Hello, my name is Nick. I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but moved to Florida at a very young age. I was raised by a single mom who had three boys, me being the youngest. From as early on as I can remember my mother faced several severe medical problems that landed her in and out of the hospital. No matter how sick she got, she just had one wish, and that was to live long enough to see her boys grow up to be men. My brothers and I were pretty much left to take care of the home and my mother when she was sick. We never really had much as far as possessions but my mother always struggled to make sure that we were taken care of. I missed out on a lot of things that most kids get to do because I was busy with chores and what not.
I had an alcoholic father who was in and out of the picture as I was growing up. I never knew when he was going to come around to see us, but learned early on that when he did he was never sober. He would show up around Christmas time each year at my grandmother’s house with a different excuse for why he wasn’t able to get us anything for Christmas that year. At first I would just agree with him because he would promise to make it up to us at a later date. But as the years went by I actually began to resent him for it. Not for the fact that he hadn’t gotten us anything, I was used to not having much anyways, but that he continued to lie to us, breaking promise after promise. At the age of twelve I made a vow to myself that no matter what happened that I would not grow up to be just like my father.
All in all, I’d say that I grew up a pretty good kid. In my spare time, I hid myself in my academics and excelled in pretty much anything that I did in school. This led me to getting a college scholarship in only the sixth grade, so at the time it looked like I’d be the first one in my family to get a chance to attend college! I came to know the Lord very at a young age, and I used to ride a church van that would come and pick us up each week for church.
But unfortunately at around 14 I stepped out of the church and found other interests. I was more interested in hanging out with my friends and meeting girls than I was in going to church, it was cutting into my hanging out time. Around the age of 16, I really began to stray away from my school work and started getting into drinking, smoking pot and hanging out with my friends. I became a social butterfly, I had more friends that I’d ever had, and I was no longer the quiet shy little boy that I’d grown up as. I was rebelling and never wanted to be home, because I wanted to stay out with my friends and do what I wanted, when I wanted, with whomever I wanted. This caused many problems with my mother and I, because she needed me to be home with her. I decided at 17 that I was tired of arguing with her and was going to get out on my own. I moved in with my friend and had no contact with my mother. That was the way I wanted it, I figured she had done enough of telling me what I can and can’t do, and I was old enough to take care of myself.
On the morning of October 3rd, 1998, just two days after my 18th birthday, I was about to leave the apartment where I was staying and go up to my High School that I had attended. It was my senior year and I had dropped out by this time. My friend yelled out to me that he had gotten a phone call, and there was an emergency and I had to go to my mother’s house. Not knowing what had happened, I raced off to my mother’s house. When I got there, the fenced and front door was covered with Police tape. My heart dropped to my stomach. I immediately tried to get in the front door, which was locked. I jumped the fence to the back yard and tried to get in the back door, but it was locked also. I heard a voice from next door saying “hello.” As I came back around the house, I was met by the neighbor lady who asked me if I was Nick. When I answered that I was she told me that I needed to come to her house and sit down and she was going to call my brother, whom I had not spoken to in a while since I had gone out on my own. As I was sitting confused on this woman’s porch, still unsure of what was going on, I started demanding that she tell me what had happened to my mother. She told me that she didn’t want to be the one to tell me, but that my mother had died 2 days prior, which had been my 18th birthday, in a house fire. The fire had smothered itself out, but she had passed out by her bedroom door and died of smoke inhalation.
From that day, I lost it. I was not the same person. My life started on its downward spiral. I quit caring about others and even myself and turned toward drinking and drugs. I pushed my body beyond limits with the amounts of drugs I’d do in a single day. I was doing cocaine, meth, crack, ecstasy, Xanax, Special K, GHB, and all kinds of uppers and downers. I wasn’t prejudiced against any drug, I would use whatever I could get my hands on. I was drinking heavily on top of all the drugs I was taking. It just seemed easier than dealing with the pain.
The drug phases came and went, but I was drinking in between drug binges. I’d gotten to the point that I physically needed to drink or else I would get sick. I would get the shakes and constantly vomit if I was not drinking. Alcohol caused several problems for me over the years, destroying relationships, but at the time I didn’t care. I kept telling myself that I wasn’t hurting anyone but myself. I got two DUI’s, the last one for a car accident where I almost killed a lady. I’ve been arrested for drugs and alcohol and have spent some time in and out of jail.
