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Before Recovery: Part 3 – Worlds Colliding

This is the story of my terribly traumatic childhood, the teenage years of self-discovery and chaos, the onset of alcohol abuse in college, my life as a soldier, the years of drug use, the disintegration of my family, and the dark descent that landed me in jail. I wrote this portion of my story as part of a recovery exercise while I was in treatment. What it lacks in detail, it makes up for in the sheer volume of chaos that alcohol wreaked upon my life.

Part 1: Trauma LegacyPart 2: Wandering Lost
Worlds Colliding

In the summer of 1982, depressed, tired of skirmishes with the law, lonely and defeated, 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 man who would later attempt to sexually assault me.

This happened to me frequently; where I would be accosted by homosexual men or beat up for no apparent reason by other vagrant kids. So, for the most of the summer of 1982, I slept on the beach in Laconia, NH. I eventually got a job during that summer and saved enough to rent a small apartment. It was then that I started drinking heavily.

After I lost my job because I lost all hope and I attempted to cut my wrists in the public bathroom at weirs beach. Someone in the next stall saw the blood and got the police, who took me to the hospital. At the hospital I was introduced to a catholic family who agreed to take me in. That would begin a series of movements within various catholic families.

I wouldn’t stick to curfew, or I’d get into little arguments and they would just shuffle me to another family for a few months. I could not handle the warmth and affection these families would heap on me. I retreated into the recesses of my pain and misery further and further. With my first true friend of my life, Troy, I drank and smoked pot and listened to loud music to numb myself from the reality around me.

Being a new senior in a new high school was emotionally difficult. I was an outsider and they let me know it. Nobody liked me no matter what I did for them, no matter what…It was around this time that I began having shifts in moods that would become a pattern of super highs, and super lows.

I would be exuberant for a while, and then become buried under the influence of a major depression for weeks. I had no idea why my emotions would get so helter skelter. Fortunately my pot usage stemmed the tides of discontent and seemed to ease the panic attacks, headaches and my nightmares.

Through that year; however, I was doing very well in school, so my Guidance Counselor encouraged me to apply to some colleges. I never imagined that any school would want me; after all, I was always in trouble and most of my high school grades were lousy. But, in the summer of 1983 I learned that I had been accepted to Plymouth State College to study to become an English Teacher.

Because of the work Steven Geddes did with me, and because I didn’t ever want a kid left out on the streets like I was, I had decided I wanted to go into teaching to help other kids avoid the path that I had experienced, and to share my love of reading and poetry. It was during this time that I discovered I flare for writing poetry, it was an outlet from the expression of all my pent up angst.

During college is when I began to discover there were two “Rob’s” to my persona. Rob1 was chaotic, impulsive, depressed, and angry, didn’t seem to be aware of consequences, and hated himself. Rob2 was responsible, intelligent, controlled, could be funny, loving, and a problem-solver if he allowed you to know it.

All of my college years would be a contradiction of my two “selves.” I suffered terrible insecurities and anger at being first rejected by a fraternity that refused my pledge efforts, and then again chastised by my peers for my long hair and my proclivity for solitude. My days were spent studying hard, looking for girls to spend time with, writing poetry and isolating.

My weekends usually started on Thursday and didn’t end until Sundays late. Those were nights full of chaos, heavy drinking, promiscuity, impulsivity, the drinking spiraled out of control. Somehow I always managed to reel it in for my school work.

It was exhausting and caused many headaches and panic attacks and flashbacks (as well as horrendous nightmares) were the flavor of the night. If it weren’t for the Dean of students, Richard Hague, I probably would have been kicked out of school for my many transgressions there. It was always stupid things that led me to his office, never anything serious enough to warrant real discipline.

For some reason he seemed to have a soft spot for me and saw my potential because of the terrific grades I got. Also, if it weren’t for Dean Hague, I would have been homeless much of the time during the School Breaks. I did not have the support of any family to speak of, so I rarely had places to go when school let out.

All through college Dean Hague assisted me by allowing me to stay in the dorms a few times, without supervision. The rest of the time I stayed with professors, friends, girlfriends. Somehow I managed to graduate College with a 3.52 G.P.A., one of the few sources of pride for me in my life. The few other proud moments were being accepted into the military, fatherhood, my sobriety, and my current relationship with my love Bec (much more on that later).

My adult life after college became a series of calamities and fire extinguishing. I found solace in drinking, women, pot and poetry. The time between my graduation in 1988, and the time of my entrance into the Army in 1991 continued to be littered with depression, poor decision making, nightmares, disassociation, poor emotional regulation, and even worse impulse control.

