Many who struggle with addiction die or go to prison. Yet, sometimes miracles occur. These are the stories of those miracles
Trever Chiocca ladies and gentlemen
My name is Trever Chiocca. I am 45 years old and I’ve been sober for eight years. 8/29 of 2012 is my sobriety date. It’s hard to articulate the pain and desperation on a rating scale of how incredibly destructive spiritually speaking, mentally and physically speaking addiction is. It’s super hard to quantify, if I’m using the correct term. But if there was a rating scale and it was one to 10, obviously it would be a 10 and a 10 plus without a doubt. An incredibly painful journey and experience, not just for myself, but the people that were around me, they genuinely cared for me, they had to watch the mess unfold over the years. And we’re not talking about, for me it wasn’t a one or a two year period. We’re talking well over a decade in total and 10 plus all day long in the pain factor.
There were many times that I was fully convinced that I was going to die while I was in my active addiction, while I was high. And to be quite honest with you, even with eight years of recovery under my belt, there are still times where enfears that I have that I’m going to die that way. Not to sound hopeless by any means but I think if I look at it from a different angle, it’s almost a gift. I was driving around yesterday and I just happened to notice maybe five or six people that were panhandling on the corner, or hung up at the bus stop, walking around, kicking rocks, looking through gravel for stuff.
And while most people will look at those types of individuals as, “Look at that bomber, look at that junkie,” and move on about their day, I see myself. I see myself there and I get an immense wave of gratitude that comes over me. I just got the flesh bumps thinking about it. Yeah, I was convinced I was going to die there. And I’m also convinced that if I don’t continue to take the required actions that are necessary and I’ll keep it real general, if I don’t stay close to my community, to my fellow sober travelers, I’m doomed man. In the early days, I was convinced that the physical side of the addiction that I was struggling with was what needed to be addressed. So I was not necessarily, I wouldn’t say young and strong, but I was a little bit more confident in my ability to be able to go into a detox facility for four or five days, get myself cleaned up, and that was all that really needed to take place.
Soon to find out that wasn’t the case. We fast forward to 2004 where I put a period of sobriety together. And then fast forward back to 2012, which is my current sobriety date. As the years went on, I’m a hard headed dude. Unfortunately I’ve got a high threshold for pain, but as the years wore on, it was beaten into me that there was absolutely nothing….I was fully convinced that there was nothing that I was going to do of my own power that was going to help me beat the addiction yang.
Let me get emotional. I’m 37 fucking years old, there’s people out there that I’ve gone to high school with, or that I’ve served in the military with honorably. They’re raising families, that are putting careers together, that are coaching their kids, little league teams, and the last memory I’ve got of my kid was 18 months or two years prior… And it was his mom coming to get him because I was strung out and him not knowing what’s going on really. And with his excitement, he looks at me and he says, “Okay, dad. I’ll see you next weekend.” And I said, “I’ll be there to come get you.”
Two fucking years later I’m almost died and I don’t know how many times. I’m fucked in running drugs up onto a prison yard for guys I don’t fucking know. I’m living a life that’s just bad. And the whole time that this is going on, he’s being told that, “Your dad’s just not well right now. He’s just not well right now.” And for me, when you take the drugs out of the equation, I’m talking about sitting there and detoxing with no help, no aid in County or wherever it is, and the wave, the reality that starts to hit you after you start coming out of that day four, day five, it’s like smashing into the wall. And the natural instinct for most drug addicts or individuals in general, once they start to experience their own reality in that situation is to fucking run. And here I was, I couldn’t run. I was in fucking shackles and cuffs me being moved from pods to medical, to wherever they were taking us. And I couldn’t go anywhere, I was stuck and it was just burning in my head.
And then below that was every other aspect or every other individual, there’s the mom that I haven’t seen in however long. There’s the my father that I absolutely love and adore and respect, and I’ve just burnt him to the ground. And haven’t seen him, haven’t wished him a happy birthday, I don’t know how many fucking years. There’s the sister and the brother and you know what I mean? And it just goes down there. It just keeps…. There’s friends and it’s kind of forms a spear or a tip of whatever’s the most painful thing that gets you to that turning point. But for me, it was the fact that I was sitting there. I had nowhere to go. I had to face my reality and the reality was overwhelming.
So entering the promised land and I guess when we talk about entering the promised land is after you put some real grimy, dirty work in and you fight and you surrender, and you fight and you surrender, and you pick up that fucking 30 day chip, man. And it’s like, Oh my God! And then you pick up that 60 day chip, and then you pick up that 90 day chip. And then you get into a position where we’re life starts to move again. And I get so excited, man. I mean, for me, it’s not even really so much about like the big shit it’s like this morning I woke up, I opened my eyes up.
I knew I had to be here, so I had my alarm set, and I got up, and I showered, and I shaved, and I took care of myself. I was greeted by my two little ankle biting dogs and my two cats, and we have a routine every single morning where I get a bed and everybody comes in and greets me. My wife makes me a cup of coffee. I roll over, I kiss her, I tell her I love her, and then I start to look at the day and sometimes I think I’m just super grateful. Again, back to a comment that I made earlier about staying close to the community. It’s like, without being close to the community, without doing things like this, I don’t get an opportunity to really fully absorb the truth that’s actually going on around me.
The miracle is the ability to start being a part of the fucking world that’s around you, instead of being so sucked up and everything that’s going on with you. I mentioned earlier sitting in jail and the one thing that really would get me, when I was a kid and I was growing up, my dad was in it. He was in the mix, man. He showed up and again, back to the moral compass, the code. Like that was ingrained into me that that’s important and as dad, he coached our little league teams. I mean, I’m sitting in jail at 37 strung out, coming off the bad dope run and all I can think of man is that my kid might be playing flag football. I don’t even know what he’s doing right now. And to the question, what is it like today? Eight years into it… I’ve gotten the opportunity to make an amends to him.
He’s well aware of my recovery. He’s well aware that I’ve been sober for a while, we’ve had the conversations about where I was when I wasn’t well. And he understands that he has his head around it. He’s just turned 18, so he’s a grown dude now but we were driving down the road, I think it was like three or four weeks ago. And out of nowhere, it’s just me and him driving down the road. And he says, “Dad, I just want you to know that I’m really proud of you.” My ego kind of bumped in there a little bit and I’m thinking, “Well, yeah. Well, what about son?” And he says, “I just know that everything that you went through is probably really, really tough. And I never really got a chance to thank you for coming back.” And it just came out of nowhere and we have a great relationship, man.
There’s areas that I thought that I would never be able to fix or makeup and maybe there are, but God has given me a second chance at really developing a good relationship with him, and staying busy with him, and checking in on him and being there for him. So it’s good, man. Some heavy shit.
That’s some good shit.
Really good shit.
If you’re out there and you’re fighting the battle and you’re at an absolute loss for what to do or if you’re under the impression that it’s too late, or you can’t have a second, or a third, or a 25th chance, don’t listen to that lie because it’s a fucking lie, straight up. Just fucking reach out, man. There’s so many people that write it six feet into the ground, and they don’t need to. Reach out and say, “I need help.” As weird, or awkward, or uncomfortable as it’s going to be. Because that’s the reality of early recovery and recovery in general, when you start saying I need help. And then you get a set of instructions and you say, “Okay, I’ll do that.” That’s when things start to change.