I love my life. More importantly, I love myself. I never once thought I would say that let alone believe it. I am a firm believer that the words I use to describe myself and my situation influence my thinking and my perspective of myself, others, and the world around me. I am also a firm believer in gratitude because the life I have today could be taken away from me within a blink of an eye. I was introduced to the 12 Steps and a solution almost immediately when I first began using in 2014.

I remember sitting in a chair in the back of the room hearing individuals share. I would hear stories of complete desperation and how they overcame “it.” I would hear how these people loved their life and give all the general platitudes we so often hear. I would think to myself how these were such lies. I came into the rooms with a car, a job, a home, and my health. So, I obviously could not be an addict … and if I was, I definitely was not bad as all of you. My story got bad quickly, yet I managed to think I was better than everyone else.

“My father died from a suicide overdose three days after my fourth birthday. That set the general premise for my upbringing.”

My family and I never had any talk regarding drugs. It was just generally understood that drugs were bad. My dad was a bad person and I would do anything to not be him or like him. I also knew from a very young age I was gay. I often had a hard time relating to others and I learned to develop many masks to fit into any situation I may have been in.

I came out to my family in 2008 via my suicide attempt. The accumulation of living a double life finally came to surface and I broke. Through my attempt, my family learned about the alter ego I was living. This began to drive a wedge in my life. Let me clarify that me coming out and being gay did not drive a wedge in my family, but rather it was my actions while in active addiction. For years I resented many different family members because I believed I was not accepted. This belief ultimately came from a realization I did not accept who I am.

Shortly after my attempt, I got involved with a man many years my senior. I was a nursing student and I had the world at my hands. Halfway through my schooling, an opportunity arose, and I dropped out to move to San Francisco. A theme in my life is that I often give up when things begin to get difficult or uncomfortable. Not too soon after moving to California with my partner, I began to get violent. I did not know how to communicate appropriately, and after an altercation, we decided to finally split.

“What is interesting is when I look back in my life, I see God consistently.”

What I mean by this is both my exes either currently are or were members of a 12-Step program. In 2012, I was first introduced to crystal meth. I knew how dangerous this drug was, but I was curious. I thought I should try this while I had nothing major to lose, and so I did. I remember thinking to myself how much I enjoyed it. I felt uninhibited. I felt rebellious. I felt fun. I felt. I did not touch the drug again until 2014 after I had a series of losses. I lost a relationship, my grandma passed, and an adopted father-like figure passed all within three months of each other. At this point, I began to spiral. My third time using crystal meth, I became an IV drug user.

This began a nearly four-year cycle of losing everything and gaining everything back. In 2014, I lost my housing due to psychosis. This led to me being in and out of treatment centers for nearly four years. Going into treatment, leaving treatment; starting and ending things. Simply said, I was running – running from cities, from you, but in reality, I was running from myself.

My last time on the run was nothing special, but something in me changed. On February 24, 2018, I remember waking up and saying to myself, “I can’t use today because I have too much to do.” At that point, I had absolutely no intentions to stay sober. I sincerely took each day as it came. I had an acquaintance who got people into treatment. When I had relapsed and was living on the streets of LA, I broke down and called him. No place in California would take me back, but he knew of Stepping Stone Center for Recovery, which he also knew could help with trauma. Within two hours of making that call, I was on my way to the airport and headed to Jacksonville, Florida.

Within the last year, my life is truly beyond my wildest dreams. I have gained and lost jobs. I have started a career. I have traveled and visited with family I had not seen in more than three years. I met my soul mate and got engaged. I started school again. All these events and things are truly wonderful, but the true blessing in this is I cannot remember the last time I thought about drugs. I smile. I laugh. I love. I feel and I am beginning to truly know, love, and embrace myself. I have these moments passing by and I think of just how cool of a man I truly am. I have passion again. I have goals and a vision.

With all this, I know and I thank God every day. Without my God, I know none of this could have ever happened. I truly am a miracle. If I could give any piece of advice it would be:

“Feelings will not kill you. The drugs out there will. Give yourself a chance. You are so worth it. If no one has told you today, I love you.”

With that, my name is Simon and I am in recovery.