“Everything your recovery/healing journey/growth blesses you with, your addiction/wounds/trauma will try and use against you.”

I suppose I got way ahead of myself. Almost 8 years ago, when I got out of jail, and began trying to put my life back together I thought I knew what it was I needed to do. I thought that as long as I didn’t go back to how I had been living before, I would be fine. I thought that I just needed to not use heroin and things would just magically heal themselves. I simply could not have been more wrong. I put my all, the best way I knew how to, into turning my life around and for the most part was wildly successful at it. There was absolutely no way that I could have possibly prepared myself for what lied ahead back in 2015. I somehow became one of those “overnight success stories” that I had always read about, and it was like a dream come true. But what I have come to learn over the years is that every gift has a cost.

In the beginning, everything seemed so surreal. I couldn’t miss. Opportunity after opportunity came my way, and I did my best to seize and capitalize on every single one. I was hungry. I was driven, and I had a lot of work to do. I was working harder at something I believed in than I had ever worked on anything in my entire life. Milestone after milestone came my way, smashing goals as they came, climbing the ladder toward success, one rung at a time. It was like a dream come true. And it still is. But the double edge to it all, is that all of the success, all of the wonderful things that were coming my way, no matter how great and beautiful they all were, they took the focus off of what it was that I was actually supposed to be doing. Which was healing. And here is the conundrum that came along with it: Healing from what? Life was amazing, I was clean, I was thriving, and I was doing so many wonderful things. Wasn’t this what healing looked like? And the answer is no. “Social acceptability, Professional accolades, achievements, etc. do not equal recovery and do not equal proper healing.” My life took off so fast and so far that I just abruptly stopped my own personal healing journey to focus on what, at the time seemed like a very reasonable set of obligations: My Growing Family, My budding career, and all of the things that came along with those things.

Initially and for the next several years, this trade off was seemingly without consequence or any negative backlash. But mental health issues, are indeed insidious. They wait, they fester, and as long as the underlying issues from my past continued to go unaddressed and unconfronted, then that left me for exactly what I was, which was untreated.

This is a very difficult, painful, and humbling thing for me to write, and to expose; but it is now also incredibly liberating and cathartic, but I believe it is now time to do so: Going back almost two years now, began a very dark time for me. And though so many of you saw the hand selected wonderful pictures on social, and those who follow me saw the wonderful things my family and I, and our company were doing to help so many throughout the country, I myself was struggling tremendously. I am not entirely sure when it began, but I tend to lean toward shortly after we bought the house, the pandemic year, the death of my brother, and many other circumstances that came our way. These are not excuses, but more of some of the things that led to what I can only describe now as a protracted mental breakdown, and my therapist would

agree. The storms of life developed into “the perfect storm” and as it pounded down onto my untreated mind, I slowly began to break, and to cope in very unhealthy ways. Things got incredibly dark for me and for my family, and I can never in a million years truly express the gratitude that I have in my heart for my wife and family for rallying around me and ensuring that I got some much needed help in the most desperate of times. No matter how hard I tried, therapist after therapist,medication after medication, change after change, I just simply could not seem to pull myself out of it. I continued to spiral in a very negative direction until ultimately I had to admit that this was something so much bigger than myself.

It was time to put EVERYTHING that was important to me, the Wife, the children, the career, the mortgage, EVERYTHING on hold and do what needed to be done. “If I am able to preach it, I am able to practice it.” And so I did. I got on a plane and traveled across the country and checked myself into a facility to get my mental health struggles in check and finally find out what it was that was going on. And it was the single most important thing I have ever done for myself, and for my family. It is something that I am more proud of for myself than anything. Though it began with much humiliation and fear, it turned into some of the most revealing and restorative insight that I could ever possibly imagine. And though I had not used heroin in many years, I believe that this is when my healing journey truly began. For it was during this time, that I was finally, after 37.5 years able to confront the things that drove me to using so many years ago. It was during this time, that I was finally able to examine my life through a truly adequate clinical lens, and once and for all process my life. It was revealed to me during my lengthy stay that I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and stemming from that, Borderline Personality Disorder. And receiving these diagnoses, was like a door unlocking. I was finally getting answers that I have been searching for for quite some time. And none of these findings are in any way some kind of cop out, or rationalization to things, but they are reasons and they are the answers that I have needed for so so long. I finally feel like I can truly breathe, and truly be my most authentic self. I finally feel like I have some acceptance, and some forgiveness in my life, and can now go on to be the best version of myself, and for my family. I now have a better understanding and new perspective on my life and can finally say that I believe the generational chains in my lineage are breaking. Going to treatment for my struggles was the absolute best thing I could have ever done, and I am not ashamed to admit that I went. I am proud, and I am very much relieved. I simply could not take suffering in silence, suffering internally the way that I was. It all just continued to fester and manifest itself in various ways, until I ultimately collapsed and imploded.

It is very interesting how going and processing my life through a therapeutic lens the way I did, brought forth so much clarity, understanding, and forgiveness in my heart. I had been carrying with me such a warped, callused, a bitter heart with me for so long and I didn’t even know it. I had lived my life in survival mode for so long that I didn’t know how not to. I had to go and finally confront some parts of myself that I had been hiding and compartmentalizing for so long. I had to finally open up and examine the contents of “Those old dusty boxes”, those secret parts of me that I hadn’t acknowledged in forever. I had to talk about my trauma, I had to fully process

the most secret and vulnerable places within or I was going to die, most likely at my own hand. And it was the scariest and bravest thing that I have ever done.

And though, my heart absolutely aches for the process it took for me to hit a mental bottom, and to finally get to a point of waving yet another white flag, I am so grateful that I was able to, with the support and encouragement of an amazing support system, finally swallow my pride, and take some serious action to work on myself from the inside out. I honestly don’t think that I would still be here, or be alive quite frankly if it weren’t for my Wife, children, Parents, little brother, my business partner Brian, and my colleagues in the field. It was truly one of the most humbling, powerful, and beautiful things I have ever experienced, the way they all banded together to save me when all I did was push them away. But they could all see how badly I was struggling and trying to hold it all together on my own. I just simply could not.

