly saved our lives. I thought that was a pretty crazy story and I really wanted to share more about MJ with everyone. A lot of my time we spent with MJ because I didn’t work, so we really did have a bond. She could tell the situation was not right and definitely stook up for me. What a perfect doggie. I feel sad everyday about what happened to her. I miss MaryJane.

2011: inside, was by Brady St. on the Eastside; outside, is Wausau, the summer before she was killed


How I even got addicted to heroin is quite the story. I spent so much time hating drugs when I was younger. What happened really is crazy. I am not here to glorify any of it, a lot of it is very intense and exciting; but some of it was also very heartbreaking. I want to inspire as well as educate. It’s not the most tragic or comedic story I will have to tell. But hopefully it’ll give u a little view into who I am. As well as giving people an idea of how it all shook down. There were so many factors that led to me becoming addicted to heroin. It was never my dream to be hooked on drugs. I definitely didn’t chose that life but now I chose to get out of it. 

My mom and I were separated when I was 4 years old, I ended up with my dad. When I was younger, I attributed my mothers absence to not wanting me, but that wasn’t true and there is way more to it. I thought it had to do with drugs and alcohol so I always swore from a young age that I would never do drugs, and wouldn’t let them ruin my life. I remember when my best friend started smoking pot the first semester of my Senior year and I was mad at him cause I thought he was ruining his life.

As a Senior in High School, I didn’t go to many parties with my friends, who sometimes would go on the weekends. I just did not want to get in trouble with my dad. My brother was in college so when I would visit him I did drink here and there and at 17 I smoked weed for the first time. That was the end of senior year, 2005, on 4/20. Kind of funny for sure, it was just me and three friends driving around in my car. They say you don’t get high your first time smoking. Well, like Chappelle said, “not me, oh not us, we were really really high.” I got so completely stoned that I put deodorant on my pants because I thought my dad would smell it and get pissed. Well I smoked the rest of the school year and into that first summer. Noone had talked to me about my ACT or going to college; no advisor nor my dad said anything so right before the end of the year I took the test and got a 24. I tested into UW-Milwaukee with just the ACT score so that was cool. The craziest part about that is, I guess on the reading part and got an 18. Wonder what my score could have been. I read more books in jail, than I did in college, true story. And wouldn’t you believe, after staying out of trouble all through high school and into freshman year of college. Four days after I turned 18 I got arrested for a pipe in Downer Woods.

Go figure, I had a semi normal freshman year of college and was really just smoking and working a little at a grocery store by my dad’s house. I had a car and some money from graduating but college was expensive and I was commuting about 20 minutes from Brookfield to the East Side of Milwaukee, it kind of sucked going to college like that at first. Then summer of 2006, about to go into my Sophomore year of college my life changed. 

I wanted to sell a little bit of marijuana and just get some free to smoke instead of spending the money I worked for to buy it. So I went and bought an ounce from the guy. After that he fronted me whatever I wanted and my business and world changed. Within a year I had quit my job and moved out of my dad’s house and to the East Side of Milwukee. Right around that time is when the craziest part of the story happened. I was driving home from a girlfriends house around midnight in Mequon,WI. I T-BONED a car in the middle of the intersection with no other cars on the road; the kid thought he could make it and smash, totalled. The next day he wanted to meet up to give me $3,000 for a Nissan Altima and I had been selling weed and I asked him if he “wanted to buy some pot.” What happened next changed everything. He asked me for 100 worth which I thought was rare. I had never been one to rob someone but I will charge someone what they think it is worth. He proceeded to pay me 300 dollars an 8th, which is about 40 dollars today, every other day for the next 2.5 years. I did the math on that one customer and it came to well over 6 figures during that time. Needless to say he never felt like I was screwing him over and he never felt like I was ripping him off. He actually brought liquor and beer to a few of my parties and we ended up being friends over that time. He just was a foreign exchange student from Taiwan and he didn’t know anyone else that had weed. I figured he would find someone right away, but when he kept coming to me and not beating my ass. I just went with it.

The problem with that was having that much money. Going into the summer of 2007 I had been starting to get pretty wild with the partying. I was already doing cocaine all day everyday, but added to that was binges of ecstasy, LSD, mushrooms, whippets, ketamine, which really had me in a wild state. No matter what I did or spent though the money was coming in. By 2008 I had a really nice place with my buddy and a girlfriend I really loved and a puppy we just got. I didn’t realize how out of control I was even with all the drugs because of the nice house we were living in and the fact that we had just gone to California on vacation and would cook out and kick it everyday. I was vulnerable and paranoid and really looking for a new high. 

I hung out with different groups of people from all over the place and a lot of people were doing oxys at that time. I had never done one but I saw people doing them and never really thought it looked fun. Honestly. But I tried half of an 80 my first time, that’s way too much. I was puking my ass off and telling everyone how good I felt every time they would ask.

A week later the same buddy had a little line of heroin and I wanted to try it, he even said, no, but let me cause I begged him to try it, after everything I had done, I just wanted to try it, just to say I tried it. Well my girlfriend found out and she was mad I did it without her. I had no idea how to get more and just kind of forgot about it, until a week later, the company that was making Oxys was going to make the OCs uncrushable. This was going to make it so hard to get pills now. That same weekend my buddy’s friend came over to trade a bunch of heroin for a bunch of cocaine that was always left in my freezer. Heroin literally walked through my front door and I had thousands of dollars to spend on “something new.” 

At first we would buy about 500 dollars worth at a time and sell it to all the people that I knew that couldn’t find pills anymore. Nothing I sold anyone killed anyone ever, but pretty much everyone I knew from around that area is either dead or clean. There were very few of us left that made it through this heroin pandemic. It is really sad because I had two good friends die early on in college, one did overdosed on a cocktail of drugs but mostly Suboxone killed him and the other buddy fell in the river when he was drunk over the fourth of July. I thought it was too young to lose friends to anything, little did I know, that was only the beginning. 

Having the money flow and new habits was a perfect storm to get very addicted very quickly. I would do such large amounts and my tolerance was very high. At first I didn’t know much about getting sick, didn’t know about how addicted I was becoming and I never really ran out for the first year so I never knew what I was really getting myself into. I had never wanted to become an addict and I was so damn smart. The fact that it was even an option makes me wonder, and the fact that I chose that, makes me sad. Eventually the life that I thought was so great was no longer and I struggled so much over the next 10 years.

I have so many stories about going through my additiction. I just hope to inspire someone to keep trying to get clean. Just never give up on yourself. Ever. So many people wrote me off as dead. I never gave up trying to get clean.

Top left: Eastside of Milwaukee, 19 years old Top right and Bottom: Brookfield 18 years old Middle left: South Beach, Miami, 19 years old Middle right: 17 years old, right before college

“What about AA and NA?”

I have been getting a lot of questions about AA and NA. Yes, I have been to both. There is really nothing I haven’t tried to get off of drugs. Well besides going to South America to have a Shaman lead me through a cleanse. I did go to Florida for rehab in 2012/2013 but there was no cleanse. I did try AA and NA though, and I actually did 90 meetings in 90 days, and then did it again. Yep, you read that right, 180 meetings in 180 days and sometimes I would go to two meetings in a day if my buddy from the halfway house would go to one after I already went. Florida was the recovery capital of the world so some of the meetings we would go to would be over 100 people. I did get some good things out of the meetings and I really did enjoy a good speaker meeting. Go figure.

 That initial time period where I really tried to do the NA program, I had 5 different sponsors and I had only about four months clean so I thought two years was long enough for my sponsor to be clean, well I had 4 relapse and the fifth went back to prison for relapsing. Needless to say it kind of tarnished my initial view of the meetings, and I eventually did relapse also because I wasn’t working any type of program. Can you believe even after all those meetings and all those sponsors, I kept trying, I was called a failure recently because of all the times I went to rehab, I call it resilient. I came back to Wisconsin at the end of 2013 and I had to turn myself into jail again. So I tried AA again in jail and I never minded the actual group part, but even in a jail AA meeting I would meet someone that I would eventually use drugs with. 

Besides meeting people in the meetings that I would use with, I would go to meetings high, I didn’t like the 12 steps, and the way they told me it would be the only way I would ever get clean. I just felt that the meetings could be worthwhile if I was able to get some healthy tools from it and just leave what I didn’t think I could use in my own recovery. Meeting people at the meetings that I would use with, that was my fault. I really should never have been at meetings if i’m high and we are all so vulnerable that it just was a perfect storm to relapse. I started out 74 days in the rehab clean and then I remember getting 120 days and celebrating with my sober house roommate. Most of the 180 meetings I went to I was high, but I was still going and still trying and still wanted a better life. I was just so sick. I knew going into the meetings that people got clean from drugs and alcohol in ways other than the meetings so when they said it was the only way, I just didn’t believe it. I think the steps are great, and the sponsor is great, and going to as many meetings as you can is great; if it works for you. Do what works for you. I just had to try so many things, so many times, and pretty much use some of what I learned every step of the way to finally get it. 

Most of the issues people have with the AA/NA meetings is the use of the word god, or higher power. Some people are not religious at all and it makes it very hard for them to use that to help them in their recovery. I didn’t grow up religious and I have since become more Buddhist then anything even though I don’t practice and I don’t believe everything, but I never was able to ask god to get me clean. I knew god had nothing to do with me using, and he wouldn’t have anything to do with me getting clean. I think it is great when people have a strong faith and they can use god as strength and ask him for advice. It’s like always having someone there, I think that would be awesome. I had no one there, and I never had god either so I was super along. Imagine that. I think it is so great if the using your higher power to pull you out of your addiction works and you are able to stay clean for yourself, and your family. I don’t want to have people turned away because we have different religious beliefs. Everyone has different beliefs, and this is just how I was raised. 