I was fired from or quit dozens of jobs. I went on a tear of promiscuity, wanting to find love, but then running when it seemed too close to bear. My drinking was not a nightly thing yet, but there were hundreds of binge nights. I didn’t even stop to consider I might have a problem. I just kept on keeping…to be continued.

Part 4: Heavy Burdens

Before Recovery: Part 2 – Wandering Lost

This my story before recovery. It is the story of my terribly traumatic childhood, the teenage years of self-discovery and chaos, the onset of alcohol abuse in college, my life as a soldier, the years of drug use, the disintegration of my family, and the dark descent that landed me in jail. I wrote this portion of my story as part of a recovery exercise while I was in treatment. What it lacks in detail, it makes up for in the sheer volume of chaos that alcohol wreaked upon my life.

Part 1: Trauma Legacy
Wandering Lost


After a few months’ probation realized my terrible circumstances, particularly the frequent bruises and welts I had during my sessions with them. They removed me from the home and placed me into a home for troubled teens. I was the youngest resident. I had terrible difficulties there. I was teased and picked on for my long hair and quiet, withdrawn disposition. It was then that my behavior of lengthy angry crying outbursts took flight. I would cry hysterically for hours.

The staff would have to restrain me and as I screamed and cried out my rage; no doubt releasing the years of horrible treatment and sexual abuse at the hands “family.”  Around 13 the courts ordered me to return to my home. I will never forget my mother’s hysterical reaction; she was so angry, she left the courthouse without giving me a ride home. I cried and shook with fear and begged my probation officer not to take me home. He had no choice in the matter.  During that half a year  stint I was either locked up, or locked out of my home, left to roam the streets.

My parents wouldn’t come home for hours after school let out and I was forced to remain locked out until they returned. I couldn’t be trusted they said.  I needed to stay outside and let off my steam they used to tell me frequently.  After a particularly bad streak of beatings, I ran away from home.  I was picked up and placed in the care of probation who returned me to the Webster House for troubled teens.

It wasn’t long before I made friends with a kid who smoked pot and began smoking it regularly.  I was caught and immediately kicked out of the Webster House and sent to the Youth Development Center, a juvenile lockup facility.  I will never forget the utter despair I felt upon hearing the heavy wooden door slam behind me as I was thrust into a filthy cell room.  I was left in there for about 6 or 7 days before I was allowed into the population.


Because I wasn’t a violent criminal, I was sent to a less restrictive community-based house of the YDC.  It was during my time at the Friendship House that I got to experience hiking, fishing, camping, jogging, and many different types of gym games and activities.  I was also to be challenged to my emotional limits in the youth groups which were mandatory. 

I was often removed for various emotional outbursts and spent much of my time planted at an eating room table, on restriction.  I could be very cutting with the wit and sarcasm I developed as my main defense mechanisms if I felt threatened or attacked.  I experienced frequent flashbacks, nightmares and minor panic attacks and told no one about them; making my stability precarious most of the time.

I rejected anyone who attempted to befriend me or who was being nice to me; though I did develop a love hate relationship with my direct counselor, Steven Geddes. But I do recall many fond memories there of learning how to ski, to play pool, and being challenged physically and emotionally on serious hiking trips into the White Mountains.  My love of nature continued to unfold and gave me some sense of peace and serenity in an otherwise chaotic existence.  I almost felt “normal” when participating in all kinds of activities at that facility.

From 14 to 18 I spent time in and out of that YDC home, group homes, and foster homes. I did not adjust well having to always move from place to place; always having to live in varying degrees of restriction. Invariably most of the Foster Homes would have kids with similar problems as mine and who tormented me and made fun of me because of my long hair and inability to interact well with other kids. I exhibited patterns of behavior that were self-sabotaging and unpredictable.

Youth Development Center-Manchester, N.H.

I continued using pot and I also was introduced to acid and LSD, which I did regularly, particularly my senior year of high school. Drugs not only helped me to escape reality, but they also provided me great relief; not only from my harsh realities, but also from my mental health issues as well.  If it weren’t for that one counselor keeping up with me, I am not sure I would have pulled myself out of the terrible angst I was experiencing at the time. My grades were barely good enough to move through 12th grade.

Me-High School-1983 19 yrs. old

However, when I turned 18 that frigid January of 1982, I was released from YDC and put out on the streets with no place to live and no money.  I felt alone and miserable, and rejected and forgotten and retreated further into me, lashing out at anyone who tried to come near me.  I was homeless for the remainder of my senior year in high school and began to get into more stupid trouble. 

I stole albums so I could eat. I slept in hallways and would constantly get spit at, kicked, and thrown out.  Try as I might I couldn’t attend enough school—embarrassed by not showering for days, and dead exhausted from lack of sleep at night—so I failed my senior year of High School, which was devastating to me…to be continued.

Part 3: Worlds Colliding