Guest Post: Today, I am 3 years sober.

Today, I am 3 years sober.

It took me 5 attempts to sober up, almost everyone who asks me about it knows it was during Hurricane Sandy when it finally stuck. I’m always curious why people don’t ask about the first attempt. 

I was 19 years old.

It was the last real conversation I ever had with my biological dad, who I have not spoken to in almost 10 years. I have no intention of ever speaking to him again.

My dad was an alcoholic. I asked him to quit drinking for 2 weeks "just to see if he could do it," and I told him I would be sober with him. I really would have done it with him too. When I asked him, I think I was just too scared to say “I have a problem. I don’t want to do this alone. Please. Help me.” Also, I had just put bread in our computer printer, it was a scary time.

And he looked me square in the eyes and said "No. I will never quit drinking." 

I don’t know. Maybe it was just his tone of voice or the way he said it. It wasn’t as if he was saying he couldn’t do it, it was more that he genuinely didn’t want to.

Retrospectively, I should have talked to my mom and sisters. Because I was just looking for a light at the end of the tunnel, and it turned out to be an oncoming train.

Fast forward. College is over. Somehow I survived, which is still an absolute mystery to me. I did everything from light fireworks off inside my apartment to boxing against former professional fighter, Victor Davis. I actually met my Step-Dad with 2 black eyes, a broken nose and concussion after losing that fight. My only regret is elaborately planning to steal a giraffe, but never actually following through. Either way, I graduated with a near perfect thesis in hand, did some really bad things, and hated everything. Everyone used to give me a hard time actually because I started almost every sentence with "I hate."

"Oh what a surprise, Chad hates something." 

"Let me guess, you hate that?" 

"Why bother? Chad's just going to hate it anyway."

I could be talking about anything and I wouldn't find any joy. Vermont, chimney sweeps, strange foreign currencies, there was nothing that I wouldn't find the negative in. I always wanted more or for everything to be a certain way, which it never was. For some misguided reason in those moments, I justified my convictions and convinced myself I was right and everyone else was wrong.

Eventually I found myself feeling very alone because everything in my life didn't meet the grandiose scale I had imagined. Kind of like the Lorax, except he lived in a rent controlled forest and had the ability to grow an infamous mustache. 

Then a few years later, something horrible happened.

It was the middle of winter and I was the only one home. It must have been 1 am, and the snow just wouldn't let up. While shoveling my driveway with a flashlight, I got a call that a good friend had just been murdered. I don't even remember the conversation. Just hanging up and standing there in silence. I could actually hear the snow falling around me and thinking…it could’ve just as easily been me. I had been in that house a million times, and it could’ve just as easily been me. He didn’t need to die, and I still miss him. He was a good kid and a good friend.

You can't just do things and say things and expect nothing to happen. Otherwise, what's the point? What's it all mean? Unless you’re a magician – the only census group that really can do and say anything.

I was deep in the process of ruining the rest of my life without even realizing it. I was filled with hatred, and with it, I had single-handedly driven almost everyone I cared about away from me. I don't think I would be dead or in jail if I was still drinking today; I would just be alone. Not even sad; just living in denial, alone. People probably would come and go like a revolving door, and I would be okay with it. Or worse, I’d be surrounded by people who make me feel alone. And I would probably mistaken tolerance for my words and actions as acceptance. 

And even then, it took me another year to do it. November 1st, 2012. Hurricane Sandy. I had enough. I told my family I was going to quit drinking. And when I say I’m going to do something, I do it. That was all I needed. With that being said, I’m going to make my first feature film in 2016. I’m also going to have John Stamos tuck me in at night and tell me stories of the old days. It’ll be hilarious.

Fast forward. I’ll never forget the first time I saw her. 

