By Kyle Rainwater
It was suggested to me when entering the rooms of AA that I share what it was like, what happened, and it what it’s like now. From the outside looking in, my childhood was ideal. I had a strong nuclear family who understood the balance of love and affection coupled with structure and accountability. In a traditional sense, my mother was a caretaker, and my father was authoritarian. My brother and I felt cared for, provided for, and were taught everything we needed to know as young men in this world.
Soccer was (and still is) a passion of mine. Unbeknownst to me at the time, once I kicked a ball, I experienced my first mental obsession. Soccer was a constant in my life from my very first season at the age of four. As the years flew by, I began learning more about myself and what made me tick. I knew I loved soccer, hated school, loved attention, and for some reason, I never felt like I truly fit in.
By middle school, my friends were skipping school, smoking cigarettes, sneaking alcohol, and starting to dabble with weed. At this time in my life, I felt I had a clear understanding of what I would never be okay with. I had goals, aspirations, and dreams that these things my friends were doing would only hinder. By ninth grade, I was the last one of my friends who had never smoked weed and I wasn’t too bothered by this fact. I had my eyes set on a soccer career and knew I could achieve these goals if I stayed on straight and narrow.
Halfway through my freshman year, the parents of a friend of mine were going out of town. My friend decided that we were going to throw the most epic party any freshman had ever thrown while his parents were away. I, along with my closest friends started inviting everyone we could the whole week leading up. I decided this week that I was going to try weed for the first time at the party. I was anxious yet excited for this new experience. By this time, I felt that it was something that I had to do in order to earn the respect of my clique. The party we threw was insane. It felt as if half of the school was there and I truly felt alive. I found my friends a couple of hours into the party and decided to hit the joint. I ripped it, I coughed, I felt nothing. I hit it again, coughed worse, still felt nothing. However, the accolades I received for hitting the joint got me high. I truly felt a part of. This night truly changed my life. Everybody who was somebody showed up. The cops also showed up and it was all anyone talked about for the next week at school. What was supposed to be a one time thing slowly turned in to an every weekend thing.
By the summer of my freshman year, I was smoking weed every day. I found justifications for my new lifestyle everywhere I could. I slept better, it helped me focus, hell it even made me better on the soccer field. So I thought. This was also the same summer that mom was diagnosed with cancer. I vividly remember the day she got the call from the oncologist. Her whole attitude and demeanor changed when she got the news. My mom was always the rock of our family, handling every situation with tact and grace. This time was no different. We had a family meeting to discuss the diagnosis and the overall theme of this meeting was “everything is going to be okay”. I believed my parents when they said this. My parents had never let me down before and I trusted them wholeheartedly.
My mom's diagnosis was also the perfect excuse for me to dive deeper into experimentation. As she received treatment for the next few months, I self-medicated even more. She valiantly beat the cancer after a few months and myself along with the rest of my family were extremely relieved. At this time, I was unaware that I had crossed the invisible line that is addiction. By my sophomore year I was smoking weed every day before and after school. If I was not at school or playing soccer, I was focused on Mary Jane. A few months into my sophomore year my mom got another call. One we all dreaded. The cancer was back and stronger than before. I was devastated. Once again, the message was “everything is going to be okay”. As I watched the chemo and radiation deuterate the pillar of my family I knew things were not going to be okay. This time was not like the last time and once again I used this as fuel to my fire. On December 16, 2008, my mom lost her battle with cancer.
This was and still is the most defining moment of my life. Life, as I knew it had been turned upside down, and my family, was in emotional shambles. Still, I wore my mask and wanted everyone to know “everything is going to be okay”. I had done a decent job concealing my lifestyle up to this point. With school and multiple soccer practices a day it was easy to slide under the radar. On a cold night in January, I decided to attend another high school party. I was accustomed to them at this point. I was on a mission to numb my pain once again. As I sat in the circle smoking a blunt and drinking a beer, my buddy walked up and just had his wisdom teeth taken out that week. He brandished a pill bottle with pain meds in it and started asking around if anyone wanted to buy any. Without hesitation, I said, “Ya, I do”. I gave him 10 bucks and he handed me two. I downed them with the Bud Light and hit the blunt. This was arguably the second most pivotal day of my life. 30 minutes later I proudly exclaimed to my friends “If I could feel this way the rest of my life, I would”. From that point on that was the goal. What was also supposed to be a one-time thing quickly turned into every day. 2 pills went to 4. 4 pills turned to 8, and so on.
By my senior year in high school, I was a full-blown opiate addict. What I failed to mention earlier is that my Dad was a Texas Ranger. He was often out of town working on investigations which left me home alone. Grieving the loss of my Mother and not having my Father around allowed my addiction to flourish. He ended up coming home sooner than I expected one week. I did not have time to get things in order as I normally would have, and the cat was out of the bag. My father lost it. Out of what I presume was fear and confusion, he kicked me out and sent my to my Grandparent’s house a few weeks before High School Graduation. I was always close with my mother’s parents and they lived right down the street. I gladly packed my stuff and left.
