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.”

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,


Rise and Fall

We had really been on a miraculous turn around of our lives, and on an incredible trajectory. Everything we set out to accomplish we crushed. It’s really interesting too, because prior to all of this new found success, we were both really struggling independently in our own rights. But together we seemed to really kick some ass.

I would say that now we are right around our third year in the Kinsey House. I had previously been with two different intervention companies and was now working for a third. Each time that I had made a decision to move on, it worked out and proved to be the best decision for our family. Tiffany and I had been talking about me leaving the agency I was at at the time, and starting our own company. We believed that this would just be all around the smartest, and most logical move to make at that point. I had hours totaling close to 7,000 by this point, and had long since been pretty well established, educated, and experienced in the field. We had done countless interventions in all 50 states several times over.

We would talk about it, and then “put a pin in it”, talk about it again, and then “put a pin in it” again. I knew that deep down inside it was what I really wanted to do, but I was scared. Like terrified. I said “put a pin in it”, but looking back what I really did was procrastinate on it. Kick the can down the street. I think that in retrospect, this is when the fear began creeping back in. It was paralyzing at times. But eventually, the time came when I just knew that I had to do what I had to do- and that was take the leap of faith, take a risk, and trust that this is what I was supposed to be doing. My wife and I set a deadline for when I was to tell my current company that I was going to be leaving. It came and went. Ugh! I just couldn’t seem to pull the trigger on it. I was completely gripped in the fear. So I did all of the “behind the scenes stuff” first. I went ahead and began building the company, unofficially, so that it would be a smooth transition once I finally did part ways with my current employer.

We started by filing with the Secretary of States office and all of the paperwork that came along with that. We hired an attorney to be with us throughout the development of the company, who is still with us today. We built a website. We created logos and cards and fliers and got ourselves ready to launch the second the severance was official. All of the ground work had been done, and there was nothing else to grasp at in the way of excuses not to finally just take the leap. I was so stressed out. What if it all failed? What if it all fell apart? What would we do if this was the wrong move? This is definitely when the fear returned into my mind. I couldn’t sleep most nights. When I did sleep, I had awful dreams. I had dreams about all of the worst case scenarios that were undoubtedly heading our way once we did this. I ruminated on this decision for weeks.

Finally, I just couldn’t take the stress of it any longer. I knew it was passed time to get on with it. So I made the phone call and let the company know that I was resigning. To my surprise it went a lot better than I thought it would. I suppose the fear of a situation is often times worse than the situation itself. I was quite relieved indeed. But the fear was still there, it had just morphed into other ruminations.

It wasn’t that I doubted my own abilities, it was that I had never been fully and totally self sufficient before. It was time to man up, we were now small business owners and the success or failure of this company was going to be 100% on our shoulders. It was liberating and terrifying at the same time. My wife was so supportive and encouraging through the whole process. She would always remind me that God didn’t bring us this far to only bring us this far. And it always sounded good, and briefly made me feel better, but it didn’t seem to take the pressure off. The amount of pressure that I now felt on a daily basis was unlike anything I had ever experienced before.

I can imagine that everyone wants to work from home, myself included but, working from home brought about a whole new day to day, and list of difficulties for me. I could tell right off the bat that this new way of life was going to require a tremendous amount of discipline and self made structure. I went from working 40+ hours weekly in an office with several other humans, to working from home completely alone and isolated from human interaction for 40 hours a week. This was a major shock to my system, especially since I am such an outgoing and sociable person. My little joke, when talking to people about the new venture was “everyone wants to work from home, until they work from home”. And I believe that. I have now been working from home for about five years, and it is not as easy as one might think. But anyways, back to then. At first, I seemed to adjust alright I guess. Or so I thought at the time. I spent many hours each week, marketing and “banging the drum” so to speak. The first few months were not easy. It wasn’t long into this, that I began to doubt that this was the right decision to make. The phone didn’t ring. No matter what I seemed to do, it had become eerily quiet. The fear began to build.

I think it was about three solid months that we didn’t generate any business. Nothing. I spent the days sending emails, following up, dropping into various places throughout the region doing my best to stay visible and available if someone needed us to help. Nothing seemed to make a difference. I was becoming more and more stressed out by the day. The pressure was building and building. Fear followed me around like a long black shadow. It had really started to take over my mind. I was so hyper focused on growing the company. I was obsessed. Obsessed, full of fear, overwhelmed with pressure, stressed out nearly all the time, I felt like I was chasing my tail. Perhaps I needed to just swallow my pride, and ask my former employer for my job back. Maybe this was all a mistake.