I had to take a serious break away from all outside stressors, all associations, social media, relationships in general, and anything that could divert my focus away from my primary purpose, which was getting myself healthy and healing somethings that needed healing. I sequestered myself into a period of several months to reflect, continue various therapies, and once again begin a path towards atonement and harmony. I know that it is not going to take a mere several months to accomplish, but I had to take the months to once again build a firm foundation that this time cannot be shaken to the core by the storms of life. And it has been the single most important thing that I have ever done.

I just want to extend a heartfelt and tear filled thank you and acknowledgement to my Wife and Children, My Parents, My little brother Lucas, My business partner with Genesis Brian, Michelle, Alex, and Krystal at treatment, Dave Mangel, Ken Elwood and to all who reached out to check on me. I do not deserve such grace, love, tolerance, acceptance, love or kindness. But I am so grateful to have such things from all of you. We truly are a product of our environment and I am so thankful to have such an amazing support system around me. These people pulled me out of one of the darkest and most depressing times in my life, and it will not be soon forgotten.

Life is truly a bittersweet process. It can only be lived forwards and understood backwards. I am incredibly thankful to have some understanding today as I continue to march forth into many tomorrows, God Willing.

Recovering is not about not using drugs. And contrary to the popular meme circulating the internet, it is not about “sitting with your feelings”. At least not for me. Detox is the only portion of things that addresses “The Drugs”. The rest from there is all about “why the drugs” And for me, my recovering, my healing, my journey, was rooted in trauma, and the remedy has been processing, and finding forgiveness. And I have that today. My heart finally feels free and light, and I am not ashamed to admit that I was hurting and struggling and needed help and got it. Because that in fact, is what we are supposed to do.

Thank you to everyone who has shown their love and support to Me and My family. I love you all more than you may ever know. There really are some amazing people around here, don’t forget to be one.

If you want to truly help someone, the most important thing you can do is listen to them, for we never truly know what another human being is actually going through.



As the dust and debris began to settle

only puffs of dirt colored swirls remained

A figure emerged shadowy- no features discernible

but written on his face was pain.

Clothes dirty and tattered falling off his frame like rags

the smithereens from his life strewn from miles around

pill bottles, and cans, crack pipes and bags

seemingly born at this very instant, 37 and one half years

decades of downloads of serious trauma

nightmares of crime scenes between his ears

a high pitched wine and ringing in his brain

from the percussion of the boom

reverberations still quaking extremities still shaking

His entire being an empty room

It was as if he had just appeared out of thin air completely spontaneous

to instantly exist in a breath a human man

A form, a being clearly visible through the dust

but to himself he felt shapeless

Like slipping on on outer suit

Like stepping into a robot shell

looking out at his limbs taking in his surroundings

which seemed like a desert city back alley

just outside of downtown hell

No recollection of his real name and barely able to think

Total confusion throughout

Fear clutched

Every muscle felt weak

Did he time travel here, bringing memories of a former life

its as if he just cut through dimensions

and emerged into 3-d colored light

echoes of pain from the first of his lives

feelings of shame from his second

some pride and regrets mixed up in his third

combined in the 4th were his weapons

knowledge and wisdom, experience and insight

somehow existed inside

its as if he just stepped into now

downloaded and programmed with life

He arose He appeared He existed

A burst of energy came forth

An epicenter of massive proportions

Like space and suffering gave birth

his first three lives a metamorphosis

like steeping out of blackness

no space and no time existed before

only memories of chaos and madness

Fully clothed in filthy bloody garb

but somehow he felt naked

big exaggerated stitches held together his heart

this was the place he would make it

His eyes adjusted to this brand new realm, he took in the whole wide scope

slowly began walking one foot and then another

a new feeling develops


As though he had shed 3 previous skins

This 4th new suit it seemed right

He felt as though 1000 lives he had lived

as he staggered out toward the light.

with every hobbled step more knowledge he would gain

his realization was not far off

he could feel his mind flesh take shape

as his legs plucked along

his brain was developing thought

His recall catching up as his mind took shape

he was remembering it all right now

He had finally unplugged from his suffering trance

He had just been born again

All he could mumble, was “wow”

Bright vivid colors and the whisper of wind

He was finally experiencing life

its as though he had awoken from a dream

as though he was born out of light

A flash and a blink and now he is here

no more dread no more fear, no more pain no more fright.

3 Previous lives of growth pain and development


Incubating in worse than death

suffering, confusion and gnashing of teeth

he finally made it to the end

more and more he became aware

He finally knew what he was

his walk became straighter

he was finally starting to take shape

He had an identity now

in this life would be greater

HE was a man, who finally came of age

but not solely as a result of time

it took death and it took pain

for him to explode and transcend

into this new dimension and this new plane

his final life would now begin

Arrested Development

According to Psychology TodayCollins English Dictionary and Emotional Intelligence Training, the term arrested development refers to the stoppage of physical development, emotional development or mental development before reaching adulthood. This abnormal condition results with someone being stuck in a certain emotional or mental level of development, and can be the reason why some adults act like children emotionally or mentally. In the field of medicine, this is considered a developmental disorder that may result in a lack of intelligence or decreased mental status. This plateau of development can be the result of trauma or neglect and can be a form of mental disorder consisting of severe mental impairment, usually caused by an abnormal state in  adolescence. When people are subjected to trauma as kids or young adults, this can cause the abnormalcy and onset of arrested development in their psychological development, causing delays among peers and sometimes an infantile fixation. Symptoms may include regression, being stuck at a certain developmental stage, and more.

There is a saying in the rehab profession that clients stop their psychosocial development when they become addicted to alcohol or other drugs. There is definitely some truth to the saying. Think about it. Once addiction captures your brain your focus of attention shifts from learning about yourself, others, and the world to scoring, using, and recovering from the use of substances. You are so engaged in repetitive behaviors related to drugs that you have little motivation or opportunity to take on and try out new behaviors in the way that most adolescents do. Instead of investing your energy into growing the skill set you need to succeed in school, dating, and career development you remain stuck in the simple pattern of obtain, consume, obtain, and consume some more drugs. (Harvey Hyman, LPCC Sacramento, California)

So yeah, that just about sums it up. It just about sums me up. I know that I have fucked up. I know that I have failed over and over again throughout my life. I am not all that convinced that I wont ever fuck up again, but I am certain that I will never give up. I am certain that I will never stop my journey of healing, self discovery, and learning.