In the meetings I would notice people who really would be over the top, or at least I  thought, it seemed like they were addicted to their recovery, it was all they did and all they talked about. That is really good at first, but a person needs more interests than just their recovery. It is important to have a balance of other things you enjoy doing and people outside of recovery that you are able to connect with, as long as they don’t jeopardize your sobriety. I do know there are a lot of people that if they work a full program they end up getting it, and staying sober. The camaraderie that is at the meetings is really powerful and people are able to stay clean.

People hear that first part of the story and think we’ll you didn’t try the program fully, I actually did have 2 sponsors after Florida, the first sponsor got me through all the steps but I had started using right away anyway and then my sponsor started to use with me. The second guy I got to step four and he relapsed and ended up in prison. Luckily, after all of that, I still didn’t give up. There are really so many ways a person can get clean, from cold turkey, to locking themselves in a room for a year. I recommend some kind of therapy, and reconnecting with yourself, people you love, and the things that you love that are healthy. 

But really, please just do what works for you. Keep trying and if you keep having trouble, try something new, or try it again. I honestly went to rehab or some version of, about 40 times. I never stopped trying, and I never gave up on my own life. Everyone is different and what works for me might not work for you, or it might, or you may have a variation of a bunch of different programs in yours. No matter what you do, just keep pushing forward, never give up, and stay alive.

“What is the difference this time?”

I started using heroin in 2008 and since 2008 I have tried to get clean. Everytime I spoke to anyone regarding addiction they would ask what makes this time different? For years, I never had an answer. I never felt different many of those times, and always seemed to keep reservations when it came to my using. I had wanted to be done for years, I just never felt done, and I could feel that. My addiction had such a hold of me, wanting it, wasn’t enough.

I always wanted to have an answer, but most of the time, I didn’t feel different. It took years of self awareness, being able to recognize where I failed in the past, and continuing to try what did work. Going to rehab over 30 times was me trying until it worked. I don’t think there is anything failure about that. Each one of those times I tried, I would learn something about myself and what might work for me to finally break free from the chains of addiction. I had to recognize what I was truly doing to myself, and why I was doing it. People say I use my past to justify my decision making which led to being on heroin for 13 years.It really is the age old battle between nature vs nurture. Was I genetically dispositioned to be an addict or was it because of how I felt about myself after the sadness I felt as a child. People tell me I chose my life. I don’t think anyone wants to be addicted to drugs. And drugs should never even have been an option, I was educated too, it didn’t matter. John Locke was the first to explain that humans get their behavioral traits from “nurture” rather than nature, and that was 1690.

The history is important because it shows that I am not making this all up just so I can use drugs. I didn’t want to be on them in the first place. Everything I say, about anything that has to do with me; I get told that everyone has problems and that I can’t use my past as a reason for why my life was out of control. Even though there really is plenty of legitimacy to what I have to say. I agree I can’t use my past forever, but I really just wanted to be understood. After self-destructing and being so misunderstood for so long. I take complete and full responsibility for dealing with my issues in the worst way possible. When I started using drugs, it wasn’t a conscious decision that I was doing the drugs to mask the pain I felt inside. I was never really angry or depressed, I was just sad, sad that the four year old boy that I remember being, got left behind and no one really showed they cared. Saying and doing are much different. I know that plenty with my own son now, people don’t understand that part of the getting clean forever process is selfishly focusing on oneself in order to accomplish a much larger goal. Taking time to get my life in order after struggling for 18 years, 16 of those being before my son was born, but the time it took to get away from my old life and finally put all the pieces together.

The difference this time is all the life experience I have, the self-discovery I have done over the last few years, and really changing my focus to what I want in my life. Since quitting cigarettes and heroin on the same day I have been full of life. I have so much friction with a lot of people; especially the one’s closest to me, and I thought me getting clean would fix it. It actually got worse because I’m not as passive as I use to be. All of my life I have been learning and trying to figure out how life works. I never was encouraged to do anything as a child so I really did lose all of my hobbies. People say, I should be able to create my own encouragement, which is what I did do. When you’re a kid it is kind of important for you to have the support of your parents in order to actually do things, I never saw support like that. By the time I became 17 I had already lost everything I was, and that’s when I found the wrong way for real. Self-discovery was really the most important part, I had such low self-esteem and never saw the same thing other people see. I really had to dig deep inside myself and figure out my strengths and weaknesses in order to address them accordingly. Work on the things I don’t do well, and that will start to build confidence which is really what has been lacking.

Changing my focus was the biggest thing and I have been fighting for my life forever and I finally found a medical doctor who is up to date and current on addiction. He explained to me that the opposite of addiction is connection. It is not that simple, but for someone as complex as me, sometimes I need things just simplified. Black and white heads or tails. Make a choice, and I can’t have both. Since then I have really connected with myself, first and foremost, and that has allowed me to really connect with my son. I will never let anything stop me from being able to see him when I finally allowed. Finding myself has also brought me closer to my brother and my cousins, which is absolutely great, the main four in my life have been a challenge, but I can’t dwell on what other people don’t do anymore. That shits dead. I’m moving forward and people will be left behind. I have also been able to reconnect with friends I had since before I was 18 which was 15 years ago. It really is like starting right where we left off, so that has been great. Lastly developing hobbies I love again, like I said I always was interested in everything, and now, without chasing drugs, I have time to do all the things that I love to do, like most recently, biking(spinner), downhill skiing, and I have been trying to teach myself new things like a foreign language and how to play guitar. I also started making candles, if anyone wants one. LOL. But that is the whole point. Finding out who and what I am and what I want to be. My whole life is different now.

I’ve been able to get and stay clean so that really is the first and most important part. Realising what is important and how I want to live my life. A very common misconception was is that I was living the life I wanted to, and that I chose to live. In second grade no one has ever picked addicted to drugs for what they wanted to be when they grew up. Such a ridiculous statement from people to try and create this idea that I was doing what I wanted to. It was more of a need, it was never a want. I have no more reservations, I created a new life for myself and I have goals for the future. Everything about this time, is different.

“99 Relapses”