It’s very strange though, the duality of the mind, I knew and could feel that this is what I was supposed to be doing but, nothing was working. The only thing that was happening was, we were falling further and further into debt, and I may have been developing an ulcer. The fear grew. The pressure built up. The rumination continued. I found myself pacing the floor of the house to the tune of miles a day I would guess. I talked to Reba as if she were a person. Think Ace Ventura telling Spike the monkey that he couldn’t feed him until he found Snowflake the Dolphin. When we got Luna, our little Gremlin ass Boston Terrier I talked to her too. I don’t think those dogs know or understand how much they have done for me. My mental health was declining.

Recently, I have learned that for those of us with PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder, immense amounts of stress is an absolute destroyer. Plus, keep in mind, I was at that point in time 100% untreated. Yes, I was clean, I was sober, I had been so for quite some time. I had done CD&A (Chemical Dependency & Addictions) Program in the Porter County Jail a couple years prior, I had spent a year at the halfway house, and I had been to thousands of meetings and worked the steps. I had been through the Great Banquet, so my Faith had recently been reignited and I had a working knowledge of recovery and of staying the course. But I was still very much untreated. I had never been to an actual treatment program. For those of you who have read my first book you know that. I couldn’t get into one. I didn’t have insurance and I was poor. So I didn’t matter to treatment centers. I was a have not. It was always, “We will put you on the list and call you.” They never called. So I utilized what I had, whatever the State of Indiana mandated that I do.

Looking back on things, this is when the “Kerplunk Sticks” began to be pulled, one by one. Fear and stress became my way of life. I was able to finally get the company going and we were getting busy. But here is a very interesting point about me at this time: I was unhealed from an entire life time of trauma and drug addiction. My mind had not ever been able to fully process everything that had transpired, and I certainly hadn’t had any kind of real professional help. When the fear, stress, rumination and etc returned to my brains pathways they stuck. It was like I had reverted right back into that old chaos and trauma repetition. Even though the company had begun to take off, and my family life had been going really well, it didn’t matter. The fear, paranoia, stress, and rumination had already gotten in on a deep level and were not leaving. My entire mindset had changed and was changing still, going in the opposite direction it was supposed to be going. And what’s crazy about all of this, is I couldn’t see it. I thought that stress, and all that I was experiencing is a normal part of owning a small business, and it is. But I had yet to be fully diagnosed, and I had no idea what was going on inside my mind. I couldn’t see it. I thought that all of this was just part of the deal. I think, looking back I have a couple ideas about this: 1- I was still disassociated from childhood the whole time, to some degree. And 2- this is when I began splitting. I am not entirely sure on this, but either/both would make sense. But I just held on. White knuckles and all.

I know how this may sound to some, “First world problems”, and “must be a tough life” are a couple phrases that come to mind. I am not complaining. I never was. I am just trying to express what was going on at the time. What’s more though, what’s even more important and more impactful than all of the pressure, and stress and etc., is that I had stopped taking care of myself.

Life is a shifty and intricate dance of balance and circumstances. It’s really easy to lose sight of certain things sometimes. You see, The Devil, the Negative Forces of this world, they come disguised as everything you ever wanted. And as my friend said to me in the car that night “Everything my recovery was blessing me with, indeed my addiction was using against me.” My therapist and I went over this in treatment. She called it “Dealing with Immediates.” It is also known as being “task oriented”. I became enamored with the grinds of life. I became preoccupied with rebuilding my life, which is a good thing. But balance is so very important, and I had no concept of balance at the time. Part of the trauma brain is all or nothing thinking, black/white thinking, handle tasks, stay busy.

“Our addictions always resurfaced or continued to progress” (taking on many different forms) “until, in desperation we sought help.” It’s true. I had essentially relapsed on work, on chasing the American Dream, on building credit. I know that may sound crazy, but think about this, isn’t addiction all about escape? It is. And I was losing myself in my work, I was losing myself in the “Task,task,task” and didn’t even know it. I was not losing myself to escape my current life at the time, my life was going awesome! I was immersing myself in work, I was escaping into the tasks, I was dealing with the immediates to escape my unhealed parts of my past. Unknowingly to me. Subconsciously, I was right back into the patterns of “losing self”. And even though we were succeeding and doing all kinds of good things, and we were helping a lot of people, all of those “right now tasks” or “Immediates” took my focus off of what I should have been doing all along. Which was healing.

