When I think about my childhood, I don’t think about eating dinner with my siblings in our backyard, family movie nights, the neighbor kickball games or any happy memory for that matter. I remember sitting at the top of my stairs listening to the cops talk to my parents every night about something that happened with my brother earlier in the day. I used to love it. I guess I’ve always loved chaos and trouble. Growing older, I started looking up to my brother for all the wrong reasons. I’d like to believe I was a leader, but I followed most of my life. If your favorite color was blue, so was mine. I had no identity. No characteristics. I was just a scared little boy who was afraid of what other people thought of me. It consumed me for a while. It wasn’t until I found drugs and alcohol that I was comfortable with myself for the first time. My first drunk I was 12 years old at a Super Bowl party. My second drunk was around the same age. I was drunk at McDonald’s and fell over bringing my food to my table. As I got older, I started selling marijuana and pills. I liked the power it gave me. Soon enough I couldn’t tell if people were hanging around me because we were friends or because I had drugs. Either way I didn’t care. It was better than living alone. It’s funny how that works though. I saw no way out and started using heavier drugs. I used to wonder if that’s all my life was going to be. Using drugs, selling drugs, stealing from people, getting robbed, hiding it from my family – living a double life is not easy. Eventually, the girl I was dating got pregnant. I was 18 years old and she was 23. I begged her to get an abortion. I even harassed her and her family. I still deal with the guilt of doing that today. We were both using when she had the baby. About three months into the pregnancy she cut ties with me and I didn’t see her or our son until he was three weeks old. I didn’t get to help pick his name, he doesn’t have my last name and I’m not on the birth certificate. I just came home from rehab at this point and thought my son was my way out of the life that I was living. In the following six months I was in rehab three more times. No one trusted me and I wasn’t allowed to have my son alone. I had to be supervised. I ended up getting kicked out of my mom’s house and slept in a shelter for a little bit. To sum up the last two years, I was homeless three times, two more psych wards, five halfway houses and two more rehabs. I would get sober for a little bit and then slip. It was miserable. I remember my last run. I was living in a motel and I overdosed. I went to an AA meeting a few days later and shared about how I had money in my pocket but everything I wanted money couldn’t buy. I wanted to be sober. I wanted my life back. I wanted my family to trust me again. I went to rehab again. I was 21 years old and thought that I was too young to get sober. When I’m sober my mind tells me using wasn’t that bad. That it was fun. There’s nothing fun about being homeless, overdosing and depending on drugs to live. Today I’m 10 months sober. I’ve been on beach trips for recovery conventions. I’ve been to concerts. I enrolled and started college at FCC. My family trusts me. My son loves me. I have a job, a car, food in the refrigerator, real friends and I’m involved in AA. I can laugh today. I trust God and he keeps me sober. If I have a craving to use, I pray. If I feel crazy, I meditate. I couldn’t imagine my life any other way. Life isn’t always perfect, but I know it’s better than the alternative.