It is humbling to think 12 years ago I was entering rehab for cocaine addiction and today I am seeking qualification for 501(c) (3) status to help others with their own personal journey of drug addiction. I can not lie it has been a hard road until now and this is just the beginning. The journey, my story, is not over; it is only a different chapter. I remember leaving Chicago where my family and friends were. It was where my roots were grounded. The Greek culture was and still is engraved in my heart. I am blessed to be able to read, write, and speak Modern Greek, but other than my family back home and some friends that I speak on occasions, I really do not speak Greek that often anymore. I came into a whole different culture where everything was different for me. When the professors in undergraduate school (2003-2004) used words I was not familiar with I remember trying to translate (in my head) what they were trying to communicate to us in Greek first so I could take good notes, that did not work because by the time I figured out what they were saying it was too late, they had moved on to a different subject. I felt like I had a learning disability, like I was dyslexic. When people talked to me using unfamiliar words my response was delayed, so you can imagine how the other person could have thought, “Wow his brain is fried from drugs” and some even teased me about that. I mean did they think THAT would hurt my feelings? It disappointed me at how shallow they were but I was the one feeling sorry for them. Little did they know what the truth really was? Today it is much different. I do not have to pause any longer, I respond quickly but the sad thing is I miss my Greek culture. I miss having to pause to “think” in Greek about what is being said to me. Does this mean I have lost my deep-rooted Greek culture? Absolutely not! It only means I have grown. I have matured. I have been in contact with many Greeks these last 8 months and they ask me, according to our conversations in Greek, “from what part of Greece are you from?” When I tell them I am American-Greek from Chicago they complement my Greek.
Anyway, my initial plan was to go to school for one year and return to TLC, work there, live there and pursue a Master’s degree in Counseling from a university in NY. I already had a BS in Business Administration but I needed to “brush up” on how to read and study. I remember barely getting my college degree back then from DeVry. I wasn’t studious. So I decide that I need to go back one year, get a one Year Bible degree, I was fascinated with what the Bible had to say, and then come back to TLC. After one month I realized that “there is no way I can go to get a Master’s degree with they way I process things in Greek and how I am having such a difficult time understanding people. So I stayed 4 years and received my 2nd College degree. In the beginning I wrestled with God’s idea about me staying in college at the age of 34 for 4 years!! But like always god wins, here I am 9 years later of straight schooling working on a doctorate.
The first year out of rehab was not easy but it was a blessed one. I met my wife to be!!!