Three Dollars and Grandpa Larry.

i think this is probably one of the hardest stories i am going to tell you, and that is because it is quite near and dear, and very personal and incredibly emotional to me.

it starts with my very important grandfather, larry — who turns 81 today. i am so thankful and grateful for this man, in so many different ways, and to know him is to love him. i have rarely seen my grandfather angry — probably only in recent years when i sneak his dog treats, and he hates it, so it’s totally fair. but my grandfather is a compassionate, loving man, who is soft and has the most gentle, crystal blue eyes you could ever glance into. he and my grandma, marcia (shout out to that woman, because she is my best friend in the entire universe, and has been since i was born.)

marcia — and myself, 1985

my grandpa has held a lot of different roles — army sergeant, husband, band member of the army and multiple bands (he plays a pretty impressive trumpet), father, teacher of music, band director, grandfather, substitute teacher, pastor, cribbage handler — and overall the most concerned and confidant of a person you would want to know. the majority of dining out with him ends with asking the server their entire background and a lot of times, offering to pray for them — leading some to christ, which is his favorite past-time. i respect his message and he isn’t aggressive, he is as simple as it gets, he loves, and he does it well.

as i have shared with you thus far, my life has been a bit of a mess, the last three to four years, as i tried to figure out what i was and who i was, and my story took a very, dark and deep turn, as i found myself caught in a mess of addiction — whenever i write that, it never changes, it’s almost as if my lungs are filled with tar and i can remember how i was struggling to stay alive and breathe — trying to force smiles and conversation outwardly as i was sinking further into the depths and darkness that comes with addiction.

part of message i gave to grad teens from juvenile drug court, nov 2016.

when one is on the path to recovery a lot of times — they refer to as what was their lowest of lows, for me one could consider it my jail time, OWI or even the 57 days i wasn’t allowed to talk to my daughter, and to be fair those are all things that i would never wish upon anyone

— i cannot even tell you the amount of hopelessness i felt, most days, but the lowest of low points for me was sneaking into my grandpa’s change jar, and stealing three dollars in quarters to buy two shots of vodka.

i can’t even tell you how cold my hands feel, and the warmth of the tears on my cheeks as i type that. never have i felt that low, and i wont forget that moment, for as long as i live.

they had opened their home up to me, as they had anyone who needed help, and cared for me, from the days i was born. they helped as much as they good pay for me to go to evangel, and were a huge part of my daily life — until i became consumed with my career, new relationships and a new found love of alcohol something that had personally destroyed their oldest daughter’s life (my mother) and my grandmother’s father’s life (otis, i hear he was the best, and i don’t doubt it) — my grandma is proof her parents were amazing.

but i found myself, slinking down the stairs, like a terrified criminal — slipped into his bedroom — and found his change, and i took three dollars. i was sobbing nonstop, as i realized what my life was becoming, who i was becoming, who was i? how did it get this far down, so very fast? when did my standards start dropping so low, that i didn’t have time to think — or react to my disturbing behavoir.

i slammed the change on the counter and got what i came for — it wasn’t shortly after that — that i started experimenting with other forms of alcohol. listerene, rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizer, anything and everything that could make me not feel this monster i was becoming, and the sad part was the effects of everything on my poor body, and this is after ten years of struggling with bulimia — dry skin, blurred vision, non-stop bathroom issues, uncontrollable, because, poison, hurts your body.

let me stop you if you don’t understand addiction and tell you this — i would rather be in intense physical pain requiring multiple hospital stays, thousands of dollars, essentially shitting myself and not being able to stop vomit, to not feel, that was it — i didn’t want to feel, and the worse it got — the further i pushed the door. i didn’t know how to stop.

i didn’t want to die, but i wouldn’t have survived without professional help, and still to this day cannot believe i can write that, and be sober — drinking a latte at my computer, at my job that i love, getting ready to go grab my incredible daughter (who is helping design a workbook for children who have parents who are struggling with addiction) — and will grab dinner, and a birthday cake, and three dollars in quarters — to give my grandpa to celebrate his birthday, to celebrate every good thing he is and continues to be — it was never about the money, he would have given it to me, if i had asked, that pile of quarters is worth more to me than any amount anyone could ever offer.

that moment, broke my heart — but also changed my life.