“I’m a little over a year sober at this point, listening to Neon Cathedral on repeat. She’s Helen of Troy and here I am, wearing a suit that’s 2 sizes too big. She makes me want to be better. I just want to make her smile every day. It’s like seeing the world in color for the first time. She was genuinely nice to me, even though I barely could hold eye contact. It’s not that I’m afraid to talk to her, it's just she deserves better than some former junkie who is rebuilding his life from scratch. But either way, I hope someday I have the opportunity to make her laugh, even if it’s just one time.”

(I wrote this paragraph in 2014, the same night that we met, after a 10 minute conversation.)

Fast forward another year. My suits are bespoke, I’m successful with my career, I don't hate, I still don't lie, I still do stupid things from time to time but nothing that will land me cuffs, and most importantly, I am the best version of myself that I can be and still working on it each day. 

Then somehow, I got the girl and I made her laugh every day that I could. We both really wanted it to go the distance, more than anything. Even despite the fact I can’t grow a beard, and I’ve been trying for 28 years. Somewhere along the line, we both got hurt. Somehow it didn’t work out. And that really sucks. Because I really gave it my everything.

This past April, I was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor that was affecting my hormones. Until recently, I kept it pretty quiet for the most part. I thought just because this tumor was benign it wouldn’t affect me and I didn’t need to keep a close eye on it. I was wrong. September and October, I wasn’t acting normal. My personality began to tilt. As time went on I could barely function as a human, even losing my ability to speak at one point. I think if there is ever a reason to be completely docile and have no rational reaction processing ability, brain tumor is a valid reason. Eventually, I landed myself in the hospital. I’m happy to say that just last week, I finished chemo injections and I finally feel like I’m back to normal. I feel like me again. A total weirdo.

It’s funny to think how it really didn't work out between me and this girl. How all I want to do is have a slow dance with her on my roof to celebrate this 3 year milestone in my life and the fact I’m human again. And I can't. And I really wish I wanted anything else in the world right now, like to rent a sheep or to have a spelling bee with truckers over a ham radio. I will probably still do those things but livestock and early 19th century technologies aren’t a priority to me. Living in New York you see beautiful women everywhere, but she is actually the only girl that changed me for the better the moment she entered my life. I never told anyone. Not even her.


I really try at everything I do now. I really do. Everything I do in my life, I give my everything. Not just most of the time, I’m talking all the time. More than you could ever imagine. And not because I crave validation from everyone, or need people to love me as it’s often misinterpreted. I put effort into everything simply because I never did before. And my old life really was the opposite of great.

Nevertheless. If you think you want to change something, no matter what it is, then summon all of the courage in the world, swallow your pride, and do something about it. It's never too late to make things right. It'll be the scariest thing in the world, but if you can face that fear then you can handle anything. If you've actually taken the time to read all of this, thank you. I hope you would be kind enough to share it. Because somewhere out there is a scared 19 year old who is asking the wrong person for help, who may not see he is capable of doing truly amazing things, too frightened to say he doesn’t want to do it alone, and just really needs to hear that the light at the end of the tunnel isn't an oncoming train.


The Mirror Poisons the Human Heart

Man shouldn’t be able to see his own face – there’s nothing more sinister. Nature gave him the gift of not being able to see it, and of not being able to stare into his own eyes…The inventor of the mirror poisoned the human heart.
— F. Pessoa

    Daunting words to hear as I start to think about all of the human grievances conceived with this demon of hyper self-awareness. Psychological complexes, insecurity issues, and could the endlessly superficial desire to perpetuate materialism also have a mirror as its root? If we were to distill happiness down to something that comes from within, from the heart, then yes, for all of the former ailments and conditions stem from a yearning to relieve something that we think our image is lacking. 