Everyone who has ever tried getting clean off of drugs has gone through detox. Detox sucks. It’s going to suck, there really is not a way for it to not suck. Drug and alcohol withdrawal is worse than any flu, you basically get all the way to the point of sick to death, without the dying part. Then you get better, so all you can hope for is trying to make it bearable. I have detoxed at home, in jail, in rehab and had places that specialize in detoxing people off of drugs. During detox the emotional, physical and psycological part will fuck with ever fiber of your being until you ultimately succeed or you surrender back to your addiction and use. I have been on both sides of the coin when it comes to detox. I “relapsed 99 times but I got clean 100.” The last time I detoxed was brutal, violent and I can not believe I actually made it through it all. Here is how I tried, tried, and tried again to finally get clean. I started using heroin in April of 2008 and by August 2008 I wanted to quit. In February of 2009 I was raided by Milwaukee Police and charged with four felonies. I was growing, selling weed and was one of many students on the Eastside of Mulwaukee to get raided between 2008 and early 2009. I was able to get a deferred sentence because it was my first time getting in trouble. Part of the deferment was going to my first AODA class. However, the AODA facilitators only used the mouth swab drug test and I was able to beat that for the duration of the class. I quit heroin for three days while I was in jail after getting arrested. The first time I really tried to quit was July of 2011, we had only been snorting heroin for three years at that point. I finally did get clean however as we were headed into 2021 after an improbable 2020. Never giving up on myself, regardless of how many times I failed, is the biggest asset I had.I literally tried getting clean more times than I could count the first three years of my using. I really thought I could do it on my own since I was able to quit most of the other drugs I was doing. But really, all I was doing was using all my resources and money to get more heroin. Detoxing at home those first couple of years was brutal. I still had been doing pretty well selling drugs and I had actually found someone that I was making a lot of money off of a few times a week. THat is a whole different story. But with the constant flow of money, the biggest issue my girlfriend and I had was getting it when we needed it. Since we were so new to the game of heroin we did not have the resources that one accumulates over the years. We really were at the mercy of our one drug dealer and he definitely did not keep the same hours that we did since we were both still in college at the time. We always had money to get more so stopping was only thought about when we struggled to get our fix. I’ve spent 12 hours in the shower, laying down in the bathtub, going through violently gross detox on numerous occasions. I actually used this method over the course of my full 13 years of heroin addiction. I found that the shower helps regulate temperature and at least as I was throwing up with diarrhea, I was in the bathtub so I just went with it. Noone said detox was cute. But hell has never been considered cute. Those early days of detox before I started getting privy to the fact that there were detox medications that would at least sort of make some of the detox symptoms bearable. However all I had to help with detox for withdrawals was marijuana and the shower. Towards right before I went to detox for the first time, we started being able to find like methadone pills and for the last year or so we had access to the old school stop sign Suboxone. In July of 2011, I began using needles and my girlfriend at the time wanted to get clean so bad. Once she saw me use a needle, she left. It was the initial wake up call I needed and that was the first time I openly told both my parents what I had been up too. It took three years for me to tell them and they both knew something was up but they had no idea. Once she left I called my mom, who was in Alaska at the time, and literally within 24 hours, she was at my apartment in Milwaukee. I went to detox and was prescribed Suboxone for the first time, and from the end of July of 2011 until November. I had moved to Wausau where my mom had lived and after my initial prescription ran out I started going to the methadone/suboxone clinic every morning before work and waited in line. I joked for years after that every time I had to wait in a line anywhere, that it was like the methadone clinic line. Towards the end of 2011 though I started wanting to use again, I had been doing well and thought I could use successfully this time. I will write about the different detox drugs and methods I have used to get clean in future posts as well as stories about individual times at different treatments. I have been in a strictly detox center about ten times, I was open to treatment the entire time I used and ended up in countless AODA groups, Intensive Outpatient Programs(IOP), Partial Hospitalization Programs(PHP). Per the advice of my parents I went to a 90 day residential treatment center in Florida. I completed 74 days of it and they actually said I completed the program. I ended up in and out of a halfway house for a few months after that. I ended up doing 90 in 90. That is 90 meetings, NA/AA, in 90 days. By the end of the 90 days however, I had already mentally relapsed and was going to my meetings high. I spent 11 months total in Florida and actually ended up in the residential treatment facility three more times after that, not completing the program any of those times. My main issue with groups and meetings is that I always seemed to make friends with someone as sick as I was and we would hang out and use together. It happened in my first AODA class in 2009 all the way up to 2018 in the IOP class that my probation officer made me take. I have smoked pot since I was 17 and a lot of the times I was in treatment, the facilitators would explain to me that I would not be able to smoke weed in my life either because that will always lead me to my drug of choice. I think my drug of choice always was weed, I just got side tracked one time, for 13 years on heroin. I finally realized, I do need some kind of counseling and someone I can vent to, it just would not be in a group setting. I figured out that one on one therapy with the correct professional is best for me. It also took a long time to find a therapist that was qualified in dealing with someone with my extensive drug history and childhood trauma. I think it is important for the individual to figure out if group therapy or one on one therapy is best. Everyone, regardless of if they struggle with addiction could probably benefit from some form of therapy. Finding what works for each individual is the most important thing. Sometimes it is both forms of therapy and meetings; there is no right way to get and stay clean. For every time I went to any form of treatment, I have one friend that has died. That is about 40 people, so far. I say about, because I have some friends that I can neither confirm nor deny that they are still alive. Not being able to find them though might be telling me everything that I need to know. I never gave up on myself, I knew there was a better life out there, and I knew I deserved it. I just had no idea how I was going to get there yet. Those 40 times in treatment, each one was either a detox itself or started with me detoxing. Use, withdrawal, try to detox, Use, withdrawal, try to detox, and repeat, for 13 years I would do that at home by myself. Sometimes I would make it to a friends or family members house and would hope to have support through it. But most of my attempts to detox were at home, by myself. I tried 48 times to detox by myself. To beat heroin addiction on my own. I am not everyone, I am sure some people decided they wanted to quit and just quit. I was not that kind of drug addict. I hate the word junkie too. I really want people to see the human being behind the drugs and see that there is a person who just wants to live a normal life. For so long, everyone thought I was selfish and narcissistic because my drug use came first. Which in that sentence alone, proves I am not a narcissist. A narcissist would not start a recovery vlog/blog to try to help humanity. But also my addiction came first, I didn’t come first. I was not living the life I wanted or expected or having any fun at all. Everyone thought since I did what I wanted when I wanted to, that I was doing what I wanted to do. I was a slave to heroin, heroin was in control, I have not lived how I know I should my whole life. I did have a glimpse of what life could be like if I were clean when I was so between the beginning of 2017 and the end of 2018. My son was conceived and born during that time which is my greatest accomplishment of my life. I know a lot of people may have their own crazy detox stories, I have been through trying every single way. If you don’t have the luxury of detoxing in jail. Yes. Luxury. My 11 detoxes in jail were awful. I am not going to say that it went well. I ended up in suicide watch once. But the mental aspect of knowing that there is no way in hell that you are going to escape and find drugs is pretty damn powerful. I would start ‘feeling’ dope sick after about 16 hours when I was on the streets. In jail, I lasted 54 hours before I started withdrawals and that was all because my mind knew there was no way to get any drugs. I told my mom after a few of the jail detoxes that as much as it sucked, it was nice to be off of all drugs for a while. Literally I have gone through every kind of detox possible. Now how do I deal with detox? Detoxing from drugs and going through withdrawal to finally get clean is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. There were sometimes, some years, I just surrendered to my addiction and knew I was going to use it because there just was not any other way to live for me at that moment. A person truly has to be ready to get clean, but that is not the only thing, because remember I wanted to get clean in 08’, that was not the issue, the issue was me and my solution was heroin. While a person goes through withdrawal from drugs and alcohol their bodies are detoxing and the emotional, phyiscal and psycological torture you go through is more intense than anything more people have experienced in their lives. The emotions I would go through as I would detox were vast and could really change in a split second. I always preferred having someone supportive around just in case there was an emergency, and nobody wants to go through detox alone. Just make sure to warn the person about how irritable you might become and the dramatic mood swings that will occur. My biggest emotions while getting clean were always sadness, mostly just so sad for myself that I let this happen, and that I just felt all alone and that I really did not matter to anyone. Also, the guilt and shame I felt for all the things I had done during my last relapse all came crashing down on me at once which is really hard to take when someone is so fragile. Then there are feelings of joy and happiness, because finally, I was taking the steps I needed to get my life together. The best thing to do I say, is feel it, really feel it, every single emotion. Use all that feeling that is pouring out of you. Finally feeling after all the time numbing myself and I really tried to reflect on what kind of life I wanted and what I needed to do to get there. I had feelings like this everytime I detoxed, the key for me was, everytime I relapsed or detoxed, I would learn something new that I could use the next time to maybe, just maybe get to a point where I can live without shooting heroin into my arm all day. For so long, I was young and really did not understand the psychological part of why I was using. I really thought, hey, if I can get through the physical detox part I will be good, it’s the only part making me use; I thought. The physical detox is awful, it’s painful, violent and lasts about four to seven straight days. Most withdrawal does not occur for about 24 hours after use depending on a multitude of factors. I can hear people screaming out how much longer or shorter they lasted when it came to withdrawal. But I was just picking an about number. A day after use, the user can expect to be at least starting withdrawals if they haven’t already. The physical detox part, means that your body is physically dependent on the drug, making it so without the drug, you really cannot function normally, and long enough without it your body begins to withdraw. The physical withdrawal starts with sweats, and what I like to call the eebeegeebees, lol, in which you just feel uncomfortable in your own skin. Literally withdrawal is like dying from the flu, without the dying part. As the withdrawal comes over me my stomach would tighten up, I would feel pukey but not puke quite yet. As the full blown sickness takes over, the throwing up and diarrhea begins along with the sweats, and shakes and restless legs. When I said I spent 12 hours in the shower puking, I was not exaggerating, puking bile for 12 hours, I felt like I just got out of the ring with Mayweather and I went through that many times. Over the years I would drink milk so when I puked it was at least curdled milk instead of stomach bile for hours. Nothing cute about detox. Then after the first 100 hours, you slowly start to start feeling a little better. Some of the hardest part for me was just being so tired and not being able to sleep at all. I went 60 days without sleeping at night. After no sleep at all for the first three weeks, the nights I could doze off, I would sleep maybe a half an hour and then would wake up just drenched in sweat. 60 days, but that was in 2015, I will get to that year in a different post. Then comes the psychological toll that weighs on a person throughout the detox process. The anxiety and depression as well as the constant voice of the drug saying that all you need is a little and you won’t feel like death anymore. That little voice has gotten to me so many times, I would even get through 2,3,4,5 days of extreme detox, and then just get it in my head that I was going to use, and then there was absolutely no stopping me. The constant anxiousness to use the drug as well as the anxiety from the life I created, sometimes would be too much to bear. The depression for not living up to my potential and for what I put my family and friends and girlfriends through would also be too much to handle sometimes. Trying to get clean, and then having all of these feelings all of a sudden. It gets to just be too much and that is why I would relapse. As you start to get clean and analyze your life, the guilt and shame for things also comes smashing you in the face like a train. I like to say that if a person can not forgive you for what drugs did to your life, and recognize that person is not who you really are. What happens as drugs take over our bodies and minds we start to do things that we normally never would.Only way to start healing is to forgive yourself for things that have happened. I wrote the story about my dog being murdered and it took me a long, long time to forgive myself for that. I forgave the girl that was responsible for what happened, before I forgave myself for not knowing it was happening and stopping it. I am one of the largest advocates for the benefits of medical marijuana and CBD, just can not argue with the facts. Using weed for detox has been part of my routine since the beginning. I think pot helps calm the nerves, calm the mind, calm the stomach and slightly allows the pain to subside. Weed is not going to stop the withdrawal and without more help it is going to be the worst few days of your life. But if you do plan on trying to detox at home there are a few things I picked up over the years that would help. Again, nothing was full relief, the last time I detoxed I ended up in the ER and they flooded me with suboxone but I was still sick for four days straight until the suboxone caught up. I had a few things I thought helped a little bit, nausea meds(zofran) and blood pressure meds(clonidine) consult your doctor before taking any medications please. I just want to share what I did, both of those medications are safe and not addictive but before you mix it with other meds you may take, please talk to your primary care physician. The physical detox and emotional part of the detox experience does both calm down as the clean days count up. The best advice I have for a comfortable and tolerable detox is deciding whether or not to use something like suboxone, methadone, vivitrol or sublocade which is the suboxone shot. I’m going to write a future post on my experience with each, because yes, I have tried them all at one point during my recovery attempts; suboxone I was actually prescribed three different times, and I was on vivitrol two seperate times. I told you I never gave up on myself. Whether you use one of those four to stay off of heroin or not, I AM PROUD OF YOU. Anytime you take nasty, cut, dirty street drugs out of your life, it’s better than the alternative. I hate when people say a person isn’t clean because they still take something. They do that so they can live, they chose life, so whatever they have to do to keep hard street drugs out of their body, I support. The drugs prescribed by a doctor will be monitored and based on the other aspects of one’s treatment program can be slowly weaned away. Some people might have to be on something for the rest of their lives. That is perfectly fine, it’s better than the alternative. The biggest problem I always had was other people telling me that they knew what was best for my recovery, what they wanted was for me not to be dependent on anything, and for a long time I thought that is what I had to do. I relapsed everytime I tried it someone else’s way. I always took direction, I was open minded and willing and I am not talking about NA or AA because I never was able to use those meetings to my advantage like others are able to. Some of the treatment plans that help one person, may not help another person. It is important that everyone has their own individual treatment plans, based on need, support, strength, knowledge and what the individual has already gone through. The last thing I had to get rid of so that I knew I was done. Like I know in my soul that I am done with heroin forever. But the last thing i had to do to get through all of this mentally, was no more reservations about still wanting to use. Meaning, for so long I kept a drug dealers phone number. For so long I couldn’t say “I am done using heroin.” Today, I can say that I am forever done with heroin and now my goal is to encourage people to continue trying to get clean and give hope to those who don’t think it is possible. I hated listening to the righteous motherfucker that got clean and thinks that he has the answer for everyone. That is not me, I just experienced so many different things during my active addiction, I thought maybe my story might be able to help someone. Each relapse I learned something about myself or about my addiction and I just kept building the pieces together that I had learned from my experiences, until they all fit. I used to think that the physical withdrawal part of the detox was the hardest part. Turns out it was dealing with myself everyday that was the hardest part. I finally was able to get past all the roadblocks, finally face my demons and realize that what I was doing is being self destructive because I didn’t value myself. I said before they flooded me with suboxone until I stabilized which took five mizerable days. I stayed on suboxone until I could get the sublocade shot, which is the suboxone shot once a month. I see my Suboxone doctor every 28 days to get my shot and he has really been the best doctor I could ask for when it comes to my recovery. Both my doctor and therapist are weed advocates and since I would never be prescribed anything strong for my anxiety, they both recommended that I use marijuana for medicinal use. I am in therapy twice a month with someone that is educated in childhood trauma, which I will get into in a different post, addiction. Those two people along with my own mindset and motivation have helped me create a new life for myself. I still struggle with life, the people in it and myself. But after my experiences and everything I learned I am able to use those tools everyday in order to stay on course for what I want for the rest of my life. I exercise everyday, I eat well, I try to help others with anything I can, and I am back to being good to myself. I forgot who I was for too long, and I was destroying myself because of how others made me feel. I have so much to offer by sharing my experiences, hope and encouragement with the world. I wouldn’t wish one relapse on my worst enemy. Let alone “99 relapses.”

