Monthly Archives: July 2018

Laura’s Story

Category : Uncategorized

I have struggled with some fashion of addiction since I was 13. It started with an eating disorder. I was anorexic and then later on, bulimic. I struggled privately with that for a number of years. I started drinking in high school as a way to fit in. I never felt comfortable in my skin, as if I didn’t know who I was. It was like there was somebody I was seeking, so that was my identity for a long time. My brother took his own life when I was 10. He was 14. That was difficult; it’s still difficult. I think that was a catalyst for things. I think my struggle with addiction would have happened eventually anyway but I think that’s how the battle began.

I drank a little bit in high school and my drinking really took off my senior year.  I went to college and continued my drinking spree. I managed to do well academically, but I just couldn’t quite handle everyday life. I suffered from anxiety and depression, but I didn’t know that because I’d never sought any help. As the years progressed, my drinking and eating disorder got worse, never better. I began drinking every night. I waited tables in the evenings and would then go to the bars afterwards; wake up; go to school; go to work, and then go out again. I was burning the candle at both ends. This continued on in some fashion for many years.

I desperately wanted and needed treatment for my eating disorder, so I went when I was 26. My father had taken his life a few months prior. This was a big catalyst and I hit a rock bottom of sorts, but I didn’t see the issue as also being addicted to alcohol. On my intake eval form at the treatment center, they asked me about substance abuse issues. All the questions they asked, I identified with, but drinking was my last safeguard and I was certainly not going to give that up.

While in treatment, I vowed to myself that when I returned home I wouldn’t drink. This declaration was to the satisfaction of my family who frequently showed concern about my drinking, which was highly insulting to me. I didn’t realize how obvious my problem had become to everyone else but me.

My dad had a lot of mental health issues and never sought any help, which was a big factor in my decision to do so and then to focus on recovery.  It was important to me because it wasn’t something he did. Admitting he (or I later on) needed help felt taboo and had a certain stigma attached.  When I finally chose to admit I couldn’t do this on my own, I could see how different his life could have been if he had asked for help.

I desperately wanted to have a happy life. The only way I could get remotely close to it was by chasing it through addiction and over time even that couldn’t bring relief. But, there was just a small glimpse of hope I held on to. It was a feeling of joy, true happiness, and that all the heaviness could be lifted. I didn’t know how I could ever possibly get to it, but I knew it was out there somewhere.

After going to treatment, I got into a relationship with a recovering alcoholic. I still didn’t think I had a drinking problem. We lived together for a while. I didn’t have a job, so I just starting drinking and smoking cigarettes all day. I would try and sober up by the time he got home. I managed to do that for about six months or so and then things gradually got worse. I started hiding alcohol around the house and started drinking 24 hours a day. I would go through a liter of vodka every day or so. I would just mix it in with Gatorade to keep a constant “drunk” throughout the day.

Eventually, I was admitted to the hospital to detox, and then took a trip to the psychiatric unit. I felt pretty hopeless.  I didn’t want to live anymore. I wasn’t necessarily suicidal; I was just hopeless. Living just felt like too much effort and trouble. To help remedy my despair, I attended the Recovery Center of Missoula and it was a really good experience but I still wasn’t mentally in a place where I had fully accepted the entire realm of recovery.

After my second round of treatment, I stayed sober for about a month before relapsing. I drank all day and then really went off the deep end and felt I really was hopeless. So, I started to cut my forearms and passed out. In the meantime, I had been talking to my sister on the phone and told her I was going to “end it.” No one knew my exact location and the worry and horror I put so many through that night is still difficult for me to fathom. At the time, I felt as though they weren’t the ones with the problem, so how could they possibly understand?  I really hurt my family and I had no idea the extent to which they felt shattered until I began my recovery.

After my relapse, I was again admitted to a psychiatric ward. I’d burnt all my bridges, but my mother had allowed me to come back once I was released.  I ended up in a hotel room down in Missoula. I hid out there until they found me and once again dropped me off at the Recovery Center of Missoula. And that time, getting help stuck. It was then that I could finally connect with that glimpse of happiness that I had sought for so long, and I have continued to build upon that glimpse of a good life since my sobriety date of April 7, 2014.

After my last round at treatment, I landed in the Hands of Hope house and living with other newly sober people truly helped save my life. They directly and indirectly helped me build a foundation for my recovery. Also, being active in a 12-step program has been instrumental in my survival. I have seen others that struggled addiction and other mental health issues lose those battles. Hearing the detriments of relapsing again and witnessing others was/is difficult to watch. However, being witness to both successful and unsuccessful sobriety helps keep me sober.

There have been a lot of challenges in recovery. I had to file for bankruptcy. I had to foreclose on my house. Someone I dated took his life shortly after I broke it off.  I really took that personally-like it was my fault. Drinking to overcome the shame and guilt was enticing.  Through the network of support I had built, I knew numbing my fears and emotions wouldn’t help. That, in fact, there was a chance I wouldn’t survive.

There was also a period in sobriety when I allowed all the important aspects of my recovery to fade away. Because I was slowly allowing this disease to win, I lost sight of how important following a 12-step program, attending the Recovery Center, and asking for help were. One of my flaws is that I can get bored. Or, I can feel like life is almost too good so that I self-sabotage. So, identifying my triggers and using tools that I have learned in recovery is detrimental. Maintaining a solution that works for me, finding connectivity in friendship and in my surroundings, and being the luckiest dog mom in the world helps keep me sober.

I now give myself permission to be happy. I give myself permission to go out and enjoy the day.  I give myself permission to go swimming, to take my dog for walks, and I give myself permission to be myself in front of other people and to feel comfortable doing that. I now understand I’m the only one that can ultimately give myself permission. And, I’m the only one who, by isolating myself from the important things in life, can take that permission away.

Over time, life gets better. It’s difficult sometimes to see where I was and where I am now. I know life isn’t perfect.  It won’t always be easy. It’s just so much better.


Joe’s Story

Category : Uncategorized

I grew up in Shelby on Montana’s Hi-Line. We still have a ranch up there. It is very cold, very beautiful and very windy. I never felt like I fit in. I was not an athlete. When you have a town with 3,000 people and a gymnasium that seats 5,000, you have a sense of priority. Like many people, alcohol helped me fit in in late middle school, early high school years. And certainly there were no consequences for my alcohol use except for the positive ones of being able to suddenly be kind of cool and have friends.

