The Road to Recovery
My parents divorced when I was a toddler, and I never had much interaction with my dad after the divorce. My mom remarried and my step dad became my father. When I was 13, I started experimenting with drugs. I also struggled a lot with depression and was in and out of hospitals for rehab and mental illness. When I turned 16, my mental illness took a turn for the worst and I started having hallucinations and losing touch with reality. By the time I was 18, I was homeless in Jacksonville, even though I had a hot meal and a bed for me at home, I chose to live on the streets.
After I came home, I tried to get clean and sober, but was in and out of a revolving door of relapses. I was able to get off drugs and stay sober, but my head was still unclear. I was in and out of mental hospitals struggling with hallucinations, hearing voices, and losing touch with reality. By the time I was in my mid-30s, doctors, nurses and counselors tried to get me institutionalized saying I wasn’t fit to be in the outside world. I was required to go for an evaluation every three months.
It was at this point that I started running with a friend of mine who wanted me to run a half marathon with him. I weighed 270 pounds, was unfit and not a runner, but I said sure.I started to train for a half marathon and my head started to clear. I went for an evaluation three months later with the doctors, nurses and counselors and they saw how healthy I was getting - physically and mentally. I lost weight, got in shape, and started running with a couple people from a group called Runwell, a group very similar to Runners 4 Recovery. This group of runners would invite people who were in rehab to run with them. We would run short distances in Jacksonville.
Running became a turning point in my life. I was clear and I was happy. I loved the feeling of my runners high, competing in races; I even ran a couple marathons and an ultra marathon 50 K. I thought my life was complete and then I met a beautiful woman, who became my wife. I couldn’t have kids, but she had a 14-year-old son who never had a dad. I became a father to him. Stuff was happening that I never believed in my wildest dreams would happen. It hasn’t been easy, but I've been with this beautiful woman named Maria for six years now and we’ve been married for four years. She supports my running and everything we’ve been through. It hasn’t been easy and I've had to really work my program and trust the process. About three months ago, I had to have surgery to get part of my intestines and my appendix removed all due to the consequences of my drug addiction. I’m just now starting to run again and I tell myself if I did it before, I can do it again.
Sober 15+ years
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