I know that it might be easy to judge addicts/alcoholics and those of us with mental health issues. I know how easy it can be to judge damn near anyone who is different from us, especially when it takes the focus off of ourselves. Empathy and understanding are incredibly special values to behold, and they are very difficult to keep in practice in this world today as life happens to all of us and can leave us cold and calloused. Our societies today have a sympathy and empathy deficit, this much I know. Mercy for me and justice for you has been a repetitive theme among many a community for far too long.

The reason why I am writing this entry today is to try and illustrate something that I have been thinking about today.

First of all, I want you to think about your life. I am sure for the most part it was rather normal. You probably and hopefully didn’t suffer too many serious traumas in your life, especially you “normies” out there. I would assume that your childhood was for the most part healthy, no significant trauma, you went to school, did your best, felt nurtured and loved, were provided for, did the best you could in school, learned life lessons from rather well adjusted adults, and went on to college or trade schools and on to adulthood. You had little to no disruption in your environment or in your mental status. As a result of this, you cope well, you handle adversity, you have solid verbal, processing, communication, and relational skills etc.

Now, lets say that you were born with chemicals in your system, which automatically sets you back developmentally. From here, your child hood was a series of trauma and neglect. You had zero healthy and well rounded adults around you to care for you, guide you, nurture you, and help you develop emotionally or mentally. As a result of this neglect and trauma, your brain suffered a series of changes on a very deep level as you learned on your own make shift and unhealthy coping strategies. Things like disassociation, fawning, people pleasing, etc. As a result of things that you endured at zero fault of your own, your body adapted to the negative stimuli it was being fed on a regular basis leaving you in a state of emotional and nervous system dysregulation. Each and every trauma you suffered, made unnoticed changes to your brains chemistry, and arrested development began taking hold. Instead of learning about relationships, being demonstrated trust, learning how to handle and cope with life, communication skills, homework, friendship, patience, understanding, etc. Your mind was reacting to what was going on around it and you were learning how to survive. You lived 100% on edge all the time. Surviving trauma is kind of like surviving a hostage camp I can imagine, or surviving the battle grounds of a major war. It changes you. And lets say, when all of the chaos finally settled down, you were 18 years old and you had zero direction in life and no one to turn to so you started using drugs. As a result of the drug use, more arrested development occurred, further and further blunting the growth of your already shriveled and diminished brain. And you do not end up getting clean until you are around thirty years old.

I was once told by a highly touted therapist here in my part of the world that “The age we start using drugs at, is the age we technically are when we get clean.” I can imagine that this is doubly true if it was extensive and complex trauma that led us to using chemicals to begin with. The person in our examples here, could essentially have the emotional maturity and psychological development that would parallel most 12 year old kids, at 30.

And so what happens when we finally end up getting clean, is now our brains are fully reliant upon adolescent thinking at such an advanced age. This is not going to work out well for us, as we still see the world through the very lens that led us to using to begin with. I suppose it would be as though all of our peers took a trip in a time machine, leaving us behind and we emerge years later to meet them as our 18 year old traumatized selves. We would have a lot of catching up to do, not only professionally and socially, but mentally and emotionally. We would be experiencing our “Mental Growth Spurts” at a time in our lives when most our age are planning for retirement. So then we are double tasked with not only trying to play catch up, but stay sober, develop, learn, and grow; all the while trying to navigate life with a very poorly developed mind. This is the battle for those of us with PTSD, and substance use disorders. It is not an excuse, but I believe does provide some valid reasons as to why we shouldn’t be judging someone who struggles with addiction.

I mean think about it, healthy and well rounded, well adjusted, and well nurtured humans do not typically go on to use needles, or drink themselves to death. Something happened in their lives that was so horrible, that turning to such a dangerous life style actually seemed like a way out. experiencing life this way is purely tragic. I know from experience. So think about this the next time you interact with someone who is new to recovery, starting over, or who battles mental health issues. This person was once a small child, and someone left them to fend for themselves, neglected them so badly, or hurt them so deeply, that it actually altered the trajectory of their entire life. The addicts that I know, those of us who suffer from mental health issues are typically the most kind hearted, loving and peace loving people I have ever know, but they have just never been given the time or the patience to be shown what love, trust, friendship, loyalty, follow through, kindness, truth, honor, or faithfulness are all about. Many of us had our innocence taken away from us at a very early age, and literally had no self worth, identity, self respect, or self esteem when life showed up for us. So we did what we had learned to do the whole time, we numbed, we escaped, we disassociated.

If you know and/or love someone who struggles with mental health and addiction issues, do me and them a favor and give them a call. Let them know that you love them and that you know how hard this thing called life can be sometimes, and that you are always there as a healthy outlet for them. Let them know that they matter and that you see them, let them know that you understand how hard they are fighting and that you believe in them. I promise you it will mean more to them than I can say. It may even save someone’s life.

One of the most powerful things we can ever experience, is life through the eyes of another.

War Time

Life can be and often times is an ongoing battle, especially for those of us with mental health issues. Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, BPD, Addiction, etc. make going through our days all the more difficult and turbulent at times. When I first got clean and was living at the halfway house I got a tattoo on my chest. A full “Chest Plate” image of an Eagle that is holding the quiver of arrows in one claw, and the olive branches in the other. The image is strikingly similar to the Eagle on the back of a one dollar bill. It is almost identical. The difference between the two however, is that on the Dollar, the Eagle’s head faces the Olive Branches. The Eagle on my chest, his head faces the arrows. An Eagle who’s head faces the olive branches is known as a “Peace Time Eagle” which symbolizes a time of great harmony, joy, and peace. Mine is known as a “War Time Eagle”, which symbolizes exactly what you may be thinking, a time for war. War with and within myself, war with the world, and war with my past and future. I knew it was going to be a very long and painful pilgrimage ahead. I didn’t know what might happen or where it would take me, but I was here for it and I was ready to start fighting.

