I guess you could say I was your average outcast.
I came from a family where my mother had a crippling mental illness and my father living in another part of town that to me seemed to be light-years away.
When I was younger, I moved from school to school so often that I never really understood what a friend was or how to fit in. I faced many challenges, like being bullied at school for not being smart. I remember students rushing over to my desk when report cards got handed out just so they could ridicule me. After getting broken down at school, I would come home every day to a new traumatic event inflicted on me by my mother.
What helped me was soccer. I was a star soccer player on my city’s competitive team. My dad picked me up and took me to soccer practices or games almost every other day so that was my escape from everything; the field was my safe haven.
This went on till the end of grade 7 when I was 12 years old. I was so sick and tired of the emotional abuse I was receiving at home and school. I still remember the day that I asked my dad if I could come move in with him. We went to go get soup from our favourite oriental restaurant. I looked at him in the eyes and said “Dad, can I come live with you?”
He looked at me and said “yes”. I was so happy and filled with joy. All I needed to do now was plan a way for me to make this drastic move. Going to my mother with a mental illness and telling her that I wanted to move in with her ex-husband, the one person in the world whose name she never wanted to hear again, was not an option. So I pulled a fast one. One weekend while I was visiting him, I simply stayed there.
The backlash from that decision was so horrible that it completely deteriorated my relationship with mother, but somehow I felt free on the inside.
I felt so free that I decided to quit soccer. First because it became a drag to get to the practices and second because I wasn’t living with mom, so a lot of my stress wasn’t there anymore. Also, I didn’t really excel on the field any longer, I had started getting lazy, didn’t take it seriously so I finally quit.
Fast-forward to Grade 9 in a brand new city. Starting high school where everyone seems to know each other was rough. It got so depressing for me that I failed everything and was never happy. My dad talked to me almost every day, pressuring me to be successful at school. He was disappointed at me for failing even the basic subjects like music.
Max’s WTF Moments
I was so depressed and lethargic, that one day after school when I went up to my room, my dad followed me up and asked me, “Max, are you taking anything?” I looked at him and said, “What do you mean?”
I was literally so clueless to what he meant until he asked me flat out if I was on any drugs. Now at the time I wasn’t.
But he kept persisting that I tell him and pushed and pushed until I just finally said “Yeah, yeah, I smoke weed” I really just wanted to see what his reaction would be because he obviously he had something he wanted to say.
He told me that he had kind of figured that out, but that it was totally okay!
He also told me at the same time that smoking weed was a waste of time. But I had already tuned out after he’d said it was okay; that’s when I had my first WTF moment of my life.
After our little talk I didn’t think much about it until the following Friday, when he called me and said, “ Look on top of your dresser.” There I found a joint rolled and had the second most WTF moment of my life.
I was so stoked to go smoke weed for my first time – I literally jumped around like a little kid. I sat down and smoked it and I felt f-king amazing. Everything tasted better, everything felt better, everything was just way better high.
I smoked it every day; at lunch and after school and that’s how I finally found my first group of friends. So began my mental addiction to weed.
I wasn’t just smoking weed to cope with the negative stuff I felt – the problem was I also had to smoke with these guys so they wouldn’t leave me. I hadn’t had friends in a long time so I wasn’t about to let this opportunity slide away. I started skipping every day to go smoke with these guys and ended up flunking Grade 9.
Then I had to go to an alternative learning school, where most troubled teenagers end up. I was still smoking weed almost daily but some how got my shit together and passed my grade 10.
While I was in Grade 10, I realized that smoking every day isn’t cheap and I needed a way to keep up with my habit, so I started selling it.
That’s when I met my next new group of friends. One day, as I was walking past the local dealer’s house , he stopped me and asked if he could buy some weed. He started talking to me about other drugs, and how selling those other drugs was way better then selling weed. That’s when a wad of money accidentally fell out of his pocket. Looking at the money, I was star struck; he instantly became my new mentor. I wanted him to tell me how to sell it and everything in between. This guy to me was the coolest.
He had tattoos everywhere, women all over him – I wanted to be just like him to the point where everyone started calling me the little version of him.
I did my first line of cocaine with him, my first Xanax with him; I even smoked crack and meth for the first time with his friend. I felt like a god. I went to school everyday in Grade 12 high off my ass. I got involved in serious criminal activity like robbery and drug trafficking large amounts that I’d end up taking myself , and then owing him a ton of cash.
I started owing him so much money at one point that I literally had to sell him my clothes and some other things just to get more.
I met a lot of messed up people; women who couldn’t see their daughters because they were hooked on crack, guys living in tents stealing money from their parents to smoke meth. My life was occupied by addiction to cocaine, Xanax and criminal activity. I couldn’t keep a job, I was barely scraping by in school: the only things that mattered to me were drugs, money and violence.
One day I was at the house of a guy who was my main drug supplier along with someone else I thought was my friend. He showed me a shotgun and asked if I could hold on to it for him. I was nervous as hell just looking at it, but I went ahead and took it anyway. I was worried that if I didn’t hide it for them they think that I was afraid or something so I did it – I hid the shotgun in my house.
I think I did it to feel loved. I wasn’t getting love anywhere in my life, so I started looking for it in all the wrong places and it led me here.
I had gone from being a star soccer player to becoming heavily addicted to cocaine and Xanax and having a gun in my room. I was dead broke, and owed that dealer about $1500.
After a while, I started feeling like I didn’t belong in my body every time I did any drug. The drugs I used were allegedly supposed to make me feel more social, and yet I started to feel more quiet and reserved. I was losing sleep, losing weight and my face looked drained.
I got really real pissed off whenever I’d look in the mirror. The person I saw just wasn’t me. My social life and my family life deteriorated, and I almost died several times from an overdose.
As time went on, I just kept on adding more and more problems until one day, I heard my dad shout my name. I went downstairs to see what he was shouting about and Boom! Right in front of me was the shotgun I was hiding in my room.
My dad was absolutely wide eyed and I was speechless. I was thrown out of my house, with my stepmother threatening to call the cops on me. I will never forget that look of disappointment I got from my dad. I had nowhere left to go, everything felt hopeless. I wanted to kill myself.
I never will forget that all-important life shattering moment where I said. Enough was enough!
I couldn’t even afford to do drugs anymore; I still owed that “cool” friend of mine 1500$. I had nowhere to go but back in with my mom. She was generous enough and had been taking her medication for long enough I felt safe. Well, I felt a lot safer then I did where I had been doing drugs anyways.
While I was away from everything, I had no job, no money, there was only one thing I could do and that was reflect. I decided that living with my mom was going to be a whole new page of life for me and I would never ever touch drugs or go near those kind of people again. Now that it’s been a while, I realize that drug dealer wasn’t so cool and he wasn’t my friend.
I got clean, started eating healthy again, doing things I love, like making music and started surrounding myself with people with high academic values. Although days are still rough for me sometimes, I know deep down that my dad finding that gun in my room was the best thing that could’ve ever happened to me.
A New Life in Recovery
Max is meeting new people, enjoying his healthy lifestyle and working out to regain the physical strength he lost while abusing drugs. He hopes to begin public speaking, like one of his inspirations, Recovery Advocate, Chris Cull.
Max wants to help make an impact and inspire youth by really bringing a new dynamic to educating the dangers of drug abuse to kids.
“I am still very young and I feel like when kids see someone who is not in their age bracket speaking to them about such serious issues, they don’t take it seriously – I know I sure didn’t back in grade 9! I feel that talking to someone they can relate to, like me, can help kids understand the WHY.”
If you would like to get in touch with Max, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.