In high school, that was kind of the scene, but in a sense mine is one of those “if it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone” stories. I wanted out of my little hometown, and so I became a very serious student, one of just a few recruited out of high school for non-athletic purposes. I was the worldwide President of Key Club International, a National Merit Scholar, Valedictorian, and so on. I won quite a few awards, because what mattered to me most was getting into a good college. So on the one hand, I would go to keggers and drink and try to fit in, but on the other, I wanted to get out of there.

I ended up going to Stanford, and once I got there, it was a whole new world.  What had worked before was alcohol, so in college it was “just add drugs” – take it up a notch.  I did get into some trouble, but I was always able to mimic the old Warren Zevon song, “Send lawyers, guns and money! Dad, get me out of this!”  Definitely a white privilege thing.  I had a successful career there. I graduated with honors in Political Science, specializing in strategic weapons systems there under professors such as Condoleezza Rice.

Next came three years at Georgetown Law School, where I focused on international law and diplomacy. I was very serious my first year, as one should be in law school, although I did get a DUI regardless. But through a program called “probation before judgment,” once again, there were no real consequences. The last two years though, I drank myself stupid every single night. It was never anything that seemed problematic, just the pressures of being a student, so you drank. There were a lot of people like me, or maybe it just seemed like it.  Maybe there were only a few people like me, be we were always all together.

After law school, the Berlin Wall fell, and my planned career path suddenly seemed untenable. World peace having seemingly screwed me, I decided just to make as much money as I could.  I moved back to San Francisco and got a job in a big law firm, for a while continuing to drink myself to sleep every night.  Eventually, however, I acknowledged that I had a drinking problem, so I tried a cold turkey break from alcohol, which I was able to sustain for over a year, leading me to believe, of course, that I wasn’t actually an alcoholic.  I could manage my drinking.

The law firm I had joined, Pettit & Martin, would tragically become better known as the site of the 101 California shooting in 1993, still the largest mass murder in San Francisco history.  People were shot where my office had been as well as the conference room next door. I lost friends and colleagues.  It was a seminal event in my adult life, as well as in the lives of many others, and it hit me harder than I might have expected.  It was quite traumatic for many people.

My initial reaction was to quit practicing law and join a rock band, which seemed rational at the time.  Of course, that’s a really suspect path for someone with a self-diagnosed alcohol issue, and it wasn’t long before our success brought us a Jaegermeister sponsorship, and from there it was off to the races again.  We weren’t successful enough to make a full-time career out of music, but I was able to turn my experience in the business into a solo career as an entertainment lawyer, and I also started a record label, sensing impending doom for what I felt had become the plastic disc selling business, rather than one centered on art.  I also became the entertainment law professor at UC Hastings Law School right as the Napster-fueled dot-com boom hit, which led to working with many pioneering digital media businesses. I did that for a long time.

Between my law practice and record company, I was living a pretty high life throughout the 90s.  In 2000, however, realizing that premature digital media madness was just about to ruin the American economy, I fled to Los Angeles and I got into the movie business.  So that added cocaine to the booze intake I had watched steadily and uncontrollably rise once I brought it back from its hiatus. By the time I moved to LA, I had already begun to arrange my life around drinking so that I wouldn’t have to drink and drive.  Then I started arranging everything else around my drinking or in a way that could incorporate my drinking, as there were still three martini lunch producers back then (maybe still are…).  Anyway, it was all well and good… until it wasn’t.

After about five more years of the high life, the strain of my addiction began to show in my daily life. I wasn’t holding up my part of the wonderful law partnership I had helped to found, we weren’t getting any more movies made, and my screenplays were all trapped in development hell.  Not to mention that my girlfriend had decided she had better things to do with her life than tend to a drunk.  A very nice drunk, but a drunk nonetheless.   I figured a good geographical change would reset things, and I was pretty sure the real estate market was going to crash in any event, so selling my house and going on walkabout seemed like a good idea.

After a few false starts and lots of bar stool declarations of greatness to come, I finally decided that what I really wanted was to write something actually meant to be read.  So I moved to wine country and wrote a novel about the music business starring, what else, a middle aged alcoholic.  My days blurred into a pathetic slog of waking up, throwing up, drinking a red beer (which nobody in California had ever heard of), and then “working” from home.  It became pretty easy to isolate. I’d go out for lunch in a bar for a while and be “hail fellow, well met,” but then I’d go home and continue to drink until I passed out.

That went on for several years until I got involved with an actress, and we decided to move back to LA. She was considerably younger than I and had a fondness for opiates. I didn’t have much awareness at the time of the incredible dangers involved there, but after we moved to LA, her actual opiate addiction became evident.  We went through a terrible period of it getting worse, getting her into treatment, and then coming home and relapsing, in large part because I wasn’t staying sober myself.  It was an impossible situation for us both, and the only surprise in retrospect is that our shared addiction didn’t kill us both.


Opiates were terrible. With drinking I had always felt I could deal with it eventually.  But with opiates, we suffered a downward spiral for 3-4 years, and it just worse and worse.  There seemed to be no hope.  I blew a small fortune and basically ran out of work and couldn’t be counted on to do anything.  We pulled various con jobs on my sainted mother and others and spent a lot of money on rehabs, as much or more than on drugs.  We sent her to very Hollywood kinds of places, more like spas than what was probably really needed, but regardless, neither of us truly had the willingness to surrender and get serious about living clean and sober.  I learned a lot from that experience. I went to AA and NA some, and so did she.  I had a real issue that I now recognize as my own lack of willingness, but part of it was also that I was in LA.  LA is a different place.  I have considerable respect for people who get sober there, but I do now believe you can do it anywhere if you’re willing.

Toward the end she was in rehab, and I went to Mexico for a so-called “silver bullet” treatment known as Ibogaine, which turned out to be a wicked, evil, African root bark that is basically a psychotropic that occasionally has the side effect of relieving withdrawal symptoms in some people.  It’s not at all what they make it out to be, and it’s just an example of how lost and desperate I was that I would even think of doing something that insane and ridiculous.  But I did, and it turns out it essentially paralyzes you from the neck down for several hours, and then there are usually some hallucinatory effects. I’d done lots of acid, but I was not prepared for this. First, the paralysis, and second, it felt like I was lying naked on a stage under a blindingly hot spotlight with a voice screaming at me about what a horrible person I was and how it would be better for all if I were dead. Eventually I started to vomit while lying paralyzed on my back, and I thought well, here we go, it’s Jimi Hendrix time, and I can finally be done with all this. And then I felt a shove in my back from behind me, but there wasn’t anyone there.  Nobody noticed what was happening until I flopped over and threw up, clearing my throat and windpipe. Only then did the attendant come over, and it was clear that there wasn’t anyone there to touch me. However you want to look at it, that’s what happened.  I was out of my mind for weeks afterward.  I couldn’t distinguish reality from what happened in my head. It was a very bad experience.

