In our words, in our community
Photograph by Macaulay Lerman
Audio by Vermont Folklife
1."Back then I didn’t think I had a problem..." (2:11)
So, coming back, it was a little hard to readjust into civilian life. I obviously, being here, I'm in recovery, and coming back was kind of--put me back in the same situation, same people. Same unfortunately bad situations to where, you know, I was getting around those type of people again who, you know--it was easily accessible and, you know, stuff like that. And, you know--I mean, knowing what I know now, because I've been to rehab, you know what I mean? That back then, I didn't think I had a problem, you know what I mean? And that's the mind of an addict, you know, before that light switch goes off in their head. Before they say, "Well, I'm not really in control of this and, you know, I'm, I'm, you know, I'm sick. I need some help. I can't go through this alone. I need some support--that support, you know, to help me get through this" and whatnot. But, yeah, it was just, it was being back in the same place, in the same, you know--not that I don't, you know, I love Vermont. Like I said, I love it here, but that kind of was probably the downfall of my marriage. Ultimate demise of that. Because it's not easy to love an addict. You know what I mean? It's really not. It's not. So, not an easy person to love. But it takes a special kind of person who can sit there and deal with some of the stuff that, you know, we put them through. And unfortunately, it cost me, you know, precious time that I thought I was gaining by getting out of the Air Force and being able to spend more time with my kids. And now here I am falling back in my same old routine and then boom, now, you know, divorce and now visitation and, and it just snowballs and it adds up. Adds up. So.
2. "I was living out of my jeep in the woods." (2:33)
So once I was divorced I ended up having to move back in with my parents. And unfortunately, that took a toll on our relationship, me being back there. So we're not, it's still you know, it's just, it's tough. And, yeah, I ended up leaving and I was living out of my jeep in the woods. Where I was, and I can only speak for myself, where I was, in order to get into town here, I had to walk six, seven miles just to get into town. And then, you know, at the time I didn't have a cell phone. I had to use my--download a text app on my phone and had to have WiFi to be able to use it. You know, luckily enough, there, there you know, there are a few places around town that give out free WiFi, because if not, you know, then what was I going to do? You know what I mean? It's like--so. Yeah, it was rough. It's rough for sure. Not having a place to go. And it doesn't make you feel very good. You know, I went through a time where, you know, especially because everything was coming to a head, and then I had this thrown on my plate now until it was just like, you know, no sideboards, and it's spilling out the freaking on side. And it was, you know, I was in a dark place, you know? Where I thought maybe, you know, I might be better off not here anymore. And so, it's just, you know--I don't, I don't know. I don't wish that upon anybody because it's-- And it hurts, too, because, you know, back when I was doing well for myself, in sobriety or not, you know, I'd walk and I'd see people walking on the side of the road or I see people, you know, like at stoplights and stuff and like panhandling and, and stuff like that. And just, you know, it weighs heavy on my heart seeing other people like that. You know what I mean? It's like, it's tough because I've been there and I know, you know, it's like, "God, that really sucks because I know what that's like." Not, you know, having to, you know, hoof it ten miles to be able to get somewheres to where you can, you know, hopefully, maybe get a hot meal down at, you know, Martha's Kitchen or whatever. Get out of the elements for at least, you know, some period of time. And, you know, it's just it weighs heavy on the mind when you're going through all that on top of everything else, you know, it's just. It's sad.
3. "My sobriety has not taken a hit in any way, shape or form." (2:20)
I just say 2015 to 2022 that I've been working the program and abstinent off of my drug of choice. And, you know, I feel a lot better, you know, even though I've had a few, you know, other bumps in the road, my sobriety has not taken a hit in any way, shape or form, you know? Because, I realize to be able to overcome these other obstacles that I had in my life, gaining more visitation with my kids, you know, possibly, you know, finding another spouse or, you know, girlfriend or whatever, you know, my sobriety has to come first and I need to stay clean and well enough to be able to handle and be in the right mind to take care of those things. You know what I mean? And so that's--I mean, even if I have to tell myself every day, you know, "This is why I'm doing this for, this is what I'm doing it for." It's going to be, you know, better in the long run, because I certainly don't want to go back to a place where I was using. I know what that does and it doesn't do shit. You know, it does not help anything in any way, shape or form. It does not help the situation one bit. Being back in that dark place of, you know? And, and I don't mean to single out people who, you know, came from maybe a troubled background where they had trouble at home or might be abused, whether it be sexually or, or physically or whatever. But it wasn't really like that for me. I didn't start using just because, you know, of my situation at home. It was because, "Oh, my God, I love this feeling. And it's like there's no, there's no better feeling," you know? And it was like, it's crazy to think about it about now, back then when I, you know. What I know now--had I know now what I know. You know, hindsight always being 20/20. Yeah. It's just crazy to think about how [SIGHS] time, money, wasted. You know, it's just, it's nuts. It's nuts.
4. "I would like to work my way into becoming a recovery coach." (2:12)
Happy news, I'm actually--would like to work my way into becoming a recovery coach. So that is my next goal that I'm working on now, is getting into that Human Services career field. My plan, I would like to stay local in the, in the community. You know, I'm not really interested in moving, you know, down to Chittenden County or anything like that. I would rather stay right here and get involved with the community here and, you know, try to help, you know, try to help in any way that I can, you know? I think that would be--and whilst I was living in the woods, I kind of had this like, ah, Zen moment. One night I was just staring out at the stars and it was absolutely gorgeous out, the moon was out and all the stars and everything. And I was kind of telling myself, or came to this realization, or something inside of me was telling me, you know, "Hey," you know, "maybe this is why you've done what you've done, and what you've gone through has kind of been like"--I made her laugh--I called it, I kind of called it like OJT, you know, for the career field. You know what I mean? I mean, I can relate to a lot of people in a lot of different scenarios with a lot of different backgrounds about some of the stuff that they're experiencing or that they have gone through. Because I've been there myself, you know? I've been homeless, I've been addicted, I've been, you know, not a penny to my name, you know, in, mentally, you know, depression, anxiety, PTSD, you know? All that aspect of it as well. You know what I mean? And so something inside of me kept telling me, you know, "Maybe this is what you're meant to do here is, is help people in similar situations that I have been in or am currently still in," you know, so.