- Friends & Family
The day after I got out of treatment, I walked up the steps to Chicago’s Recovery House and into my first meeting in the outside world. My hands were shaking, my breath was coming short and fast. I was on edge.
The first person to greet me was Jimmy B. Jimmy B. had the long, braided ponytail of an 80s rockstar, the leather vest of a hooligan biker, and the hard eyes of a prize fighter—not the first person I might look to for a warm welcome.
But being fresh out of treatment, I was willing to take help where I could get it.
In my nervousness, the first words that tumbled from my mouth were not Hello, how are you, but “I feel crazy.” There was a beat of silence, during which my mind spun into infinite spirals of fear: What the hell did I just say? Is this guy is gonna tell me to just go home? But instead of a sneer, Jimmy B. offered me a smile—and a cup of coffee. “We’re all here,” he said to me, pointing a finger at his head, “because we’re not ‘all there.’”
And so I took a breath and found my seat, and I soon discovered that Jimmy was right. As I listened to the stories from my new fellows, I learned that as addicts, they’d all succumbed to the same madness as me, and in these rooms, they supported each other through that madness.
But I call Jimmy B. a hero. He’s generous, loyal, and loving. He lends an ear to those who need to spill their troubles, and he celebrates the victories of each of his fellows. He is so much more than the labels placed on him in the midst of his addiction, and he helped me see that I am too.
During my active addiction, I was a liar, a thief, a manipulator, and a coward. But today, I am a father. Today, I am a mentor. Today, I am a musician in recovery. Today, I am a soldier in this battle.
If it weren’t for the fellowship, I don’t know if I’d be standing here today, strong in the knowledge that I can make positive contributions to the world. The fellowship helped save my life, and continues to be a source of inspiration and guidance. To my mind, we are soldiers fighting the in the same battalion, sharing our victories, mourning those who have fallen, yet never, ever giving up. We are freedom fighters, joining forces to keep each other safe and to help those still in shackles.
When it comes to heroin, I am powerless—I cannot use it with any moderation; I will always succumb to it. But what I can do is, every day, every minute, fight for my recovery. And I cannot fight this fight without my brothers and sisters in arms; our weapons are our experience, our strength, and our hope.
This ongoing battle is what inspired my song “A Call to Arms.” As a person in recovery, I have found it my duty to share my story in hopes that it will inspire others to raise their hands for help. If there’s anything I’ve learned in this fight, it’s that we do not, we cannot recover alone. And so I try to give to others what was so freely given to me: inspiration, strength, love, and hope.
I’ll fight this proud fight until my dying breath.