I finally came out of it and decided, okay, we have to move because we can’t pay rent next month. So I was basically ready to just OD and die. This from somebody who was given everything. I was dealt a handful of Aces, and when I misplayed them, they kept giving me wild cards, but here I was ready to fold. Obviously there are people that had much worse things happen to them, but for me, it was a pretty big fall. So eventually I called my sister and asked for help. She looked at a bunch of Betty Ford-like places, and those were an option, but I knew what kind of option that was.  She lives in Kalispell, and so she also learned about Recovery Center Missoula, which was relatively new then, and she was able to get a bed for me fairly quickly.  Somehow the idea of rehab in Montana made more sense to me given my previous experience. She retrieved me from LA in February 2016 on Valentine’s Day. I abandoned my still-suffering lover and left everything I owned behind. I didn’t know that I wasn’t coming back. I thought it would be 28 days and I’d be back. I agreed to go with my sister and a few days later, I was in RCM. I went through the whole detox thing. My health had deteriorated. I had deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms. I was ill too on top of all of the alcoholic issues.

While I was here, I fell down and couldn’t get up.  I was utterly powerless.  Unable to even try to take on my problems myself. That was probably one of the real turning points in my recovery.  I tried very hard to shut my mouth and do what I was told, regardless of what I thought, as my own thinking had proven ineffective time and again, and I had nothing less than an extraordinary experience at RCM as a result. My therapist Patrick met me on my level.  He said, “Let’s just try and scratch the surface and get you ready to deal moment by moment to start,” which was a good approach.

My time with him was really well spent and helpful in that way, but at one point, he came back and said, “I want to go back to something you said earlier…. When you were 17, you were the worldwide president of Key Club?” I told him that I spent two-thirds of my senior year travelling all over the country and in other countries, giving speeches, talking to groups, and being the CEO of this huge high school organization.

He said, “That’s not really normal, you know. I suspect that you have no idea who you are and haven’t since you were 17 and adopted this approach to life. This persona has worked for you very, very well, but it’s a mask that has kept you from feeling connected to your own success, and that, along with a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, has been ruining your ability to enjoy life and cope. I think when you are ready, going back and talking some of this stuff through would be a good idea.”

So, despite only trying to scratch the surface, his insights really gave me something to think about and opened up an opportunity for me to start over, thinking, acting, and being a revised version of what I thought I was supposed to be.  For example, after I got out, Patrick suggested I move into Hands of Hope, the sober living house. And I said, “That’s not a very Joe thing to do,” and he said, “No, it’s not.” So I knew it was the right thing to do. Fortunately, they had an opening just a week or so later, and I was able to get a room there.

First, however, I stayed with my mom for a little while.  The first night I was out, I took the advice of virtually everyone, and went to that very important first AA meeting.  It was St. Patrick ’s Day in Kalispell, and it turned out to be a really good meeting. I was still pretty raw, and I never really thought that for me AA would be a big part of my recovery.  One of the things that was important to me about RCM was that it wasn’t foisted AA on me. It was just one of the choices. But I went, and I thought this was all right, and then I moved into Hands of Hope and continued to do aftercare at RCM, checking in once or twice a week. I stayed about five months at Hands of Hope and it was a very good experience. I also did 90 in 90 for both AA and NA, which was one of the smartest pieces of advice I ever took, as I soon found how much I could get from the program.

I didn’t have to believe in someone else’s god or religion or even a highest power.  I just needed to believe in a higher power than myself, and that I could do.  As a result of that, I found a home group and have, over time, made AA a way of life in a way I never could have imagined. It taught me just how very few things in life are within my control, including absolutely everything in the past, everything in the future, and everyone else.  About all I control are my own values, goals, and attitude, and to a lesser extent, what I choose to put in my mouth.  But if I stay in touch with that reality, and recognize my right-sized place in the Universe, no more or less, then I find I can have a conscious contact with a higher power that brings me peace of mind.

For this, I am grateful daily to the people who loved and didn’t give up on me, to the people and the organization (RCM) that provided such excellent care in my direst hour and set my on a road to recovery, and to AA the organization and AAs in my sober living facility, in my home group, in my present home, and everywhere for providing me with a program for living happy, joyous, and free.

At no point in all the high times of my prior life did I ever feel as happy, satisfied, content, or successful as I do each day now in general.  That’s saying something indeed.

Brandi’s Story

Category : Uncategorized

I was about 11-12 years old when I started to drink and smoking marijuana. I was born in Butte and we moved to Missoula when I was five. My mom left when I turned two and my dad raised me. He was involved with drugs and tried committing suicide twice. For three years as a child, I was sexually abused by a friend of the family. My dad was a truck driver and he didn’t believe me. Nobody believed me. The people were very involved in their church and didn’t believe it was happening. My dad was physically abusive and even with that he told me to stay quiet about it. So I stayed quiet about everything. I wanted to do what dad was doing. I was in the car shop or the bar, and he looked like he was having fun. I was shy and quiet and drinking gave me more of a voice and made me more accepting of myself.

It felt like dad didn’t know who I was. He didn’t listen to me so I stopped trying to tell him and put on a show. He was pretty crazy at times. He encouraged the violence so if I got a good grade, it was oh, good job. If I got in a fight at school and he had to pick me up, it was “that’s my girl” and we’d go out to eat.

When I was 13, he attempted suicide twice in that year. I went to Butte and lived with my grandma and my uncle. I came back after I turned 14. My dad lost the house and everything. We were living at a hotel. He became physically abusive again and I ran away and started using meth. He never reported me. I ended up finding my mom when I was about 12 and she still lives in North Carolina. I ended up telling her that I was on the run and she reported me to the police. I ended up staying on the run in Missoula, using meth until I was about 15. I stole from stores, sold drugs to survive. Stayed in hotels or at a few houses, couch surfing. I would get arrested and taken to the attention home. I ran away from there, I think three times. I went to juvenile incarceration at County and got out and ran away again. My boyfriend said he loved so we just ran and did drugs. I felt that no one cared. Your mom and dad are supposed to take care of you so when they let you down, who do you count on? Your partner – so that’s what I was in search of.