Before soldiers head for battle, they prepare and strategize. The ways of preparations have evolved throughout history, but typically those who emerge victorious are the ones who had best planned and showed up most equipped. This is not always the case, but usually the more advanced a side is, the better the outcome is for them. Typically, from the little I know about actual war, the generals and leaders devise their plans of attack and defense, and then pass those plans down to the soldiers to execute. The soldiers, I imagine prepare in much different ways; prayer, hyping themselves up, making sure their weapons are functioning properly, and of course suiting up into their outfits of protection.

These pieces of protection that are described in the bible, “The Armor of God” are as follows: loins girt with truth (belt of truth), breastplate of righteousness, shoes with the preparation of the gospel of peace (peace), shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit/word of God. Now, you may not be a person of Christian Faith or have never read the Bible and that’s okay. I really like the description here, and it is one that is very widely known. So humor me even if it doesn’t particularly speak to your faith.

So what do we have in all of this War Ready Ensemble? A belt, probably not a leather belt from Walmart with holes in it to help hold our pants up. More than likely a heavy steel belt, very wide in breadth to protect our midsection and lower torso. Just above this belt begins the Breast plate, a large and heavy fortified shell of sorts which protects us from swords and arrows that could be hurled at us. Shoes, more than likely heavy boots outfitted with steel to protect our base. A very sturdy shield, emblazoned with the insignia of whom we are fighting for. A very sturdy metal helmet for obvious reasons. And a massive sword, or in modern day instances, a very high powered high capacity rifle. Hopefully you can get the imagery. I can see it now, and when I think of armor I think of the British Soldiers in the movie Braveheart, with the chain mail, and the heavy metal swords.

But, as I am thinking about it now, as the armor is described in the Bible; what is significant about each and every piece? What do they all have in common? What is missing? Notice that “The Armor of God” does not include or describe any pieces of protection for our backs, the backs of our legs, the backs of our necks, or funnily enough, our asses, or rear ends. What do all of the pieces have in common? They are all front facing pieces. They all fit and protect the front facing portions of the Soldiers. I wonder why that is? Well, I believe it is because we cannot win a battle that we are running from. If we are getting hit in the back, then we are not facing the “enemies”. In order for the armor the serve its purpose, we must go in face first. We must march directly into our adversaries, with courage and bravery, and trust that the armor is going to do its job.

Now I know that this is a bit metaphorical here, especially as it pertains to mental health. I can see the connection though. I have felt the effects of both running from my issues, and confronting them head on. They are stark in contrast to one another, and have dramatically different results.

For years I thought that me getting better was just about not drinking or using, and for a time it was. This was also an excuse of sorts, for me not to boldly and fearlessly confront the actual reasons that brought me to using to begin with. “Hey, I’m clean/sober so I must be doing something right”. And I was. But that was just the very beginning for me, and many of us out there. It was also a defense piece for me. It was a piece of my “armor” so to speak. It was my shield of arrogance. I held it with me everywhere I went. Any time I felt something threatening an old vulnerability of mine, I would hoist that shield and display my own insignia: “clean and sober”. Or I would hide behind humor, and deflect it away. But, as with all armor, no matter how modern it is, there are always weak points.

It took me really spiraling out, once I finally had something and someone to lose, to finally be ready to take a step back and objectively look at myself and say “I am missing something here.” And that, I believe is one of the most fascinating things about trauma, it hides within us. It literally hides. We don’t always think about it, in fact I hardly ever did. It is so subtle too, often times we don’t even realize that we are having a trauma response, or acting out on our mental health issues until after the fact. You see, I honestly thought that I was a changed man when I began spiraling out. And I was. But I still had so much to explore and confront in order to achieve the level of significant healing that I was really striving for. And unfortunately, with unhealed parts of us, we don’t even realize that they are there until they “flare up”, or “rear their ugly heads”, with often dramatic consequences and leave us again auditing what the hell just happened. This is what they mean when they say, “We don’t know what we don’t know.” I believe this very much.

We simply do not and can not know or understand how much an event, a season, a loss, an addiction, etc has truly effected us if we do not examine it. I believe that really truly processing things beginning at an early age is critical, before harmful events and seasons become traumas. If this is not possible, as is the case with far too many in this world due to lack of access to adequate mental health services, then as soon as we are able, we must initiate the process of processing. Even if we believe that we are well adjusted, well rounded, mature and mentally healthy adults we should attend some kinds of therapy. I always say that everyone on this planet would benefit from going to rehab at least once, even if they have never done a drug in their life.

You see, this is important because we may not know how something has and is actually effecting us now. Remember, we are used to our own “normals”, and what we interpret as normal may be anything but. And it is in those subtle unexposed isms inside of us that we could be living, acting, thinking, and believing in maladaptive and corrupt ways. I suppose, in keeping up with the Armor/battle metaphor this would be the binoculars of new perspective. Or the spyglass of fresh vantage points. We cannot simply rely on our own first person perspective and our own thinking to solve our own problems and survive our own troubles. It is critical that at some point in our lives, we all find a therapist, pastor, mentor, counselor, or just someone who we truly trust, and tell them the whole story. It is imperative that we learn from ourselves and from our own life stories and actions. This is how we can find self awareness, and grow past the hidden things that are holding us back and causing us to act against our character.

You see, I didn’t even know that the vulnerabilities, the wounds, the traumas existed inside of me the way that they did; until I again and again acted out on them, messed my life up and was essentially forced to take a good long honest look at my life in total. And I didn’t know about them, because I am me and they live inside of me. I had always been using my own thinking, beliefs, and perspective to interpret the very life that gave me those things. That doesn’t work. We must be willing and able to confront those messy parts of ourselves and learn how they went into creating who we are today.

