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My life growing up was pretty perfect! I never wanted for anything. I had unlimited access to credit cards, private jets, vacations and parties. You name it, I could have it. While this life was wonderful, it provided me with a false perception that “bad things didn’t happen to people like me.” I had started experimenting with alcohol early on in life but never felt I had a problem. At the age of 19, I was working for my parent’s business and was engaged to my high school sweetheart, and as with like everything in my 19 years of life at that point, everything seemed perfect.
My fiancé was 7 years older than me, and at age 19 I was having some doubts about getting married. At the end of June 1998, I put the wedding prep on hold so I could grow up and get my thoughts in order. On July 4, 1998, my life would change forever. On the morning of July 4, 1998, my fiancé committed suicide. At that very moment, I went from a young adult experimenting with alcohol to a full-blown alcoholic. It didn’t matter how many therapy sessions I went to or how many friends and family members told me it wasn’t my fault. The guilt was too much. The only thing that took that guilt away was drinking. I would continue on this path of destruction for the next 12 years.
Twelve years later, after a failed marriage, many failed relationships and feeling like I was a failure in life, I decided that it was time to change. I had hit the lowest of my lows and was sitting at my home drunk with a gun in my hand. I was ready to end it all just as my fiancé had done 12 years ago. I was not thinking how his actions had altered everyone’s lives so very much. As cliché as it sounds, there was a moment of clarity, and it was as if I could see everything clearly for the first time in over a decade. I laid the gun down, cried myself to sleep, and the very next morning made a game plan to start this second chance at life I had been given.
The following morning I called my parents and explained that I needed their help and wanted to come home. I was 32 years old so this wasn’t the easiest choice for my ego, but I had to put all that aside and focus on getting my life back in order. I moved back in with my parents for roughly seven weeks. I worked with them all day and was with them all evening so they kept me accountable and got me through detox, emotions and everything else I had been suppressing for all those years that surfaced. After seven weeks and against my parents’ wishes, I moved back to my home. My home was full of bad moments, heartbreak and nights of drunkenness, and working through all of this was a part of my healing process. Every day is a part of my healing from my life for so many years. I like to consider myself a work in progress.
After getting sober I learned that I didn’t make my fiancé, or anyone else for that matter, do the things they did in life. It is their choice just as my choices are mine. One major thought I always hold on to is, “Remember how bad things were, and be thankful life will never be that bad again!” That gets me through life every day. Every day I wake up and am thankful for the second chance I have been given because I know not everyone gets that chance to make a change and make a difference.
I took up running in the beginning stages of my recovery, and it has been a huge help in keeping me focused and healthy and has also given me the opportunity to meet others in recovery. Whenever I have the opportunity to share my story, whether at a high school presentation or on a trail with a group of runners, I have one more chance to help change someone else’s life for the better.
Life is sweeter when your mind is clear, your heart is full and you are living life with a purpose.