I had a probation officer who was looking for me and I was arrested and sat in juvenile on my sweet 16th birthday and I was sentenced to Cinnamon Hills in Utah. They didn’t want to lock me up in Montana. I ended up going there and completing their program. My dad wasn’t doing anything to get me back. I reunited with my mom and wasn’t supposed to come back to Montana until I was 21 because I had some assault charges and was labeled dangerous. That was who I was.

I ended up moving to North Carolina and met my step-dad. I have 4 siblings, 3 brothers and a sister. I wasn’t there for too long. I think I moved there right after Christmas of 2000 and I was back in Missoula by April 2001. I didn’t get the help there. I went from an only child, with a single parent, to a whole family and my mom accused me of using drugs when I wasn’t. I was trying really hard to not use. I ended up claiming I was suicidal so they took me out of the home and put me in a group home. I ended up coming back to Montana and my CFS caseworker said, “Well what do you want to do?” I had met this caseworker at Talbot House, and I wanted to go where she was. When I ended up staying in the attention home for a week, we celebrated because I had stayed longer than 2-3 days.

I went through the Talbot and I was in Tom Roy and I met a guy in high school. This guy was using and on 4/20 right before my 18th birthday, I relapsed. I drank and smoked marijuana. I was sober maybe a year and a half that time. I ran away and got into using meth again. I ended up pregnant and miscarried in 2002. Then I ended up pregnant again. It was the first time I used cocaine and I kept throwing up and that’s how I found out I was pregnant. My first son was born in 2003. I quit using meth as soon as I found out. I drank a couple of sips of wine cooler when I was pregnant.

Then after I had my son, the father was abusive and selling drugs. I ended up leaving him and started to go to the bar a lot. I was a single mom and knew that I needed to take care of this child but I didn’t know how. That’s when I started drinking again, used meth a few times after he was born. I started cocktailing and got into a relationship with the manager when my son was about 1 1/2. I ended up moving to Arizona. I was drinking a lot. I became operations manager of a dog kennel and didn’t see my capability in it. My boyfriend hit me once; so I packed up my son, dogs and came back to Montana. I automatically jumped into a relationship with another guy.

I ended up moving to Butte pregnant with my second son. The relationship became abusive, both drinking, both abusive to each other. My dad ended up moving down outside Vegas and he had pancreatic cancer, so I went down there and picked him up and brought him to Butte where my aunt, my uncle and grandma lived. We did hospice care in the home or at the hospital. I was taking some of his morphine and drinking. When he died, I started to give up. I didn’t know how to cope.

I didn’t want to admit that I was drinking because of my problems not that my problems were coming from my drinking. We both received a partner family assault and going in and out of court with him on custody of my second son. Also, I had my first son the whole time and he was going on five when my dad died. I reconnected with his dad and thought we were meant to be. I moved to Helena with him and got a grooming position there. I got a DUI with my first son in the car. That relationship was toxic. I wrecked my car.

I went into intensive outpatient at Boyd Andrews in Helena. I learned a lot, but I still didn’t have that self-worth. I dealt with a lot of shame. My second son was back and forth between his dad and me every two weeks. He was also taking my first son until he got a new girlfriend. When my first son’s dad was in the picture, I ended up signing over power of attorney. I was homeless and staying at God’s Love in Helena. Because of the DUI, I could only go to Great Falls to see my second son every other weekend for certain hours. I rescinded the POA and ended up taking my first son back and was sober for not very long, not even a year.

I connected with one of the guys that worked at the shelter and got in a relationship with him. He was a very good, kind-hearted guy and moved in with him and got pregnant with my daughter. I ended up living a double life. I started seeing another guy and he didn’t know I was pregnant. We were toxic together so that was comfortable. When I had my daughter at the hospital, I sent him a picture and he still forgave me. I didn’t know how to tell my nice boyfriend, so I made up stuff and left him and moved in with the new guy. We drank all the time and took pills. I had no idea how to budget money.

I started using meth again. I knew I was going back to court and just unaware of what my drinking and drug use was doing. My first son was ADHD and I had him on medication. I was so drunk and/or high I wasn’t even able to get a hold of his doctor to tell him he needed a refill, so my son was out of school.  I had tax return money. I was doing dog grooming at Petco. I had an awesome job and that was too good to be true so I ended up losing that job. I knew I had a gift with dogs, They were the only being that showed me what true love and forgiveness are.

After like 10 days, the schools contact police and they were going to put an alert out. They found us at a hotel and my first son was taken to my daughter’s Dad’s house. My daughter was at her dad’s house. It was the weekend and I ended up blowing my money on drugs so I couldn’t get into a place. I just stayed really high and even showed up to a visit at CFS drunk. They brought my first son’s dad back into his life. I ended up coming to Missoula and got another DUI and PFA. He ended up beating me up at my dad’s grave and we ended up fighting. They ended up placing my first son with his dad and I gave up. It really hurt because I did have times where I was good mom.

I ended up pregnant with third son. His dad ended up in prison for selling drugs. I ended up selling drugs. I was using while I was pregnant. I got so involved with selling drugs that I was leaving the state to pick up large quantities. They took my son at the hospital. I ended up walking out and I was homeless. I manipulated my grandma for money and was going to move to Wisconsin. I started selling again. I had a name in Helena for dope dealing and thought that’s who I was.

I ended up getting arrested for dangerous drugs a month after my third son was born. I got out on bond and the person ended up robbing me and I went right back to selling drugs. I ended up in debt to my drug dealer. I was two days late contacting my bondsman and I was set up and the friend I was with was wanted for murder. The police arrested us and I got a max sentence for felony possession of dangerous drugs. I was released on probation and then I got a suspended sentence. I went to check in with my PO and she wasn’t in so I was supposed to check in Monday, but by then I was already in another state picking up drugs. Things got dangerous and scary. When with my drug dealer, people jumped in the backseat of the car in front of a casino, broke a beer bottle over his head, stabbed him in the face and was shaking us down for money. I still felt like this was where I was supposed to be. I got in an accident and wouldn’t talk to the police. I got revoked and went to Passages alcohol and drug treatment with a suspended sentence.

