Growing Up, I Never Grew Up
My name is David Delorenzo. I was born June 2, 1981. My clean date is May 1, 2015. So that’s three years and some change. I grew up in San Diego California. I am the youngest of three boys. My two brothers are only a year and a day apart in age. Then I came along seven years later.
Growing up my childhood was good, at least on the outside. I knew how much my parents loved me. However, both my parent were alcoholics. Mom would seem to have it together when she dutifully give Dad his “two fingers of Vodka over 2 cubes of ice” but the truth was, she’d been drinking all day, too. It was never uncommon for me to come home to her passed out.
There was never physical abuse in my family. However, the verbal abuse was terrible. When we were kids, my mom got it the worst. Dad would not hold back on the cruelty. My middle brother seemed to be a target, too.
I was always a “Mamma’s boy,” and she showered me with love. Even though Mom had her demon’s, she was my shelter, rock, and best friend. I adored that women and the heart she had for others.
As time went on my parents drinking progressed and got worse. I think I was six or seven when my mom’s kidneys almost shut down and we could have lost her. My Dad and brothers attempted to keep me in the dark as best they could, but I knew something was very wrong.
She recovered and went to short-term treatment. And that was it for her drinking. She just stopped drinking. She also changed jobs and became the backbone and glue to my happy dysfunctional family.
Dad was another story; he just got worse. It wasn’t just the drinking, his anger got worse, too. What was so confusing was that my Mom, brothers, and I all knew how much he loved us, also.
He was a hard man to love and it’s only in the past few years that I realize how much I love him. Perhaps that’s because of all three boys I know the demons he battled because I have been in his shoes.
I was ten years old the first time I changed my state on mind. It was a Super Bowl party; my Dad had them every year. I went around sneaking sips of his drinks till I found myself just a little tipsy in the backyard. I didn’t know exactly what was going on only that I liked it.
When I was thirteen, I smoke my first joint and fell in love. One week later I sought out something stronger and found LSD.
That’s how it started for me; I actively searched out different drugs. I used to refer to myself as a trash can cocktail junkie and tried everything I could. Unfortunately, I loved them all and in combination.
I stayed high all through middle school and high school. While I never sold, I became known as the quiet kid with a connection to anything. Around the age of sixteen or seventeen, I tried heroin and loved everything about it. Opiates and speed became the main ingredients in every mix.
Then my party life became too important, and I dropped out of high school. I did get my GED a year later, but from that point on it was work and using more dope. At 18, I was working at a 7/11 store when my boss told me to get in the back because the cops were on the way.
The whole time I worked there I had stolen. It totaled $6,000, and I got charged with 7 counts of embezzlement. This had to be around 1998. It was not till a year later I was given a court date. That same year my parents were selling the house I grew up in to move to Georgia. With some of the proceeds from the sale, my parents got me the top lawyer in San Diego. I never stepped in a courtroom. One-year probation and restitution were my punishment.
So, they moved, and I stayed in California with my girlfriend and my oldest brother. He pretty much paid the bills while she and I got high every night. In that year she left me, and I thought my world was over.
One morning I decided to take a large handful of pills to end it all. Twenty minutes later I woke my brother up and told him. I can’t imagine how frightened my brother was that day. He was the hero of the family. When things got bad at home, he was my protector. That morning, he saved me again.
I was able to puck the pills up, and while I slept them off, he called my parents. My first charges ended up getting expunged from my record. That was the last thing my older brother would do for me before he started his own family and sent me to my parents in Georgia.
Soon after I became a Georgia boy. I weighed 90 pounds when I got off the plane. For my first year, I slept on an air mattress in the living room and stayed by my folks’ side. None of us realized how severe my addiction was. I was able to remain abstinent for that year, but my demons came out and off I went.
This time it was only opiates, and by now I had become a master of the needle. For a short time, I kept it somewhat tame. I went to school and got my cosmetology license, and was able to land an excellent job on Saint Simons Island and held it for some time.
But this job wasn’t enough to keep the demons away. My use increased and I lost the job and bounced from salon to salon. My middle brother saw before everyone else what I was and all but cut me out of his life.
In 2010, I was charged with two counts of possession of a Schedule 2 drug. From that point on, my using increased as my legal troubles got worse. I took Drug Court, but was kicked out within seven months. In my first month, I tried to kill myself and almost succeeded.
Again, my girlfriend and I broke up. That night, high on pills and crack I closed out a bar I went to. I was so “heartbroken” again that when I left the bar, I got my car up to 90 and put it into a concrete pole. Two weeks in the hospital followed by two weeks of bed rest didn’t stop me, either. While in the hospital on prescribed painkillers I was still shooting dope that I had dropped off for me.
When I could get up, I was in and out of jail so many times, that they finally sentenced me to seven months at Bainbridge, a low max recovery prison.
Even my folks couldn’t deny how bad my addiction was, but Mom never gave up hope, and stood by me. Unfortunately, she almost loved me to death.
I started using this fact and manipulating her in every way. My dad had started going to meetings and had put a few years together. He was done and wanted to wash his hands of me. But as I said I could always pull mom’s heartstrings.
