My name is Don and I’m a person in long-term recovery. I’m so grateful to be able to share my story.
When I was a child, there were a few traumatic events that left me feeling socially isolated and fearful. I felt different from others and I was uncomfortable. I began getting high when I was about 10 and from there everything went downhill quickly. I became uncontrollable, skipping school and running away from home.
My parents were scared for my safety. And after being expelled from two schools at 13 my parents told me they found a new school for me. It turned out to be an involuntary, in-patient drug program for teens. Except for a few weeks, I never lived at home again.
I began running away, committing crimes, and became a street-level drug addict. I was committed to various programs and mental institutions. I was diagnosed with emotional issues and a personality disorder. By the time I was fifteen, I was sentenced as an adult to a couple years in state prison for stealing cars and escaping from the state reformatory for boys.
“When I got out, I started the cycle all over again.”
Ultimately, I wound up serving over twenty years for bank robberies. I made terrible choices – which in turn were related to my addiction, mental and emotional health. But I couldn’t see that. I didn’t understand why life had dealt me such an awful hand.
I felt horrible about myself, and so different from everyone else. I dreamed of having a ‘normal’ life — being married and having a career and starting a family but the reality was, I had screwed my life up beyond repair. I sensed there was something wrong with me and that I was destined to crash and burn.
When I got out the last time, I had served fifteen years straight. I couldn’t stop smoking crack. I was going on psychotic binges and waking up in jail and mental health facilities. I was homeless and could not take care of myself. I was dirty and I became depressed and suicidal.
The Turning Point
One day while attending a recovery meeting, I had an awakening. All I can say is that I realized I was worth fighting for. I realized that I deserved to have a good life, to recover, and to become whoever I wanted to be. On a deep level, I forgave myself and realized that I had done the best with what I had – and it was okay.
I stopped using right away and began working with a sponsor and attending recovery meetings. I began learning how to live, and how to cope when life shows up. I had a lot of work to do but even so, miracles began to happen in my life.
I went to school for software development. I met the love of my life and got married. We have two boys and a dog and we own our own home. I became the Director of Software Development for an international financial services company working with a team of over 25 developers. I am a public speaker and author, spreading a message of hope that if I can recover, anyone can.
The most important thing is that today, I can look myself in the mirror and love the person I see — Mistakes and all.
Thank you for letting me share!