We don’t have to, and shouldn’t be made to feel weak or ashamed for embarking on such a journey of self discovery and healing. For getting vulnerable and open about my most sensitive parts of my life story was the most courageous I have ever felt in my entire life. It provided me with new armor, quite possibly the most valuable piece of them all, wisdom, knowledge, understanding, insight, and self awareness. It helped me identify the places that I had been “weak” in the past, or “more vulnerable to attack” if you will. A fool knows how strong he is, and a genius knows how weak he is, and where he is weak. We gotta do it. We gotta armor up, and walk into the battle with ourselves and with our own stories. That is how we learn the most valuable knowledge we will ever hold, and that is the knowledge of ourselves.

We cannot change what we refuse to confront. What we resist, persists. All of the armor listed above makes no mention of protecting us from behind so if we refuse to walk boldly into it, and we choose to run away, we die.

The armor we slip on as we prepare for battle is all designed so that we can face the enemy, not run away. Please be bold enough and brave enough to face those dark and scary parts of yourself and your story. Your life may depend on it.

As the old saying goes, “If you want peace, prepare for war.”


Almost seven years ago, a woman took a chance on a guy living in a halfway house named Herb. He didn’t have anything. No phone, no home of his own, no car, I believe at the time they met he was cutting grass to make ends meet. He was fresh off a decade long battle with drug addiction, and was fighting just to be able to see his son. Herb didn’t know much about who he was, or where this life would take him. For some reason, however, She saw something in him. Upon their meeting, it was as if they had known each other for ever. They were kindred spirits. They had this immediate connection.

She was a single mother of three, working long hours to support herself and her children. They spent as much time together as they could. It felt right. It felt like they had been searching for each other for a very long time. They did everything together. For Herb, he knew she was the one, almost right away. He could feel it in his bones. They were best friends. These two worked their asses off, with grit and dedication to put a life together that they could all be proud of! It certainly was not easy. They climbed up from an empty house with zero furniture, to milestone after milestone. They were making this family life work!

When they first began their relationship seriously, Herb had begun telling Tiffany his story. He told her about all of the drug addiction, the poverty, he told her everything. He also told her that even though he was on a path of growth, healing, and recovery, that setbacks may in fact be in his future; for there is no cure to what lies inside of him. Together they made a promise, to never give up on one another, no matter what life threw at them. And they have stuck to that promise to this very day.

Well, as you all have read by now, there were tremendous setbacks for Herb. His life, and his mind have never quite been what most people experience. Things got so dark for Herb that he often contemplated taking his own life, but Tiffany never left his side. She never gave up on him, even when she considered that he may not make it himself. She was his wife, best friend, counselor, confidant, hand holder, outlet, she was his cornerstone throughout all of his life. In spite of Herb’s personal struggles, they remained dedicated to one another, and as a result they climbed and they climbed. No matter how bad things seemed to get internally for Herb, She never left his side. They made a promise, they swore a vow to one another. “Through sickness, and in health” as long as they both shall live. And Herb had gotten sick again. She stuck by him as if he were battling cancer. She was there praying with and for him when his brother died, she held his hands and dried his tears as he sobbed in tremendous grief. She was there when his mental health was declining. She knew that what was happening in his mind was Illness, and not some kind of moral failing. She saw him like no one else could, He was her special man, and she was his sweet girl.

As the battles waged on inside of him, she was there to guard and protect him, she was there many nights to hold his hand, and to hug his neck; assuring him that he was safe, and that everything was going to be alright. The more she held close, often, the more he would push away. He had never known love, he had never known trust, and he had never known true friendship. She was showing him all of these things and more, now. But it required him to let her, and he was trying his best, in spite of the war ongoing in his head. He spiraled and spiraled, she persisted with his aid. She was not going to lose the love of her life to himself. She was standing in the gap for him. He would do it for her. They were all that each other had, and more. They were soulmates, they were destined to be, and they had each others back.

Herb eventually began to bottom out, he was losing his internal war. Tiffany was there every step of the way, to help him pick up the pieces, and to help him reconcile. Though she wanted to give up, and walk away at times, they loved each other too much to quit. They made a promise to each other, in front of God, their families, and to the world. They were home to one another.

Eventually Herb finally admitted defeat, and asked for some help with his mental struggles, and Tiffany was there every step of the way. She made arrangements with his family and company for him to go to treatment, she looked after Luke for him while he was there. She walked his struggles out with him, as if they were her own. She never left him, betrayed him, and she never doubted him for a second. She has been the only one who could ever really see him, all this time; even when he could not see himself.

He knew she was the one the first time he laid eyes on her, and she still is to this very day. She is Her. She is it. She is his very best friend, his soul mate and twin flame. They are best friends, they are a power couple, they are unstoppable. They belong together.

Throughout all of this bittersweet, up and down, success and failure alike, one constant has remained. Them. Herb and Tiffany. In all of this beautiful and tragic world, with so much wander and awe, nothing compares in his eyes, to his sweet girl. She is all that he sees. She is it. She is Her.

I will forever be in debt to her, with such tremendous gratitude, because she never gave up on me; even when NO ONE would have blamed her for walking away. She was all I had at times, and she knew I needed her. She has saved my life more times than I can count. She is a hundred reasons why I am still alive. If you see me, I see her.

“All I’m worth is just this promise that I made to you, to stand beside you just like you have stood beside me.”

Dear Dad,

I just wanted to write you a little something and let you know how truly special to me you are. I know that life has been fucked up for us at times, and that there may be parts of you that feel like you have failed in some areas. But I am here to tell you right here and right now, that I am so very proud that you are my father. I do not feel or believe that you have failed me or Lucas in any way. Sure, you made mistakes along the way, big deal. We all do. When we are born, when you were born, no one gave us a manual that detailed how to handle each and every situation and interaction as they arose. I think you did more than great with me and my brother. We, the three musketeers are all still here! And we are the last ones standing. I bet no body saw that coming. You impacted me in so many ways that I don’t even think you realize. You never left my side, you never walked away from me, and you have always had my back through the thickest and the thinnest.

No one, has ever advocated for, defended, and protected me like you. No matter what has ever transpired in my life, even in the bad times, I could always count on my dad. I love you more than you will ever know.

