I will never forget the first night I sat in detox during my first trip to rehab nearly 3 years ago. I was beaten down, I was broken, and I felt like my life was over. I was convinced that I would never have fun again and that the party was over. How was I ever going to have fun if I couldn’t drink alcohol or use drugs anymore? After all, drinking and drugging had been the entire focus of my social life for 10 years. I distinctly remember telling another patient, “I just can’t accept the fact that I’ll never get high again.”
A month later, I remember sitting in a lecture in the same rehab facility listening to a counselor talk about “avoiding your old playgrounds.” He said that we had to change EVERYTHING about ourselves if we were going to stay clean. New friends, new activities, and new environments were an absolute must. He even said that it was dangerous to go into old environments without using drugs because it was counter-productive to the recovery process and he used one of my favorite bands as an example, Widespread Panic. He recounted a story about a group of guys in recovery who went to a Panic show and even though they didn’t use, “scientific studies” showed that it negatively impacted centers in their brains that were attempting to repair themselves.
Thank God, I’ve found that not to be true in my own recovery.
I definitely see the point the counselor was trying to make. It definitely isn’t smart to continue hanging out with old friends who are still using drugs. That’s just common sense. It also isn’t smart to go into an environment where drug use and drinking are rampant without accountability because it’s much easier for others to drag us down than we want to believe sometimes. However, when we surround ourselves with positive influences, other people in recovery who are committed to staying clean and sober, anything is possible.
This weekend I had one of the best weekends of my life at the 15th annual Bonnaroo music festival. I have quite the history with Bonnaroo. In 2009, I went to Bonnaroo for the first time and I got waaaaay to messed up. I did copious amounts of drugs, I barely slept, I didn’t take care of myself, and I created a huge mess that caused major issues between me and my family for a long time. (To this day, my parents still cringe when they hear the word Bonnaroo.) Rumors went around that I had “lost my mind,” and in a lot of ways those “rumors” were true. I was completely out of control.
Fast forward 7 years later and I got to attend the same festival with some of my best friends in recovery, and we did things the right way. The smart way. Thankfully, I have met some awesome people in my journey who have shown me that I can still do the things I love while in recovery, as long as I do them the right way. To me, that means having accountability and support. I got to experience the Soberoo group, which is a non-profit organization that has a booth inside the festival providing clean and sober support around the clock should anyone feel shaky. They held guided meditations every morning and had 4 meetings a day right there amidst the craziness going on all around. Not once was I tempted to seek out a drink or a drug, and that is truly a miracle.
Sunday night during the Dead & Company show, I felt an immense feeling of gratitude at where life is at today. Once again, I had the realization that I don’t need drugs or alcohol to get by and have fun, and that those substances literally offer nothing positive to my life except the potential to destroy everything. It’s not worth it to jeopardize my family, my friends, my job, and so much more. It’s such an awesome feeling to know that I can still do the things that I love and that I don’t have to live my life in fear while trying to hide away from drugs and alcohol.
Everyday I was there, I called my parents to check in with them, just because I know that Bonnaroo is a tender subject for them. I knew it was important to them, and it’s important to me today to be conscious of my family after the way I caused them so much worry in the past. I sent my dad videos of the different shows we saw, and by the end of it, he was telling me that he was jealous and that maybe he wanted to go next year. That’s such a far cry from the way things were 7 years ago. I’m gonna hold you to it, Dad!
I share to give hope to the person out there who may feel the same way I did, that life in recovery can't be fun. That's part of our mission at krēd, living life and giving back. We aren't trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to recovery, but we do believe in changing the way we as a society talk about it. We are also committed to giving back and helping others. Early on, we tried to assign a numerical value to how we wanted to give back and we said "10% of all our merchandise sales will be given back to recovery." But in reality, it's been much more than that so we abandoned those arbitrary numerical values. Basically, when a need comes across our path, if we have the means to help out then we do it, even if it means coming out of our own pockets. Recently we looked at the numbers, and we have given away just as much money as we have done in sales. krēd has never been about the money, and I can assure you that we haven't made a dime of "profit." If you want to help support us in our mission, you can make a purchase from our online store. Every little bit helps, and we thank you for your support!
Also, we are very excited to be partnering with some other local organizations for a new charity event. The Jackson Terminal Acoustic Concert Series will bring some of the hottest names in country music to downtown Knoxville for special acoustic performances taking place on Sunday evenings this summer and fall. The first event is Sunday, June 26, 2016 at 6:00 PM. All proceeds benefit krēd and veteran's services at The Helen Ross McNabb Center. You can purchase tickets at the link below and we hope to see you there.