myIAKI // by RAUL V | IAKI

myIAKI // by RAUL V

My Journey to Recovery

On May 31
st, 2018, I was about to hit the lowest point of my life and start my journey to recovery. I hadn’t slept in days. I was beginning to be unable to differentiate the true from the false. There were brief moments of clarity, but they were fleeting and sporadic. I was a passenger on this roller coaster of life, but I didn’t know where the ride was headed. I wanted to stop. I needed to stop. But I couldn’t stop. Drugs were my master and I was to be enslaved for eternity. How did I end up in this run-down motel? Who were these people strewn about my room? When was the last time I ate? These thoughts swirled in my head as I caught a glimpse of myself in the worn mirror.

I didn’t recognize the man who stared back with those empty eyes. I made some hand gestures to see if it could really be me. It was me, and I was broken. I felt the fear of death looming over my emaciated body. Memories of a loving childhood filled with awards and accolades galore flashed before my eyes. Hearing my mother say “Mijo you have so much potential, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.” Now, all I want to accomplish is quieting my uncontrollably loud mind. I knew the remedy to my raucous thoughts. I chased the dragon into oblivion, but this time it was different. The drugs weren’t working anymore, they usually shut off my thoughts. My head became louder with each passing second. I felt like a ticking time bomb as I paced my dingy motel room. I decided to leave this hell forsaken place. Saying my tear-filled goodbyes to strangers I had barely known, I got into my car packed to the brim with all my belongings, and drove.

I didn’t know where I would go, but I knew one thing above all else. If I got a new motel for the night, it would buy me some time, and I could figure out my dire situation. A new motel, that’s what I needed. The problem is that a motel required money, and I was cash poor. I had plenty of drugs, I always made sure of that. Did I mention I was a drug dealer? Drugs had become my main source of income and my largest expense. So, I did what had become an everyday occurrence, I posted an ad on craigslist. I knew the street code which would raise the least amount of concern. I had multiple phones to ensure I was untraceable. I wouldn’t even make the sale, someone else always took that risk for me. I was meticulous in every transaction, but I was not careful on that fateful day. I drove to the parking lot like I had countless times before. I parked and sent my runner on his way, product in hand. I got my skateboard out and rode around, trying my best to look inconspicuous. I saw my guy coming back to the car, time to leave. He gave me my money, minus his cut, and I put my keys in the ignition. My runner asks, “Have you sold to that guy before?” I barely had time to wonder why.

“Costa Mesa PD!! Don’t fucking move!! Put your hands up or I’ll fucking shoot!!” I was paralyzed and staring down the barrel of a gun. Some say that when you have a near death experience, your life flashes before your eyes. I can’t say for certain that I was near death, but I can tell you that I knew if I didn’t listen to what the officer was ordering, he would shoot me. All I could think of was my family, and how I hadn’t seen them in close to a year. I wanted nothing more than to be with them at that moment. I wanted nothing more than to go back before drugs had taken over my life. I wanted nothing more than to be somewhere safe. I couldn’t see it then, but I was finally safe.

The Costa Mesa gang unit had been monitoring illicit craigslist activity. I was using it enough that they knew about my dealings. I thought I was being careful, but they knew all along. As I sat handcuffed, watching the cops take my car apart piece by piece, I realized just how small my life had become. Everything I owned fit inside my small sedan. I had this warped idea that I was important and to be feared. That I could do or say as I please without consequence. There I was, everything to my name tossed out for the world to see, a scared little boy. I knew at that moment that my freedom was gone. My small life was crumbling down, but my pride was immense. I learned what people meant by pride comes before the fall. I fell hard and was still falling. After the longest hours of my life, I was finally moved to processing, and eventually Theo Lacy. The week I spent awaiting trial was the most trying time of my life. I left sentencing a convicted felon, weighing 140 pounds, with four broken ribs. I was broken mentally and now physically.