When I was in treatment, on Fridays, we did guided meditation. One of the Fridays, the instructor was walking us through meditation and directed us to take our minds to our happy places. And I just want you to know, that at 37 years old, laying on the floor of a rehab, grown ass man and all; One of my happy places throughout the entire course of my lifetime was playing catch with you! After all these years, after all that has unfolded in our lives, it was still so effortless to transcend my mind back to playing catch with my best friend, my father. I have always admired you. I have always looked up to you, and loved you tremendously. Even though we didn’t have a lot, we always had enough, and we always had each other. You showed me what “all for one and one for all” really means. And you have always stood by this to this day.

So I just want you to know, that there is absolutely nothing that I think you should hang your head about, feel guilty for, or beat yourself up about. I have made it, Lucas has made it, and we are all still here together! I am a father too, and I know the pains and conviction that can come along with feeling our errors and shortcomings. But I also know that we have and always will do our best. I still believe in you, and I still love, admire, and respect you so very much. You done good dad. Thanks for never giving up on me.

You see, Daddy’s don’t just love their children every now and then. It’s a love without end, Amen.

I am so proud to bare your name.

Love you dad.


To Heal

I have had a couple what I would refer to as profound experiences in my life since beginning this journey of mine almost 8 years ago. The first one, as I have talked about before was the Indiana Dunes Great Banquet. During this experience, I witnessed what was referred to, to me as a “crash course in Christianity. It was truly beautiful. I heard testimonies, and stories from other men who had struggled in their own lives, I experienced true fellowship, I felt real mature acceptance, and I experienced Grace as I have come to understand it. And when it comes to Grace, why, we all experience it in different ways. I am sure if we were all to look back on our lives we could easily point out moments and even seasons when we received Grace. Remember, justice is getting what we deserve, mercy is not getting what we deserve, and grace is getting what we don’t deserve.

During my time going through this 4 day retreat that is the great banquet, I remember really being blown away at how “flawed and faulty” all of us are, and how openly some of us are and can be to admit it. And I remember as the weekend progressed on, this overwhelmingly “full” feeling. Like spiritually full. The whole “my cup runneth over feeling”. It was magical. I felt accepted, I felt cared and provided for, and I felt loved, just the way that I was. I experienced forgiveness from God, as I understand him, and I experienced what I can only describe as pardon. I felt loved and accepted just as I was, and that was a truly powerful experience for me, because I had some serious baggage and bondage. It was a beautiful experience in my life.

What does the word “Recover” actually mean though? The first definition I found when Googling this word is this: return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength. Sounds good right? It does. But looking at my own life journey, what was “normal” for me, if to recover was to return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength? Well, in my opinion, “normal” as I understood it was not good. In here lies a conundrum, for if “to recover” were to return me back to a “normal” then that would mean to return back to what was normal for me. Follow me here, I am going somewhere. I know, I know, my definition of normal is not the same as “John Q. Public’s” I get that. So take away the using, and what was normal for me? Trauma? Chaos? Jail? Turmoil?

I read somewhere in some recovery literature, that “We are not simply looking to ‘recover’ our lives back to how they were, before using drugs took over”; because for many of us, that would be just as ugly as our lives were when we were all strung out living like crazy people. I know for me it would. Take away the chemicals, and I am still a trauma riddled, broken spirited, ill minded, scarred and faulty human being. I don’t know if it is “recovery” so much that many of us have been after all along. And perhaps that is why so many of us, myself included have relapsed many times over. So, if its not ‘to recover’, is it ‘to restore’? To restore back to a prior state? No, that is too similar to ‘to recover’. You see, Throughout all of this, I have been striving to fully and finally conquer “this thing”. But what was it that I was really trying to conquer? Drugs? Alcohol? No. I have been striving to conquer the thing or things that drove me back to the drugs and alcohol time and time again.

And I think that that is why people relapse with so much sobriety time under their belts. Their “thing” hasn’t been discovered, addressed, confronted, and conquered. And when we are still unhealed, our mind is still capable of functioning on the harmful patterns and pathways that have always been there. Sure, we may have a great support system, we may go to meetings, we may have lots of reasons to stay sober, but if those pathways in our minds are still open for traffic, and the right set of circumstances occur, it is all the easier to “divert traffic” back into those pathways that were once used to protect us. To provide relief. To ease pain. To increase pleasure. Does this make sense? Think about it as a short cut through the woods, as a child. If that short cut is still available as a quicker way to get to our destination (and that destination is relief) and it starts to rain while we are out playing, are we going to take the long way home, or hop on the short cut?

And I use this example, “short cut through the woods when we are children” as an example, because that’s exactly when we start to develop our paths, our techniques, and our survival skills- as children. Unknowingly, subconsciously, however it happens, that is when they begin. And we rely on these same skill sets and mechanisms, whether we want to admit it or not, right on through our adult lives. “Can’t teach an old dog new tricks” as the old adage goes. But what if we can? Teach old dogs new tricks that is.

We find our paths, our skills, our mechanisms early in life, they work, and then we rely on them for decades to come. What once used to be a barely visible deer path through the woods behind our house, is now a full blown dirt road, rutted out and cleared enough for us to fly through it as fast as we can on our Huffy to beat the rain. And we can hop on that path with very little effort, we know each and every bump and hump, twist and turn, we have it memorized. We have used it a thousand times. And we use it so much, that we begin using it even when it’s not raining out, just because its faster and more convenient. This is the same thing we do with our brains, from an early age, without even knowing it.

So, if the shortcuts, the pathways, the operating systems, and mechanisms in our brains from an early age are what made us into addicts/alcoholics to begin with, then why would we be longing to simply “recover” ourselves back to such a place? Is this making sense?

I think what we are actually longing for, at least I was, was to “Heal, Unlearn, and Recreate” ourselves. To make new, like never before. To progress and heal in such a way that it was as if those old pathways never existed, closing them for traffic once and for all.

To heal, what? To unlearn what? To recreate how?