Because of what happened to me as a child, I didn’t believe in God unless it was to think that he hated me. There was a thing in my room with my roommate that was like I’ll carry your worries today. And I really opened my heart to the idea that maybe who I thought God was, was not who he was. I came to the pre-release in Missoula.  I was afraid of what people would think of me. When I had been pregnant with third son, I received paperwork on my second son and I was too afraid to look at it, so I lost rights to him and he was adopted. I ended up relinquishing rights to my 3rd son.

I was in touch with my daughter’s dad and then he stopped communicating with me. He moved to Michigan which I found out later. I didn’t want to talk about my childhood rape. Why bother? I didn’t want to look weak in front of other people. My case manager/CP&R instructor said, “You’ll probably never see these people again. Use this as your dumping ground.”

That’s when I started putting work into it. I came to pre-release here in 2014. I started working with dogs again. I really started to do some work. I was seeing a counselor. I even did EMDR therapy. I also went to that church and I wanted to face it. I stood outside of the house where most of it happened and those memories don’t really haunt me so much anymore.

I started seeing a guy in the pre-release and he was in pre-release too. He was a very good looking guy and he thought I was pretty, which was a very new concept for me. So I stopped seeing him and then started seeing a bondsman. I ended up pregnant and I had an abortion. I didn’t know how to cope with that and all these new perspectives and not knowing how to implement my skills. I started going back to drinking, gambling and got back together with the boyfriend who I knew was toxic for me from the pre release.

I ended up getting high with my toxic boyfriend, and I lied to my current boyfriend so he threw me out and I immediately started living with toxic guy and using meth every day. I lost my job and everything I had just learned. I was so ashamed and so depressed. I started having contact with my daughter and then stopped right before Christmas of 2015 because I was high. It was the most scary time of my life.

I ended up pregnant again. I found out I was pregnant with my daughter when I went septic and I was in the ICU in the hospital. The toxic boyfriend only came about twice to see me. I still didn’t want to believe that he didn’t love me. I stayed home with his kids and I stayed high. I believed we had this “connection.”

I would not use for a while and then I would start again to cope with what was going on. I still was just starting to work on my feelings about what happened with my three sons.  I felt like I didn’t deserve this child either, but I wanted it to be different. Then one night, I was at home and about five months pregnant and I had stopped going to the doctor. The toxic boyfriend raped me and I ran out of the house and I didn’t go back. He stalked me where i was staying. I stayed as high as I could. That was early September of 2016.

In later September, he ended up getting arrested so I went back to the house. I used really hard and had to go to the PO the next day and thank God, I had a dirty UA. So I had to go to jail for 30 days.

When I got out of jail, my PO said she’d let me go to Wisconsin. My grandmother ended up driving in. That was very unhealthy. She didn’t tell anyone she was coming to get me. She wrecked in South Dakota and didn’t tell anybody and blew all the money a friend had sent to her.

I called my PO and said I wanted to pursue treatment and I followed my CD eval and started at Turning Point. I applied at Carole Graham and I did not want to lose my baby. I did not want CFS to come in and take her. Carole Graham said I had to go to inpatient so I came to Recovery Center Missoula. A lot of what I had learned was reinforced and there was more stuff like communication skills and boundary setting and thoughts that I was afraid to share because I thought they were crazy. It was the first time in my life that people related and I felt equal and kept sharing.  I had my daughter in January of 2017 and they discharged me and CSF didn’t show up so I came back to RCM with her.

I ended up getting into emergency housing through the YWCA and was doing outpatient here until I could get into intensive outpatient at Turning Point and kept working through stuff. I did everything opposite. I asked for help. I would actually call and go to a meeting and not because I had to. I didn’t have to be the Lone Ranger. I could let people in. I was always worried about judgment. CFS came every week  or called on the phone. I ended up telling her what I was doing. I got denied at Carol Graham because of my violent crimes. My PO appealed it and I went into Carole Graham in March 2017. I was afraid my daughter’s dad was going to come after me. I didn’t want him in the picture at all, no child support, nothing. Now I am at a place where I can start to deal with everything about abandoning my children.

I am now 19 months clean. I have had such momentum. Fear has always crippled me. I learned that courage is not the lack of fear, but acting in spite of it. I don’t worry so much anymore about what people think. I read my bible every day because I now have a higher power and it took that rape to gain a relationship with God. I still have the letter where CFS closed the case on her and she’s with me. I had never really lived sober so how to fit in with people and not be so hard on myself. The cravings and old tapes that I’m not good enough come back so I’m so grateful that I had Carole Graham because I don’t know how to go out and live normally.

I’m starting to work on reuniting with my first son and first daughter, and I got some rejection there. My first daughter refuses to talk to me. I haven’t been able to see her. I’ve never been sober this long without incarceration. That double life is what addicts do! It keeps you so alone. My doctor said he had another woman who was really in a hole and he was able to say to her, I know someone who did it, and it can be done. He meant me! That’s amazing to me. I Just feel more at peace.

Lisa’s Story

Category : Uncategorized

I grew up in domestic violence. Since I can remember I used alcohol from a very young age in grade school. My mom always provided us with a home and structure, but no emotional support. She wasn’t there emotionally for us, which I think is what led to me drinking and using drugs. I was never happy at home so I ran away and got in trouble a lot. I was really smart in school. They wanted to advance me to the 2nd grade, but my mom didn’t. By the time, I was in middle school, I think I was bored.

I dropped out of school and started getting in trouble. I never went to high school. By 18, I had my first baby. She passed away. From 16 to 18, I wasn’t too heavy into drugs. But after 18, I had my baby and I really wanted a baby. I was with the kids’ dad. He’s the father of all my children and we have seven kids now. She passed away at 11 months old. I didn’t know how to deal with that. I was very unhealthy emotionally. I didn’t know that then. I didn’t know how to have relationships or communicate.

I started using drugs heavily after I lost my baby.  I went to treatment when my two oldest kids were about 1 and 2. I went to treatment in Seattle, but I never really worked on myself. I just went through the motions and tried to do what people wanted me to do. Ever since I was little, I just wanted to be okay. I wanted people to be happy with me. I never felt okay with myself until I started here with Kim.

I’ve only been sober for about three years out of my life except for now. I got my GED really easily and took the test without studying. I’ve always been really smart and logical and independent. When I set my mind to it, things came really easily.

In 2012, I went to the University for about three years. Then I got back with my kids’ father and started using drugs again. We had three more kids. We were just using heavily and drinking. I never knew what a healthy relationship was. I repeated what I grew up with and my mom lived in domestic violence. I saw the same cycle with me. Eventually I got to the point where I left and wanted help.