Now, there I was; a workaholic, under immense amounts of pressure (mostly self inflicted), fear driven and unhealed mind, escaping my untreated traumas the way I always had- by losing myself in something, only this time not chemicals, but work and dealing with the immediate tasks that life brought about, AND receiving all kinds of accolades, acknowledgements, and adulation for my efforts, which reinforced that I was on the right track. And here came the ego. The mind is truly the most fascinating place in the entire known universe to me.

The ego can be a defense mechanism for so many of us, especially those of us with troubled pasts, and low self esteem. It certainly is for me. It seems like the lower my self esteem, the bigger my ego. It also seems like the tougher the circumstances, the more difficult things become around me, and inside my head, the more my ego tries to shield me from harm. My mental health was declining. I was stressed out all the time, I was fear based in my thoughts, I ruminated often. I was isolated. I was overwhelmed and very much “in the weeds” as many of my restaurant people may relate. But life, on the outside of things was full of accomplished goals, and of outward successes. So my ego continued to inflate with every pat on the back. And with every new upcoming obligation, bills that were due, birthdays on the horizon, and all of the stuff that life brought to our door, my sense of self and mental well being continued to deflate. My mental health was in rapid decline, but the circumstances of my life, of our life were in rapid incline. How in the fuck does that work? It was so confusing and overwhelming for me.

You see, I didn’t go about my days thinking about my past life, and all of my past traumas. I had spent decades learning how not to think about that stuff. But it lives in side of us. It is a noun. A thing. My brain, mind, spirit, and heart were wired and tattooed with it. It touched and affected everything I did. What we resist, persists. And it was all still festering inside my mind. Because I had never actually and fully confronted it. I was unintentionally and unknowingly still relying on my broken and traumatized mind to handle my new life and all of the shit it was bringing my way. I was still utilizing the same mind and the same tools and mechanisms I once did; the ones I used that turned me into a heroin addict. Stuff it down, brush it aside, work-work-work, ruminate, white knuckles, lose myself in dealing with tasks, Instant gratification, Ego, external validation, etc. I thought I was recovered? Why was I still feeling like this? Why was I still detaching? Am I back in the space shuttle, or am I still in the space shuttle? I began slipping away.

The credit scores went up, my mental health went down. Ego did it’s best to protect me, but my self worth and esteem declined. I was falling back into my default mechanisms. My trauma brain, my addict brain was taking the controls again. People didn’t even know or notice until much later, because I was performing in life so well. For all intents and purposes, I was killing the game. But I was dying inside my mind. I was totally blown and overwhelmed now. Totally robotic. Autopilot. But I was supposed to be this awesome success story, how is this happening? So I stuffed it down. I swallowed the pain. I trudged on. I compartmentalized. I disassociated. My ego grew, and my self esteem shrunk.

Poor me.

Poor me.

Matter of fact, pour me up one of those.

Everything my life and recovery had blessed me with, had been used against me.

“Recovery gives us a life that takes us away from recovery.”

Pour me another one.


“Herb, let me tell you something young man. I want you to listen to me when I tell you this; everything that your recovery blesses you with, your addiction will try and use against you.” – An older gentleman to me, on our way home from a meeting many years ago. He was right.

Ya know, it’s funny, you write one book, and everyone thinks you know what you’re talking about. And I do. It’s just, I don’t know, being a published author, especially when it pertains to the subject matter of addiction and mental health, it puts one in a precarious position. It’s like, all of a sudden that, and the field I work in some how gave many people this idea that I was somehow cured or some shit. Like I had some kind of answers. All I ever did was share my experiences, and do my best to be a good person and a helper.

Life absolutely took off for me, once the book dropped and I began my work in intervention. It all happened so fast. It was like a blur. Offers were coming in from all over the place. Come speak in Idaho, Come to Southern Indiana, be on this radio show, this podcast, Etc. I was contacted by celebrities, newspapers, politicians, families in need of help, churches, radio stations, T.V. You name it. It was like a dream come true. And it has been. With some exceptions, of course, I wouldn’t change it. But let me tell something right now, every gift has a cost.

