Michael’s Story


Michael R.
Sobriety Date:  July 8, 2010

I grew up in Garfield Heights in a normal family. I had everything I ever needed and most of what I wanted. I remember as a young child my friends were my family—cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents—we were together all the time. I got into sports at an early age and absolutely loved them; tee-ball at 5 years old, wrestling and golf in the 4th grade.  I excelled at sports and at school, making all-star games in baseball and winning wrestling tournaments while maintaining straight A’s. 

Now, I said my family was normal. I remember them all partying.  I could smell the reefer. I would go to the fridge to get the beers just to be able go and take a sip.  To me, in the 80’s, this is what people did. The difference between them and myself is that I wouldn’t stop drinking. I wouldn’t have made sure my children were taken care of. The only thing I would have made sure of was that I was ok.

So here I am, unable to handle the simplest of life’s tasks. 

As the years went on, I stayed a straight-A student and a really good athlete. Then came responsibility in the name of 7th grade.  This was the first time I had to go from class to class, and any alcoholic knows that we don’t do well with responsibility. So here I am, unable to handle the simplest of life’s tasks. Now with failing grades, school wouldn’t let me wrestle. I can still see the look of disappointment on my Dad’s face when he found out, probably because I would come to see it too often in the coming years. From then on, I did just enough to get by in school.  I did continue to wrestle and even received letters from colleges recruiting me my senior year. And then I tore my ACL and never wrestled again. 

After school, my father got me a job at his workplace, and things were good for about a month, only to get fired and start on a path of destruction.  At this point, I am a total addict doing things that I never thought I would do.  I ended up moving into my grandfather’s house, and all I did was find a checkbook and $14,000 later I’m turning myself into Cleveland Police. This was my first introduction to treatment, when I went to the Freedom House and stayed for 30 days in 2003. Three years later, I would go to Jones Road, and I would do just enough to look like I was working a program.  I stayed there nine months until I was pulled over one night and taken into county for a probation violation and sentenced to three years in prison.  After my release, a little over a year later, I was sent to CATS (Community Assessment & Treatment Services) for 90 days.  Once again, my Dad got me a job at his place until I was laid off in 2008 and that’s when things went from bad to worse. I would end up homeless with no friends and living off unemployment, stealing what I could to get by.

I let God take over and lead me in the right direction and things started happening. 

On July 8th, 2010 I went to the Rock after weeks of calling and they finally said they had a bed.  Of course, I didn’t bring my things because it was ‘payday’ from unemployment and I was blessed with a bed the next day—God stepped in there. I came in exhausted, scared, and only knowing one thing and that that it was this or death. So I got busy.  I did my house job and then go help others do theirs. I would do anything to keep myself out of my head. I let God take over and lead me in the right direction and things started happening. 

I got a sponsor and started working steps.  I got a homegroup which I got active. I hung around people that were doing the right things. I didn’t ask to go to work. I just did what I was told. I stayed at the Rock for 15 months and it was the best thing I could have ever done. I waited a year to get into a relationship and was lucky enough to marry her.  We have two little girls and are able to give them a good life. I have been at the same employer for almost 10 years. I have a great relationship with my parents today and can say my Dad is my best friend (after my wife of course). These are MY promises that came from just following a few simple directions.  Let go and let God.

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