My son and I in Door County


I used to think it was all me, that I was the one that created who I became. And it’s not fair to just point the finger at one reason or purpose or person for why I became addicted to heroin. My abandonment issues created self esteem issues, and those were never dealt with properly. I was such a cool young child and I literally did love everything that life had to offer. I was really interested in a little bit of everything and of course I had interests that I was really passionate about, mostly football. I really did have so many interests, and maybe it is not fair to blame my childhood for having the life I did. But as a kid I was really the only one that I had and didn’t have someone that was supportive of the things I wanted to do. Can’t say I would have played professional football, but at least I could have tried out for the high school team. I had no support to do anything and that shattered my confidence. I have had feelings of inadequacy for a long time. I have said that statement over the years and most people don’t really understand why. I had to really do a self inventory on the things that I was and the things that I wasn’t in order to figure out what was best for my future. It all has to do with how I look at myself, the worth I give myself. Because I didn’t like who I was, it was easy to turn to drugs and girls to escape myself. Once I started smoking, that turned to selling weed, which turned to selling coke, molly, acid, X, shrooms, K, and all the pills. I really was like, “let mikey try it” because once I decided to experiment with drugs I wasn’t just doing a little. I ate like a half ounce of shrooms at once, I took 100 hits of LSD in three days, the first time I did ecstasy, I ate nine rollers and ate six hits of acid. That’s just so you know how fucked up and sick I was. I hate war stories and people trying to say their addiction is worse than the next persons. I would do everything to the extreme which should have been a telltale sign of my addictive personality. But. Within one week of me trying Oxycontin for the first time, I tried heroin, and a week later a heroin dealer walked through my front door to trade an half ounce of heroin, for an ounce of cocaine with my buddy. My cocaine dealer left his supply in my freezer. Never had more than a few ounces at a time, but at 19 years old that was crazy. Once the kid with the heroin, cause he was my age at the time, came into my life it was all but over. Once I began using, it really was like heroin was always part of my life. After that point I just started to do it everyday and as soon as my girlfriend saw me do it, she wanted to try it. We had already sold and did all the other drugs together, there was no way we thought heroin was going to be that much worse. My whole life I was told drugs were bad, and as I grew up and started experimenting with them I realized I could still function on most all of them. I just thought I could control heroin the same way. I didn’t give a shit what people thought anymore, it was great, and at first, I had money and I was still in school. I had my own place, a beautiful girlfriend, our puppy, and rarely got sick because we had money. At first we were using it and we became semi sustainable. The biggest issue was our dealer being available when we needed him to be and that was really why within a few months of starting her and I both really wanted to quit. We first tried to quit in August because in September my brother was taking me to Las Vegas for my 21st birthday. The sickness was unbearable and I was so new to detox, I had no idea what I was doing.Then September came and I was not going to miss Vegas. So, I taped heroin to my nut sack so I could bring it with. I money so bringing enough was not the issue. The biggest issue, besides the tape on the nuts, was that I flew on my birthday, which is 9/11. Quite the day to fly and smuggle things onto an airplane, but that was already how desperate I was, and that was only the beginning. Literally on the plane ride there I did half of it, because I am me, and that’s what I do. I did have a blast on the trip and it really was the best 21st birthday ever. Everyone wants to go to Vegas for their 21st birthday. I got to live it, but was I really living being a slave to heroin. After that first trip, I realized vacations were gonna be really hard to take if I did not plan accordingly. Over the course of my addiction I missed out on so many weekends and trips because I could not handle being away from the drug for that long. Christmas that year we went to Gulf Shores, Alabama with a friend and some other people. My girlfriend and I brought our dog MJ and heroin and Suboxone and we all drove there. Spent the week on the beach and we thought if we run out we will do Suboxone and we won’t have any other options. Well, we lasted the week, and when it was time to go, I got us back in 14 hours, yes, I drove straight through, we were both sick. Needless to say, that was my last trip until I got shipped to Florida for rehab in October 2012.The climax of 2011 and 2012 I have explained in some of my other writing but during all that time I really was lost and just looking for any guidance. I had no idea what to do. In June of 2011, the girlfriend of four years left, I moved and got clean on Suboxone for a few months. Then I relapsed, got a new girlfriend, and 2012, she murdered my dog MaryJane. I didn’t find it out until four months later that she did it. Did not help that during all of 2012 I started stealing on a massive level and was charged with seven cases in six counties throughout Wisconsin in the October. We lived in Wausau, but the drugs were five times cheaper in Milwaukee, so what did I do? I drove to Milwaukee everyday for about six months straight, 186 miles one way. And I drove that twice in one day twice. It was always a round trip situation but two roundtrips in one day. Talk about sick….Being sent to Florida was an experience, a new city, new people, new me, right on the beach. It was perfect, at first, it seemed. But wouldn’t you know it, there’s drugs in Florida too. After the year I had in 2012, my 2013 in Florida was not much better. I was using new drugs with new people, and it all really seemed like a new feeling, but the same me. I really did have a fun time at some points, but me getting shipped across the country during such a difficult time was definitely the wrong answer. I have learned that the opposite of addiction is connection, sending me to Florida alone was the opposite of that. The worst part is these places were all highly referred by people in the addiction community and it sounded like the right idea. Now not only are a lot of those rehabs closed but some got in trouble for insurance fraud right around where I was, the one I went to shut down last year.Florida had new people, and new drugs that weren’t common in Milwaukee. Florida took my addiction to another level because there was black tar, and dilaudid that I had never done before. So not only was I just getting clean for the first time ever, I was also able to start anew in West Palm Beach. I thought well, this time I am going to use it successfully. Unlike Milwaukee, Florida didn’t have needle exchanges at the time. We had to buy needles from a pharmacy chain. Well, there were a lot of times when my girlfriend at the time would find my ‘kit’ and throw it all away. The issue was that the dope man was down the street and the pharmacy was about five miles past him. Twice I went through to pick up the poison I needed and because I did not have a needle to use I would look around on the ground for an old one. It did not even cross my mind for a second to even rinse it out, I got my drugs and used the needle, without hesitation. That stupidity actually followed me into 2014 when I was back in Milwaukee and I did it there too but it was because I did not plan out my use properly. Sounds foolish to say it that way, but I didn’t have a needle again and I found one. This time I rinsed it out though, like that mattered…I used throughout 2014 after I got out of jail in April, after doing 219 days. Another bad year, with another girlfriend, but after the girl murdered MaryJane I only dated a woman who did not use heroin. That was a good and bad thing, good for my addiction, bad for the girl who had to put up with me. During that year I ended up in jail again. That relationship ended and actually I tried to get back into college that January and finally finish. I was doing well at first and thought I should get a student loan. I spent the 6,000 dollars in 20 days and had to medically withdraw from classes. Dropping out again, after being a senior since 2008 and after being in college until 2011. I was doing very well too, my addiction had won again. As I dropped out of school that Spring, I left the city and I did try to get clean, but I just was not ready and I actually still had my place that had been paid for already. I went back to the city and with no money and no drugs, I had to figure out the next plan. It was just the end of March in Wisconsin and if anyone knows its fucking cold still, but I had ran into a guy who was my age and was panhandling and making really good money to support his drug habit. The same one as me, so we joined panhandling forces and literally we would share about 500 dollars a day on heroin and crack. We smoked crack and shot heroin in the alley on 13th and Galena in Milwaukee. That was my everyday from March until July when I went back to jail, this time, it was for stealing textbooks. I have so many stories, so maybe I will get into that part of the addiction in a different post. But I stayed in jail until November of that year and when I got out I really thought I was ready to quit for good. I moved to Port Washington, WI trying to get away from the city life and I actually started out pretty good.Two days after Christmas that year, the only Grandparent that I ever knew had a stroke and passed away a few days into 2016. Within a week I had relapsed and for whatever reason everyone thought I was ‘fine’ cause I said so. Very odd. But that first part of 2016 was rough for me and everyone around me, a different girlfriend at this time, she actually became the mother to my son in September of 2018 but so much had gone on before that. May of 2016, was a month to remember. The beginning of the month was normal, me using heroin and lying and denying it. On May 17th I had my car stolen on 22nd and Highland in the ‘hood’ and literally a week later in the same area, in the same car, I started the high speed chase that caused me to become a felon. They thought my car was still stolen and I did not know. A nine mile high speed chase on the highway during rush hour north on I-43. I literally was on the shoulder and I got away. I was wanted for five days until the girlfriend called the cops because I was using drugs in the house again. I ended up in jail and was revocated for the fourth and last time. I might do a post on how that two weeks shook down, but it is a whole different story, but it is pretty crazy how everything happened. After 2016, the lifestyle I was living had changed drastically, I still used drugs after that and was still very addicted, but in my mind it was better because. I was in jail until July of 2017 and when I got out I was completely clean from all drugs. I actually maintained my clean date from April of 2017 until November of 2018. That relapse November was the one of the worst, it carried into 2019, and it is true, the relapses got shorter with more time in between them but you really do start off right where you left off. Most important part to know is if you relapse, your tolerance is not the same as it was when you were using, so just be mindful of that. My son was very young and I had a different girlfriend at the time and with all of the drama surrounding me, I overdosed for the first time on February 20th 2019. I was put in jail on a PO hold and when I got out, the overdose actually scared the shit out of me, I went and watched the body cam video of the police officer saving my life. Nine minutes of panic, and all that narcan and I finally came back to life. But I was yet to be alive. Like I said that overdose scared me from heroin for nine months, but I was smoking crack that whole summer by myself and I actually cleaned up in September and I was doing good until Thanksgiving night after dinner. An old girlfriend asked if I wanted to get together and we did. She was doing percocets and I thought after that long I could just do it and be fine. Well within a month I was back on heroin, a few weeks later I lost my job and then the Coronavirus took over the world. If that’s the reason enough for me to keep using and all summer, with no car, I would bike 25 miles one way to the city to pick up drugs, I even did it twice in one day a few times. Thats over 100 miles on a bicycle as a heroin addict….Talk about being tan. I did that all the way up until December 4th of 2020 and the next day I started my last detox I would ever have to do.The lengths and depths I went to protect my addiction and to feed my addiction sicken me to this day. I never felt like I had a lot of support from the people close to me, and when they would try it really was not much help. I lost all my good friends because I was on drugs, and then all my drug friends died, so I felt very alone for a long time. I truly had to forgive myself and try to make amends where I could. I never was much for the 12 steps, but the basic principles behind each are what I did follow. I will do a post on what methods I all tried, and what the difference is this time because I was asked for years. “What is the difference this time?” And For so long, I never had an answer for that, but I do now.