Tiffany and I moved in together once I left the halfway house, I was working at the first intervention company, and we were just riding the wave. You wanna talk about “Started from the bottom, now we’re here”? That was us. We took over a home on Kinsey Street in Valpo. We had no furniture, no beds, no dressers, very few of our own clothes; and the house was absolutely trashed. The last 5 or 6 weekends while I was at the halfway house, we spent getting the house ready and livable. The yards were horribly overgrown, the inside of the house looked like a trap house. We worked tirelessly getting the place ready, and when we moved in, all we had was a few bags of clothes, some blankets and pillows, and a couple donated wicker chairs and a wicker table. We made a pallet on the floor and slept there the first several weeks. Over time, we accumulated the stuff we needed. A donated T.V., small sectional, kitchen table, dishes, etc. I worked at the intervention company, and she worked for a nurses’ agency. We were grinding. Things were an absolute blur. Kids, School, an hour commute to and from work for me every day, book signings, birthdays, speaking engagements, TEDx, travel. We were cookin. Meetings, sponsorship, probation meetings, family trips, new piece of furniture, we got a dog. Reba, she is the sweetest. She’s an all white with blue spots and one floppy ear Pitbull and she’s my second best friend. My wife is my first.

Life simply could not have been going any better. We were two determined love birds. We were ascending. Tiffany had been an underdog story herself in her own right. A single mother of three, doing the best she could working, cooking, being a mom, all that comes with that. I was just a fucking disaster when we met. But, we have somehow continued to make it work, through thick and thin. When we first got together, I didn’t even have a bank account. I opened my first checking account at Centier with fifty bucks, when I was working at the insurance agency. From there it was baby steps, in the right direction. Little by little we climbed. Sometimes we had to over draft an account to pay a bill, sometimes we didn’t. We were determined to succeed. And we loved each other very much.

I had so much going on, I didn’t know if I was coming or going half the time. I had all of my, what I now know to be “Professional Life”- Intervention, Book signings and speaking engagements, writing, appearances, meetings, etc. I had all of the personal life stuff, Wife, kids/step kids (We weren’t married yet, but we all lived together and it was pretty obvious that this is where it was headed, I hoped so at least), Baby Momma Drama, and all the bullshit that came along with that. Court hearings, etc. And I did my best to squeeze in some “Me Life”- Meetings, sponsorship, journaling, etc. It all seemed so surreal. Days passed by sometimes quickly sometimes slowly, but where oh where did the months and years go?

We were laser focused. One day I decided to get myself a secured credit card, the type you have to pay 250$ for and Discover gives you a card with a 250$ limit. A beginners credit card, to start building credit. That was my very first piece of the american dream right there. We were determined. Our conversations were ambitious, and driven, they were very goal oriented. Our first year at the kinsey house was amazing. We hung out in the back yard when we could, we went for drives, we took the kids to do fun stuff. We traveled all over. Tiffany and I flew to Arizona, then Washington, and drove into Idaho; I had been paid to come and give a key note speech for the Idaho Juvenile Justice Association. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life. Driving down through Eastern Washington, all the hills, mountains, and geography were just breath taking. Massive combines glided through rolling hay fields, kicking up giant clouds of dust that were cut through by setting sun rays, and back dropped in bright pinks and purples. It was one of the greatest moments of my life. We adventured out into the local towns exploring. I remember this lake, it was as smooth as glass and as clear as a diamond. The only thing that came cutting through it was the Washington State Row Team, practicing out on the water. This was all just too good to be true.

We got our first Christmas Tree as a family, We financed our first car, We celebrated birthdays and we continued to climb. I thanked God every single night for delivering me from such a horrible previous life, to such an amazing one. I was so proud.

It was really easy to keep busy during these times, because there was always so much going on. There was always a task to handle, there was always somethings to be done. And we did them well. A secured card credit card turned into multiple credit card offers, which turned into multiple credit cards, which turned into a rising credit score. I utilized the marketing skills I learned at the insurance company with the intervention company. I was learning as much as I could as fast as I could, after all, I was at a disadvantage already and had a lot of time to make up for. I had to pin my ears back, put my head down, and go. And that is exactly what I did. I was a workaholic. I was locked in. I was Dad, Step Dad, Interventionist, Author, Boyfriend/Fiance’, Dog Dad, Speaker, Brother, Friend, I was living the dream. We were living the dream.