By 2013, she agreed that I was not going to change by love alone, and kicked me out. Having run through everyone I knew, I stayed at the local salvation army for some time.
Walking one day, the probation field agent saw me and searched me on the side of the road. He never found my dope, but he did see my needles. After 30 days in jail, I was taken to court. The judge was about to pull all my probation and send me away when a woman I hold dear to me spoke up on my behalf. I was given a chance and sent to treatment in Statesboro Georgia. I did well for 8 months till I relapsed. After two weeks of using, I went to them and asked for help.
At this point, my mom started getting really sick. Her years of drinking were catching up; she had developed two kinds of cancer. For reasons only he knew, my dad picked up where he left off and started drinking again. The treatment I was in put me in detox and as soon as I got out called me into a meeting with the director and my probation officer on the phone. I was told I had one more chance; go to a long-term rehab in Gainesville Georgia.
The Time and Place I Started Growing Up
I had heard of The Way Up years before and said I would never go there. That day I surrendered. On May first, 2015, my belligerent father and very sick mother picked me up. Let’s just say it was not a good ride. I arrived at The Way Up around 2 PM that day. After my intake, I was saying goodbye to my parents.
Dad didn’t say much when they dropped me off at The Way Up, but my mom's words stuck in my heart. She said this was the last thing she could do for me and to make The Way Up work for me, and if I didn't, never call again. Click To Tweet
I knew in my heart that she found her courage to cut me off at last. So, I stayed. When I did my resident interview, the men asked me what, if anything, would keep me from completing this program.
I told all 50 men that if anything happens to my mom, I’m following her. Then mom got worse. She was put in hospice. I got to go see her a few times. Every time she was so sick and out of it, I’m not sure she knew if it was one of my brothers or me.
But in November I went to visit her and its to this day one of my greatest gifts. She was awake and very much in good spirits. We laughed and cried and watched stupid TV, and it felt like old days before it all got bad. She got to be with her son. Clean and sober.
On December 18 of 2015 at seven in the morning the phone rang, and before touching it, I knew it was for me. My mother had passed away and been called home. I was lost. It felt like life had been sucked out of me. I wanted to run to my old life and stop hurting.
But the people in my program surrounded me; sitting with me and not leaving me alone. I’ll never forget what the Director, Roland Bagwell, Program Director, Marilyn Davis, and my counselor, Joe P. told me.
Although they all worded it a little differently, each said that if I went back out and used my mother as the excuse, I was disrespecting her memory. I knew they didn’t rehearse this just for me, but each said the same thing.
So, I stayed. I worked with my sponsor and my program, and while the hurt still is not gone, it’s gotten better.
However, my dad’s spirit seemed to die with her. She was his wife for 41 years. He sank into a deep depression, stopped attending his meetings, and started drinking again. He quit eating, bathing, cleaning, and for the most part, stopped picking up his phone.
Once every month, I went home to see him. I can’t put into words what I saw and how it progressed. I think back now, and realize that seeing him spiral out of control helped fuel my recovery for some time.
In June 2016, I went to see him. I made him shower, and I took him to dinner, which was probably the first thing he’s eaten in days. Sunday, we went to a movie, and while it was rough, we had a good time. Before I headed out, he stopped me in the driveway, and he would not let me go without making sure I knew how much he loved me and how proud of me he was.
As I got in my car, I knew that was the last time I would see my father. I got the call at work on 7/5/17. He drank himself to death. I once again used the program and my brothers in recovery and have been able to get through it.
I have since become a graduate of The Way Up. Every day I am given a chance to give back and help the new guys coming in. Most Saturdays, I spend several hours cutting hair for the men in the program. It’s a great way to get to know the newest resident and help him feel a little better about his appearance.
My middle brother has become one of my best friends. My older brother, married and the father of four, now wants me to be an uncle to his kids and finally meet my two youngest nieces who were born while I was in active addiction.
Life is good today. So, I sit and write this with a little more than three years clean. My new life, my clean life, has had the losses I didn’t think I could survive. But I got through them.
If you are reading this, I hope you hear one crucial thing. No matter what life deals you, big or small, good or bad, you never have to use dope to get through it.
We, as recovering addicts can get through anything with help from others.
I want you to know this, you are loved, and your life matters.
Bio: David Delorenzo
He’s a part-time butcher and hairdresser, but he doesn’t use the same tools for cutting hair as his butchering.
His full-time job is at a tool company in Gainesville, GA where he works with many graduates of The Way Up.
These men all contribute to this positive environment and work hard to remove the public perception of addicts and alcoholics.
He’s an active graduate of The Way Up and sponsors two men.
Writing, and recovery heals the heart.
Thursday Truths are the stories of addiction and recovery. When we read these Thursdays Truths, we get to see how each writer is confirming the message that recovery works. With each person who reads the Thursday Truths, that’s one more person who feel hope that they can make it, too.
How you tell your story will be different than someone else. Your experiences are different. But all of our stories and experiences in addiction are a repeat of the negative, just as our stories and experiences in recovery reinforce the positive. When you’re ready to share your message of addiction, recovery, and hope, consider a guest post.
If you’re a man living in the Southeast and need treatment, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll set up time to talk.