On April 1st, 2015 I began my process to becoming the recovered man that I am today. I walked into 11503 Parsons Road in Manor Texas a scared 30 year old little boy who could not get well under any circumstances. I was on the verge of giving up forever. I did not know at that time what the disease of addiction truly was. I came to realize that I had no choice in whether or not I used. Without an entire psychic change I would never be able to overcome my disease, and BRC Recovery was able to help me finally comprehend that. I had been to 75 plus detoxes, halfway houses, more sober living homes than I could count, and section 35’d six times. I also gave multiple attempts at medically assisted treatment, until I realized that was never the solution, God was. I got to a point where I thought nothing was going to work for me. I balked numerous times at the twelve steps until I realized it was the only option I had left.
I had my first drink and drug at the age of 12 and became an intravenous cocaine and heroin user by the age of 19 with heroin surpassing all other substances and becoming my ultimate drug of no choice. When I got to BRC Recovery I knew something had to be different this time and unbeknownst to me what needed to be different was everything. At that time I had a soon to be one year old son and a daughter on the way. As much as it hurts to say under no circumstances were those two beautiful children going to keep me sober. My experience at BRC Recovery and staying in this work daily allows me to be a consistent father in my children’s lives. It allows me to be the father that they deserve.
I was the person who would always tell you that I wasn’t scared of anything, but what I realized was that I was scared of absolutely everything. My whole life was run by fear. Every decision I made was being fueled by a fear that I couldn’t even see. I was asleep for 30 years and it took a connection with God to awaken me to be able to see what I had been missing. While at BRC Recovery, there was a gentleman there that under no circumstances acted like me and definitely didn’t talk like me, but he had a way of explaining things to me using his own experiences that I could understand. For experiencing that awakening and that connection, I am forever grateful.
I was once told if you want to know how somebody is living ask the people around them. I believe if you asked my girlfriend, my kids, my mother, my siblings, or my best friend they would all tell you that doing this work has not only saved my life but made me and overall good guy today. I work a program of Drug Addicts Anonymous which works the 12 steps out of the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is a fellowship new to the state of Massachusetts that we have begun building. I reach out my hand to help other men. I do my best to work all three sides of the triangle and not just stick to the clichés like “just don’t drink or use no matter what”. Under no avail was I ever capable of not picking up “no matter what”. The Real drug addict/alcoholic like me has lost the power of choice and the only way to recover is to tap into the power I choose to call God. This is a program of action and I have learned that without immediate and daily action, I am putting myself on death row. Today I choose to live in ultimate freedom.
I’m going to end with this. I used to ask myself questions like why can other people drink normally now? Or how come this man could get it the first time he tried? Or why did my friend get to die and I didn’t? After reading page 124 in the big book coupled with Mark Houston’s recording about the story of the two 14 year old twin brothers, it finally hit me. Those two examples opened my eyes to the reality that maybe I haven’t been struggling for 15 years trying to get this thing for nothing. Maybe I didn’t go through all of that pain and suffering for nothing. I needed to get myself to a place of absolute desperation of a drowning man in order to gain the willingness to recover and be able to help others. I have become properly armed to help the next man who is sick and suffering. Helping others has given me some of the most gratifying experiences of my life. Today I can honestly say that I have finally found my purpose in life. It was Mark Twain that said “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” And now I truly believe I have found out why.
In October, 2014 I found myself face to face with the reality of what my life had become. If you or your loved one has battled the disease of alcoholism and addiction, you know the place I speak of. My best efforts had failed for the final time. I realize now that I knew so very little about what I was up against and the challenge that was in front of me. A few days later I was making the walk from the farmhouse to the main house of the men’s residential program at BRC Recovery. I have tried to remember exactly what I was thinking those first moments of being on property and checking in. For the life of me, I cannot recall a single thought. My mind was racing far too fast to hang on to any one specific memory.
My time at BRC was filled with the ups and downs you would expect from any alcoholic in treatment. I showed up with an embellished story, and you could spot my arrogance coming from miles away. Slowly but surely, the truth of my disease and the delusion of my thinking, became abundantly clear. There were days that I didn’t think I would ever feel joy again and days that I experienced unexplainable peace and happiness. Through it all, I found the solution I had been in search of my entire life.