My last attempt to quit this lifestyle on my own came when a friend of mine found me in my apartment in a drunken stupor after a binge that lasted longer than I’m even able to recall. She took me into her home where I thought I would be okay, because she didn’t drink. This brief moment of sobriety was quickly interrupted with the news of my best friend from high school committing suicide. Once again I started a binge beyond belief. On the third day of my binge I was rushed to the hospital when someone called an ambulance after I had passed out on the side of the road. In the hospital, I was freaking out and couldn’t think of anything but my friend. I was not in my right mind. I kept ripping out IVs. I was trying to fight the doctors and nurses who were only trying to help me.
When you do things like that, they think you’re crazy. The police used the Baker Act to place me in treatment. While in this institution I decided I needed to do something with my self-mutilated life. I had broken my own vow to myself and did the opposite of what I intended to do. I had grown up to be just like my father, turning my biggest fear into a reality. I knew that if I didn’t change the way I was living, I would be the put in a wooden box six feet under like my best friend. I knew I needed to change and wanted to change, but I was unsure of how to change.
December 19th 2008, the day after being released from my Baker Act, I went to a local ministry. I had heard that they had a men’s recovery program there. I was accepted into the program the day I filled out the application. I at first wouldn’t acknowledge that Jesus is what I needed to help me change. I didn’t even pray when I got there, because I was so ashamed of myself and the things I had done to myself and others over the years. I had convinced myself that there was no way that God would even be listening to me.
A couple days after my arrival a youth group from a local church came to the ministry to give the men Christmas gifts. I was handed a paper bag of toothpaste, razors and soaps. I took the bag up to my room and sat on my bunk. Staring at the bag in my hand I began thinking that these people didn’t know me, why should they even care enough to come here and give despicable me a gift. I didn’t deserve it. It was right then that I knew that they had come out of their love for Christ, and they were just serving him. In that instant, I broke out into tears, clenching this bag, and I began to pray and ask God to forgive me for what I had done to myself and others. I admitted that I’d tried and there was no way for me to change and that I needed help because I was powerless to do it on my own. It’s funny how God used that teenage girl handing me a paper bag of toiletries to finally get me to break down and turn to Him.
Two months after entering the recovery program, I learned of my father’s death. He died of Hepatitis C and cirrhosis of the liver. He had drunk himself to death at the age of 52. Once again, I vowed to myself to not be like him! In the education part of the program, I mentioned to the instructor that I had received a college scholarship in the sixth grade, and that it had been set up for me to use right after High School, but I never used the scholarship. Upon my completion of the education part of my program, there had been phone calls made, and God was moving and a representative from the college came and reinstated my scholarship, something I thought was long gone!
I spent 18 months living in the ministry, living with other men and smelling their feet, farts and breath, but I wouldn’t change it for the world! By hearing and studying God’s word each day, I’d regained my relationship with Christ, and now I know that during my struggles it was me not acknowledging Him and not Him I. He had been with me the whole time. Even when I seemed to be the furthest away from Him, I know that He never left my side!
I’ve since moved out of the ministry and have been hired to work for them full time. I have my own home. I got my driver’s license back after 6 years and have been blessed with a vehicle to drive. I just finished my first year of college. I have a long way to go but by the grace of God I’ve gotten off to a good start! There is nothing I’ve done or obtained that compares to the peace that I now have inside. I can finally say that I am truly happy and that one day I will be able to stand in front of God and hear Him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” I am reminded daily to be still and know that He is God! And that if I give my problems to Him, He will take care of it!
I’ve made relationships with people over the course of my recovery that have been a blessing in my life and helped to keep me on the straight and narrow. I now have true friends instead of just good-time friends. I’ve lived a life that I would not wish upon my worst enemy. It was a bad feeling to look in the mirror each day and hate the person I was looking at. I know that there are people out there still who are living that way, and I’d like to say there is a much better way of life that I never thought possible. Some people say that there aren’t miracles happening anymore, but obviously they haven’t met my God, because here I stand 1,361 days sober. Only with the help of my Lord Jesus Christ has this been made possible, and, to me, my friend is a miracle in itself! Thank you and God bless you!