If you met my husband at a party, you would be pulled in by his charm. He may sing some karaoke, Johnny Cash or Neil Diamond. He may pull out his mid-90’s dance moves to make you laugh.
If you came to our house for dinner, he would make you something fabulous, like standing rib roast or meatloaf on savory French toast. He would engage you in a Wii competition or try to beat you at a round of charades.
If you ran into him at the park, you would see him pushing his daughter on the swings, chasing bubbles with her, racing her down the slide. He might stop and ask about your child, pet your dog, chat about the weather.
You would never assume he is a recovering addict.
He grew up in a small Midwestern town, where he started smoking by age 9. He comes from a long line of alcoholics, and wasn’t even in kindergarten when he had his first drink of beer.
When I was in middle school, I went shopping, played flute in band, obsessed over Rider Strong. Jason was drinking and smoking pot. He became a carver; he still bears the scars on his shoulders, his feet, a thick, 6 inch line across his thigh. His most obvious scar is the foot long, raised, red slash along his left forearm. He will tell you he was in a car accident, he was burned on a grill; in fact, this is what is left of his arm after plastic surgery to remove the evidence of carving.
I am not sure when Crystal Meth entered the picture. I do know that he went to rehab and it didn’t work. I know that he lived under an overpass for a time. I know that his supervisor at work encouraged it so he could work the 12 hour shifts. I know that each stint of sobriety was short-lived. That he started his last round of using while he was in school to become a drug counselor.
His crash came at a point when he was doing 2 eight balls at a time. His heart stopped. Meth officially killed him. He was dead for 8 minutes, I believe.
The amount of drugs they found on him was enough to put him away for intent to distribute. He told them he only intended to distribute to his own body, but he was still put in prison. This is where he got sober.
He lived a low key life for a while after that. He moved into the basement of a family who were to become his best friends. He took a low-pressure job as a karaoke DJ, and spent his days playing video games and helping to raise his friend’s 3 kids.
In December 2004, 4 years after his last downward spiral, he moved to Anchorage to start a new life. I met him 5 months later, and we have been together ever since.
The addiction will never leave his life. There are times when he is hit with a craving, simply out of nowhere. His memory is severely affected by the drug use; he would not be able to tell you what he had for dinner yesterday. He retains important bits of information by repetition. We have been blessed in that the important things are easy for him to remember…Violet’s birthday is 4/20, she weighed 7lb, 11 oz. Anything else, I am the gatekeeper for.
He will spend the rest of his life as a recovering addict, and it will keep from things…jobs, international travel, the full trust of his relatives, who are always waiting for that descent.
But to me…he is amazing. Strong. Powerful. Gentle, charismatic, funny. He takes responsibility for his mistakes, he has made a new life.
He is my hero.