I thought that May 31st, 2018 was the worst day of my life. I was incapable of seeing how badly I needed to hit rock bottom. That day marked the beginning of my road to recovery. I was sentenced to 3 year probation, time served, and a 90 day in-patient treatment. I am forever grateful that the judge sentenced me to treatment. Rehab introduced me to a 12 step program that works for me. I found a spiritual connection to the world around me, and life today is amazing. I have come to rely on my spirituality. I have taken a moral inventory of myself and made restitution to people I have harmed. The most rewarding aspect of my life is having the opportunity to help others. My darkest moments have become my biggest asset. I am uniquely qualified to help others recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. I never dreamed of a life without drugs. My sobriety has allowed me to restore the damaged

relationships with family and friends. I am in a healthy relationship for the first time in my life. I have been at the same job for close to 2 years. I am now a reliable, hardworking, and caring member of society. Instead of taking from all situations, I get to contribute to the stream of life. I went from having a small, sad life to having a full life beyond anything I could have dreamed. What I cherish the most today is hope. Hope for my future, and this internal visceral feeling that all will be well. I just try to be better than I was yesterday and help someone along the way.


Raul V

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My iaki is the humbleness i have had from the moment life hit me after coming out of the military. Losing everything and being homeless, hungry, tired. I call upon something deep within me to strive for success, to find the motivation the will the hunger to become successful, a role model, a better friend, the best father i can be. It has made me who i am today but i always remember those who have been there for me and to use the past for the fuel for success n with that achieving happiness love laughter.

Nigel Ali
When I’m the happiest, is when everything in my life seems to be in perfect balance. I believe for myself that the first ingredient to obtain that balance, is the relationships I have with the people in my life. If I’m able to put myself second and care about the people around me more than I care about myself then everything seems to go so smooth. I also believe that happiness is an inside job. I don’t want to only rely on exterior things to measure my happiness, because it’s never enough. I find true bliss when I’m content with what’s going on in my life. This year that has definitely been a struggle and at times being content with what’s going on seems like such a lofty goal. So I’ve just had to constantly remind myself that in this very moment I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, and that everything is going to be ok. Last but not least, I love going on a random adventure. There’s nothing better and more freeing to me than just some random trip with my fiancé.

Just to be able to get out into nature, go on a hike, or go surfing. It doesn’t matter if it’s just for a day or if I’m lucky maybe even a week. That since of adventure is special to me. It’s like my inner child, I’m able to escape and turn off my phone and just truly relax. Those moments I truly don’t have a care in the world. I wish that feeling would last a life time and never go away. But it does fade, and i pursue that feeling on a daily basis and if I reach that goal of happiness then it was time well spent.

