I had to write a brief autobiography for our group session titled “Who Am I?” I thought I would share that story with you now. It’s a bit longer than my usual posts, but so is my life!
I knew I was different from an early age. I felt different than the other kids. I didn’t make many friends. I daydreamed most days.
My childhood was an unhappy one. I was sexually abused by an older cousin for 3, maybe 4 years. My parents were emotionally unavailable.
I don’t recall much of my childhood, so some of the particulars are vague. I remember that I was abused for many years. I remember that my 8 year old brother was killed on Christmas Day by a car. I was there and 11 at the time. After that, my world got a whole lot uglier.
I was regularly beaten by my mother. My father was an alcoholic who instilled tremendous fear in me. I started having behavioral issues. I stole things. I vandalized things. I had no friends my entire childhood. I always did poorly in school.
After I completely destroyed a carwash I was put on probation. It was the first time I drank alcohol. I got terribly sick and was brought to the Police Station by my father as a lesson.
After a few months probation realized I was in a terrible situation and had me removed from my home. I was placed in a home for troubled teenagers. I was the youngest resident. I had terrible difficulties there. It was then that my behavior of completely flipping out to being completely happy exhibited itself.
I would not be diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder for another 35 years. I was diagnosed with ADHD and PTSD at that time due to my terrible home life. I remained in that home until 13 and was returned back to my parents house.
After another several months of beatings and poor behavior I was once again returned to the Webster House Home for troubled teens. It was during that year that I discovered marijuana and was soon kicked out of the Webster and sent to the Youth Detention Center, a juvenile lockup facility. Because I wasn’t a violent criminal, I was allowed to reside in their residential home inside the regular community.
From 14 to 18 I spent time in and out of YDC, group homes and foster homes. I exhibited patterns of behavior that were self sabotaging and unpredictable. I continued using marijuana and acid throughout my teenage years when I could. My grades were just good enough to move through 12th grade until, at 18, I was released from YDC and put out on the streets.
At 18, and homeless, I got into varying degrees of trouble. I also failed to graduate my Senior Year of high school. It was the summer of 1982 and I decided one day just to hitchhike out of my hometown, Manchester NH. I had no idea where I was going, but I didn’t care. I ended up getting a ride from a homosexual man who let me live in his house in Laconia NH for 4 days before he tried to sexually assault me. Of course, I immediately got the hell out of there.
So for the duration of the summer of 1982 I slept on the beach. I got a job and saved all my money. Toward the end of the summer I managed to rent a small apartment. I started to drink and to drink heavily. I was extremely depressed. It was at the end of the summer that I ran into a guidance counselor at Laconia High School who convinced me to repeat the 12th Grade.
Just before school started I attempted to cut my wrists in the bathroom at Weirs Beach. Someone in the stall next to me saw the blood and got the police, who took me to a hospital. At the hospital I was introduced to a Catholic family who agreed to take me in. I moved in with them and spent most of the 12th Grade with them. I was kicked out of their home and then bounced around many homes during my Senior Year.
During 1982-83 I began to drink more heavily and to use marijuana on a regular basis. I would be happy for days, and then crash for days. I had no idea why I felt that way. However, I was doing very well in school and so my Guidance Counselor encouraged me to apply to some colleges. During the summer of 1983 I found out that I was accepted to Plymouth State College! I began my studies in the Fall of 1983.
During college is when I decided to describe myself as two Rob’s. Rob1 was chaotic, impulsive, drinking excessively, reckless, uncaring, destructive. Rob2 was responsible, intelligent, reasonable, controlled, loving. All of my college years were full of chaos, heavy drinking, promiscuity, impulsivity, poor decision making. I had three friends and only 1 girlfriend–briefly–for my entire 4.5 years of college. They were also full of excellent grades.
If it weren’t for the Dean there, I probably would have been kicked out of school in my early years. For some reason he seemed to have a soft spot for me and allowed me to continue to attend school even though I spent every semester on Behavioral Probation. I was steal breaking into cars, vandalizing properties, waking up in the woods and random places.
Also if it weren’t for the Dean I would have been homeless. I did not ever again have the support of my mother or my father, or anyone else other than my Aunt at the time. He allowed me to reside on campus during semester breaks. All through college finding a place to live was a constant struggle. I stayed in empty dorms, with professors, on friends couches, with a girlfriend, even with a former foster family from my youth. They kicked me out because they could not handle my mood swings during the summer of 1986.
Somehow I managed to graduate in 1988 with honors. My adult life did not improve much. The time between my graduation in 1988, and my entrance into the Army in 1991, was full of chaos. I consistently lost jobs. I went on a tear of promiscuity, sleeping with well over 180 women. My drinking was not a nightly thing, but there were hundreds of binge nights.
With my life apparently going nowhere, and my college loans coming due and the Persian Gulf War going on, I decided to serve my country. My first attempt to join was in 1990 in New Jersey.
