Growing up, I always put myself in a position to be the center of attention. I was known as the clown, sometimes known as a bully, other times an athlete, occasionally known as a shit bag. I was a straight A student until 4th grade. After that, I did just enough to get by. I'll tell you what though, I had a great time doing it. I graduated high school and went straight into the working force. I blindly attempted one job after another. Sales, retail, telemarketing, manual labor. Eventually I made it into restaurants and for years, never looked back.
Between then and now, I have traveled to or through 42 out of the 50 states. I have served or poured drinks for a person who has only $5 to their name to another who has won a Grammy. I have served former presidents, senators, World Series champions, Oscar winning actors and actresses, best selling novelists. I have made friends with the mundane all the way up to the rich and famous. I have been a blogger with a huge following....tens of thousands to be exact. In my travels I have met so many people. I've been atop the largest buildings, I have slept in the city that never seems to do so. I've created drinks for books and magazines. Published in Maine, Phoenix and West Palm Beach. I have fallen in love in New Mexico, gotten into fights in LA, been ripped off in Las Vegas. I have walked the streets of Pittsburgh in the dead of night, I have gambled on a riverboat in St. Louis. I've lived life at 200 miles per hour, I have lived life at two. I've gone to the movies by myself when I was bored, I have thrown parties for 100's.
As I grew, I watched my friends and sisters grow, begin careers, find love, get married and have children. The closest I ever got to that was getting engaged too soon. You see, we weren't meant for each other and in retrospect, we rushed into it because we both saw others our age doing the same thing. We wanted to be the norm. Don't get me wrong, we were in love, however we were in love at the wrong time....and that's okay. Life is about living and learning. We did both.
I am full of useless facts. For instance; did you know that a man from Brazil died after masturbating 41 straight times??? So, 41 guys....that's the limit. Also, Applebee's gives vets free meals on Veteran's Day, just in case you know a vet that you hate.
I am also full of useless thoughts. For instance; I'd be more prone to flee a hurricane if they named it "Death Storm 3000". Naming it Sandy or Harvey makes me think it'll show up and audit all of us.
I'm also pretty sure I've spent 23% of my life pulling a chain and trying to figure out if the ceiling fan is speeding up or slowing down.
I love my family. I am a mama's boy. You see, she raised me by herself. She may have not done it perfectly, but she did it perfectly for me. I have two sisters who, even though I am older, I look up to. They both have 2 children each who I absolutely adore. Of course they are married and are living the life that is perfect for them.....and that's amazing to me. When it comes to the children, I may not be the perfect uncle, but I am trying to make up for it.
This is the condensed version of me. Traveler, son, brother, uncle, friend. I have lived a pretty cool life I would say. I have certainly had some amazing experiences along side some amazing people.
Perhaps to some reading this, this is boring. To others, the life I have lived has been pretty fucking exciting. Who knows.......
What I do know is this, it all seems pretty normal right? I'm just like you. I love my family, I am loyal to my friends that have stuck with me, I work just like you do and I pay bills just like you do also.
Oh......by the way.....
I am a recovering heroin addict.
Who saw that coming???
Now you may be asking yourself, what is my point? My point is this:
I have lived a normal life. I continue to live a normal life. A life that has included love, heartbreak, trial, error, family and friends. If you saw me walking in the midst of thousands, there is absolutely no way you could point me out and say, "HE'S AN ADDICT". If you say you can, than you are a seething liar.
Drug addicts are looked upon in shame. The reason for this is, people that judge are blind to their story. They are consumed with the stigma of the addiction, the idea that this started as a choice for the addict and that the addict is nothing but a burden of the system.
Yes, I could have told this story a bit differently, but my point is, we are no different than you.
As of today, I am 444 days sober. No drugs, no alcohol. Am I cured? No. Will I be? Never. And that's okay. What I do know is this; I am alive.
Let's take the word "addict" out of our vernacular. Let's pretend it's a made up word, something we have never heard of before. While we are at it, let's remove the words associated with it, words like "junky", "user", "loser", "scumbag" or "INSERT WORD HERE". What do you have? I'll tell you what you have, you have a human being. A person. Someone no different than you.
It's time to teach those who are blind to the problem here. However, in order to teach, we need those who are willing to learn. You may see us addicts as pieces of shit, and sure....there are times where you may be right. But don't pigeon hole us. Some of us are struggling, some are striving, others are inspiring.
People out there are dying. They are fighting this alone, embarrassed or ashamed because of the stigma attached by the ignorant. It could be your mother or father, your son or daughter, it could be your best friend or your worst enemy. You could wake up tomorrow morning to a phone call that this person is no longer with us. And you will be shocked.
What's my point? What's my goal? Well.....my point and my goal are one in the same, spread knowledge and teach. Nobody should fight this in silence, nobody should battle in fear, nobody should be disregarded as an outcast. Addicts mask pain that they can't handle, physical and emotional with substance. It's time to help them and remind them day after day that it is okay.
You can judge me all you want. Just know, that before I told you what I was, before you had any idea, you compared my life with yours as an equal.