“Pink Diary”

During college I lived on the East Side of Milwaukee and was going to school at UW-Milwaukee. I had been selling pot and pretty much anything I could make me money. In spring of 2008 I had been dealing for about three years, and was finishing my Junior year of college and thought I had everything under control. What does everyone do when they have it all under control? They get a dog. So, I ended up getting a dog. Meanwhile, I had a girlfriend at the time, so the dog was for her and for me. There are going to be many more stories to come, some that includes the three years we had MaryJane together up until 2011. In 2011, my addiction grew to the point where I ended up using needles for the first time. Because I started using needles, and my girlfriend wanted to get clean, she ended up leaving. We had been snorting heroin for 3 years, through all the crazy shit that happened. She was finally done and since I was getting worse, not better, she left. That was the first time I went to detox. She is still clean from heroin. After our breakup I moved; to Wausau, Wisconsin, great city….. I ended up moving up there and staying with my mom at first until I was able to get a job and a place of my own. I had moved around July and by August I was already working and was doing pretty good on the Suboxone program. I finally did get a place and my dad helped me get set up. Again, I thought things were going really well. At first I biked 15 miles to work and left MaryJane at home, which was nice for my Mom until I moved. MJ really was a sweetheart and just made everyone happy. I got MaryJane through a friend I use to buy large amounts of weed off of. MaryJane was half German Shepard, and quarter Rottweiler and a quarter Lab and I would always say the best parts of each. She saved my life once for sure, and who knows how many other times, when she was the only one there to wake me up. MJ had been stepped on or something before we got her and the second toe on her left front paw was missing. So it was the cutest thing, when it rained, that paw would have three toe prints, instead of four.Eventually, I was doing so well, that my Dad got me a car and I drove to work after that. At work I did really well from about August until November and through a buddy that I still talk to, I met a girl and at first she seemed really cool. During this time I was just smoking and trying to sell a little bud to support how much I smoked. I was working and making enough money to support myself and my doggie. Then the girl I met at work would hang out and smoke and eventually we hooked up and then started just always hanging out. Except well……… Well I would go to Milwaukee to see my ex because she wanted to see MaryJane, and well I was picking up heroin. I had been making good money and after I was given the car, I figured I could try to use it successfully because I had the money and thought I could figure it out this time. How to use and work and not let my family find out. I thought I could do all of that successfully. I would get paid every two weeks and would head down to Milwaukee which is 186 miles one way. I still remember that and it was nine years ago now. While I would leave, the girl that I was kickin it with would stay at my house until I got back. I could no longer afford the house I was renting so I had to move to a one bedroom upper on the other side of Wausau. For a while it seemed like everything was normal when I would leave. I had no clue but while I was gone the girl at my house started doing things to MaryJane, hoping something happened to her. MJ must have been the toughest dog in the world. Not one day did I think she was sick. I was on heroin, but I really just had no idea. My mom had distanced herself from how bad my addiction was, but I wish I would have just let her have MJ, knowing I couldn’t take care of her. MJ would never bite anyone unless they threatened me.Every time I was gone I had no idea what was happening to MJ. The first time something happened I was still living in the first house. I had arrived back from a day trip to Milwaukee, it took about six hours total if I drove the speed limitish, and MaryJane was not in the house or outside in the yard. The girl was inside though, I’m just gonna call her that from now on, so I asked her where MaryJane was. She said “she got out”, I asked what happened and why she did not call me. She said “she just broke free and ran”, I said why was the gate open, and why did you not put her leash on her before you let her go. MJ weighed maybe 50lbs. She said something like I didn’t see if she got out of the gate or if she jumped the fence. Which she could probably do pretty easy, but remember when I said she lost a toe. She would protect me, but she was always timid when it came to things like that. It is much easier, now, to look back and be like what the fuck was I thinking. But with a clouded drug mind, and wanting to trust that a person could never be that evil. It wasn’t even a trust or not trust thing because I really had no idea. I just thought, well maybe the gate was open and she slipped free. I thought well maybe the whole thing is possible. Then not shortly after the veterinarian called, and said someone had brought MaryJane in and she had been hit by a car. The veterinarian fixed her up and my step mom and dad paid for her to get fixed up. The second I got there MJ was wagging her tail and licking my face, with her busted chin. Hit by a car, and she only got 4 stitches in her chin. Everything seemed like a big accident and now I had her back. And remember, I had literally just got back home from the city. I only knew she wasn’t home for about 10 minutes because I had just got back. I keep trying to justify why I was not there to protect MJ, and I hate that. I feel guilty everyday that I wasn’t there to protect her and stop that monster from doing what she was doing to her. I really just did not know. I hated myself for a long time for not knowing what actually shook down this first incident. It’s easy for people to judge, because of how I tell the story and the fact that everyone knows what ultimately happened. Why she did not call me when MJ got free and why I didn’t think about that at the time. Still messes with me. But like I said, I was so fucked up on drugs and literally not even ten minutes after I knew, and the Vet and my Mom were calling because our phone numbers were on MaryJanes tagThen the second time, It had been about a month or so, just after MJ was healed from getting hit by a car and I came home and the whole bedroom was wrecked. Which I thought was odd, however, this time MJ was home and the girl wasn’t. The television was knocked off stand and the stand was knocked over and MJ had a huge bump on her head. I immediately took her back to the vet. Same vet as before, and the vet said she thought it was an ear infection that may have moved. To the middle of her head. The Vet ended up draining the bump of the fluid, packing it with gauze and putting a cone around MJ’s neck so she couldnt mess with her head. MJ was such a good sport for those two weeks. She was really an amazing dog. It was just a very odd situation and of course the girl said nothing. Then the vet drained it and put a cone on MJ’s head. I was not buying the ear infection but I went the wrong way with my thought process. Because, again, I never thought anyone I knew could ever be so evil. I had peanut butter on the TV stand and thought it was possible that MJ went for the peanut butter and it knocked the TV on her head or the peanut butter itself hit her. I did not really know what to think but the Vet did not think it seemed odd and again said nothing about any kind of potential abuse. Just two incidents that just happened like the rest of life occurs. It was not impossible and without anyone telling me that they thought it could have been foul play. I just moved on and continued using and thinking everything was ok. All of what happened before really was not the girl trying too hard to get rid of MaryJane. And what happened next should have woke me up. But again, heroin was the main focus and nothing was going to stop me from using. Then, one day not too long before June 4th, I came around the corner from the bedroom to the bathroom in our little one bedroom upper. There she was pinning MJ to the ground with her knee on top of her. I am so not a violent person whatsoever, I am very against any form of domestic violence or any situation in which someone physically assaults a person for a reason that doesn’t condone it. Instantly I grabbed the girl up and pinned her to the wall and was like what the fuck. The girl said MJ pissed on her. Well MaryJane never pissed inside or shit or anything ever. I was like if you have an issue with her, you come get me and I will deal with MJ. I also said if you make me choose, i’m choosing MaryJane, so don’t make me pick. Just get along with her, she is a dog and doesn’t do anything wrong. I never should have said that in hindsight, and why I ever let MJ stay with her after that, I will never know. It took me a long time to forgive myself for that as well. I just never saw the girl do anything else ever, and I knew the girl didn’t like MaryJane, but MJ never really showed it towards her. MJ didn’t ever seem overly afraid of the girl and never showed any signs of being sick at all or getting thin or anything like that. She never lost hair and never was sick at all. One time in Milwaukee she picked a used condom up and I had to pull it out of her mouth, so I knew she ate weird shit sometimes. MJ maybe puked three times that whole year. I just didn’t know or just never wanted to believe it. Heroin. Sucks.Then one day my dad came up from Milwaukee and we went to a mexican food place and I got a haircut because I wasn’t spending my money on cutting my hair and I had therapy, my first and only session that year. Sean called when we were getting food which actually was the last thing we did before we went home. I had given the girl my cell phone so she texts my dad phone and says “she just shit”. Mind you, MJ never did that in the house, ever, so then I was worried and my dad and I headed home. I told the girl to just leave her alone and I will be right there. I got home and as my dad and I pulled up the driveway I was looking to the left as we went up the driveway and past the building to the back area where the wooden staircase leading to our door was. As the porch came into my line of sight, I noticed MaryJanes legs hanging off of the porch. She did not move at all as we pulled up which, if anyone has a dog knows, if someone is there, then the dog is going to move. I jumped out as fast as I could and ran up the stairs. I found my beautiful MJ on my upstairs porch dead.The girl was inside texting. Instantly my dad thought she did it. I defended the girl, because again I thought there was no way that someone could be that evil. Wow, I