    The psychological effect of the mirror has seldom granted the beholder good wishes. Knowing what other faces and bodies look like, it’s easy to fall into fits of comparison and subsequent inadequacy. Yet the archetype of beauty that we hold as a barometer is a strange thing; it’s absolute mediocrity. Symmetry isn’t uniquely special, it’s just absolute. A beautiful face is simply even with all of its centimeters following the original formula. (A block of wood is also even, but drift wood is way more interesting.) A mirror doesn’t only stop to display comparative hardware flaws either, it swiftly indicates nuances of change to which only the projector of the reflection is privy. A small blemish, a pimple, wrinkles. These things start to weigh down the psyche with avalanche force when all they are, are organic indicators of one of the largest organs living and breathing and exhibiting the state of flux it’s always in. The results of such sightseeing experiments could, and many times do, lead to severe trauma. I can’t count how many days I spent absentmindedly fixated on a zit or blemish when I couldn’t even see or do anything about the damn thing. Those days would have been far more enjoyable had I not been cursed by the seductive touch of the mirror, which I expect to sing my praises every morning. 

   Could it be that mirrors also taint interpersonal relations, specifically intimate ones? Pessoa mentions it being sinister to see one’s own face, connoting evil. The inverse would be love, justifying the reference of the heart in the quote. Love, by broad-spectrum definition, is when one is emotionally in the thralls of another. The world and the self become secondary before the splendor of the aforementioned and when it is reciprocated proportionately, voila, love. 

    When one starts to compare themselves in physical appearance to assure safety within a relationship, things quickly go awry. Men don’t usually compare themselves with other men, and only a few times have I worried, "Damn, I hope my girl doesn’t get swept off her feet by that ripped hunk." I also believe those were the only times I used the word hunk. On the other hand (and speaking from personal experience) women can sometimes exacerbate kindling paranoia to drastic size stressing that their partner may fall for another. (I speak only of the external and that which registers on the visual spectrum. People are emotionally vast and the complexities are limitless. I dare not explore that rabbit hole here) I can only conclude the distrust in this case comes from feelings of inadequacy of one’s physical appearance and an acute awareness of body image. For if the comparison was carried out with a lesser attractive antagonist passing one's lover, the results would differ drastically. Ladies, drop the mirror mirror on the wall! It does you only harm! These poisonous thoughts will cripple you and then consume your relations. Guys, hit the gym. 

    The worst is when people compare their self-worth to others by observation of attire or bodyweight. This is a lowly low and I won’t get into the disgusting psycho-dynamics of, "Oh my god, did you see what she was wearing?" I’ll leave that one for you to just acknowledge. PROTIP: if you know people like this, weed these pernicious beings out of your life.

The Hall of Mirrors - Versaille

The Hall of Mirrors - Versaille

Furthermore, a mirror has the power to fabricate a void in our lives that we so desperately try to fill. I would rather say it has the ability to stimulate the mind to create that fictional void. Our appraisal of appearance becomes based on external objects that become the fixation points of our desires and ultimately the source, no matter how illusory, of our happiness. Flashy things are used as mechanisms to mask insecurities and materialism transmutes into homeopathy; but the diagnoses is a false-positive - you were whole from the very beginning. Oh why did you have to see yourself? 

   To bemoan, it may be extreme to say that "the inventor of the mirror poisoned the human heart", but wouldn’t the world be a bit more sincere if we acknowledge this affliction? 

(As a quick side note; working in the modeling industry, i’ve been in the midst of what are considered to be the most beautiful women in the world - individuals that bring my entirety into a stupor. And yet, some of these girls are part in large the most insecure people I have met. They are hyper-aware of themselves, unwittingly creating a plethora of worries that leaves them crippled with disquiet. I feel a huge sorrow because there is little I can do to help, even if the remedy is readily apparent. No matter what words are uttered, they go back into a world that holds a mirror up to their face that either says, "Yes, you are good enough" or "No. Goodbye". 

We must understand that if we are to continue to live in a world in which these mirrors exist, we can’t forget they are constantly morphing and distorting the "ideal" reflection. The mirror has become subjective. No one will ever be beautiful enough with such a flippant standard of measure. But with all relative terms in hand, no one will be truly ugly either.)