After leaving the residential program, I transitioned to the BRC apartments where I stayed for four months. I found a job cleaning hotel rooms and became well acquainted with the Austin, TX bus schedule. Throughout the process of relearning how to live my life, I found that the solution I discovered at BRC held up. It held true in the moments I stood in front of the judge who was ruling in my DUI case, as I was making amends to my ex-wife, and through the passing of both of my grandmothers. The moments I did feel separated from my solution were created by my lack of willingness to do the simple things I learned at the very beginning of the journey.
For the last fourteen months I have had the honor of working at the place where I discovered the truth. Which leads me to today. Today I drove down the same driveway I walked as new resident scared out of his mind. I unlocked the door to the same office where I met with my program director for my weekly mentor sessions. I sat and listened to the men on my caseload who are beginning their own journey to find the solution for their own battle with drugs and alcohol. The real kicker is that it all began with a light switch.
Years before I was ever at a place where I could see that I needed help. Years before my life unraveled in an attempt to maintain a delusion. God used a light switch to forever change the life of then resident, Lane Rust. In a moment a frustration and desperation, Lane made the simple choice to follow direction and turn off the light in the south bedroom of the main house at BRC. That simple decision to a small surrender was the launch pad for countless lives being changed, mine included.
You see, I ended up at BRC because my parents went to highschool with Lane’s parents and, through the magic of facebook, heard of how Lane’s life had been drastically changed in the hill country region of Texas. An entire series of events took place when I was nowhere near ready to accept help and stop drinking. A then different staff at BRC was hard at work laying the foundation for my recovery one life at a time.
So you see, the Power we seek has been seeking us all along. The God of our own understanding has never once struggled to understand who we are and what it is we are up against. The solution to our disease has not evolved over time, making us the lucky few who stumble across it by chance. When we are willing to shut up, listen, and take some simple steps. God can use anything, including a light switch, to forever change the course of history. So in the moments when I forget, when I begin to believe that I have some level of control in my own life. I can stroll on over the the south bedroom of main house and be reminded. I owe my life to a light switch.
Fall is upon us, and around BRC that means that it is Alumni Reunion time. Our 10th Anniversary Alumni Reunion took place earlier this month, and it was a huge success. Over 600 alumni, families, and members of the recovery community came to Manor to celebrate 10 years of Bringing Real Change. As always, the event was gratifying on many levels, as we got to celebrate the success of our amazing residents, staff, and alumni over the past year. If you weren’t able to come, you missed the big surprise: a laser light show at the end that concluded the event with a bang.
In case you missed it, there were some exciting announcements at the reunion this year. We were excited to introduce Spearhead Lodge, the new BRC program for young adults that opened in August. Spearhead Lodge was born out of our desire to reach more young adults who needed the tried-and-true BRC program, for a population that is very much in need. Under the leadership of BRC veteran Lane Rust, the program is off to a great start.
BRC was excited to announce that Jenna Pastore has joined us as the Director of Business Development. Jenna brings over 10 years of experience in the treatment industry, working with outstanding programs like The Meadows. She joins an already stellar Business Development Team of Caitlin Stowell and Caroline Park. Based in Chicago, she will help continue to enlarge the nationwide reach of the BRC Programs.
BRC was also proud to announce that we received the Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval this year. This accreditation is given to organizations that display continuous compliance with the Joint Commission’s high performance standards. What I learned personally through the rigorous process was how well BRC was already operating. Although we had to make a few changes to formalize some processes that were already in place, the vast majority of requirements from the Joint Commission were already met at BRC. I’ve known for a long time that BRC provided the highest quality of care in the country, but the smooth process of Joint Commission Accreditation confirmed what those of us in the BRC family already knew.
As 2016 is coming to an end, I’m reminded of the sacred nature of the work we do. Addiction and the opioid crisis specifically have made more headlines this year than in any year in recent memory. While the increased focus on addiction and recovery is progress, I know that we have a long way to go. This year’s reunion reminded me of the exponential impact that alumni of BRC have on the addiction problem as a whole. Across this nation, BRC Alumni armed with the facts about themselves are able to carry a message to others. I am so glad that our alumni don’t forget the vital words on page 97 of our Big Book: “Helping others is the foundation stone of your recovery.” Keep up the good work and continue Bringing Real Change. Light and Love, Marsha Stone