To heal, for me meant to fully examine my life with the guidance of a professional. To unearth those ugly, shameful, horrible secret places inside of me. Risking complete vulnerability and throwing myself all the way out there. “To get naked” I call it. And to go through my childhood, upbringing, relationships, examples that were set, and so on. To identify major events, to identify and recognize harmful patterns, and to connect the dots and data points in my current life and relationships with others and myself- back to the time the precedent for these thinking, feeling, and behavior patterns was set. It was during this time; the digging up and examining of what makes me tick, what makes me think, feel, and act the way I do that I was able to point out the positive and negative patterns and mechanisms that were still in my employ today. And it was also during this time that there were some things that really needed to be addressed; resentment, anger, bitterness, victim mentality, spite, insecurities, shame, guilt, fear, and traumas. All of these things went into my brain’s chemical makeup, which then led me to seeing the world through these lenses, which in turn brought about more pain, and led me to living life with a hostile heart. I had brick walls built up around me 10 miles high. Throughout this process, we took them down, brick by brick. And I was slowly able to find something that I didn’t know that I was looking for: Forgiveness.

Once the digging, unearthing, and examination portion was complete, it was time to perform a professional audit on those findings. What about these things was constructive, destructive, useful, practical, positive, or negative? We now had cause, effect, and practicalities. We were reverse engineering my life, we were taking everything about me apart, to find out how we could put me back together in a more beneficial way. We were looking at “what we have, what we haven’t got, what we needed, and what needed to go” as Father Martin Ashley puts it. It was in this process that the “unlearning” took place. Realizing that certain ideas, beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors were causing unmanageability in my life, and causing pain and distress in the lives around me. Once we established and understood my “blue print”, we were able to make corrections and revisions, make updates if you will. We put together something that would be more beneficial in my life and in my relationships. In order to learn new, we had to unlearn old.

And it was in these two processes, that we were able to find to most effective replacements for old harmful thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. We were then able to slowly implement and practice new insights, perspectives, and beliefs. It was kind of like trying on clothes, challenging myself to think, feel, believe, and behave new ways. To see how this might be a benefit for myself and my loved ones. This is something that I have come to know as Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). The more challenges I went through, the more my mind opened, and the more growth and healing took place. I was indeed putting myself back together, bit by bit. I was healing, and I was recreating myself. I was learning that the old ways of thinking were not the only ways of thinking. Not only did those old beliefs, thoughts, and feelings get me to a point of misery, they were also obsolete and outdated. I was hitting “ctrl + alt + delete” on my mind, core beliefs, and spirit. Just because I had come from a really ugly place, didn’t mean I had to return there.

And that is what my second profound experience was since beginning my journey. The sharp laser cut clarity that I do not have to be who the world, my traumas, and my pains made me to be. That I do have a tremendous power in this world. The power of choice. By stripping myself down completely, I was able to find out what I was really made of, and what to do about it. I was freeing up, I was slowing down, I was allowing myself some space to be re planted in more fertile soil. And one of the things that I realized throughout that process, was that on a very deep, subtle, and almost subconscious level, I was actively choosing my hostile heart, my anger, my resentment, my bitterness, and my victim mentality. Those things gave me some semblance of control. When you grow up in a world full of chaos, a world that is so out of control, to hold on to anything that gives you a sense of manageability, provides comfort- I was hanging on to anger and bitterness. I had held on long enough. It was no longer serving me. I was now able to let it all go. I had never felt more refreshed, replenished, light, or quenched in my life.

Dig. Examine. Audit. Relinquish.

This was how my healing commenced.

I didn’t want to “recover” something lost or “recover” a previously existing state of being or frame of mind. I wanted to recreate, renew, and rebegin.

“And I’ve got love to fill me in, I’ve got family to help me re-begin”

“Old Barns” by Greensky Bluegrass


Fraud, phony, two face, deceiver, lip-server, fake, liar. Go ahead and insert whatever other synonym you wish here. I have heard them all.

You see, I have never, not once, not ever, said, proclaimed, touted, announced, or declared how perfect I am. I have never once stood out on “the stump” and talked myself up like I was some kind of answer, like I had it all together, or that I was somehow “cured” or some kind of exception to a rule. 

I struggle. I fail. I fall. I own it. You see, from the very beginning, when I started trying to piece some kind of life together for myself, I had 30 years of intense wreckage and trauma to clean up. And I was all alone. I had no one to carry me, I had no one to guide me, I had no one to enable me or make this any easier. I knew that there would be struggles, and set backs of course. And I vowed to be 100% authentic through it all. I believe that I still am.

All I did was write some books, stop shooting heroin, turn my life around, and found a company whose entire purpose is helping people who struggle. I married my best friend, I have raised her/our children and my own son to the best of my human ability. I have done my absolute best to give back to this community in every way possible. We donate to charities, we volunteer, and for the most part we keep to ourselves. I have spent the last almost 8 full years, day in and day out pouring every single shred of everything that I had into my family, career and company, our community, helping others, and doing the absolute best that I can to make a life for myself.

Yes, I began to unravel. Yes, I fell and struggled. Yes, I am humiliated and embarrassed. But I own it. I am human. Does this mean that I am a hypocrite? A fraud? I will leave that up to the court of public opinion on this one. But I believe in my heart the answer is no. 

Love and tolerance is my code, and always will be. I have been somehow placed in the light of notoriety, because I wrote a book. Big deal. I am still a human being, and I will succeed with humility, and I will fail with grace. But I will never cease striving to be the best possible version of myself and I will never cease my authenticity.

Believe it or not, I have always tried to live my life with the utmost integrity, honor, and valor.

The point that I am trying to carve out here, is that all I have ever tried to do while on this planet is find myself, improve myself, love everyone equally, and leave this world better than I found it. Was it, by definition hypocritical of me, to go on helping people in my work, while struggling mentally, and struggling with drink myself? Yes. Does that make ME a hypocrite? NO. It makes me human. In fact, I read somewhere that when someone helps you, and they struggle themselves, that’s not help, that’s love. And I will second that. You see, even though, I was struggling myself, for a time there, I couldn’t turn my back to anyone who was suffering. I simply do not have the heart to do such a thing. I poured every single piece of everything that I am into this new life of mine, and my failure lied in ceasing self care. That’s when I lost myself. And that is what led me to the bottoming out that I endured. I own that. That was my mistake. But it is not one that I will repeat, because I make new mistakes now a days. Life is a non stop process of learning, growth, and development. And, given where I come from, and what I have endured, I am pretty damn proud of the man I am today. 