For whatever reason I was denied entry. It put me in a tailspin of alcohol and then I began using cocaine. One day I put a .357 to my head and almost killed myself, but the little kitten looking up at me as I stood in front of the mirror kept me from doing it.
I also made the fateful mistake, in Basic Training, that I was going to marry the girl I got pregnant 1 month prior to enlisting. I made it through Basic and AIT with awards and accolades.
I was assigned to Augsburg Germany as a Records Specialist and went there at the end of August 1991. I got married out of AIT. It was to be another disastrous decision. When I got to Germany I was shell-shocked. I was lonely and immediately began drinking heavily. My first weekend at the barracks I was so drunk I passed out naked outside my bedroom door.
My career in the Military was again a tale of two Rob’s. Rob1 was drinking and completely ignoring his new wife and baby. Rob1 was cheating on his wife at any chance he got, often going on drunken tears and not showing up home until the next day. Rob1 is the one who got busted for OUI and was kicked out the military–in spite of the fact that I begged for counseling and help–in August of 1994.
Rob2 was responsible, disciplined, smart. He is the one who got a Merit Promotion after only 1.5 years in the Army. He is the one who excelled at PLDC and passed the test for OCS. He is the one who barely got the Good Conduct Medal and many medallions and certificates for performing his job. It was not enough, my illness, alcoholism, and PTSD ruled the day.
I am not going to itemize every year from 1994 to 2016, that would take forever. Suffice it to say that upon arriving home my behavior exploded into full blown alcoholism, and then I added cocaine to the mix in 1996. My marriage was junk. I joined the car business in 1996 and began to drink and drug and act erratically at home.
I left my wife and two small children toward the end of 1997 and moved to Portsmouth NH in September. By mid December I was fired again. I was extremely distraught and so I bought a gun and ammunition, packed all my belongs, fully intended this time to end my life. I laid on the couch for so long, in such a state, that I was hospitalized for an ear infection.
On January 27 I called my ex-wife and told her I was going to shoot myself. She quickly called the police and I was put into a Psychiatric Facility. I stayed two months but, after getting out, I got a new job with lots of partying friends and cocaine users. In 2000 I moved from my location to Dartmouth. It was there where I first started smoking crack. I would end up using crack off and on for many years. I had destroyed my nose doing cocaine in 1996 and 1997, so I just decided to smoke it instead.
In February of 2000 I lost my job again and went on a terrible run. Late summer I met a woman who ended up being a stabilizing force in my life for 9 years. The bulk of raising my children took place while I was with her. I stopped using drugs and I only drank intermittently, but they always ended up badly. Our relationship ended in 2010 because of my behaviors and emotions. It was during the early part of 2010 that I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at the New Bedford Health Clinic.
The Psychiatrist at the NBHC prescribed me medications and, in a short time, I was feeling like a completely different person. From 2010 to 2013 I basically stayed with the same woman and kept the same job with the exception of when I went to my dream job and got fired from there due to my inability to regulate my relationships and responsibilities.
In 2012 I has the misfortune to meet an alcoholic woman. From late 2013 until I was put into jail for Domestic Assault on May 12, 2016, my life headed in the worse direction it had ever headed. During 2013, and again in 2014, and now most recently, I was again diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, and Borderline Personality Disorder.
During the years with the alcoholic female there were many violent confrontations, blackouts, periods of extreme joy and terrible depression. In 2014 or 2015, I can’t remember, I actually did commit suicide. I say that because I believe the other three times were cries for help. This time, I took every pill I was prescribed by Dr. Ticlea. Those pills include Quietipine, Trazadone, Lamatrogine, Topirimate. It was probably over 200 pills. Obviously, I survived.
The hell with the alcoholic continued and it was horrendous. Through that relationship I got two oui’s, ended up on probation until 2018, and went to jail in May of 2016. The relationship was finally over. Faced with many more ramifications, I finally decided that I had had enough of drinking and the life I was leading.
I reached out to the VA and in October of 2016 I entered Sarrpt. I dedicated myself to changing my way of thinking and behaving. I have been committed to changing myself from the inside out, not the other way around. I have been trying to surround myself with writing, physical activities, AA, and the group work. I believe that this will maintain my sobriety.
My plan is to go to Soldier On and continue with a VA program and to file my Disability paperwork. If I am approved for disability, then I am thinking seriously about pursuing a Master’s Degree in Social Work. I do believe that the things I have gone through may benefit helping other people. In the meantime I will continue to focus on writing, being physical in nature, outpatient therapy, AA, music and whatever other activities I need to do to keep me content each and every day.
As I write this I am amazed at the depth of the hell I have been in and out of my entire life. I am amazed that I wasn’t diagnosed with my conditions sooner; maybe a lot of this stuff could have been avoided. I hope that this gives you some impression of how my conditions have impacted my life.
And that, dear readers, is what trauma-alcohol-drugs-psychiatric issues-and abuse will do for a man. Now I’m in the process of reclaiming my life! One day at a time.