Zach's Story Part 1:
What Was It Like Getting Sober?
This blog is a part of a series presented to you by the MGMT staff. Since we spend so much of our time working and wearing our business hats, we thought it’d be fun to open up a bit and get personal.
I feel it’s important to tell my story about getting sober because nothing good in my life would exist without sobriety. My family, my relationships, and my company – I wouldn’t have any of it if I wasn’t sober. Today, my life is drastically different than it was years ago. It’s big and full and I’m simply grateful for it.
But like I said, my life wasn’t always like this, and I still relate to the pain, anxiety, and shame that I experienced on a daily basis prior to my sobriety. Although our stories may be different, I believe what we can relate to are the feelings we experience during active addiction and struggle with mental health. I relate to despair, hopelessness, and fear. I also relate to the recklessness and the damage caused by drug addiction.
In early 2016, during the scariest part of my life, I made the decision to get some help. Pausing life for the time being seemed like the appropriate response, as the madness and chaos swirled inside me, and outside of me. The messes that I created, fueled by my desire to just feel ok constantly piled up. Aside from already feeling isolated in the world, I continued to hurt anyone that loved and cared for me.
Did I necessarily want to get sober? The short answer is no. Looking at sobriety from the outside in seemed like a bleak and nonsensical way anyone can choose to live. While I was addicted to the substances I was ingesting, I also was addicted to the way I lived. My lifestyle was always fast and the drugs that I abused along the way were simply a solution to the feelings I described before. Of course, I didn’t want to give up that lifestyle, and more importantly, I didn’t know how.
In April 2016, I found myself in the foreign land of Malibu, California. In hindsight, not a bad place to be lost in. I checked myself into Alo House Recovery Center, a dual diagnosis treatment facility that was recommended by a friend who got sober there. Not knowing anything about the world of treatment and in the broken state I was in, I said yes to what was offered. Now I’m not exactly sure why I said yes on that day at that time, but I did. Some would say I finally hit ‘rock bottom’ and others may say I was ‘struck by ‘God’s grace’. Either one of those are fine. I don’t question it too much.
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At Alo House I was greeted by Chris, who appeared slightly older than me, wearing a t-shirt with tattoos covering his arms, introducing himself to me as my new therapist. While I was also wearing a t-shirt with tattoos on my arms, the difference between Chris and I was that he undeniably had his shit together. We sat and we talked for a while upon my arrival. I remember our first conversation, which I assume was business as usual for him. I’m not sure why it was comforting that Chris wasn’t some suit and tie kind of guy, but he was easy to talk to. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: I can’t imagine not having a glass of champagne on my wedding day.
Chris: Oh, you’re getting married?
Me: No, I’m not getting married, I’m just…
Chris: (Quickly cutting me off) Oh, you have a fiance?
Me: No, no I don’t.
Chris: Oh, you have a girlfriend?
Me: Well, no.
Chris: (Long pause, allowing me to look at my delusional thinking) Right.
To this day that was one of the most impactful conversations I’ve had with anyone.
What started off as a casual conversation, turned personal real quick. For the first time in my life I began cracking in the best way possible. I started opening up and connecting. I started building relationships, participating, and strangely enjoying life. I felt a lot. I vividly remember watching movies or listening to music, and whenever a tiny emotional nerve was struck, every hair on my body stood up simultaneously. I would step outside and remember what the world smelt like. Everything was coming back, quickly.
As time went on, I began to build my life up. Although a lot of work had to be done since that first conversation with Chris, I started the journey of freeing myself from myself. I’ve experienced some incredible moments along the way. I’ve traveled the world, I built a company with some of the most passionate people I’ve ever met, I finally got that girlfriend that Chris was asking about (the same girl I lost prior to getting sober), I became close with my family, and made a group of friends that truly care about me. Was this more than I thought that I could possibly attain? Definitely.
For anyone that’s thinking about making the hardest decision in their life- is it worth it? Absolutely.
Stay tuned for Part 2 to see where my life is at now.