Today was a big day. John Unkel arrived and I searched frantically for a place that was affordable to put him up, which in La Jolla is no easy feat! I have been able to stay with my cousin in her extra bedroom but needed to find a place to John and after several calls secured the last bedroom available a couple blocks down the street. John was able to drop my bike off at a shop to have an extra gear put on to climb these hills, which are a lot bigger than I thought! John has been a huge help and I couldn’t be more grateful for it!
I had a meeting with the people at TYR and learned about what they do and shared with them my positive experiences going through a Collegiate Recovery Community. They were very nice and I may be able to get a speaking engagement in El Paso where a program is being developed. I looked at a map of the United States showing 70 or so “dots” of programs that are either wanting a CRC, in the early stages or fully established with a CRC. I noticed a dot missing in my hometown of Charleston SC where so many people struggle with this disease. After the meeting my girlfriend and I went to Encinitas and walked the beach. The beaches here are so different than on the east coast. The weather is perfect – 70 and sunny and little humidity. I saw hundreds of people running, cycling and surfing and I felt a twinge of jealousy. The beautiful landscape and cozy town made me feel at ease and after an hour or so we headed to By the Sea Recovery for my first speaking engagement in California.
I was greeted by a resident there whom introduced me to the 8 guys that lived there. They had a few dogs including a Pomeranian that became very attached to my girlfriend. She was allowed to join in and be by my side which was cool for her to see since I we will be apart for the next 60 days. 15 miniutes into my story, John Unkel arrived, he had made it. I had been only communicating with by phone in between my meetings today and he had finally arrived safe and sound. I told the guys what it was like and went through some of my difficult times blow by blow. I feel it is important to find a one common dominator with people in early recovery and that’s how to get high.
If people can understand that I used and drank like they did maybe they can realize that they too can get sober. Having been sober for almost 6 years I was then able to get into the many gifts I have been given. I shared my experience coming to Louies House, and about my fear and apprehension about re-entering school. I told them about the Center for Addiction Recovery and how it helped me get back into school, and provided the services and support I needed to be successful. I shared with them my fear of my life getting smaller and smaller entering sobriety when in fact it just keeps getting bigger. I talked about playing in bands, going to parties, going to shows and music festivals, dating, exercising and my positive experiences in college.
At the end I was able to listen to them share if they wanted. One individual particularly moved me. He had greeted me at the door and I assumed he was the house manager. He had “had” 5 years of sobriety and went back to drinking for a few years. After a nasty divorce he found himself back using heroin in NYC and his drug of choice after 11 years of being “free” from it. I needed to hear this and appreciate and admire his courage to move across the country and start over and do what he knows worked before. I was not too surprised to hear that all but one of the people were using heroin. Most of the guys were in their twenties and they shared my story. We chatted for a bit casually and they invited me to a 12 step meeting based on heroin addiction which I had never heard of.
I will be going there tomorrow evening and was told to arrive 30 minutes early if I wanted a seat. I am beyond excited and ready to have this opportunity. If just one person finds hope and stays on the path another day then it has been a huge success without technically even pedaling a mile of the route yet.