I started doing outpatient. I knew I needed help and knew I needed inpatient. I was at a very low point in my life. I still continued to use and I was only sober for a few months. Then CPS took my three little kids and that was devastating. They’d never taken my kids. I grew up here my whole life. They had my kids for two months and then I got them back.

Maybe that’s what I needed, but it was really hard. Since I’ve been here, I’ve been working on myself a lot. Kim has really helped me with both mental health and addiction. I’ve been through a lot of addictions and trying to come off of drugs and be sober and have a good life for my kids. You can’t do it unless you take a look at yourself and be accountable for the damage you’ve done to yourself and your kids. You can’t get past it unless you own it and be accountable for it.

I want to break the cycle of addiction in my family. I have an 18 year old. On her birthday, she made the decision and she and her daughter moved into a group home. She had started using meth and I was scared and didn’t know what to do. I had to get myself healthy. I didn’t want my kids to start using. Now, I’m 40 years old and just getting the skills I need.

I knew I needed help. My daughter was out there using and she lost her daughter. She got an opportunity to be responsible. On her 18th birthday, she took that opportunity and went to a transitional living center in Missoula. I am so proud of her. My other daughter is very proud of me and I see the hope in their eyes again, because I’m here in recovery and sober and doing what I need to do.

I’ve always wanted to break the cycle of dysfunction in my family. You just need to work on it honestly and work on yourself. What keeps me sober is the desire to have a good life and I don’t want my kids to go through what I went through. My mom did the best she could with the tools she had. I know if she had better tools that she would have used them.

I’ve used drugs a long time in my life and I’ve had a lot of highs and a lot of lows, but nothing feels better than being sober and in recovery and celebrating life. Nothing feels better than being proud of my part in my kids’ lives and I want them to be proud of me. It feels a lot better than drugs.

I’m learning the skills and using them and passing them on to my kids. Everyone makes their own choices and they’re going to do what they want, but at least I know I did my part. It’s all about empowering myself and my kids. It’s about being assertive and setting boundaries.

It’s usually been easy for me to get back on my feet but I finally got to the point where I couldn’t do it anymore. I was doing it for everyone else and couldn’t do it for myself. All I’ve ever wanted was to have my family together, have a piece of land, and have a house. I had all of that and I wasn’t happy, my family wasn’t happy, so I had to make the decision to let it go. If you’re not healthy, it’s not going to work.

From here, I want to finish school. I just have a couple of semesters to get my business degree. I want my own business. I want to be able to support myself and be there for my kids and my life and my granddaughter. I think God sent me a gift right here. My tubes were tied and I still got pregnant with her so she’s a miracle baby.

If it wasn’t for the Nest, I don’t know where I would be right now. I was angry, upset, and I needed help and somewhere safe to be with my kids. There need to be more programs like this because there are a lot of mothers who want to be with their kids and they don’t know where to go to get clean and be with their kids. I want the other mothers to know that there is help out there. I know a lot of people feel hopeless, but there needs to be more help like this.

I didn’t realize how I wasn’t a good mom until I came here and realized how much they were missing. Just the reality of taking my kids from me, it made me work harder at getting to where I am today. I couldn’t stand life without my kids. It’s not easy, but it’s a lot easier than doing drugs the rest of my life.

I have 18-year-old, a 17-year-old, a 15-year-old and one that’s 12. These two are five right now and then the baby. I can call them at night and tell them I love them and I’m proud of them. The 17 and 15-year-old are with my mom until I get out of here. I thought maybe I needed to get away from home for treatment but I’m actually glad I stayed, because I grew up in this area and I feel really comfortable here. It’s nice to have this opportunity to get help here. Having the services right here on the Reservation is really awesome. I want to be around my family so I’m happy I’m getting the help here.

I want to help people express themselves and their artistic abilities. I’m going to help people make clothing and jewelry to express their own artistic abilities. There are a lot of people with a lot of skills who don’t use them. I know how to bead and make jewelry, and I know a lot of people who know how to do that and they deserve credit for that. I want to give back to the community. So I want to learn grant writing and give back to the community.

I felt hopeless. I was in a relationship that was going nowhere. We were miserable. We love each other, but we were miserable. We were both using. I didn’t want to live this life and see my kids suffer. I was losing all my self-respect and confidence. I tried on my own and I couldn’t do it. I learned about the programs through word of mouth and then Kim told me about the Nest where I could have my kids. I thought I was going to have to go out of state. I had no strength, no hope, no self-esteem and I knew I needed help.

If this wasn’t here, my kids would have been in foster care longer because I really didn’t know where to go or where to turn. I was losing myself. My cousin was just honest with me and said if you don’t straighten up and do this, you’re going to lose everything. I knew it was true. I was going to lose my kids and I feel so bad for women who have lost their kids. They just don’t know where to go for help. I found the help I needed and I wasn’t going to stop until I did.

My kids love it here. They feel safe. They’re happy. They’re just happy to be here with their mom and be safe. They weren’t safe when I was using. I feel like there is hope now. My older daughter is following my example. This was what I needed to do to become the mom I needed to be. If I was still using, she’d probably be following me in those footsteps. I want to be a support for my kids and other women.

I don’t know one woman who lost their kids who would choose that if they had their kids. They just don’t know what to do or where to go. They don’t know how to deal with their lives. Some of them have been through so much trauma and abuse. I was lucky to have role models for morals and values. My grandpa was a really good man and he was always there for us, but some people don’t have that.

If I stay honest and accountable then my kids will respect me and look up to me. I’m really excited about my life now. I’m excited to see what we’re capable of. We need to break the cycles of our families’ addictions and dysfunction.

Caleb’s Story

Category : Uncategorized

I started using when I was 15. I was using marijuana and alcohol. From the get go, I realized that I wasn’t using like everyone around me. I sued a lot more of it and a lot more frequently. My parents sort of became aware of it, and I went to treatment at 16 in Great Falls. I was sober for about six months and didn’t accept that I was an addict. I relapsed really hard for nine years, was just partying as much as I could. I started using other drugs. I partied hard from 16 through 25 and life was going nowhere fast.

So I went back to treatment in Portland at 25 and was sober for eight months. I was miserable in my sobriety, just white-knuckling it. So I moved back to Missoula and started using again. My family just kind of put up with it. A lot of times I was working on my own working multiple jobs. I was highly functional. My family knew about it but I was living on my own and there wasn’t anything they could do. My parents are still together. They’ve been married 35 years. My family is full of addicts.