So as I go from here, on to indeed make new mistakes I am sure; there is much to atone. There is much to clean up. But it is my mess, and I will clean it up, and I will bounce back higher than I ever had before. I know who I am, and I know Who’s I am. And I know that this walk of mine, this appointment of mine, will not be easy and I may struggle again. But when God calls us to our missions, He has already factored in our foolishness. He does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

I will always be here to help anyone in any way I can.

I have a family, I have a beautiful and wonderful wife, I have a loving and amazing home, I have an incredible life that I thank God for every day, And I have a few actual friends. I have a company that is dedicated to helping other human beings end their sufferings and turn their lives around, this very company was instrumental in helping me as well. And I have so very much to be grateful for. I will make mistakes in the future, and I am not sure what exactly lies ahead, but I am walking into it with an open heart of acceptance, and with renewed curiosity and vigor. To all of those who have been supportive, encouraging, and loving, I see you too. And I am incredibly grateful for your love and prayers.

Very sincerely yours,

The Hypocrite

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strongman stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;

who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error andshortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds;

who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,

so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

-Teddy Roosevelt, The Man in the Arena 

Unconditional Love

Born into chaos, 

Trauma from the start. 

Abused and abandoned, 

Fear weighed down his tiny heart. 

Always felt alone, 

Searching for connection. 

Wanting only to fit in, 

But never having a best friend. 

Unseen and unheard, 

He felt like a ghost. 

No one to step up, 

When he needed them the most. 

From a lost little boy, 

To a trauma laden teen. 

He began to find relief, 

In a bottle, in some weed. 

As he grew up, 

He searched for a purpose. 

Anything with a meaning, 

Something to make him feel worth it. 

At home he found no hope, 

Drug addicted parents set the precedent. 

Mom would run, dad would chase 

He became a burden and irrelevant. 

2 / 4

A massive void in his world, 

Caused by the lack of safety and love. 

But then he found relief, 

In the harder type of drugs. 

A headfirst dive into oblivion, 

Became a cherished reprieve. 

But this gift he thought amazing, 

Turned and beat him to his knees. 

Fast forward to adulthood, 

Never experiencing real love 

No hope or ambition, 

No real faith in God above. 

Programmed by his past, 

But he wanted to be better. 

Still comfortable in that chaos 

Emotions bursting from the pressure. 

Stress and fear held him down, 

“Playing the cards life handed me.” 

Lashing out and causing pain, 

To myself and my family. 

Wanting to be sober, 

To find a better path, 

But unable to shake free, 

Of the bondage of his past. 

3 / 4

Began to find some hope, 

Put together some good things. 

Took the steps needed to grow, 

Things slowly began to change. 

Made some good decisions, 

Life began to improve. 

Found some joy in this life, 

But still had more pain to pursue. 

Fell off one more time, 

This one a different type of bottom. 

Kept the outside things together, 

But inside his spirit rotted. 

Fast forward to today, 

I found another chance. 

And I’m so grateful for the gift, 

And have taken a new stance. 

I have unconditional love, 

From my wife and my kids. 

You’ll give me reason to fight, 

You’ll give me a reason to live. 

So grateful for you my sweet girl, 

For not giving up on me. 

I will give this chance my all, 

To become the man you need. 

4 / 4

I have learned a lot about myself, 

And I am healing from my trauma. 

I will learn to live without the chaos, 

Give up the fight and constant drama. 

I love my life today, 

And I am happy for this chance. 

I will work hard to back these words with action, 

To become my best version of a man. 

The future looks so bright, 

And my past no longer pulls me down 

I thank God for this gift 

For this blessing that I’ve found 

I am a work in progress, 

It won’t happen overnight. 

But I will strive daily for atonement, 

For our family I will fight. 

Staying sober and committed, 

To this new path of mine. 

If I do this every day, 

I know that I’ll be fine. 

Dear Stevie,

I just want you to know that I am okay. I know you’re scared right now, and you feel invisible and unheard, but I see you. And I hear you, right here and right now. It may seem like no one cares, but I do. I just want you to know that even though you’re surrounded by sick people and dysfunction, you make it out!

Oh, how lonely, scared, lost, and exhausted you will be at times, but do not give up! You and I know the heart you have, and one day not far off you will find forgiveness. Sure, its gonna be awful at times, and you’re gonna suffer and have to unlearn so much, but you are going to learn so very much too!

I know it’s not fair, Stevie. You don’t deserve this. You don’t deserve all the things that happened to you. I wish I could say it is going to get easier right away, but its not. In fact, it is going to be tough for a long time. But I promise you, it will all work out. It is going to actually get better than you can even imagine right now. Your suffering will not be in vain. You know that you are a good person, and a champion deep down inside. Oh, the battles that you are going to fight, and win!

If people could even understand the things that you will face, the struggles that you’ll endure, and the triumphs you will find. I am so very proud of you. You are a great human being. Good people and good love are in store for you one day. God has his hands on you, and will not leave your side. Some days it will feel like you are all alone, and other days it will feel as if you simply do not have the strength to endure. But you will persevere. You will rise, and fall, and rise, and fall again. It is not some simple task to overcome what is ahead for you. But you will. And with that heart of yours, with that spirit of understanding and empathy, you will go on to help so many people just by being your authentic self. You are perfect just the way you are, and one day not too far off you will find peace, forgiveness, and atonement. I wish that I could tell you not to do something, or to change something in your life to alter your life’s trajectory, but I can’t. For without everything happening just the way it did, I wouldn’t be here to write you this letter. And it all makes for one helluva story to tell. So buckle up, keep your faith and hope alive. I’ll be right here waiting.

Stay true to yourself kid,