My Grandparents were oblivious to the Kyle that was about to walk through their door. 17 years old, filled with 100 different emotions, all fueled by a nasty opiate addiction. I played my fiddle at their doorstep and they welcomed me with open arms. They were not on speaking terms with my dad at this point and felt enraged by his decision to kick me out. I also declined to share with them the reason for being kicked out. I graduated high school somehow and over the next few years cut ties with my dad. He knew something was wrong but did not know how to address my issues. Nor would I have let him at the time. In a short amount of time, my Grandparents started to realize something was not right. I was basically nocturnal by this time and stuff was always going missing. Pills got too expensive, and the natural progression of any opiate addict took place.
I was introduced to the needle. My downward trajectory took a nosedive. There was no more concealing the life I was living after the needle hit my vein and my family became extremely concerned. At 19 I landed in my first Detox. My arms were covered in track marks and I weighed 120 pounds. All the tell-tale signs of a junkie were right in front of me but all I could think was “I am not like these people”. The day I finished my 7 day detox I already had a needle in my arm. This was the start of many treatment stints and an even more destructive battle with denial. My thoughts were “I came from a good family, I was taught better, I know I can fix this someday”. As my list of consequences grew longer, so did my delusion. 4 treatment centers later, 2 Felonies, homelessness, and the near thought of my family disowning me, I started to think there may be another way.
My introduction to AA had changed me permanently. My sponsor today often says “Once you hear the truth, you cannot unhear it”. I had come to fully experience the saying “head full of AA and a belly full of Liquor”. On June 22nd of 2015 I found myself at my Grandparent’s doorstep with my tail between my legs once again. I begged them to let me just take a nap and get a meal and I would leave. They reluctantly let me in. They did not lecture or berate me and this completely caught me off guard. Little did I know they had been attending Al-Anon. They simply asked me after a few hours “what is your plan”? I broke down. I had no plan. I hadn’t had a plan in years. I had been living my life letting my emotions and thoughts dictate my behavior for so long and a plan seemed like a foreign concept. I simply responded and said, “I need help”. They made a few phone calls and that night I was in treatment for the 5th time.
In the car on the way to treatment, I prayed my first prayer in years. To this day it was my most humble prayer spoke and I simply said “God please help me”. I believe it was in this moment that I waved the white flag. I surrendered, finally, to the battle id been losing for years. I chose to hit the ground running while in treatment. I immediately picked up a sponsor and began the self-searching I had been hiding from for so long. I found someone who had what I wanted and asked for help.
Step 1 was truly when I asked God for help, but of course my sponsor had a litany of work around that as well. The principle of Honesty was understood through that process. Step 2 was about hope and I ultimately believe I got hope from the recovered addict/alcoholic. Step 3 I welcomed with open arms. I had run my life into the ground and the idea of God no longer scared me. Step 4 was the moment I dove into the deepest parts of myself and pulled out everything. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I courageously walked into Step 5; a conversation between me, my sponsor, and God. This step was truly profound for me and during this step I literally felt the obsession leave me. Steps 6 &7 were welcomed with open arms as well. After learning about myself in 5 I was more than ready to have God remove the defects of character. Steps 8 and 9 opened the promises in my life. Up until this point I had been living in my own recovery world. During step 9 my two worlds met, and I started to clean my side of the street. This step laid the foundation for the relationships I have today. Step 10 is done every day. An honest self-analysis of my conduct throughout the day. Step 11 is also done every day. Through meditation, prayer, service and self-reflection, I inevitably grow closer to God. Step 12 is truly special in my life today. Sitting with another man and watching God work in his life is the bright spot of my life today. I can only keep what I have by giving it away.
My life today is unrecognizable. There are many mornings I wake up and pinch myself because it feels like a dream. The relationship I have with my family is stronger than it’s ever been. I have found that I too play a pivotal role in my family dynamic and this brings me great joy today. I have a career that I love. Helping men and their families find freedom is an amazing feeling. I have a purpose today that fills me with joy. Simply said, the life I have today has been built on a sturdy foundation that is AA. Most notably, my obsession to use has been lifted. This is something that seemed like an impossible reality for so long. The beauty of the life I live today is that more is always being revealed. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I know that if I continue to trudge this road of happy destiny, my life will remain in God’s hands.
Kyle Rainwater, Business Development Representative at The Last Resort, Smithville, TX.
Kyle is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with healthcare professionals and acting as a liaison between the company and the client seeking treatment. Kyle represents The Last Resort Recovery’s brand while providing education to the community, clients, and their loved ones. Kyle entered the Mental Health/Behavioral Health field shortly after he found the gift of recovery himself. His drive and passion in the field stems from personal experience and triumphs. Helping others start anew is truly the bright spot of his life today. Addiction hurts everyone, and Kyle is committed to alleviating suffering and ending the stigma of substance use disorders. His powerful journey has helped countless individuals and their families find recovery.