I was in the hospital and was detoxing from alcohol. I don’t know what actually caused it but I lost control of my extremities. My fist was so tight, my thumb was turning black. I was shaking. I think I had a panic attack or something. Losing control of my limbs was my rock bottom. I wanted a different, better life and so I decided I would take treatment more seriously this time.

I was using and drinking a lot and ending up in the hospital detoxing and just dying literally. So the state intervened and I had a case manager/social worker. They introduced me to my therapist who encouraged me to go to treatment at Recovery Center Missoula. I just ended up here in Feb. of 2017 through March of 2017. As soon as I finished up treatment, I moved into Hands of Hope with George and started working the program and attending meetings. I got a job. I got a sponsor. I got my year clean and now I’m working here. Yeah, George is my boss and my landlord.

But what I think is more important is that I worked the program after treatment. I go to meetings, got a sponsor, worked the steps. I definitely credit RCM and Western because they got me the foundation. Now my whole life is recovery basically. My old friends weren’t really my friends. I don’t talk to them. They were just there when I had drugs or money or alcohol. I think I kept one, lifelong friend. All of my friends now are in the program. I have a couple of normy friends who I still talk to. I don’t have time or space for using friends anymore.

I was afraid I wouldn’t have fun again when I was in treatment. One of my own beliefs before I was in treatment was that you’re in charge of your own fun at all times. If you’re not having fun, it’s probably your own fault. So I still have lots of fun. I go to movies, I hike, and I go out to coffee. I plan on camping and floating this summer. I still have a lot of fun in recovery.

I’m open to hang out with anyone as long as they’re not using around me. I just mostly stick with NA people. They relate to me on such a deep level. We have so much in common and can talk about anything. I can go to a meeting and meet new people, but I have a core group of friends that I hang out with and they’re my everything, except for my family.

I did a lot of damage but I’m working a program and I’m no longer doing the damage. I have a sister in Seattle. She’s a normy as far as I can tell and she goes to adult children of alcoholics so she’s working a program too. I have two nephews. One is five and one is two. I worry about them, but they’re too young to know if they’ve got the bug.

I didn’t have any signals before I started using but the second I started using, I knew I was definitely a drug addict. I’m not one of those people that was super in denial. I knew people while in treatment who were in denial. As soon as I started using I knew I had to have this more, constantly, all the time. My family is Southern and my dad is retired Army and my mom is retired children’s pastor so pretty strict upbringing. It was pretty adamant to say no to drugs until, you know, I didn’t. I had friends using in middle school and I was very upset with that until my freshman year in high school. I was just curious. Everyone else was doing it. I was tired of being seen as the goody goody. I was also coming out of the closet at the time as a gay person. I noticed that the kids who party were a little more accepting. I thought I’d go hang out with them because they’d protect me. I was bullied a lot.

My parents found out when I was 16 that I was gay and my mom and I are really close. She told me she’d known since she was 2. My dad was a little shocked but he came around and they’re really supportive. If I have a boyfriend, I bring him home for dinner.

I’ve learned so much in recovery. I’m 28 now. I work nights so my days are kind of crazy. On days I’m not working, I usually hit a meeting. I go to 2-3 a week. I talk to my sponsor several times a week. I do step work using the guide and answer the questions. It varies by whether you’re on NA or AA. I’m going nice and slow. I have friends that are farther along but I’m going slow. They’re all pretty daunting. That’s how you create a new life for yourself by going to meetings. You can stay clean and create a new life for yourself by working the steps. We thought we found something in drugs, but it’s actually in the step work. That’s how you create a new life.

I would like to eventually go back to school as a therapist or social worker or something like that. The blind leading the blind. My therapist says the man with one eye is king of the land of the blind. I have a little bit of insight. Working here has been life changing.  George is the best. George is like a father-figure to me. I call him Uncle George sometimes. If he’s thinking it, he’s saying it. It’s great.

George’s Story

Category : Uncategorized

I got all three of the standards as far as genetically: it’s in my ancestry, situational, and environmental. I was conceived at a kegger in 1968 by two 17-year-old kids. I was adopted in the family by my mom and George. We lived above that bar for my first five years. My mom bartended during the day and George bartended in the evening. I spent a lot of time in that bar and I learned to walk and talk and most of my social skills in that bar. I’m drawn to dark bars, and I feel at home next to the old guy in a bar.

When I look back, most of the people in my family that I looked up to were alcoholics. My mom didn’t drink, but George who I was named after, kicked us out in a drunken rage when I was six. My grandpa was an alcoholic, my favorite Uncle George, and my Uncle Matt certainly lives the lifestyle. The first time I realized I was powerless over alcohol was when I was about 10 or 11, and I was given my first glass of wine. It was a Christmas dinner and I drank it fast. I said “whoa” and I wanted another one. So my mom gave me another one and said drink this slower. But I drank that one fast and then snuck some more. For some reason mom made a deal with me that if I ran around the block I could have another glass of wine. I didn’t like running but I ran around the block two or three more times, drank the wine, and then proceeded to go to midnight mass and fall asleep.

The second indicator came when I was around 13.  I had gone out to my Uncle Sonny’s ranch with Grandpa.  When bedtime came and I was not tired Grandpa talked Sonny into giving me a hot whiskey to help me sleep.  After drinking it I went directly to bed.  Suddenly I was filled with anxiety, nervous legs and warmth.  No way I was going to sleep through this.  I got up and went to the table where Sonny and Grandpa were visiting and said “That one didn’t work, can I have another?” Grandpa chuckled, looked at Sonny and said “Looks like we have another one in the family”

Those were signals that I see now that I didn’t see then. As I went through life, I was filled with adventure and I wanted to learn stuff. There was a neighbor across the street who was a retired industrial arts teacher and he was teaching me how to build canoes, and weave cane, and how to turn wood on a lathe. That came to an end when I was a freshman in high school and they showed me an anti-marijuana movie in school. I went out after school that day to find pot, because I saw those kids in the movie and I said, “That’s what I want!” I didn’t need a pusher; I went out and found it! So after that I lost my ambition. I became a daily pothead. I hung out in the alley next to the school with all the other stoners, but we thought we were the cool kids. Now when I talk to the other kids from school, I didn’t know that they referred to me as a wastoid and a stoner, because we were the cool kids! They were the squares! I was the live-right-now guy.   Through high school I was a blackout drinker.  I could see no other way to do it.  All in or none at all.

