Journey into my world before recovery, as I wrote it in recovery in 2017. I hope that, in sharing such intimate details of my life–childhood trauma and abuse, mental health and substance abuse, personal tragedies and triumphs–I am somehow illustrating that you do not have to be defined by the circumstances of your life forever, as you will see when I begin writing chapters about post-Recovery.
I went outside my marriage many times. It was easier to have those kinds of experiences rather than to devote anything consequential to my marriage and child. I was devoid of emotion. I was a highly functioning man with hell living in his soul. I began to collect Article 15 Discipline Reports for stupid things: For showing up late for formation. For talking back to an NCO, uniforms not up to specifications…I stayed away from my young family for entire weekends isolating and drinking and suffering. Toward the end I was a drunken mess.
As my orders came through for a deployment back to the USA, I rotated my then again pregnant wife back to the States and promptly got myself charged with an OUI in Germany. In August of 1994, after such a brilliant start, my military career was over. They started Separation Proceedings on me for “habitual misconduct;” this, just after I received my Good Conduct Medal!
I was discharged in August of 1994 with a General under Honorable Conditions. Even though it was an Honorable Discharge, it was a crushing blow that I never recovered from. My lovely second son, Matthew was born 5 days later. It didn’t matter; my life would never be the same again.
Filled with sadness and misery, resentment and depression, I spent the majority of my adult life drinking and drugging my life into ruins time and time again. From 1994, until my divorce in 1997, I drank and began doing cocaine on a nightly basis. I used to only drink on extended weekends. However, since joining the car business, my frequency ramped up in a hurry. The automotive industry was an environment full of anything you wanted, when you wanted it. I was extremely successful and worked as many hours as I could, barely present in the home. I couldn’t handle the newfound wealth. I blew most of it and still had money to pay all the bills. I acquired and lost many, many jobs during those 3 years. I alienated nearly all of my friends with my drunken babblings and blackouts.
My relationship with my wife and her family was irreparably damaged. Eventually I spiraled down to the point that I simply left my family and moved back to NH, hell-bent on regaining my footing before I completely destroyed my family. But I had already told my wife I was leaving her in the Fall of 1997, and she promptly served me with Divorce Papers. I couldn’t blame her one bit.
I was never fully present in that relationship. I didn’t know how to be. Prior to my divorce, until I started getting regular visitation, I never gave fatherhood a chance. I was too distraught and too (seemingly) bent on my self-destruction; fixated on watching my world disappear into an abyss of drinking, drugging, nightmares, and misery. It took a mere three months for me to fail; for me to alienate dealership staff.
I was fired because, though my customers liked me, dealership employees hated me. I always thought it was because I was better at my job than they were. Yeah, boy was I ever wrong. I descended into the black wormhole of my despair and self-loathing, although I had no money to drink or drug. My nightmares, flashbacks resumed with a vengeance and I had panic attacks every time I heard noises outside my door.
I blacked out all the windows in my apartment. I ate toast and drank water. I went into the worst depression I had ever known. I lay on the couch for so many days straight I had to be given morphine for a massive ear infection I contracted for being on one side for so long.
I was not drinking or drugging the entire time I was in NH; perhaps that is why I crashed, I really don’t know. During the last week of January, 1998, I purchased a gun and ammo. I threw out most of my belongings and packed up the rest. Before I decided to kill myself, on my 35th birthday January 27th, I called to say goodbye to my children and my ex-wife promptly called the police who were charging through my apartment door in what seemed like minutes. It scared me so badly I vomited and threw the gun into the kitchen. I voluntarily committed myself to the Portsmouth Pavilion Hospital in Portsmouth, N.H.
After being an inpatient at the hospital for nearly two months and getting medications that turned me into an unfeeling zombi–I left heavily medicated—I left feeling guarded optimism. I secured a new position in the car business and my drinking was curbed to almost nothing. After about 6 months I was offered a better position at the Ira Motor Group, made too many drinking and drugging friends, and quickly fell back into the pattern of being a huge success in the car business and an utter failure personally. Cocaine had contributed significantly to my depression and ever-growing paranoia and panic attacks I experienced. But under its pull, I felt invincible and took the punishments with the highs…to be continued.