Chemical Diet

What's Your Purpose?

I've been receiving so much positive feedback from the That Sober Guy project. It feels great to do something for all the right reasons instead of all of the wrong ones. I really appreciate all who have taken the time to send me or my wife positive comments regarding the new site and podcast. This new journey means something to me that I have never really felt before. Some may call it passion, some may call it motivation, some may even call it crazy. I think I'd like to call it my purpose So what is your purpose? 

I had been searching for it ever since I can remember. When I was a kid, I thought it was to play baseball. I loved and still do love the game. But when I look back now, I see that as I got into my early teens, I was playing to fulfill someone else's dreams, not my own. I still played through high school, but eventually gave up and stopped shortly after I graduated. My heart was not in it.

Then I became a musician. I got into punk rock around the age of 15 from a friend who introduced me to bands like The Dead Kennedy's, NOFX, Suicidal Tendencies, Voo Doo Glow Skulls, and many more. One of my favorites around that time was a band from the Bay Area called Link-80. The singer, Nick Traina, was a huge influence on me, and I would credit him with inspiring me to start writing poetry and music. He died of a drug overdose at the age of 19. Although I never got the chance to meet Nick, I have always felt some sort of connection with him and remember it hitting me hard when I found out he had died. The way he died always bothered me too.

I was also following a new up and coming local band at the time called Papa Roach. I remember seeing Papa Roach and Absolute for the first time in the old Live Music Center off of Alamo Drive in Vacaville. My good buddy Ray took me to the show and introduced me to my first mosh pit. I was standing all stiff, nervous and not really knowing what to do. Rays words were something like "You just got to let loose man, let it all out".

Needless to say, I did exactly what he told me too, and damn did it feel good! Finally I had found a way to get all of my anger, frustration, and aggression out. What a release it was. Jacoby from Papa Roach was also a big influence on me. I liked his style, and I liked that he was a madman on stage and always put everything he had into his art. So at 18, I joined and sang in my first band, called Dystratic. I remember playing my first show up in Chico. There was probably only 5 or 6 people there, but I didn't care, I rocked out like I never had, and it was an awesome feeling. I also played in another band called ELE. We played quite a few shows and had some good times. Around this time is where my substance abuse really took a step to the next level. As far as I knew, that's what musicians were supposed to do, rock out and party hard. I was going to be a rock star...right?

In 2007 I wrote, recorded, and completed my first acoustic album. It was all done low budget out of my home studio, but I was proud of it, and proud that I had done it all myself, even if it never sounded good enough to me. ( Side note: I've been told that many Alcoholics and Addicts share the same problem that I do, nothing is ever fucking good enough!) Shortly after that, me and my good friend Chris from Absolute decided to start a side project. We named it Chemical Diet. I guess the title speaks for itself. We recorded it over a 3 year period, and in 2011 released the album on iTunes. We had worked hard on the album, and I am proud of the work we put into it, even if I'm not too proud of some of the things we were doing during that time. To me, it's like a journal of the shit both of us were going through in those days.  I have learned though that my past has made me the man I am today. As for Chris, I love you brother.

The call came around 10 pm or so from my other buddy Chris C. He said Chris had been in a car accident driving home from work and he may not make it. He suffered major head trauma and was in a coma. On my way to the hospital, I was sure he was going to die. From what I had heard, this was as bad as it gets. I couldn't help but think about all the times we had gotten fucked up and drove, or could have ended up like Nick after a late night party binge. Why was this happening? We were supposed to be untouchable. Chris was a good dude; he was just going through some rough times like many of us. Why him? Would he make it? What was going to happen? These were some of the questions that were racing through my head.

When I got to the hospital, Chris looked terrible. There were tubes coming out everywhere, and he was all swollen in the face, still with dried blood around it. I guess it looked like what you would expect from a fractured skull and fractured face. His mom and brother were there, praying and hoping for the best. I stood there blank faced looking at my friend, asking God to give him one more chance.  At that moment, a tiny part of me started to wake to the reality of how short life can really be. I started to realize that each and every one of us has a purpose in life. As bad as this situation was, and as Chris lay there with his life in jeopardy, at that moment, he was right where he was supposed to be. There are no coincidences.

After around 50 or so days in the coma and countless surgeries to relieve pressure in Chris's brain, he finally woke up on his own. Lucky for me I happened to stop by the hospital that very day. I'm not sure if he remembers this, but the first mumbled words out of his mouth when he saw me were, "I'm done". He had a long and hard road of recovery ahead of him.

It will be 2 years this June since the accident, and Chris has been recovering, slowly at first but progressively better over the last year . His speech was affected which I know has been hard for him, and the accident left his whole right side damaged which has made it difficult for him to walk and to do what he loves the most, play piano and produce music. I'm still lucky enough to have a lot of music he produced over the years. In fact, the intro and outro to my podcast was produced by Chris. He still continues to fight and refuses to give up, and I'm proud of him for that. Both of our aspiring music careers pretty much came to a halt as far as the Chemical Diet project was concerned. I was starting to think that maybe a career in the music business was not my destiny after all. I was passionate about music, but I was in it for all the wrong reasons. Chris and I speak or see each other when we can, and in all honesty, it is still makes me sad to see my big brother in pain. Learning how to cope with his new life I'm sure is no easy task. . I wish him the best and know God has a plan for him, as he does for all of us.

Despite this wake up call that God sent us through Chris’s experience, I continued doing the same things I had been doing, all the while knowing I wanted and needed help, but not knowing how to ask for it. It was much easier just to act like everything was fine, put a smile on my face and go about by business. As my addictions and alcoholism progressed, I found myself in one of the darkest places I had ever been in my life. My pride and ego stood firmly in the way of the true reality of my life. The humility of having to admit my character defects, my imperfectness, and my alcoholism was a miserable thought to think of to say the least. But I was dying inside, and I could no longer take it. I was ready to give up, throw in the towel, and ask God to take away all of the burdens that weighed so heavy upon me. The day that I found the courage to say out loud to my wife “I need help”, was the day my life changed, and I truly began to live again.

My purpose is to help make people aware and help them talk about alcoholism, addiction, and recovery by sharing my own experiences. There is nothing shameful, nothing weak, or nothing degrading about admitting the truth. The addict or alcoholic come from all types of backgrounds. There are doctors, lawyers, cooks, janitors, construction workers, nurses, homeless, rich, poor, black, brown, white and many more who all suffer from this disease. Alcoholism and addiction does not discriminate. I am not ashamed to be a part of this group of people. It made me the man I am today. If you are struggling with alcoholism or addiction, or just struggling with life in general, there is hope. I changed. I found my purpose in life. If you want it bad enough, you can change & find your purpose too.

Please help me spread the word. Leave a comment or share this article.  By doing so, it may find its way to someone who really needs it.