I was always working. It was annoying to some I am sure. But, how was I to waste such a beautiful and wonderful opportunity? The position I had found myself in allowed me to do what I had always wanted to do, help others. It was a double blessing that I got to support my family while doing so. We were on top of the world. Phone calls, emails, conference calls, hikes, cook outs, bills, life was chugging along. I continued to say yes to everything. Key Note speech- yes. Interview for news paper- yes. Give a talk at a church- yes. Book signing at Barnes and Noble-yes. It seemed like the more I said yes to, the more the opportunities came. We couldn’t miss.

We went from a pallet on the floor with no other furniture, to a fully furnished house, and a new to us car in the drive way. We were making it. Task, task, task, goal, goal, goal. Work ,work, work. God was really smiling on us. I had attended the Indiana Dunes Great Banquet, and so had Tiffany. We were really growing at a rapid pace. Before we knew it, we were in our second year at the Kinsey house. What a blur. We were knocking off the old collections accounts on our credits from the previous years, when we both struggled independently. Together we thrived. We had her three children, and we had Luke as often as possible. We would enjoy home cooked meals together and family game nights. We did smores in the back yard, and we went to Indiana Beach. We were all so happy.

One Friday evening, I had to make a run over to the local gas station for some smokes and fuel in the Envoy. Tiffany asked me to grab her a few scratch off tickets, which I always thought were a waste of money. But, begrudgingly, I said I would. I had my feet up on the ottoman while watching the news and she scratched at the tickets with a coin. I sipped my coffee and dazed off at the talking heads on the screen, when she interjected the silence with a loud “BABE!” “What, 30 dollars down the drain, babe?” “Bullshit, I just won 5,000$!!!” She screamed. I couldn’t believe it. I had never seen anyone win anything on those damn things. But there it was, right in front of my eyes. She sure as shit did. Like I said, we just couldn’t miss. It was a winning streak of life like nothing I had ever experienced. We used most of it to pay bills, and to pay credit cards off, and we used a piece of it, to purchase Chicago Bears’ playoff tickets. It was both of our very first time seeing the bears play. It was one of the best days of my life. We didn’t get the win, as I am sure you know, this was the infamous “Double Doink” game. But it was an experience unlike any other. We even met Travis Kelce. He was there watching his brother play, who is on the Eagles.

It’s crazy how everything was happening. I mean, I had never experienced anything like this in my life. What a plot twist. I had gone from lost soul, heroin addict to all this. It didn’t seem real. Oh, but it was. Life had become such a wonderful adventure of tasks to be handled and goals to accomplish. I had sent a copy of my book to the White House, and Donald Trump sent me back a hand signed thank you card that I still have to this day. This was right around the time He had donated his quarterly salary to combat the opioid epidemic, and I had sent him a book as a thank you. It was awesome to get a had written thank you back from the President. I mean, how many people can say that in their life time? I was offered a new and better position at another Intervention firm, and then another. Progress after progress, success after success, step up after step up. One beautiful evening on a Pier in Hilton Head, South Carolina I found myself down on one knee proposing to Tiffany in front of her whole family and a bunch of strangers. It was amazing and she said yes. We were both so happy and on top of the world. It was the best day of my life to that point. I hope it was to her as well.

We were killing the game. It seemed as though everything we touched turned to gold. I also had the amazing and incredibly stressful privilege of giving a TEDx Talk at Valparaiso University. “The Myth of Rock Bottom” is what it was called. And the overall Idea of it is how we can always bottom out again, even after what we think is our rock bottom. We can always dig another one. A’int that the truth? My oh my, how foreshadowing that was indeed.


Once I made the choice to compromise, to roll the dice and pick up a cigarette and it did what I didn’t know it could do, I was instantly obsessed with what else there was out there that could do it too. I quickly moved on to alcohol, weed, every other chemical I could get my hands on, and as detailed out in the first book, ultimately Crack and Heroin. My experiences with trauma were still very much ongoing, and in a sense just getting started. The traumas that lie in wait for me in the world of addiction though, were to be very much self induced. I came from chaos, so as my life in the addiction world unfolded, I would continue to gravitate to more and more chaos. This is what one of my therapists referred to as “Trauma Repetition”. The whole “Comfort in Chaos” idea. And down, down, down the spiral we would go…

As I believe I had mentioned before, somewhere I’m sure; I always seemed to have this inherent affinity for the “Underdogs” of the world. I think it is because from a very early age, and as a result of everything I had been through, I knew suffering. I knew what it felt like to be invisible, unheard, insignificant, brushed aside, neglected, abandoned, and essentially thrown away. So I always felt this kind of like Survivor’s Bond with similar types in movies, T.V, sports, and in real life.

