When most people are in addiction recovery, they have this new-found sense of purpose. An energy surge, if you will, and they are just ready to take on life to its fullest extent. Whether you feel motivated to take care of everyday things or to try something that you’ve never done before, this new energy means something different to each person in recovery.
For Chris Bailey, it meant taking a walk; across the country. After ten years of living with his addiction to alcohol, prescription medications, and finally meth, Chris was ready to live without his substance dependence. He didn’t know what or how he was going to do, but with the help of his brother and with a supportive community he found sobriety. His story is one that will give you chills and if nothing else, it will inspire you. We had a chance to sit down and chat with Chris about his addiction, his recovery, and the incredible journey between.
Hi Chris, Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today. For those who aren’t familiar with your story, tell us a little about your past and your battle with addiction.
Thank you for having me, this is great. I have a twin brother, and growing up with him was cool, we always got to interact with each other. He was outgoing and boisterous and in theater, whereas I excelled in sports and ended up playing football in college. [I was] always comparing myself to him and thinking that I needed to be like him yet also feeling inspired that I’m not like him but he was still getting a lot of the attention. I can always remember just always feeling uncomfortable. Dealing with a split family was very difficult, being so sensitive. Not knowing where these energies are coming from and not being able to handle this stuff coming at me always lead me to discomfort.
I first started to dabble with alcohol when I was 15-16 and I remember from the first time I drank just that numbing out effect of being able to deal with my emotions a little bit better. Everything wasn’t so intense so it was just it made me want that [feeling] more and more.
I went to Santa Barbara I played junior college football, I was an All-American and I had about 30 offers to go play football pretty much wherever I wanted to. I just remember always feeling uncomfortable and that took precedence over the accolades and success with football and the career I could have had from that. Even in high school, I was always caught up in my head, dealing with my thoughts and my emotions. It was always on my mind.
I was never really present and the effect of that was just horrendous [and] it left me in isolation. So when I went to Santa Barbara and after a few years of football I chose to go a separate path. I was still maintaining a job, but everything was always about the drugs and the alcohol and it consumed my whole life.
It started 10 years of alcohol use was always there and slowly incorporating Oxycontin and pain medications left me homeless on the streets of San Diego. I walked out [on my job] one day because emotionally I just wasn’t stable. [I was] drinking a handle a day, on a two year meth run, and on 5 prescription drugs – almost dead. And two days later, that’s when my brother showed up.
That is the part of the story that just got us. It’s just so touching. So, you went through all this hell and you just had this breakout moment and shortly after, your brother just shows up. What did you think when you saw him?
Well, we were disconnected for a long time. We shared a room for 18 years and then he went his way – he got involved with Invisible Children and the film and all that. Me not wanting to let anyone know what I was doing, I just kind of isolated myself. [At] family functions I would show up, but I would leave early just because I was ashamed of who I was. [When he showed up] I had hit my head a few days earlier [and] I had blood all over my hair.
They were doing a police sweep in the area I was living in San Diego and I hit my head really hard and ended up getting 10 staples put in my forehead. [I was] going in and out of consciousness and I remember asking God, ‘how did I end up here and how I am going to get out of this mess?’ I think I felt God’s grace and I latched onto that. Not even two days later, my brother is in this area in San Marcos that I’ve never been. He was walking toward me and [I was] feeling this overwhelming joy – this heat surging through my body.
The spirit moves and I can’t really put a finger on it, but I felt lifted up in that moment. It was kind of a confusing moment because I hadn’t seen him in so long. It took us both a couple minutes to fully realize what was happening. We just kind of start talking after a few minutes and something moved through me and it was the most impactful thing from the standpoint of getting out of that hole from the initial state, it was the space that he held for me.
No judgement and no labels – we call it hold space. It’s just coming from a loving intent and wishing nothing but the best for the person. My brother – he’s not a therapist and he’s never dealt with anything like that before – he knew that I needed some help. Him just being there lifted my spirits enough to hand over all my drugs and alcohol, which had been my identity for so long.
So the only thing I can think of that happened with that was spirit and God using [my brother] to kind of lift me up to show me and give me a sense of hope when I had none. We ended up going into a hotel room for about 8 days while I detoxed. I should have probably had a seizure considering the amount [of drugs] I was on. Again, just him being there, he was extremely present for me.
He was just there. Without really striking any kind of conversation just being there fully present with me while I was going through this allowed me to remain present and not get caught up in my head and not to let myself talk myself out of it really helped me. There were a few times that I almost just took off. My emotional maturity at that point was not very high.
I think they say when we stop using and drinking, we stop growing emotionally and so when this happened, I was already depleted of dopamine and endorphins because of the meth use and just not in a good state. My brother soon found out. I was on my way to see someone that I had been using with for the past few years and I remember walking and seeing this direct route to this person’s house or a pay phone where I could call my brother.
We were just about to go to LA for me to check into rehab. I made a conscious decision – again God’s grace – I chose to go to the pay phone instead of going to this person’s house which could have altered the whole outcome. Just knowing that these decisions and bring awareness to the situation is the first thing, but it could have gone a completely different way. My brother came and got me and we headed up to LA and I was in treatment for a month. Which was interesting for sure.
But wait, there’s more:
Stay tuned for Part Two of our interview with Chris Bailey! Keep up with Chris on his Instagram @traindailywithbailey and check out his new project with his brother Bobby at Holdspace.us.
If you or someone you love needs help with their addiction or recovery, our compassionate recovery addiction specialists are here to help. Call us today 1 (877) 968-6283 to take the next step toward a meaningful sober life.