Thursday, September 10, 2009

…This was beginning of the end of my past life.

I want to thank everyone for the awesome comments and emails I received about last week’s post and welcoming me back. This week I tell you about the journey to where I am today.

My Past Life
Part 2 of 2

I spent two weeks in Cook County Jail, where I pretty much detoxed. I slept though the first couple of days, just waking up at chow time. As I started to snap out the exhaustion, everything I was running from when I was getting high; the shame, guilt, anger and sorrow, hit me like a Mac truck. Those years of partying flashed before my eyes, and not in a good way. It got to the point where I felt suicide would be the only way out. I wouldn’t wish that kind of feeling on my worst enemy. That’s how painful it was. Of course, all those “friends” I thought I had, were gone. Once the drugs and money were gone, so was the crowd. Next thing I knew, I had no one. And that’s one of the worst feelings ever.

I was blessed with two amazing lawyers. I don’t know where they came from or what they saw in me. One month I was looking at some jail time because of my previous criminal record. Then the next month it was lessoned to probation, coupled with an intensive outpatient program, if I pled guilty. If that wasn’t a sign that my Higher Power gave me a second chance, then I don’t know what is.

So, a week before I had to begin my probation and program I figured, “What the hell, it’s Market Days, ‘Illinois's largest two-day street fair’, one last party weekend can’t hurt.” On Sunday August 15, 1999 I set out for my last hoorah. At the end of the night I wound up in a jail cell in Lockport, IL, which is an hour south of Chicago - don’t ask. This was definitely the last day of my past life. I have been drug and alcohol free since that day ten years ago.

The beginning of my new journey began with me attending an intensive out-patient substance abuse program and 12 Step Recovery meetings. I had gone to many A.A. meetings and worked my steps for the first three years, but I still wasn’t getting what I was looking for. What that was, I didn’t even know, but I did know that I just wasn’t getting it. I had a conversation with a friend about how I was feeling. He told me, “Ed, you should check out the Warriors. They really helped change my life.” I thought to myself, “What the hell is he talking about?” He went on to explain to me what a difference the Man Kind Project had made in his life. I became excited as I heard him tell me his story. As I listened to him, I saw in my head what “it” was; this is what I was looking for, and this was what I needed in my life.

Within the next few weeks a couple of other men told me damn near the same story about MKP. The scary part was that none of these guys knew each other. Was it just a coincidence or was it Devine intervention? I wasn’t going to chance it, so after the last conversation I went online and signed up for their weekend adventure. About a week later I receive a call from one of the weekend staff members. He asked me, “What are you looking for? What do you want?” At first I was stunned, then I answered, “I am looking for me.”

On the first day of the weekend we were ushered into a large tent while we waited for everyone to arrive. As I sat there, I could see and feel the fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, and frustration as I looked around at the other men in the tent. None of us knew what was going to happen next. I felt a lot of fear and joy; joy that my new journey had just begun and fear of the unknown. What did I just get myself into?

The next 48 hours were filled with all kinds of exercises. I learned how to face my fears by putting them in front of me. I was taken all the way back to my childhood so that I see how and where those fears came from. I was taught how to identify my shadows, confront them and keep them in front of me, so that I can control them and not let my shadows control me. I learned the true meaning of holding myself accountable for my own actions, therefore, holding others accountable for their actions. The best, and most important, lesson I learned during that weekend was how to trust other men so that I will not be afraid or ashamed to ask them for help when I need it.

The last day of the weekend I became a “Man Among Men”, a “New Age Warrior”. The looks on all of the men’s faces were totally opposite from Friday night. As I looked around this time I saw joy, strength, enlightenment, trust and a sense of calmness in every man’s eyes. This was one of the best feelings I have ever felt. The next step of my journey was to be a part of an integration group, a group of men that continue to share the work that we learned on our weekend. My work is an on going process; and I have learned to trust that process.

I continue to work on my sobriety and my mind and soul. I am not part of the “norm”, nor do I ever want to be. I am unique. I know that I am still going to make mistakes and piss people off from time to time, but I will constantly look for ways to improve myself by going inside of myself to see what needs work. My continued work on myself will help me to be there 110 % for my family, friends, those around me, and those that will stumble down the path long after I’m gone. I must now share my gold, my gift.

"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Don’t Forget September is
National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month (Recovery Month)

The 2009 theme, “Join the Voices for Recovery: Together We Learn, Together We Heal,”
See what happening near you

(Usual disclaimer applies: The suggestions on this blog are just that “SUGGESTIONS.” My words cannot heal your pain and or addictions. Nor can I change your life. Only you can.)

If you are not sure how to begin your work-in or need some guidance please feel free to post a comment or email me directly at, I will response as soon as I can.

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