I remember the first time I watched Forrest Gump. I was absolutely blown away. This man had had the most incredible and interesting life, even though he had been born with so many disadvantages and had so many obstacles thrown at him. He was born with a learning disability, a back as “crooked as a politician”, without a father, He was named after the Founder of the K.K.K, He was bullied, beat up, Invisible to most, ignored, he was taken for granted and taken advantage of, he was shot in the ass, the woman he loved always left him, no one liked him. He was very much an outcast of society. But the thing that really made him special to me, was his innocence, his integrity, his humility, his giving nature, his loyalty to friends, his moral compass. Someone must have planted the right seeds in his heart, because they went on to become very fruitful later in life. And the thing that really stood out to me about him, was that he never really did anything over-the-top spectacular. He just always did the right thing. And that was all he ever really needed to do.

It’s funny how this world works. They say when the student is ready, the teacher appears. And when I was so desperate and lost as an adolescent, with no real mentorship or examples on how to live and do life. I was able to find messages, I was able to learn, I was able to feel meaningful life lessons in the most unusual of places. It’s kind of like I knew deep down inside that If I was going to somehow make it out of all of this, than I better take on a heart that was hungry for wisdom, and be able to recognize it when I heard it.

Forrest Gump, and stories like His (I know he is a fictional character) provided me with great inspiration. I knew that I too, was at a disadvantage in life. The cards were truly stacked against me. School and college weren’t much of an option to me. I just knew that deep down inside, if given the opportunity, I could go on and be somebody some day. All I had to do was do my best to be a good person. I knew I was gonna fail at that even, at times. But, if I just truly followed my moral compass, and held on long enough, one day I would get my chance. And that, and lots and lots of prayer and faith- seeds that were planted in me, in second grade in Tennessee gave me unwavering Hope. Even in the most hopeless of times.

It’s crazy, the dichotomy or duality of the mind. I would go on to become a homeless, strung out street person for many years. But through it all, I always held on to hope. I just knew if I never gave up, one day I would be able to finally turn it all around. And I was right. It just didn’t happen quite like I thought it would, and had.

When God calls us to our purpose, remember that He has already factored in our foolishness.


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence in one (or more) of

the following ways:

Directly experiencing the traumatic event(s).

Witnessing, in person, the event(s) as it occurred to others.

Presence of one (or more) of the following intrusion symptoms associated with the traumatic

event(s), beginning after the traumatic event(s) occurred:

Intense or prolonged psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that

symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event(s).

Marked physiological reactions to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an

aspect of the traumatic event(s).

Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning after the

traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by one or both of the following:

Avoidance of or efforts to avoid distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely

associated with the traumatic event(s).

Avoidance of or efforts to avoid external reminders (people, places, conversations, activities,

objects, situations) that arouse distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely

associated with the traumatic event(s).

Negative alterations in cognitions and mood associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning

or worsening after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by two (or more) of the


Inability to remember an important aspect of the traumatic event(s) (typically due to

dissociative amnesia and not to other factors such as head injury, alcohol, or drugs).

Persistent and exaggerated negative beliefs or expectations about oneself, others, or the

world (e.g., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted,” “The world is completely dangerous,” “My

whole nervous system is permanently ruined”).

Persistent, distorted cognitions about the cause or consequences of the traumatic event(s)

that lead the individual to blame himself/herself or others.

Persistent negative emotional state (e.g., fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame).

Markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities.

Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others.

Persistent inability to experience positive emotions (e.g., inability to experience happiness,

satisfaction, or loving feelings).

Marked alterations in arousal and reactivity associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning

or worsening after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by two (or more) of the


Irritable behavior and angry outbursts (with little or no provocation) typically expressed as

verbal or physical aggression toward people or objects.

Reckless or self-destructive behavior.


Exaggerated startle response.

Problems with concentration.

Duration of the disturbance

is more than 1 month.

The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or

other important areas of functioning.

The disturbance is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g.,

medication, alcohol) or another medical condition.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and

marked impulsivity, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as

indicated by five (or more) of the following:

Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.

A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating

between extremes of idealization and devaluation.

Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.

Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex,

substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).

Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior.

Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria,

irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).

Chronic feelings of emptiness.

Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper,

constant anger, recurrent physical fights).

Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.