was naive, immature, irresponsible and fucked up on drugs. That made me unaware of what was going on right in my own home and immediately we took MaryJane to the vet to see what they said the cause of death was. I guess I just needed the proof, I could not just jump to that because I just did not believe it.The vet said MJ did not seem poisoned and there were no signs of abuse. It was odd because MJ had three cuts on her that were not there that morning when I was playing fetch with her. However they were not bleeding and the Vet did not think that those puncture wounds had anything to do with MJ’s death. The Vet also determined that MJ’s glands were not dried up at all so she was not given rat poison or anything like that, so the Vet all but ruled out poisoning, after the 150 dollar autopsy my dad paid for they said they could do a 1,500 dollar autopsy to find out the exact cause of death but with all signs kind of ruling out foul play. We decided to just have MJ cremated and just say goodbye. My dad did call the cops on the girl and the cops came out and questioned everyone and they also came to the conclusion that it was just an incidental death. That was June 4th 2012, I was devastated and what gave me comfort was the fact that maybe MaryJane could tell how sick I was and let herself go to save me because I could hardly even take care of myself. If I only knew what that girl was doing the whole time. The girl even consoled me after, because I was very upset, I was still on drugs but after four years with MJ, being together everyday, because I didn’t work, it was so hard to not have her around anymore, I left her dog bowl and food out until I abandoned that place and moved to Milwaukee. My dad knew the girl did it but we had no way to prove it and I still did not believe it. I wish we had been able too, because my life just got worse after I lost the girlfriend I dated for four years and the dog I had for four years within 11 months.2012 was a wild year for my addiction, I took it to new depths that I had never been a part of before. I began stealing and my lucrative Walmart heist cheme was foiled. On October 12th 2012 we were both arrested for retail theft. The girl was my accomplice for all of the thefts that I was charged with. After that first arrest I was hit with six retail theft cases in five counties in the same month. We were using heroin the whole time, from the first time she stole some out of my stash in the original house I lived in, all the way to when we got arrested. Was all of 2012 and a little bit into 2011 when we started using together. We were arrested and my parents went to the foreclosed house we had been staying at on 69th and Burleigh in Milwaukee. The house had been owned by a friend of my dads who allowed us to stay there until she officially sold the house. The ladies house we were staying at was actually the person who got to it first. The lady had called my dad and said she had our belongings and he could come pick up some of the things. As they arrived to pick up our things, she presented them the Pink Diary. The same pink diary that the girl had the whole time we were together, the same pink diary she wrote in every day. The same pink diary that I never read ever not once because that is who I am. To me a woman’s purse and her diary are off limits. Just a privacy, personal thing. Everyday I wish I was more like some people, yes, I wish I would have read it but it was and is not who I am. That is my integrity, even on drugs, just never would do that. I did not read the diary. Wish I had. Maybe not though. I probably would not have been ready for what was in it. As my dad and step mom read what the girl had written, they were sickened, appalled and outraged. Immediately they were contacting Wausau Police. I am going to have “quotes” around all of her direct quotes that are still concreted in my head. All of the other situations that occurred during the time the girl was in MaryJane and my life, were explained in the Pink Diary. In the diary the girl explains how she let MJ out of the back yard and kicked her and MaryJane ran. As MJ sprinted out of the back yard and over the sidewalk into the road. Smash! MaryJane got hit by a car, “I wish she would have been killed when she got hit by the car.” Sickening. There was so much in the diary that I never saw and so much that I am sure I did not want to see. When I took MJ to the Vet for the bump on her head. The diary said that the girl had chased MJ around and beat her in the head with a glass bottle because MJ was getting on her nerves. The bottle did not knock MaryJane out and the girl left because she could not deal with MJ anymore. The Pink Diary then explained what the girl had been up to while I was gone getting heroin in Milwaukee. She had poisoned MJ for two months with pain pills and whatever she could find under the sink that might cause MaryJane to die. MJ had puked up pills one time the whole time I was with the girl and since I had to pull that condom, used, out of her mouth a random pill was not as alarming as it should have been. Underneath our wooden porch there was the garbage and I always just attributed anything weird she ate to her going through the trash. Which she never did, but could have once I guess. The point is for her to eat something and puke up a random pill once, just did not seem unusual. ” the pleasure I get from watching her whimper as a pour drano and bleach down her throat is like no other.” Sick fuck! That line made me want to catch a more serious felony. I wanted to kill her. I luckily forgave her by the time she got out of prison or I would have killed her, I needed to forgive her so I could begin to heal. That was about 2015 when I was finally able to make peace with everything related to her role in killing MaryJane. Forgiving myself for not being aware of it or stopping it. I think that is what this is all about. The cops charged her with serious crimes instantly. She was charged with Felony Animal Cruelty and Felony Poisoning an animal. As the cops were doing their job, the media was doing their job and as the story broke. I had made my plans to finally go to Florida for rehab, which is another chapter of my life, that I will get to. MaryJanes beauty, and innocence incorporated with her horrific demise captivated the city, then the state, then it was on Good Morning America and in USA today. I was of course part of the story, and I was known as the boyfriend, and MJ as the boyfriend’s dog. The media had dropped the Jane part in MaryJanes name and would just start calling her Mary which I also thought helped resonate with people. The name Mary was such an uncommon dog name, even though it was not really her real name. It really became a huge deal across the world. I started receiving emails from everyone and everywhere, I had emails from all over the world. It was hard because nine out of ten people were very supportive, and then you had the few that really thought that I had something to do with it, or I knew and I did nothing to stop it. Which could not have been further from the truth. I had no idea and no one in my family claimed to know or think anything until after the fact. A lot of good that did for MaryJane. However, something good did come out of MaryJanes murder, because that is what it was. During the initial trial over 100,000 people signed an online petition for her to get the max sentence which at the time was only 5 years which was definitely not fair, also there were about 15,000 emails and 1,000 handwritten letters sent to the judge recommending the girl get the max sentence. This was some of the most reoccurring news in the Wausau area from 2012 until 2014 and the girl has actually been in the news since so the case is brought up periodically. You know how I said something good came out of MJs murder. Well, in Wisconsin they created a new law which requires the Veterinarian to report any suspicious injuries they see to the authorities. We had gone to the Vet twice in not a very long time, but after each incident we had to do follow up, so we were at the Vet quite a bit. Nothing was said ever about any sort of of abuse. She was on heroin. That was her excuse to the judge. inwhich the judge said he had done over 250 heroin related cases, and never once have they seen animal cruelty like this. MJ seemed to be fine everyday to me which made all of this just seem so impossible. The news got word of the puncture wounds and the poisoning so the news article was “Woman poisons dog, then slits dog’s throat,” because of the puncture marks on MJ’s chest. “she just wouldn’t die”. The quotes I remember, haunt me in my conscious and my subconscious. MaryJane was my baby girl, before I had my son, my baby boy. It was devastating I let this happen, it was devastating that I let someone get close to me that could do something like this.Just did not make any sense to me.I understand everything that was said about me. I may not have like it, but I was the owner of MaryJane, she was my responsibility to keep safe and I was not able to do that. I know the story is horrific and I was truly hated by a bunch of people that I did not know. Everyone close to me saw me with MJ<3 and knew there was no way I had any clue about anything that was going on. They knew I would not allow that even 1% , if I knew about it. I was high and that will never be a legitimate excuse for what I allowed to happen under my watch. I did not protect MJ like she protected me. MaryJane had saved my life once in 2009 while I was selling weed. I will get to that real world true story as well. There were probably a hundred times in which MJ saved my life by waking me up. There are a lot of fucked up pieces to this story. It made my cry to write some of this as I was coming to some of the points in the story. But just to add to the fuckedupness, one of the times MJ woke me up during a nod out session with the girl, the girl had overdosed and was about to die. Well with MaryJane waking me up I was able to use Narcan and save her life. Everyone should be carrying Narcan. Everyone. You never know when you will come across someone who is overdosing. Could just save a life.I felt guilty everyday for a long time for not saving MaryJane. She was my everything, and I had got her before I had started doing heroin, during a time that was much better. She was the last part of all the good I had before heroin, and the girl took her from me because of her own insecurities about a dog. Not being able to save MaryJane is one of the factors that have gone into why I wanted to share. After not saving MJ contributed to extra years of self destructive behavior. Finally being able to forgive myself for what happened to MJ and realise I was very sick and really just did not know was huge in me finally being able to no longer use that as a reason to use. Always had many other reasons to use but eliminating some definitely does not hurt.

