I am a forty year old man from Missouri. I’ll start my story in September of 2019.
I was nearing the end of a twenty tear battle with alcohol. The job that I had held for nine years was, for the first time, in jeopardy. I was drinking my breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I drank alone and blacked out every night. Somehow, in these times, which I have no recollection of, I reached out for help. I woke up one evening and checked my phone and I had called 911 five times. I don’t know how, but one of those calls for help was to my Brother who lives in Florida. He is a Police Officer in Florida. He is married with two boys ages 9 and 6. (6 and 3 in 2019). He dropped everything, took time off his job, and drove 13 hours to Missouri to bring me to Florida. We didn’t have a plan, all we knew is that I needed to get out of the situation I was in ( my grandparents basement) and get help. I agreed, because for the first time in my life I felt like the alcohol was actually killing me.
I stayed with my Brother detoxing while he found me a treatment facility. He found a place 30 minutes away and I was off for 60 days of in patient treatment. I was extremely nervous but I knew it was what I had to do to save my life. I finally, after countless attempts, decided that I was ready to accept help, and take responsibility for my actions.
My experience in treatment at the Road to Recovery facility in Pensacola, Florida was a perfect fit for me. I was put into an environment full of men from all different races and backgrounds. They showed that it’s never too late, and you’re never too far gone to get help, all you need is the desire to change your life. Everything that I learned and went through in treatment is a whole story just by itself, but let me just say, that without the team, and other residents at Road to Recovery, I would not be alive today. I am deeply grateful for every single one of them.
I graduated from the program on December 17, 2019. 8 days later I receive a call from my Mother that my Uncle Eric, who was a mentally challenged 51 year old, was in the ICU on life support. He went in to the hospital for severe constipation, and ended up, somehow, have a pulmonary embolism. I flew out the next day, but his brain function was unable to be retrieved, and we held his hand for three days before he passed on. I guess he wanted to spend a little more time with us.
Then, as we all know, 2020 happened. I was in a new place, newly sober for the first time in my adult life. I handled everything well, except for the all important job thing. I did my share to help my Brother around the house and with the kids so I could at least contribute something. Finally, in October, I found a job at a local bait and tackle shop. It was perfect for me. I have loved fishing ever since I saw my first puddle. A lot of people said I shouldn’t get a job because the government was paying people more in unemployment then if you actually had a job, but I couldn’t stand just sitting around the house anymore. So I happily took the job for $10/ hour and a 30% discount on everything in the store. I was like a kid in toys r us.
I was working there in the beginning of 2021 when I met a guy who owned a local kayak business. We became friends because I would buy fishing lures and pick his brain about saltwater fishing. After a few months he asked me if I would like to work with him. He would teach me the ins and outs and all of the secrets to saltwater kayak fishing in the Pensacola area. I cut my hours at the tackle shop and started working with him. We fished and he taught me about his 3d printed aftermarket kayak parts. I helped in the parts business, but the best part was, after I went on countless trips with him and clients, I got to take over the charter side of the business. I got to take people kayak fishing! For money. I thought that I had found my dream job, because I enjoyed every single moment of it.
Also in February of 2021 my grandmother lost her battle with Parkinson’s. In 2018 I lost my brother to a fentanyl overdose. I lost my other grandmother in 2020. I only mention all of this loss because I am proud of myself for staying sober throughout.
As mentioned above, everything was going great. I found an awesome job, and I finally felt like I belonged somewhere in the world. Christmas 2021 I was planning on visiting my parents back in Missouri. My Dad was sick, but I wasn’t worried. I just thought, “He’ll be fine in a few days.” Well the day before my flight my Mom called and said that my Dad was having trouble breathing and they were going to go to the hospital. Once again, I wasn’t worried, to me my Dad was invincible, even against Covid. This all could be a lot longer but it’s really difficult to type out.
He kept moving up levels in the hospital, continually getting worse for the first week. He couldn’t eat ( zero appetite), couldn’t speak because of the massive amounts of oxygen that he needed from the masks he was wearing. He could only text. He was alone. The WHOLE time. Zero visitors allowed. My father, who I saw as the toughest man in the world, was sobbing and scared over video chat as his condition kept declining. I couldn’t bare to talk to him over video because I couldn’t control my emotions. But yet, I still believed he would be okay. I was wrong, they eventually said that he has to be put on a ventilator, and we all know those statistics. We had no choice so we agreed. We also knew that it was a possibility so we asked the hospital to let us know if that had to put him on a ventilator and they agreed to let my Mom see him before they put him under. They lied. He texted my Mom and told her they were going to vent him, not the hospital. So I drove 90 mph tot the hospital that’s an hour away so my Mother could hold my Father and look at him and tell him how much we all love him. They almost vented him without her, she got about one minute of time with him. So terrible. Words cannot describe how mad I am, and always will be with that hospital. By the way, he was there for 20 days, alone, before seeing my mother for one minute, which ended up being the last. He was on the ent for two weeks, only one person allowed in the room at a time. My mother was with him primarily, but my Mom, Sister and I all got to hold his hand as he took his last breath. An image that will never leave my mind.
I have so much more to say but it’s just too difficult. My Mom and Dad were set to retire together this summer. She did, he didn’t. I hastily decided to move in with my Mom because I couldn’t bare the thought of her being alone. They would have been able to visit me in Florida whenever they wanted. Now I’m lost, I’ve spent all of my money that I had saved. I’ve been fighting my depression mixed with intense grief all at the same time while maintaining my sobriety. I don’t want o go back to the restaurant industry because I believe that’s a toxic environment for someone in recovery. I just don’t know what to do. I’m filled with so much guilt because I thought I was going to be able to make up for lost time with my father because of my alcoholism, and I’ve lost that chance. The guilt is holding me down along with my financial situation. I would greatly appreciate any help. I feel like I have a lot to offer this world, but I feel like I’m starting from square one again, and I don’t know which direction to travel. He was holding the two necklace charms when he passed and I wear them everyday. The golf ball is his ashes. Thank you for taking the time to read my story.