Day 9…

What do you want to be when your grow up? A fireman? Police officer? Pilot? Mom? Actress? Don wanted to be part of a motorcycle gang. His church growing up had a special ministry to a local biker gang, and the more he learned about them the more he dreamed of becoming one of their members. Here’s his story:

*Note: to protect the identity of the people mentioned in this story their names have been changed — thanks!

Don grew up in a Christian home, attended Christian school, and asked Jesus into his heart when he was a child. Although he was scared of his dad, he loved his mom and she was the biggest influence in his life. His family attended a small Presbyterian church in Hartford, Connecticut where his dad served as a deacon, and it was at that church that Don first came in contact with a motorcycle gang.

The pastors had felt God leading the church to minister directly to this gang, and as a result these rough bikers spent a lot of time at the church. Don thought they were really cool, and instead of helping them become better — he began to dream of becoming like them. Although he never made it past dirt bikes, this dream would still shape his life in many ways. But that’s getting ahead.

Don’s favorite activity growing up was sailing, and he was good at it. Growing up relatively close to Nantucket and in an upper middle class family meant that he had access to several amazing boats. Talking to him about sailing was like talking to a mechanic about an engine — he was passionate and excited and all I could do was smile and nod. The first boat he mentioned was a Pearson 24 and then over time he upgraded to a Tartan 34. He described both as sleek and fun, and you could see the joy on his face as he described being on the water.

When Don was a senior in high school his parent’s put him on what he called a “school boat.” Basically, he sailed around the Caribbean for a year while finishing his education. It was strict and regimented, and he described it as a boarding school on water. He said he was quite rebellious as a kid, and that his parents had sent him sailing to find some discipline. Here’s how he described the captain:

“The students were the crew. I didn’t get a long with the Captain very well when we were docked. He really appreciated the fact that I could take the helm in a storm, so we got along when we were sailing. But whenever the boat was still we would but heads.”

After school Don went back to Conneticut and got married to Julie , he said she was a partier but after getting pregnant with their first kid she quit everything. Unfortunately, however, Don kept “going up and up toward the stars” as a “functional drug addict.” They ended up having three kids, but Don never stopped or even slowed down his lifestyle. While Julie spent most of her time working because she had good insurance through work, Don became a stay-at-home dad. He described himself as “tired,” and when I mentioned to him how I sometimes struggle with only 2 kids in the house he began telling me about his “helper.”

“Drugs have always been a part of my life. I was introduced to heroine, and it became a helper so to speak.”

“Did your kids know?”

“Not for a long time. In fact, my wife didn’t even know for a few years even though it was a 10 year addiction.”

But soon she figured it out, and after some run-in’s with the law they were split. Don said that the hardest part was not seeing his kids. He had always been scared of his dad growing up, and had done everything he could think of to love on his own children. Looking back he thinks that he went too far, but I don’t think he has any regrets — he was a very loving father.

One day Don got caught for possession, and was facing his first prison sentence. On the way to his court appearance, however, a friend convinced him to skip town and drive around the country for a year. Don talks about this experience as some of the best days of his life. He said they would stop and clean floors or do other odd jobs for gas money, but the rest of their time was spent exploring the country. It was during this year that Don went completely off drugs for the first time in his life. Although he described some really bad initial withdrawals, he also described the freedom he felt — the victory.

Don finally got tired of looking over his shoulder, however, and went back to Connecticut to serve his time. As he approached parole, he found out that some petty thefts he had committed in Colorado had caught up to him. And within days of his release from prison was shipped to Colorado to serve a minor sentence. Again he got out of prison, and this time he was committed to staying clean — until he met Joy.

Part 2 Continued Tonight.

Do you have any addictions — things that you couldn’t live without? Do you think TV shows could fall under this category? What about gluttony? You may comment below…

*Note: to protect the identity of the people mentioned in this story their names have been changed — thanks!


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