MaryJane and I

“Kickin’ the Habit”

Giving up was never an option. Resilient. Maybe. Tired. Yes. I really just know my life deserves more. I was not born to be addicted to drugs, however, if I had to live through what I lived through in order to help people who are still struggling. It was worth every minute. I have a son, nieces and cousins who I never want to see go through what I have. If what I have to say can give hope to someone who feels hopeless, encouragement to those who are trying to get clean, and educate a few people along the way, it will be all worth it. I started using in April of 2008 and by August of 2008 I wanted to quit. Actually the first time I got sick, I had no idea what was happening, I had never been sick like that in my life. I tried to get clean so many times, the key was just continuing to learn about myself and never giving up. Besides all of the times I tried at home, which was a lot, I always was willing to take direction. In the section titled “99 Relapses” I talked about how many times I tried and touched on the different medications I used to try to and live a normal life. The first few years of my addiction I really did not know much about the withdrawals and how to maybe get through them a little better. I always thought that if I got through the physical part of the detox I would be good, I failed to realize how much of the addiction was mental. Using drugs to fill the void of inadequacy I felt in my life. I never was much of a confident person my whole life, drug dealing gave me a false sense of confidence and then the drugs themselves made me really not give a fuck about anything, so in a weird way that was confidence. Even with all of these feelings of inadequacy and never being good enough, I always just believed in myself deep down. Although, there were whole months, maybe years, where I didn’t even try to get clean 1%. But when I did try I was taking note of what worked and what didn’t work. I knew if my addiction didn’t kill me, which it tried to do four times at least, that someday I would have no more reservations, I would not pick up again and I would not have to suffer from my addiction anymore. The work never stops. That was my biggest flaw. Much of the time, trying to get clean, I felt if I got past the throwing up sick part, that I would be fine. The problem isn’t the heroin, heroin was the solution I came up with, all by myself. The problem I had was with myself. The psychological reasons for why we use drugs are different for everyone, but they usually have a common theme, childhood trauma and/or childhood abandonment issues which are the main reasons for someone to have low self esteem and turn to drugs. It is different for everyone, and I found that working with a therapist of some kind on a routine basis is very helpful, as well as AODA groups or NA/AA. I support any way the sick and suffering can beat their addiction. But before we can focus on trying to work on our mental health, we have to get through the physical detox. Relapse, detox, relapse, detox, was the non stop, ever going cycle that I lived with for 13 years on heroin. Kicking the habit really is just that, it’s just how far can you boot that motherfucker so it doesn’t come back. I tried to get clean on my own at home so often that I really did have a routine and would do everything I could to make it more comfortable. I have always smoked weed, and I know some people will say, well you aren’t clean then. Well, I have been given approval by my Doctor and Therapist to use marijuana medicinally and that is exactly how I use it. Until Wisconsin legalizes it, that is the closest to prescribed as anyone in this state is going to get. But, I don’t do heroin, opiates, drugs of any kind, no prescription medication, and I actually quit cigarettes on the same day I quit heroin, and I don’t drink caffeine either. So before you judge that part, think about all of the prescriptions you are taking and where they are derived from, is it an amphetamine, a benzodiazepine, or an opiate derivative. It’s ironic, I am considered the drug addict, and the ones that called me a junkie are prescribed to at least one of those and they drink alcohol. I guess Wisconsin has to hurry up and legalize it so I can once and for all drop the junkie narrative. I advocate for marijuana because you cannot deny the little girl whose parents gave up everything to get her into a CBD program. CBD’s are a part of the marijuana plant and were given to a little girl who had about 200 seizures a day. After the CBD treatment and daily use, her seizures dropped to about one a week. That’s enough data for me right there, and then there is my own personal experience with weed and the medicinal value it does present. The weed helped with not only calming my mind down during extreme withdrawals, it takes me out of my head for an hour or so. It really is good for early onset withdrawal symptoms. The nauseated feeling, with the eebeegeebees, and the restless legs could all be subsided for a little bit with weed. As the full on withdrawal comes over me, there is no weed in the world that is going to fix that but it does lower all the intenseness of the detox. During my at home detox, I would try to get methadone or suboxone off the streets to help curve the withdrawal symptoms and cravings. I did not know what I was doing or how I should be doing it, most importantly, I wasn’t ready to quit just yet. I would try to get klonopins or xanax also and really try to just get through the detox myself. Not under medical care that was the dumbest thing I could have done. With how depleted and beat down my body was already, the mixture of detox meds and benzos really was a dangerous mix. Some times, I would have nothing and just go cold turkey and that works for some people, I was forced to do that in jail about seven times, and did not die so it is possible. My whole thought is, I suffered enough while using, I shouldn’t have to suffer while I’m trying to get clean. Detox under medical advice or in the care of a detox facility is the way to go if you are able. The detox medications that are prescribed or given to you by a doctor can be very helpful. I don’t know what different detox centers do for withdrawal symptoms because I have not been to all of them and I do not know what all of them use. But I will share what worked for me and what I used and preferred. There are so many symptoms to detox it really comes down to what I can handle in terms of symptoms. The violent withdrawal symptoms such as puking, and diarrhea, can be minimized with the suboxone, but that isn’t the cure all for how violent and awful the detox is. I used clonidine for the sweats and my crazy blood pressure which I had read upwards of 180/100 during some of the worst detox. Then for nausea I found the dissolvable tab of zofran works best. They dissolve under the tongue because when I was puking, I couldn’t take an actual pill. Then with smoking weed to keep me out of my head, that was really the most ideal way to try and detox at home. It was never easy, or fun or cute. Detox is none of those things ever. I did use the shower a lot though, which would help regulate temperature, and even this last time I would take hot showers throughout the day to just relax and help with the sweats. Noone has spent more time laying down in the bathtub with the shower on than me. I am not a medical doctor, so please consult your doctor before starting the detox process, if you are unable to consult a doctor for whichever reason, and you are going to try this at home, please have someone you trust around for support. Ideally a family member or friend. Just make sure you let that person know you are going to be irritable and going through hell so don’t be offended by things that are done or said. It’s business, it’s not personal. That was how I looked at my addiction for a long time. It was never my intent to hurt anyone on a personal level. I was very sick and I will spend the rest of my life with reminders of what I did to people and the guilt for what I have done in the past, just know, I forgave myself. Seems like I had been trying to get clean for about 13 years, oh yea, I was. I literally tried everything. I have always been open to direction and guidance and I really did try everything. I have my thoughts about certain parts of the recovery community but I really just encourage people to get clean any way that works for them. The way that worked for me might not work for everyone, but I tried pretty much everything. I really was open to listening to how others got clean and always took direction well, however the most important part of getting clean is knowing that there is no correct way to get clean, just send it. I started getting methadone pills back in 2009 and was also getting suboxone pills before they stopped making those. That was my first time trying to use medication to get off of heroin. Those first three years I didn’t have a clue about what I should be doing to overcome my addiction. I thought it was all physical addiction that was the problem. I did not get prescribed to Suboxone until July of 2011, and that script lasted me a few months before I started to go to the suboxone/methadone clinic. Then towards the end of 2011, I wanted to use heroin again, so I switched from suboxone to methadone and was on methadone for a while until I just quit going to the clinic all together. They both are opioids, however suboxone as an opiate blocker in it is called naloxone and it blocks the opiate receptors in the brain so the individual can’t get high on opiates if they try. After that it was not until 2016 that I tried something else, and this time it was the once a month vivitrol shot. My first experience with that was between getting bailed out of jail on August 10th and going back to jail on November 18th. For those three months while I was fighting a case I stayed clean from all drugs, I was out on bail, but I thought Vivitrol was the answer. I was able to stay off drugs and regardless of what else was going on, I did live without drugs for the first time in a long time, so it gave me hope that I could do it. When I got out of jail in July of 2017 it actually was the beginning of the longest clean time that I had since 2005. I was doing well actually, but not in treatment and not doing anything to maintain my sobriety. My son was conceived at the end of 2017, during this time I was actually in a really positive place in my life. Until my immaturity got the best of me and I left my pregnant girlfriend for a different woman. I have no regrets because what’s the point, but I do think about what life would be like now if I would have stayed with my son’s mother. The new girlfriend was lied to from the beginning anyway and that created a very toxic relationship for a long time and I actually relapsed at the end of that 2018 for a lot of bad reasons. I went on using for about three months before my first overdose, on February 20th, which really did scare me away from heroin for nine months. After I saw the body cam video of my overdose I really wanted to be clean for me and my son’s future so starting in early March of 2019 I got back on the Vivitrol shot and with my new found hope after the overdose I really thought I was on the right path. Then I moved into my own place in May after really not being on my own, and by the end of June I was smoking crack and drinking every night after work. I really felt depressed, and I don’t know exactly what the cause was but I attributed it to the Vivitrol shot. After doing some research as well, I read that the Vivitrol shot actually may cause depression and/or suicidal thoughts, so I quit the Vivitrol and by September I had quit smoking crack. Which is always good.My addiction struggles continued that Thanksgiving, I relapsed and by January I had been fired and that carried into 2020. At the end of 2020 I finally did put everything that I learned and everything that worked together, I got out of my shit hole apartment, I got a doctor who is current in the addiction community and I found a therapist that specializes in both drug addiction and trauma as an adult or child. 2020 was where I just really lost hope and I just felt defeated like I was never going to get above this addiction. I never like to say beat addiction, because it will always be a battle, but to get above it. Meaning, I have the upper hand and I put so much space between me and it, that it no longer is able to pull me down. But 2021 came and I was actually asleep at midnight and not partying for the first time since 2003 probably. This detox was brutal for six days, and I had been flooded with Suboxone at the ER which still did not help. I had been using all of 2020 and by then, all the ‘heroin’ is pure fentanyl, it doesn’t even test positive for heroin anymore. Needless to say, the withdrawal was violent, horrific and because of how close to death I felt, I actually quit smoking cigarettes at the same times. Seems kind of unbelievable to me too because I could not quit anything for so long and then I quit both at once. Then midway through January I was put on the Sublocade shot which is just the once a month Suboxone shot. It goes in my stomach and lasts 28 days.With everything that I learned over the last 13 years, my trial and error method of trying to get clean, I was finally able to get above my addiction. There will always be work to do, and that is what this is all about for me. Having a medical doctor that is progressive in recovery and treatment as well as finding the right therapist were both huge pieces of the puzzle for me. It came down to, I just do not want to be self destructive anymore and I was no longer going to punish myself for how other people made me feel about myself. I have done so many things differently this time when it comes to life after the detox. I really have reconnected with friends from before my addiction, family that I had pushed away for too long and most importantly, I reconnected with myself on a level that I didn’t know existed. Most of the people that think they are close to me but aren’t, never got it, never will get it, and that’s fine, at least I finally kicked the habit.

