After reading some of the empowering stories on this page, along with a profound respect for what Finding A Lost Voice does, I contacted my buddy Jordan Meyers to see if I could contribute anything and potentially give hope to someone who was, at one point, as desperate, scared and alone as I was. He graciously accepted.
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I’d love to tell you that I had a reason or excuse to get out of myself, but that just wasn’t the case. I had two incredibly loving parents, a wonderful family, and everything a kid could ask for. I was personable, a great student, student athlete, family-oriented, and loving young person. I had a ton of friends, even more acquaintances, and all the love a child could ever have.
When I was 10 years old, my father suddenly passed away after his cancer was detected too late. Shortly after, my grandmother passed away, soon followed by my Uncle Bob, who had become like a father figure to me. I guess you can say death became the “norm” pretty early on, especially to a kid of 13. I used for the first time at 12 years old. The progression didn’t take off too rapidly, but by the time I was 16 I was a consistent stoner, along with having tried almost everything in the book at that point.
Where I come from, that is the norm. Very few kids, unfortunately, make it out of my neighborhood as success stories. Many die early or go astray early on in life. Even still, I had plenty of friends who I bonded with and who I really loved, regardless of their shortcomings. After all, I was one of them. We did everything together, especially drinking and drugging. That was the thing about me- I loved the drinking and drugging, but I loved the lifestyle even more. Although I was a daily user by 17, I still miraculously earned above-average grades and played sports in high school. I knew in my heart there was nothing for me in my neighborhood but impending destruction, so I made the decision to go away to college, and chose Temple University in Philadelphia- not too close, but not too far from home.
My first 2 years were great, on pace to graduate on time. My last 2 years- well, let’s just say I accumulated 9 credits after attempting 63. I think that is the best illustration of the progression of my illness. Five seizures, multiple failed classes, several very close run-ins with the law, broken trust and failed relationships later, I knew that it was only a matter of time before I died. That’s really just putting it lightly, though. The chaos I created in the lives of my family can be explained for hours, but I’m sure you don’t have hours to read this. By my senior year, I was sleeping in my car in the middle of winter in Brooklyn, because I had robbed every drug dealer I knew in Philadelphia. I was afraid, broke, and alone, and had to make ends meet whatever way I could. A kid that could be graduating college the next semester was now at Dunkin Donuts asking for money 90 miles away, sleeping in a car with no gas in the winter, with classes he was supposed to be at the next morning.
My mom had to sleep with her purse. She developed an anxiety disorder from the years of turmoil I put her through. I sold some of my dead father’s precious heirlooms that I was supposed to give my own son one day for next to nothing, just to get through another day. I sold all my expensive sneakers and electronics for the same reason. I was a slave to my addiction, and there was never anything that was out of bounds to get what I needed. I had my last drug-induced seizure standing in front of my mom in our apartment. I knocked out cold, split my head on the floor and was convulsing in front of her until paramedics arrived to stabilize me. ‘Till this day, she can’t talk about it without crying, and neither can I.
On April 17, 2013 I finally gave up. The misery and torture were too much to bare, and I had enough. The countless detox and IOP programs in NY yielded no results, so I asked to be sent away. I landed in South Florida on July 1st, 2013. I could not maintain any real semblance of sobriety though- because I still loved being a “kid”, and doing all the same things I did when I was getting high. Ironically, the same behavior always yielded the same result- getting high. It came to a head in August of 2014, sitting in my apartment withdrawing, thinking about ending it all. It seemed like the only way to make everything okay. I call it a god moment, but against my will, I picked up the phone and reached out for help. I landed in a detox and treatment center for the millionth time, on September 1st, 2014. That was the date of my last drink and drug.
Since that point, I have found a life worth living. Not even 3 years later, I live a life that I never thought I would have. My mom never has to worry about a phone call asking her for money that I owe to a drug dealer, or me army crawling through her room at 3am to steal money out of her purse. My Mom and I actually spoke together at an AA/Al-Anon double speaker meeting back in Brooklyn during the Christmas week. I resumed my academic career, and am only a couple of semesters away from graduating with a Bachelors in Political Science. I have found the truest and most meaningful relationships I have ever experienced. My brothers in AA have given me the fatherly guidance I never had, and have taught me what it is to be a man. I am a very imperfect human being, and my life is not always rainbows and butterflies. But I am happy, and my family is happy because I am happy. I try not to think too far ahead, but I can only be excited for how good life will be at 36, if life is this good at 26. I stay sober a day at a time, with help from others and from God. When I think about my past and where I am today, I like to think that I have found a lost voice, and I like to think that everyone out there who is still searching for it, can too.