Lost in Perfection

A young man who strived to be perfect, and kept falling short becoming his own undoing.

I was born and raised in a blue-collar community and came from a family of hard workers. My mother and father worked in retail, and we lived on the outskirts of town. What appeared to be a normal family lifestyle hardly was not. My parents lived a laborious lifestyle, and they drank and partied when they had any time off. On the weekends, they would send me to my grandparents to get me out of the house. I never thought much of it as a child, but looking back on it, they wanted me out of the way so they could unwind. Eventually, I felt like I was a burden to everyone and even to my parents.

I was a good student in school, but something seemed off with me. I never felt like I fit in anywhere. I had a couple of friends in elementary school, but I always had the angst that my peers didn’t want me around. Eventually, the kids saw through my insecurities and I was picked on excessively. This reinforced that I didn’t belong anywhere, but I still managed to keep my grades up somehow. School was important to me. Little did I know that things were about to change.

My parents ended up getting divorced during my last year in elementary school, and they each partied more excessively because of the separation. I was starting to see their dysfunctional way of living. As a kid, I promised myself that I would not go down the party-style path that my parents took. I didn’t want to become an alcoholic. I swore to myself that I would never drink. Unlike them, I wanted to be perfect.

I became a track star in middle school and was an avid and fast long-distance runner. I became great at it with tons of practice. During one race while competing internationally, I was in first place for the majority of the heat. One of my teammates was inching up behind me towards the end. We were 100 yards away from the finish line when he was inching up behind me. While breathing heavily, I asked him if I could be the winner. He ignored me and passed anyway. I would finish in second place that day, and I took it hard. My perfectionism in everything was starting to wane, and I was turning towards self-loathing. I started to feel that I was not good at anything I did, even running.

Months before I started high school I discovered alcohol. I was curious. What did my parents find so fascinating about this liquid? While spending a weekend at my grandparent’s house, I opened up to look at the liquor bottles hidden in the cabinet. Some of my friends drank, and I wanted to experiment with what drinking was all about. I took my first few swigs of liquor. The taste was awful and burned, but something miraculous happened a few moments later. My insecurities left me, and I felt euphoria. This magical potion made me perfect, and I felt like I could do anything. Finally, I can fit in someplace maybe, and this liquid could help me do just that.

My grades started to slip in my Freshman year of high school. I went from being an Honor Roll student to a full-blown rebel. It was a badge of honor for me to get into trouble. The school tried to get rid of me, but I could always find a way for them to keep me with some smooth talk. I wanted to graduate, but I didn’t want to be in class. By the time I got into my Junior year, they told me I had no choice but to go to Summer school each year to catch up. I did. I sacrificed each Summer to be in school but did the bare minimum to pass.

One week before graduating high school I was at senior prom. It was a beautiful night spent with friends, and I drove my date to the dance. I had a few drinks before I went into the gymnasium. I danced, conversed with others, and had a great night. I got into my car to drive my date to the hotel. The cops were waiting for me off the high school property. They pulled me over as soon as I left the parking lot with my date riding in the passenger seat. I tried to do my smooth talk to the officer and hoped he would let me off. Nope. I ended up getting arrested for drinking and driving. My adult years were doomed from the start. It was not a good beginning, but I thought I could get over it once probation was over.

When I got into college I still held onto hope for success. I strived to be perfect again. This would later become my detriment because I was far from perfect. I started to analyze every flaw within me. When someone would say something negative about me, I internalized it and did everything to change my character. It hardly ever worked. I was trying to be somebody who I wasn’t. I would do this until I was no longer recognizable to myself. I no longer knew who I was.

The years would trudge on. I became deeper into my alcoholism, smoking marijuana, snorting cocaine, popping pills, and whatever I could get my hands on that would make me feel different. I changed my major multiple times in college, and my grades would slide no matter what course I would take. I finally dropped out of college, and would not go back for some years.

I ended up having two strokes in November 2015. They were a direct result of withdrawals from alcohol. Unfortunately, that would not stop me from drinking. I would drink again six months later and ended up having my third stroke from withdrawals again. On April 26th, 2016 I would quit everything. I would get my life right. Things have been going well for a while, and I even got back into college. Something was still missing though. Something big. That “something” is called God.

