“This is going to hurt”. I realized the speeding car I was travelling in was not going to make the turn. Then impact! My good high school friend Carter and I connected with a large oak tree. The car flipped. Total chaos. Now everything was quiet.
I remember in these moments of silence thinking “so this is what it’s like to be dead”. Then I poked myself in the chest and realized I was still alive. I managed to crawl out and find my way to the side of the road. Now I grabbed my limbs to confirm I was alive and breathing.
“Carter, Carter!” I called out, waiting for my buddy to answer. Silence. I called out again. More silence.
On the side of the road, in shock, I waited for help. Finally, the police and fire departments arrived. I remember looking at our car, upside down on its roof, as I was escorted into the back of an ambulance. The ambulance door was quickly shut, and the vehicle took off. “Why are we leaving, Carter hasn’t come out yet?”, I asked. No answer.
I would never see Carter again. At 17, my life was forever changed. For the next 23 years, my life was consumed with drugs and alcohol. As I look back on it now, I realize I had experienced a trauma with a capital “T”, yet I had not received proper treatment for it. Why would I need it, as substances were my way to cope.
Parts of the next two decades are more of a blur, rather than memories I hold dear to me. As much as I could acquire friends including girlfriends, I never felt comfortable getting close with someone. Instead of revealing my feelings, I withheld. I kept things inside me.
I will always be grateful for the continued love and support of my 3 sons as well as family and friends. At the age of 40, I finally was able to accept the gift of recovery after realizing I was in jeopardy of losing my kids. I would not allow that to happen.
Tools were presented to help me get clean and sober, and this time I accepted what was offered. I developed a routine of fitness workouts every day at Club 24 in Ridgefield. I talked to many therapists. I went to local fellowship meetings and found a Sponsor. And I discovered the beauty of work in the service of others: I received more than I gave.
Today, while I have a day job in real estate, I love to help those who are early in their journey. I work with several local therapists who call on me for interventions and sober transport work. I lead groups at a Detox facility.
Additionally, I’m involved on the prevention side through the Ridgefield Boys and Girls Club. I created a 4-part series called “Candid Conversations” which covers important topics on addiction, meditation, mental health, and college prep. Maybe—just maybe–my words will impact some teenagers to reach out if they are struggling. And maybe someone else will be prevented from saying the words I will never forget: “This is going to hurt.”