How did this happen? How did nearly 2 years in recovery just (literally) go up in smoke with just one cone? “Just one cone”, I said. The next two years of my life in relapse was going to be the most difficult. To the point of giving up completely. I’ve never known a more awful version of me as I did during this time. I had no direction, no friends, no life and no hope. My only direction was to find my next hit. My only friend was weed. My life was all about getting high. I was hopeless.
The timeline during this period is pretty hazy. All I can remember is being homeless for most of the time. I had a car which I lived out of and, for food, I used to go to a men’s shelter, occasionally. When I really think about it, there was a period of about 6 months where I didn’t eat. I survived on coffee, cigarettes and weed.
What sort of life was this? The two years I spent in rehab I completed the 12 Steps of Recovery. I thought I learnt how to live with an addiction and how to control it. Who was I kidding? I’ve since learnt that addiction is a mental disease. A condition that controls the part of your mind that controls your breathing. This is what happens once the addiction takes hold of your mind. It’s an automatic reaction to want to get high. That’s your focus. That’s your life. Nothing else matters. Just because I did rehab it didn’t mean I was cured. I’ll never be ‘cured’. I was going to have to live with this condition for the rest of my life. I had to get that ‘monkey’ off my back but accept the circus was always going to be in town.
I made some friends online and one person secured a room in a men’s only boarding house for me. Eventually they found me a one bedroom unit to live in for a good price so I moved in there. My addiction continued, with a vengeance, and I made sure I had enough money for rent and weed and not much else. I couldn’t even play my guitars because most of the time they were in hock so I could get money for weed. I was so angry. I was so depressed. I was always so anxious, worrying about where my next fix was coming from. I didn’t think straight.
It was still thinking about suicide. My modus operandi at this point was driving head on into a semi truck. The only thoughts that stopped me was the effect that would have on the truck driver, their family, my mother, brother, kids and other family members. It was time to choose whether to live or to die and I didn’t want to live like this anymore nor did I want to die. I phoned the detox centre at the rehab I went to before and booked myself in. The next day, the first day of being drug free, was the 31 March 2011, my ‘clean and serene’ date. The day my life began.
Soon after this time, I caught a story on the evening news. It was about band members from a Brisbane grunge band called “Flannelette” who were returning home from a gig and their van hit a semi head on. Two band members and a friend were killed. That’s it. Their lives were over. This is what has stuck with me for the nearly four years of my recovery. It’s going to be a matter of life or death if I continue to smoke weed. Life is too short and you never know when your time is up. I’ve lost a few friends I’d met in rehab to overdoses and drug related suicide and I didn’t want to follow that path.
After a lot of soul searching, learning to face my demons, work through them and feel the pain and own it, I entered detox for 7 days and returned home. I cleaned my apartment of all drug paraphernalia and said “THIS IS IT”. It’s now or never. I realised the addiction will never go away. The thought to smoke weed is with me when I’m awake and when I’m asleep, in the form of vivid, sometimes violent, dreams. I just choose not to smoke weed anymore because I choose life.
I have immersed myself in music, my passion. It was through many great lyricists and songwriters that I could relate so much of my story and it helped ease the pain. This was about the time that Forever Falling Short was born. An outlet to create my own music to help deal with the pain, through creating music and writing songs. At nearly 40 years of age I continue to surf and skateboard, also an outlet for dealing with the pain and temptation.
After a short time, I decided I might give online dating a go. I made a few female friends who only ever wanted to be friends. I replied to this one ad and my life changed forever. I met my current partner and it started out as just a casual date but we clicked straight away. She had traveled her own rocky road in life so we had both felt our fair share of pain. We learnt that life’s too short and you need to take it day by day and enjoy every minute of it. We have very similar interests. She accepts me for who I am. It’s such a refreshing change to find someone who loves me just the way I am. I still count my blessings for our paths crossing. I’m sure it was a sign from the Universe, for both of us, that this point in time we would come together. I’ve never been more happy in my life and we’re planning a wonderful future for us, even if it is day by day.
“Today, I choose life.” That is my daily mantra. There are still moments of pain but I face them head on, process it, deal with it and then move on. I’ve got so much to live for. I didn’t write this story for pity or for people to cast aspersions. I’m sorry I ever tried weed to be honest but I’m so, so grateful for the path I took because without it, without hitting rock bottom, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to rebuild my life the way I always wanted it. I continue to attend NA meetings but don’t focus too much on them, rather choosing to live then always returning to the past when ‘sharing’ at these meetings. I also am asked to share my story of recovery at the rehab so others might learn from it. This gives me so much pleasure, even it if helps just one person. I’ve learnt not to own people’s opinions of me. I am who I am and I’m happy with that. I’m a pretty nice guy if you get to know me and if people don’t like that, no matter what I look like, then that’s their problem. I’ve got a great job in the energy industry, a great girlfriend, fantastic kids and a hugely supportive family.
If you’re having problems with addiction, of any kind, seek help. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for it. Help is out there in so many ways. Life is a far better choice than drugs.