When I was young, I grew up with a family that was very loving. We moved around a lot because of my mom’s job, which meant that I would start getting along with the kids at my elementary school before having to move and try to fit in with kids from a new school that were completely different. Moving around like this made me always feel the need to fit in with whoever I was with.
I was always athletic growing up, so when I got into high school, I started playing sports and hanging out with the athletes. One time during my freshman year, I hung out with a couple of my teammates on the varsity baseball team when I got drunk for the first time. I wound up getting extremely sick and my parents found out. After I came to, I told them they had nothing to worry about because I would never, ever drink again.
Later on in high school, I started hanging out with the rich kids who liked to party. I found my dad’s weed stash, so I became the guy who supplied weed at the parties. Eventually, I was introduced to Ritalin, which I loved. Ritalin led to cocaine, and I became obsessed with coke. Before cocaine, I still didn’t drink all that much – maybe a beer or two here or there, nothing major. But with cocaine, I needed the alcohol so I wouldn’t get too jacked up. I needed it to balance my high out to a happy medium.
I started going on two and three-day coke benders, where I would drink the entire time to balance out the high of the cocaine. When my body would finally shut down and I would go to sleep, I would wake up feeling terrible. So, as the story goes, if you wake up feeling bad with a hangover, you have a couple of drinks to level it out. Drinking in the early morning became my habit and alcohol eventually took over and replaced cocaine altogether. I became physically addicted to the point where I couldn’t do anything without alcohol. For 10 years, I obsessively and excessively drank every single day.
My alcoholism got to its worst point in 2015 when my dad was diagnosed with late-stage ALS and I had to stay home and take care for him full-time. My parents knew that I wouldn’t be able to do it without drinking, so they gave me money which they said was payment for taking care of my dad, but we all knew that it was for the alcohol. Between having to take care of my dad while his health declined and battling my own addiction, I started getting deeply depressed. It was so much to handle. I was battling my own disease while watching him battling his.
After my dad lost his battle to ALS, it was just me and my mom living together. She was drinking with me at this point and was my biggest enabler. We were miserable and depressed, and I was going down a dark path. It got bad enough that my sister told my mom that she wouldn’t bring her kids over unless she did something to address my drinking. My sister had a friend who had a connection with someone at Healing Transitions, so that’s where I went. On May 2nd, 2016, my entire family drove me down to Healing Transitions. I drank 16 beers that morning, so by the time I stepped foot onto the men’s campus, I was completely numb.
A terrifying realization
I laid down in detox after eating some food and went to sleep – and when I woke up, I freaked out. My family was hours away and I was by myself with a bunch of strangers. I couldn’t imagine living without drinking and was terrified to detox. I had gone a few days without drinking before and was completely miserable. I would rather come off of any other drug than alcohol. I told the detox monitor that there was no way I would be able to come off of alcohol cold-turkey, so I was taken to Wakebrook.
For 11 days at Wakebrook, I simply could not function. I had to be wheeled around in a wheelchair to move from place to place. I couldn’t feed myself, write, or anything. It was a terrifying realization of how much damage I had done to my body from years of drinking. Once I had recovered enough to where I could take care of myself, I returned to Healing Transitions.
The first month at Healing Transitions
During the first month of the program, I focused on doing what I was told, working on my behaviors, and making friends with my peers. The biggest behavior issue I had to work through was acceptance. I couldn’t accept life on life’s terms. I was selfish, self-seeking, and self-centered and had to have it my way. At the same time, as I continued coming off of alcohol, I was shaking really badly – so some of my friends gave me the nickname “shivers”. It took about three months until I could write and do normal activities again.
This program is like no other program I have ever experienced. One of the biggest differences is that you aren’t strictly confined to the campus. You get to go out and walk downtown and have great food at the soup kitchen. In the later part of the program, you get to work on campus and go out at night for classes and meetings. All the while, you’re building relationships and making friends with the people you are in the program with.
After six months, an opportunity arose where I could move out into recovery housing and get a job. I asked my sponsor about it and he told me to stay and finish the program. He said to utilize all of the tools HT was giving me so I could be successful in my recovery. I was upset about his advice, but I listened to him and stayed. That was the best decision I ever made.
My life now
Because of this program, I’ve developed a wonderful relationship with God. In the first month, I was introduced to Journey Church and fell in love with it immediately. Going to Journey Church became a type of freedom and peace for me. I went as much as I could every Sunday, and am still very involved to this day.
Life is great now. For 20 years, I lived in active addiction and went through the craziest stress that I’ll probably ever have to deal with in my life. Healing Transitions taught me that the day-to-day stress of life is minute compared to those years. One of the guys that I roomed with in the program is my best friend today. We’ve gone through ups and downs together and have shared everything with each other.
Today, I have an amazing wife, and we are involved at Journey Church doing bible studies, group meetings, and worship. I have a steady job getting to do landscaping, and I give back as much as I possibly can to the guys at HT. I have a photo that was taken of me in detox the first day that I was here. When I look at that photo, I see a man who was filled with pain, guilt, and resentment. When I look at myself today, I see a man who is trustworthy, full of love, a follower of Jesus, and someone who will give to help another person.
Join Healing Transitions for National Recovery Month as we try to raise $80,000 to give 80 people their first month in recovery! On September 27th, we will cap off the month with a Day of Giving, where an anonymous donor has generously offered a $20,000 day-of-giving match! This means the impact of your gift on the 27th will be doubled dollar-for-dollar up to $20,000! Find out how you can help out HERE!
I l❤VE YOU SHIVES!!! & I AM SO HAPPY & PROUD OF YOU!
So proud of you
You are a true man of God. I am so happy for you. Stay on the beam and continue to take action. “Matthew 7:15”
This is an amazing story Jonathan! So proud of you! Take care!!!
Sooooooo proud of you! Proof to everyone that if you really want to change, DO IT!!!
Jonathan, it’s hard to imagine you as anything other than what I have known – all post Healing Transitions. What a wonderful gift you are to HT. Journey Church, your employer and all who are blessed to meet you.