BENEFITING: RECOVERY ADVOCATES OF AMERICA INC
EVENT DATE: Sep 18, 2016
Joe Ricci wrote -
Mercer County Park West Picnic Area
1638 Old Trenton Road West Windsor, NJ
When I was first getting clean and sober I thought there wasn’t a life without drugs and alcohol. I thought my life would never change if I didn’t have drugs. Growing up in a household where there was a lot of dysfunction and pain, I started stealing cigarettes out of my mother’s cigarette packs at a very young age. I remember going to my grandparent’s house stealing the airplane shot bottles out of the cabinets and drinking them. All my behaviors were there before I even started getting into heavy drugs. Ever since I was a kid the world kept spinning in my mind. I was locked up in a state of mind that only some could understand. I have been going to therapy basically all my life. I think I have been on every medication possible but at the end of the day if I’m not changing, nothing is changing. This is a me problem.
There is a big problem in this world with people thinking the world owes them. I was told to go out there and get it. I use to be a big drug dealer in my town. So hustling was in my blood. So what I’ve done is switch my hustling in a positive way when I want recovery. I was locked into this hell for more than half my life believing there was no way out. My sick thinking was unbearable and my attitude sucked. I was completely out of my mind. I am only human, I am not perfect. If I didn’t have bad luck I wouldn’t have luck at all.
Going through the journey on the road to recovery I had some major losses and some major events happen. I remember my mother being in the principles office when I was in kindergarten the first week of school because my teacher was ready to sit down in her chair and I pulled the chair under my teacher. When I was in elementary school I was diagnosed with Meningitis. When I was in 8th grade I told my teacher that I was going to kill her. This was time when the shooting at Columbine High school happened; I believe it was a month after the shooting that I threatened my teacher. I was never allowed to be involved in any 8th grade activities. I missed out on everything. This is where my life starting to spiral downhill. Then when I was a freshman in high school I threw a chair out of the second story window. In high school I lost the most important person in my life, my grandmother Clementine. When my grandmother passed away it was traumatic. This is the beginning of the heavy use of drugs and alcohol because I didn’t want to deal with my grandmother’s death. So I turned to Xanax, Marijuana, Alcohol and Painkillers. I was getting high and drunk just about everyday because the pain was so deep I didn’t want to feel anymore. My attendance in high school was almost to 35 absences my senior year. They told my mother I wasn’t going to graduate but I somehow, someway, pulled it together to graduate high school. The summer after I graduated marked the beginning of being in mental health treatment centers. My mother couldn’t handle me as I was out of my mind. I put my mother through hell. I have a lot of trauma issues just from being in mental health institutions and much more. I remember one summer I bashed out windows in my house because I was just trapped inside my mind with no one there to talk to. My family tried so hard to help me but I was just so deep into the darkness.
The start of my journey to dealing with my trauma and my addiction was a rocky road but at the end it was all worth it. When I started actually being serious about dealing with my issues was October 2010. At this point I already have been in multiple mental health treatment centers. So March 10, 2015, was the day. The day I will never forget when I walked into treatment and actually was serious about getting to the core issues of why I was doing the things I was doing. You know all it took was a little effort and someone to listen that I actually trusted, my trust for people was already thrown out the window. Listen, I am a person who has no grey area; it’s either black or white. I’m not going to sugar coat this process that it is going to be easy but I know it’s worth it. No matter how bad your life is if you made it through the day you won that day. You can knock me down 9 times, I am still going to get back up and continue to fight. People that are mentally ill and are drug addicts are not weak, we know what real suffering and despair feels like. We’ve been through hell and back and have given our all to get clean and free from the bondage of the self. We are some of the strongest people out there. Every day might not be easy but I will always be grateful because some people didn’t have the opportunity that I had.
I wish all the people in this world had the same opportunity that I had. I wish the best for everyone that still suffers, there is a way out. Outside of drugs there is a beautiful life out there to see. I came in with nothing and came out with everything I need; peace of mind, serenity and most of all I am clean today and free from the bondage of self.
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