Without God in my life, things went well for a short while. I was operating under self-knowledge. I was going to school, and I even got over two years sober for the first time in my life. Then, on July 6th, 2018, everything changed. The girlfriend that I was dating at the time was heavily into drugs. I was madly in love with her. We started to do cocaine together, and then she presented a shot of whiskey in front of me. I was terrified. I did not want to drink because I remembered all the health issues I had previously. When she offered me a second time I took it up, held it to my mouth, and took the swig. Two and a half years of sobriety were magically gone in an instant. I took guidance from the flesh instead of listening to the Holy Spirit. Things spiraled down fast. I was exactly back to where I was two and a half years prior within the blink of an eye.

I took that shot of whiskey on a Friday night. By Sunday, we had gotten into a large argument and I ended up breaking up with her after she had crashed my car and I was injured. Later that week, I was served papers by the Sheriff’s department saying that I tried to kill her. I knew this to be untrue, and she was doing her best to have me scorned due to me ending their relationship with her. I had to go to court to win back my innocence, and I did. Major wounds were brought from this. Wounds that would last for a while. It was during this court case that I started to do something that I never did before. I started praying.

Despite winning my court case, I was still drinking. I was still praying. I was still wounded and hurt. It seemed like there was no way out. Then, on March 1st, 2019 I was given the strength to stop drinking. My story would not end there. 72 hours after I quit drinking I was having another stroke. My speech was slurred, the right side of my body was numb, and I was fearful for my life. I would go to the hospital, and I started praying harder in the middle of my confusion. This time, my prayers were answered…

While praying in that Emergency Room gurney, I was asking God to spare me. Spare me from having to die, and have mercy on me. I asked for forgiveness. I wanted to live. I was desperate. I had tears in my eyes. I felt like the Holy Spirit came down and told me the following…

“Daniel, if you want out of this bed you’re going to have to do two things… (1) You must find your salvation through Jesus Christ. (2) You must help as many people as you can until the day I take you.”

The voice stopped. I immediately started praying again. My answer was yes to both inquiries. After answering what seemed to be ghostly inquiries, my symptoms started to subside. They took me into the Intensive Care Unit where I would spend the next week learning how to walk and talk all over again. Miraculously, after they did my MRI they said that there was no brain damage. I couldn’t believe it. The nurses couldn’t believe it. No one could believe that I had suffered something so traumatic, and there was no evidence that anything had happened. I almost couldn’t believe the nurse when she told me that there was no scar tissue on my brain. Something had to have intervened. Something that none of us could have explained.

I would spend a week in the hospital, and my speech would get better. I started to walk sturdily after about 3 weeks. I was back to being whole again. I was back to my 100% health. I knew that I was getting a second chance in life. This time, I could not excuse it. I had to honor it. I had to honor God and do everything that was commanded of me. To honor Jesus Christ, and to help as many people as I could.

I would go on and work in Senior Care only six weeks after having that stroke. Helping is what I had to do. Helping the elderly was very gratifying. I knew I was doing God’s work. After working in senior care for 2 years, I would go on to work out of my local hospital helping those who have overdosed and who are struggling with alcohol abuse. It was a great way to give back. Giving back something that was so freely given to me.

At the time when I celebrated 3 years of being sober, I walked into RU Recovery. I did not know what to expect. I walked into a room full of strangers. I was mildly timid, but I kept an open mind. Everyone was so warm and welcomed me right in. I immediately felt right at home. When I learned their motto was, “Talk. Talk. Talk.” This really resonated with me because there was a time when I had to learn how to talk all over again. Is something that I don’t take for granted these days. I learned about challenges and the 10 Principles that they followed. It all made sense to me. I remember walking out of my first meeting filled with zeal and happiness. My head was no longer held low, and I felt a little braver to face the world. I go every Friday, and I do my challenges every week. I leave no stone unturned. I love discovering spiritual victory through this program. I learned that I had lots to give back.

I still have my hard days, but I also have great days too. By the grace of God through his son Jesus Christ, I’ve been given another opportunity. My bad days are a little easier to face now, and I am now aware that every breath that I have is a miracle.

Thank you, RU Recovery. I’m still very much in my infancy of learning, but I cannot stop. As long as I have breath in my lungs, I will always try to be a walking miracle through the faith of Jesus Christ. My gratitude goes beyond words. My happiness is genuine without a doubt.

Daniel

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