Danny Knowles

It takes what it takes…
“I’m a flight risk,” the DA told me. And rightfully so. I’ve been running my whole life—from myself—and from anything that was a hurdle between me and my addiction. But, as the old saying goes, “Wherever you go, there you are.” Annoying, but true. Most of the time I could slither around these obstacles, but when Johnny Law was on my ass with air support—it was only a matter of time before things came crashing down.
I never thought I would have to be woken up from a heroin nod by a police officer, but when you’re asleep at the wheel—in a parked car at traffic light with cars whizzing past—the boys in blue are bound to show up. And I never thought I would choose to take off and try to get away. This is the reality of where addiction can take you, after it hijacks your mind.
“Don’t do it, James! Don’t do it! Turn off your car!” The cop yelled.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck! I can’t go to jail. I can’t detox in a cell. I have things to do, like sell these drugs I just copped, which will allow me to do more drugs. Drugs, drugs, drugs—I do it all for these drugs!”
My adrenaline must be keeping me awake, because just 2 minutes ago I was nodded off at a stop light, and woke up to a police officer shaking me to see if I was still alive. The last thing I remember before being brought back to consciousness, was injecting some black tar heroin mixed with crystal meth, which is commonly known as a “goofball.” I injected it into my leg, while at a gas station, in the $5 dollar car wash. I then drove off with my leg up on the dash, to let gravity do its work. I was heading back to ol’ girls place to call it a night, or so I thought….
Once again I’m riding my “spree” out to the bitter end, which, started six months ago. Once again I’m risking it all. Once again I’m riding it until the wheels fall off. Why do I do these horrible things over and over again? I don’t understand how it’s all come to this. And how do I explain something I don’t understand?
All I have are the facts of what I did, and my perspective of how it came to be. I broke a lot of laws in my addiction, but this night I broke one after the other. My desperate attempt to avoid facing reality and keep my heroin habit going, lead me to a life of crime. I cannot blame my drug use on anything but addiction itself. My parents gave me the best childhood imaginable, with love and support, and every opportunity possible.
That night of July 17, 2017, I was running from the cops like you see on TV. I was in a late model luxury sports car, with an expired registration, no insurance, a suspended license, and five months behind on payments. I took the plates off, and put on dealer tags to hide the expired registration. Anything to protect my next fix.
I turned right, and then left. Then right and left again. The air support was on me now, and there were cops everywhere. I drove against traffic on a main street, and then cut through a neighborhood. The cops were on my bumper, and as the speed bumps came up, I had to slow down, while their SUVs went over them with ease. I lost them for a second, parked the car under a covered parking spot, and grabbed my backpack full of drugs I’d just scored, along with the meth bong (which, I still don’t know why I grabbed that) in the center console. I took off on foot in the apartment complex I was staying at, and started cutting through the alleys.
I was running so fast, and my adrenaline was pumping so hard that I slipped, causing the bong to crash on the ground, which made a loud noise like that of a beer bottle being thrown against a brick wall. I was trying to run through the complex, to the back of my girlfriend at the time’s apartment, where I could climb a tree to the second floor and go in that way. At this time, we were both in our addiction, and there were multiple people staying there, so I knew someone would be up. I cut through the breezeways and made it to the tree I decided to spider man up, but while I was climbing, a big G.I. Joe-looking guy grabbed my leg and stalled me.
I got out of the grab, made it up the tree, and hopped over the railing with the help of the dude that had been on the couch at the time. I got in the apartment, ran upstairs, and proceeded to panic, not knowing what to do. I changed clothes, and while doing so, thought about where to hide. Then I ran into the guest room and hid in the closet. It was too late. One of the neighbors had told the police which apartment I was in.
The police found me hiding in the closet, and that was the end of my six month run. I still remember being escorted out of the apartment and down the stairs in handcuffs, while many of the disturbed neighbors watched in the illumination of all the cop car lights. It was 2 a.m. What a fucking scene I caused. What a fucking asshole I was. All bets are off with an alcoholic, drug addict like myself—at least when I’m drinking and using. Never would I have thought this would be something I’d do.
It takes what it takes, to make a change in one’s life, and all we have are our own experiences, which, lead us to the courage to want to do so. Unfortunately, in most cases—bad things have to happen in order to try something different and ask for help. I’ve never wanted to change when things are going good that’s for sure. Through my experiences of what seem like endless relapses—banging my head against the wall and leaving my family and friends with another broken heart and fading hope—I now know that the horrible things I have done will not keep me sober, no matter how guilty, shameful, or awful I feel about them. They can scare me into deciding to make a change, but in order to stay content and sober, I have to live one day at a time and consistently be the best version of myself that day. But I constantly lose sight of what that version of me looks like, so I surround myself with good people that are living the ideal life I want to live. The law of attraction is the key ingredient to my success today. You are who you hang around with, as the old saying goes. I can either run with turkeys, or soar with eagles. Today, I choose the latter.
I now have over one year of sobriety, am slowly but surely putting all the pieces back together, and have never felt more healthy, hopeful, and proud of the steps I’ve taken/made. The road ahead looks bright, open, and can go anywhere I want it to. Recovery is definitely possible.

James M

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