Kickin’ it

“My Childhood”

Being the pawn in a game for two as a child under four did not benefit me at all. Both my parents had no clue how to be parents. My mom already had two been married twice and had a son from her second marriage. My dad was 24 with no job, no direction and could not have cared less about me when I was born. I had been the cutest little boy, I really was full of life and energy, wanting to learn everything and do everything. As soon as I could as “why?” I would, I just wanted to learn. Originally my father was not in the picture and it  was just my mom and I and my half brother occasionally. He’s my brother, that’s that, no halfs about it. Obviously I don’t recall the first two and a half or so years of my life, that’s pretty normal. After that, it’s all vivid as hell, so the first two years of my life were told to me by two different parents. I was abandoned by both parents at separate times in my life and it has affected every relationship I have ever had in my life. After how I was treated it is amazing I ever wanted to stop using drugs at all. My soul deserved more though, so I fought for it. 

 I was born on 9/11/1987 at 6:02 p.m. in a house on Murray St on the Eastside of Milwaukee.The first two years of my life are told to me through the eyes of both parents. The issue with that is my parents remember the past much different. There are plenty of things my mom says about my dad and my dad says about my mom. Both should never have said anything to me about the other, but I hear things. Sometimes the stories match up, like how they met, sometimes; it is like why are you telling me this. I was going to put examples but I’m not picking sides. They both should of been better. No excuse for using drugs, but I was so lost without guidance, the drug life was fine, at first.

When Amber Hagerman was abducted in 1996, she was America’s first broadcasted emergency response for a missing child. Her case has not yet been solved so if you have any information please contact Arlington(TX) Police. I was kidnapped by my mom towards the end of 1991, and there was no emergency response at the time. 

        My mom and I were on the run from around September of 1991, until the beginning of 1992. We had gone across state lines and no one knew where we were, and the age before cell phones, was much harder to locate people, I remember having my fourth birthday at McDonald’s in Austin Minnesota because that’s where we went to live. we ended up getting an apartment and we were starting over. Mom.always liked having birds and then we got my first dog. A Beagle, named Muffin. Lol. Muffin ran away…. 

         This is where my memory starts to get very clear, right around this age. My mom worked so I was at her friend’s house who babysat me a lot of the time. Moms friend had three daughters, one was a few years older, one was my age, and was one younger. We must have had little adult supervision because the older girl would make us get naked and go under the bed and hump. Obviously I was four, so not much going on, but simulating sex at such a young age as well as having those interactions with all three of the girls and this happenened more then on time. I guess at the time the adults thought there wasn’t anything wrong with that kind of behavior and it just was nothing.

Obviously at such a young age I was not able to really know the difference between what was supposed to be happening and what was happening. I was so young and my mom left me with these people so it really was not my fault at all. I remember we were all in the bathroom naked the only time I remember getting caught. Most of the time, it was under the bunk bed if I remember correctly and that was just how it went for a little while.

Then into 1992 I had not had any contact with my father in months, not sure if he was looking for me or ever really had a thought about where I was.  I know he did take a motorcycle trip across the country to California for a woman and was gone for at least a month. I guess he didn’t know where I was but it still seems odd.

It was about two o’clock in the morning and the cops were knocking at my mother’s friend’s front door. My mom had been arrested and told the police my dad was dead. The cops were able to locate me however because some guy my mom was with had snitched on her about being on the run with her young son. Once the cops were able to locate where I was the showed up at the residence. I remember this part like it just happened, and it was 29 years ago now. I was four, and I didn’t really know what was happening, but as I pretended to be asleep like a four year old does, I was lifted up by an Austin Police officer and his partner and carried off to the backseat of the cop car. That was my first time in the back of a cop car, but definitely not the last. As I fake slept in the back seat of the car I remember hearing the cop radio going off and that the drive was not that far. I ended up in foster care because mom was in jail and my dad was dead.

My foster care experience is not a bad one. I slept in a crib which was not ideal for a big boy at four years old. I had grown out of the crib, “it was for babies”. lol. The older couple who were the foster parents had two sons that were about twenty and one had a Trans Am so he threw me in the backseat and would fly around doing donuts somewhere that it was semi safe to do that. I just remember getting tossed around the back seat and I thought it was so fun. Then eventually, the Austin Police were able to verify that my father was not dead like they thought and he was contacted to come pick me up.

Picked up at four years old, if my father had been part of my life before that, I would have remembered him. My son is two and a half, and if I was in a coma until he was four, he would still remember me. I had no clue who he was or what to make of what was happening. It had just been mom and I for so long with my brother when it was her turn.  Now it was just this guy, I was supposed to call dad.

My childhood after that was almost normal. I have a lot of people who never had to walk in my shoes, tell me how I should be when it comes to everything I have to say about my past. My dad did pay the bills, and I had food, and clothes and a place to live. Much more than a lot of people and I am thankful my dad was a chef before he got me because I had real meals to eat. The problem was I wouldn’t eat until 9pm or later pretty much every day.  Granted our days were long, at daycare by 6am and home after 6pm, but not eating until 9pm is not the best for a young boy. Especially when I had friends over, how embarrassing to not eat dinner until 9pm, but that was my normal.  My dad wanted to be in the garage working on motorcycles and he thought as long as I was fed at some point, that was good enough. As a kid, I loved everything, I was interested in everything, and I asked why about everything and I really loved life. My passion at a very young age was football, I knew everything about football, still do and it was my dream to be around football, even if I sucked at playing. I did get hurt young, but everyone gets hurt in football and I had no support to continue. I really had no support to do anything I liked, if it wasn’t my dad hobbies, they came second. Slowly all my interests got plucked from me one by one. At ten years old he wasn’t too keen about my friends, we were ten. Regardless of what became of some of them, I actually ended up worse off than all of them.

My Grandma, my older brother, and me