Home » Posts tagged 'Substance Abuse'
Tag Archives: Substance Abuse
Almost every night, those first 3 to 4 weeks of college in September of 2003, was very lonely for me. I lived in a dorm room on campus alone, which I liked but on the down side it gave me time to be “in my head.” I would think to myself, “I am 34 years old, and I have nothing!! I have 4 suitcases of hand me down clothes from the early 90’s!” I had been clean from drugs and alcohol for the majority of those 3 years, except for a 4 day binge in summer of 2002 which caused me to go BACK to the program. I had some valid questions going through my head, questions like, “is this worth it?” “What is going back to school going to accomplish?” “Why should I stick it out?” “If I choose to stick it out I will be in school for many years ahead of me.” “When will my life begin?” I knew my parents were happy that I was well and in school, but how did they REALLY feel? I’m sure they were crushed! Imagine this, who has a child and pictures this child to be addicted to drugs into their adult years only to overdose and end up in rehab? No parent EVER thinks of this, EVER! They all have high hopes and do the best they know how from what was passed down to them. I also had thoughts like, “what women would ever be interested in a man like me?” I had nothing to offer but my heart. Those long nights staying up and thinking of my past and trying to piece together a future were long and lonely. During the day it was great, college students everywhere, classes from 7am to 3pm, I worked from 4pm to 11pm…but I will tell you, form 1130pm to 430am it was a battle within my head and heart, wrestling with God begging Him to reveal my future, and, it happened. In His perfect timing after being in college for 4 weeks, the woman that caught my eyes 2 months prior who I FOR SURE thought was either married, engaged, or in a serious relationship on her way to get married, was working in the Café that night. After her work tasks were accomplished and the Café had slowed down around 8pm at night she sat next to me and was actually interested in talking to me! I was off that night doing school work. She opened up and shared her life with me, her passions, her interests etc. I could not believe it, she was NOT married, engaged, or in a serious relationship on her way to get married, she was in the same place I was, NOT LOOKING. Perhaps we were both at the right place at the right time, only by God’s perfect timing!! I knew something special was happening, my heart was pounding, and I knew in those 2 hours of us talking my guards were going down. There was something authentic, raw, and organic about her. What it was, was the fact that she was speaking to me at a very deep level not just from a surface “hey what’s up” level, but a deep meaningful place called, her heart. She spoke to me from her heart and it captured mine. Little did I know 10 years ago this September I would be married to this incredible woman named Angela!!! The Lord placed Angela in my path and in my heart 3 times prior to that night. In my pride I rejected Angela because I was scared. The fact is, that God was allowing me to experience a loving healthy relationship for the first time in my life and I was scared. Never did I have a healthy relationship prior to this, how could I? I was on cocaine and drunk every night. Those lonely nights in my dorm room ended. I had a friend who I can call at night who would listen to my pain, a friend that would stay up with me all night on the phone just to hear my story. She was there for me from the beginning. The Lord allowed her to find that key that I had hidden for over 3 decades, the key that opened up the vault to my heart, Angela found and opened it. It was a new sensation, a new journey; I was falling in love, REAL LOVE.
It is humbling to think 13 years ago I was entering a program for a 19 year cocaine addiction and today I am starting a nonprofit organization and seeking qualification for 501(c) (3) status to help others with their own personal journey of drug addiction. I cannot 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 is there 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) 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 speaking with many Greeks from Chicago these last two years 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 Transformation Life Center (the program that’s saved me from drugs and alcohol), 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 needed 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 receive a Master’s degree with the way I process things in Greek, in my head, and how I am having such a difficult time understanding people. So I stayed 4 years and received my 2nd Bachelro’s 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 10 years later, with a master’s degree, completed my doctoral courses working on my dissertation.
The first year away from the program TLC was not easy but it was a blessed one. I met my wife to be!!!
Our Mission through LIFEiLEAD is to Biblically educate, develop, train and equip men and women who have been freed from the bondage of addiction, with knowledge, competencies, and skills to become passionate leaders with integrity in all areas of their lives.
Please make out the check to LIFiLEAD and send to:
PO Box 633
Warrington, PA 18976