Guest Post by Eli – September 5th, 2016

Big bro, Little bro
Big bro, Little bro

I used to hide. Today I am free.

Today I got to pay my phone bill.

Can you imagine my excitement? Opening a bill I can pay? Knowing I have the money to pay for my most valued utility – I am empowered to pay for my own possessions today.

Today I paid my car payment. $217.50 that I have today, that isn’t going towards a quickly spiraling addiction. $217.50 I earned, not by stealing what wasn’t mine, not by selling drugs, but by working and giving 100% at my job. I earned every penny of that $217.50 by legitimate means.

Today I’m employable. As a matter of fact, they like me quite a bit, as it turns out! For the first time in my 5+ year retail career I received a promotion (not just a sideways transfer), into a position with more responsibility, training, and best of all, a generous step up in pay grade.

Today I see what I have to put on the table. I used to have nothing. I used to grasp each paycheck tightly in my hands only to see it fall through my fingers like water from a faucet. I used to hide my car from the repo man. I used to hide myself from the police, from friends and family, from any prying eyes.

I used to hide. Today I am free.

I used to be a prisoner. I used to sit in a cold cell, huddled under a paper-thin blanket and listening to the endless cacophony of mislead souls collected and herded into the Hamilton County Justice Center. I used to play basketball with toilet paper and the toilet bowl, sinking free throws from every chilly corner of my cage, my mind on the next fix that awaited me on my release.

I used to spend hours, days, weeks cobbling together enough money to lose myself one more time in the grip of oblivion. I used to dance with death, sometimes a slow waltz and other times a frenetic number at breakneck speed. I used to be hopeless.

I used to hide. Today I am free.

In my 5 year journey with addiction I’ve experienced more downs than ups, and it wasn’t long ago that I wondered if being sober was going to continue to be this difficult. Prying myself up off of the concrete, swallowing my pride and moving into sober living, and staying sober for myself was a terrifying prospect. It seemed as though the hardship would never end.

And now it’s Monday, September the 5th, 2016. I am sober. I am off probation. One more court date to show off my shiny new diploma, courtesy of the Hamilton County Drug Court, and I’m finished seeing His and Her Honor. I will no longer have a warrant for my arrest if I step across state lines. I no longer face the impending threat of probation officers, drug tests, court appointments.

I used to hide. Today I am free.

As I write this post I am absolutely, truly overwhelmed with gratitude. Without the support I’ve had and the time I’ve spent, both in jail and in drug court, I would not be where I am today. Every day I wake up, thankful for another day of being sober and sleeping in my own bed, being able to go upstairs and make myself whatever I want to eat. Able to go to work and kick ass. Able to wear what I want, to go where I want. I used to hide from my problems. Now I talk about them with a therapist. I used to hide my insecurities with toxic, codependent relationships. Now I’m single, and I’m okay with that. I welcome the chance to better myself before I dedicate any time to romantic pursuits. There was a time where being by myself, without the physical and emotional affection of a girlfriend, was too much to bear. One of the most terrifying thoughts in the world was that I wasn’t good enough for someone. I used to hide from that thought any way I could. I used to.

I used to hide. Today I am free.

I have friends. Do you know how long it has been since I’ve had friends? Real friends? Friends that invite me out to go to laser tag on Monday nights? Friends that invite me to movie night for chips and dip? Friends that want nothing from me but my time? The answer is a long time. A long, long time.

Do you know how long it has been since I, me, Eli Taylor, has been asked to train a new hire at work? This one is a trick question – it has NEVER happened. But it happens today. I say what I mean today. I do what I say I’ll do today. I take care of my responsibilities. I’m learning how to live again. For the first time in years, and possibly ever, I feel as though I just wrenched my head out of a self-imposed freezing cold bucket of water to expose my skin to the gentle sunlight. And it feels much, much better.

I used to hide. Today I am free.

*special thanks to my dear mother, who has supported me unrelentingly through my multiple-year battle with addiction and finding myself.*

3 thoughts on “Guest Post by Eli – September 5th, 2016

  1. Hi Eli, I am a friend of Mindy’s.

    I want to tell you how happy I am to be given the gift of your sharing. It takes great courage to do what you have done…and are doing.

    You are an inspiring young man.

    Thank you for this beautifully written piece, filled with honesty and genuine heart. May all your moments be blessed!


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