I went down to Tahoe to be a ski bum. I ended up at Kirkwood from 1982 to 1992 and I would still be there if I weren’t an alcoholic/addict. I went there and told them I’d take any job they had with housing so they made me a janitor. I enjoyed skiing and also enjoyed the party life there. I think the 3rd year there I ended up going to a free cocaine counseling. It was the 80s so most of the places had that. I didn’t get much out of the course.  I was having trouble with cocaine. Not that I liked it. I don’t know why I was using it – you could drink more I guess – and it was cool. Cocaine was one of those drugs that was designed for people like me because it’s one of those drugs that if you do a little bit, you have to keep doing it until you’re broke or your nose is bleeding. I worked my way up from day janitor to the road snow removal crew. At 27 or 28, I was running the crew and had people under me. It was a heavy job but it was working until I started drinking on the job and I found meth and started doing a lot of meth at work because you could work 20-30 hours at a time. The last year I was there, I really didn’t do anything bad. I totaled more than a few cars with the snow blower, but there was six feet of snow so you can’t even see the cars. Then I came back to Montana and brought the meth with me.

Lewistown is a small town and my sister married the fire chief and when your sister marries the fire chief, you get to know all the firemen and police. The chief of police was friends with me, and we used to prairie dog hunt. He took me aside one day and said, “George, you’re on our list. You’re an embarrassment to this town and your family. You can either change, you can leave, or I’ll send you to Deer Lodge, and I’ll see that that happens.”  I quit hanging out with the meth crowd, but you can still drink and be accepted in Lewistown.

I remember once, one of my buddies was upper level AA in Lewistown, MT. He was hauling me to an AA meeting and it was about 1 ½ blocks off Main Street with the AA symbol etched in the big glass doors. And two big coffee cans on either side of the door heaped with butts and you could tell what it was. We were walking up the stairs and I looked a Rick and said, “You know, it’s kind of embarrassing to be walking into the AA building in the middle of town where everyone can see me.” And he said, “George, last Saturday, I drove by the Glacier at 11:30 in the morning and you were passed out on a park bench in front on Main Street. And this is embarrassing?”  That visit to meetings didn’t take though.

Then I fell in love with the POs daughter and once you do that, you become a narc without even telling anyone anything, so that helped me break away from that culture and it was a blessing. I don’t know if that was guidance or how that happened. We were married for 12 years and she had a son and a daughter and I helped raise them for 12 years. The whole time we had problems due to drinking. Family services were involved once. I was the father passed out on the couch at 6:00 snoring while the kids were trying to watch TV. I was the guy that got up off the couch and fell into the Christmas tree and the presents. I was the father on the sidelines of the football game yelling profanities at the other team, and I was the guy who wasn’t intimate with my wife anymore. She took it as long as she could and then she did what she had to do to leave me.   She was broken and broken-hearted.

I fell really hard into the bottle. Of course I got a girlfriend who tried to medicate my depression with marijuana brownies and whiskey. One of my friends called my sister and said, “You better come save your brother, because he’s going to die.” At that point, I was ready to die. I just wanted peace.

So my sister and her husband came and they helped me sell everything and I moved in with her. Of course there is no “geographic recovery,” so I carried my disease into her spare bedroom.  When my sister asked me to move out I moved in with a couple out on Expressway. Really nice young couple -beautiful people – me and my Boston terrier. They loved us. But then Jason came to me and said, “George, I’m worried about you. I’ve been through two tours in Afghanistan and you’re reminding me of my PTSD buddies who did self-harm and I don’t want to ever have to open that door and find you.” I said, “I’d never do that to you.”  They politely asked me to move out as I was creating too much anxiety in their lives.

I was working at Partnership at that time and I started to fail there. So I moved out with one of the male nurses who had an ugly porch with just a bed in it and wallpaper ripped and I used to lay in there and drink with my dog, listen to music and feed my depression.  I’d pray that I’d die in my sleep and I’d yell at God, “Why do you keep me here? Just to punish me?“ I prayed that I would die every night,  that’s where I was in my head.

That’s when my higher power started taking control.  I had driven up to Mormon peak and decided to drink until I had the courage to take my own life. I actually ran out of alcohol before I was able to complete my mission so I went back to town to get more.  When I got back to the house the  nurse called some of the other nurses who liked me and Rosemary came and got me. I pretty much committed myself to Providence even though I didn’t realize I was doing it. While there the doctor said there was a new place called the Recovery Center Missoula and it had only been open about 9 months. You want to go there and see? And I said, “Well I don’t got nothing else to do. I think I just got fired!”

Here I learned that I was not unique. That they’ve been studying alcoholism and addiction for so many years and they’ve found that people like me have an imbalance of chemicals in their brain and this imbalance is what made us search out those things in the first place. Our brain doesn’t know how to control happiness and sadness and how we produce our endorphins and serotonin and how we stimulate our dopamines.  Learning that it wasn’t just because I was weak and I couldn’t just say no, that was interesting.  Seeing that I was allergic to drugs and alcohol and that once I began I was not in control of when I would quit. That, and being around like-minded people helped me begin this journey.

I didn’t know there were people like this around.  I started going to meetings, I started my spiritual health and I started working the steps. I got into step 4 which was figuring out my resentments, who they’re for and what they’re for – and you’re part of it. That was a lot of it, my ex-wife and my family and everyone I had problems with it all turned out that I was the common denominator.

Two summers into my recovery, my sister and I were sitting around the fire up at the lake and we were talking about my journey.  She was praising me and how grateful she is and then she said, “You know, that last time the sheriff came looking for you, I prayed that you had finally died so you had found peace.” And I looked at her and said, “Your prayers have come true. I did find peace, but I didn’t have to die do it.” When someone you look up to says that they prayed for your death because your life was so toxic, that’s a big one.

I have kept a hand on recovery since I left RCM and I’m blessed. I’ve got someone guiding me and it’s serious. I preach a higher power. There is a presence in my life which is pretty damn cool to me. The people in my life are in recovery. I touch recovery every day even before I started working here. The people I go to concerts and games with are all in recovery. The spiritual part of my life is being of service to the world. If you are feeling down and do something kind, you can feed your own spirit. That and stoicism that what isn’t mine, isn’t mine, helps too.

You have to get to the point where you choose to die or you choose to live.