If you ask me, God is a DJ!
My name is Brice, and I am a person in recovery.
I could not have imagined the impact addiction would have on my life when I entered treatment for the first time at age 14. I yearned for purpose and connection way before I was introduced to alcohol and other substances. Loneliness and feelings of despair ate at my core.
I was the principal’s son. My family was in good standing in the community where I was raised. My grandmother was an elected official. I found purpose renewing car tags and property taxes during summer vacation as an elementary student. When the courthouse would close, we would get in her Cadillac and drive to a liquor store. We would sometimes drive to a different state so she could purchase her fifth of Jack Daniels. And every time she got back into the car, she would take the brown paper sack and place the bottle under the driver’s seat.
With great seriousness, she would look me in the eye and say, “When you get older, don’t drink this stuff. It’s poison.” I couldn’t comprehend this at my young age. What I did know was my grandmother offered the love and attention I craved. She would play records and the music would echo through the house. We would laugh, cut-up, and dance. I had a friend in my grandmother. After all, who would want to be friends with the principal’s son? She received treatment for her alcoholism.
At the age of 16, I was sent to my second treatment program. It was the same treatment center where my grandmother was a patient. By this time, addiction was rampant in my life. I had been introduced to crack cocaine. I was severely underweight. I got into recovery in high school after my first treatment program for 16 months; however, my addiction to substances was replaced with anorexia. I found sustained recovery through a 12 Step program with adults much older than I.
The disease of addiction is so ruthless that despite consequences of incarceration, admissions to mental hospitals, damaged relationships, and losses of employment, a part of me still saw it as a solution.
Fast forward to this day. I’m 37. I have experienced how unresolved trauma is a trigger and root cause to most recurrences of my disease. My family has been impacted greatly, in both positive and negative ways. Our family name was tarnished in the community when I was published in the crime section of the newspaper. This was the same newspaper where I held my first paying job as a teenager. I was requesting pay advances as a teenager to keep drug dealers from contacting my family. But on the other hand, I was an honor roll student who also worked full-time.
Over my 23 years of experience with recovery and relapse, my family has also experienced the benefits of a sober son, brother, grandson, and uncle. Today my family can depend on me. I was sober and held my grandmother’s hand in hospice before she passed away. I’ve been able to make financial amends to my mother for the money I stole in active addiction. Addiction led the way to recovery. Recovery has given me greater awareness of who I am. I know that I cannot rely solely on myself to recover. I must trust others. That, in and of itself, has been a difficult and painful learning experience.
I have met others along my journey that share the same passion and joy for electronic dance music. When I say passion and joy, I mean it. I light up on the dance floor. I have found spiritual connection and healing in dancing. Dancing sweats the pain and trauma away. This avenue has allowed me to embrace the childlike innocence inside that was shadowed by dysfunction.
On tough days, I find it helpful to recall positive and joyful experiences while sober. And there are many to pull from. I can remember dancing for hours to my favorite DJ and having an opportunity to connect with them after an event. This is ironic in that what use to be a drug-induced pastime is now an integral part of my sober healing journey.
Simply being present and connecting with others who are struggling is beneficial. Helping others today comes in many forms. The opposite of addiction is connection. I offer rides to recovery meetings, street outreach to homeless youth in Atlanta, preparing meals for a local youth center, volunteering at the community food bank or mentoring with the Boys and Girls Club.
A turning point for me in my journey was being introduced to a new concept and perception about life. I often looked outside of myself for strength, acceptance, and validation. I realize that I am not my disease. The power is not outside of me. The power is within. God is in each and every one of us. God isn’t outside. This truth was covered by childhood trauma and deceit. Each day is an opportunity to reconnect with this truth and help others reconnect to their truth. If you ask me, God is a DJ!
If I could enact change, I would like to see more meditation, mindfulness and empowerment taught during children’s developmental years. Ultimately, I would like to offer a treatment program to help people seeking recovery from addiction and mental illness. I’d like that program to support music therapy as a modality to overcome addiction and trauma. I have found that when I address addiction and past trauma I have the ability to remix my future and help others remix theirs.