Tom Becka: Hello. Welcome to another episode of tombecka.com, where everyone has a story to tell. If you take a look at the stories we’ve done in the past, you’ll see that there’s a broad range of topics and personalities that we’ve addressed.
Everything from people that have overcome things like breast cancer to ballerinas to a man with autism to the Vietnam vets. Just down the list here, a couple of apprentices of Polyrama. Down the list of a lot of different topics, a lot of different type of people.
We’ve never done one quite like this before. This is one of a gentlemen who, through his own admission, messed up his life. Drugs and alcohol took over to the point where right now, he honestly believes that a point of this interview, he is two weeks away from being homeless. He’s scared. He’s worried. He doesn’t quite know what to do.
He’s doing this podcast hoping that maybe others won’t find themselves in the situation that he’s in. I think he’s also doing this podcast to try to maybe find some answers for himself. He is searching, he is hoping.
He is trying to overcome these demons that torture him. This is a very poignant, a very emotional, and a very intense interview. Hopefully, at the end of it there will be a happy ending.
If you want any information on this man, if you think you can help him in some way or offer a word of support, you can contact me at tombecka.com. I will relay the messages to this man, a man that needs some moral support, a man that needs a little guidance. I told him I want to have him back on this podcast a year from now and hear how he’s doing, here on tombecka.com.
Tell me about the good times. First of all, how long ago were the good times and what were they like?
Guest: It’s been so long. There are bits and pieces. It’s still hold that I think our last good time was probably the last Christmas that we had in our old house, which would have been not this last Christmas, but the Christmas before that.
I think that was probably the last time that my whole family was together, not all the ones that are gone, of course. I think that was the last time I saw my sister-in-law. She now has nothing to do with me.
Tom: You had a good job, a good family and then it all started crumbling down. Drugs and alcohol, was that the problem?
Guest: Yes, sir.
Tom: What was your drug of choice?
Guest: It’s actually been three. I’m a three time loser, Tom. I don’t know how deep you want to go in this story?
Tom: Whatever you want to tell. Whatever you want to say.
Guest: I started out like most kids of my generation. I started out smoking some dope. I never took to it, never got addicted to it, never had to have it. But it’s been something; it’s been all throughout my life. There’re still people I know that smoke it.
Probably my first addiction, the one that clung on the longest was alcohol. I craved it, and had to have it. It has cost me, it cost me my second career.
Tom: At what age do you think you became an alcoholic?
Tom: 18, that’s right away .So when you started drinking you started drinking heavily?
Guest: I started drinking very heavily.
Tom: OK, but you were able to keep it under control for a number of years. Hold on to a job, a family, and everything?
Guest: I was a deacon in the Baptist church.
Tom: Anybody had any idea what you were dealing with?
Guest: No, that’s an unfortunate part of my situation, it’s part of the pain. The anger, the hurt, the things that I deal with, the depression. So much has been thrust upon me that I didn’t have choice. I think that’s what I was trying to say at that point.
Tom: What sorts of things were thrust upon you?
Guest: Again, we are bouncing a lot. One of the big things in my life, that has driven my depression, has driven my addictions, has driven my trips down these roads are the deaths of my family.
The loss of my family. Johnny was my last brother. He was my oldest brother, the oldest brother of the family. He was a hell of a man. I lost him.
Can I stop for a second, Tom? Because I’m rambling. Can you read back what I was saying?
Tom: You said you started drinking when you were 18 and you felt like you were an alcoholic at 18. Then, people in your family were dying, especially your brother, Johnny.
Tom: Johnny was a guy that you were close to. From that, you became depressed. To deal with that depression, you got into alcohol and drugs.
Guest: Yeah. I’ll start from the start. My addiction started like anybody else. Really alcohol, I said growing up growing, smoking marijuana, doing some speed here and there, I think in the era that I grew up, we probably experimented with it all as long as it didn’t have a needle attached to it. I never cared for that, never got addicted to anything except for alcohol.
Alcohol was a constant all through my life. All through those years growing up and then into the early years.
Tom: Had you gotten busted with DUIs or spent time in jail for any of that or did you? No? You always kept it under control?
Guest: I never got a DUI.
Guest: I walked away from accidents where I’ve ran off the road. I fell asleep, put my head in a policeman’s lap and he let me drive home. I lived a blessed life, Tom. I thought I did. I had a decent childhood growing up. My mom, my dad did divorce when I was 13. Both my brothers were grown by then and pretty much gone. Jeff and Johnny.
Tom: You say you started drinking at age 18. At what age were you when you realized “Oh this isn’t just for fun anymore, this is a real problem”?
Tom: 45. You were 45.
Tom: So, pretty much your entire adult life, because how old are you now?
Tom: 52. OK. So, pretty much your entire adult life, you’re drinking, you’re using, and don’t really see it as a problem.
Guest: I always saw it as a problem.
Tom: Oh, you always saw it as a problem? Did you have any desire to stop up until 45?
Guest: Mm hmm.
Tom: You tried and couldn’t? How long has it been since you’ve had a drink or drugs?
Guest: I can’t even think on a drink, Tom. I gave up drinking four years ago. I’m not good with dates. Unfortunately, my past is so painful that I don’t keep dates in my head. I don’t keep dates of deaths and shit in my head.
The last time I used drugs would have been the last time I used the drug that I have been addicted to, which would have been approximately four weeks ago.
Tom: What drug is that?
Tom: I’m sorry. What?
Guest: Synthetic marijuana.
Tom: That shit’ll kill you.
Guest: It’s legal.
Tom: Yeah, well…
Guest: It’s legal.
Tom: Why did you try it knowing that you’re having these issues? Why did you do it?
Guest: We’re talking probably a three year addiction of this. I tried it, and actually, I tried it for the first time.
I had the same hesitations as anybody else. If I’m going to smoke marijuana, then I’ll smoke real marijuana. I don’t need to smoke something synthetic. I didn’t want to smoke real marijuana either, but that was the point.
I had a very good friend of mine that was a pillar in the community. Soul of the earth. Tom, they sell this shit in gas stations. Back then I saw there was on the very first time. It was design to be smoked.
Now, they sell it as potpourri, designed to be burned.
Guest: He introduced it to me. It’s legal. It gave you the same rough effect of marijuana. Larger lax a little bit, were not expensive. Seemed like a hell of a deal to figure out the real kicker though. Fuck! It’s most addictive, the most damningly addictive drug that I have found in my life.
I’ve kicked marijuana. I’ve kicked alcohol after years of drinking, and drinking hard time. Being the man that had the case and a cooler in the back of his truck every day, I kicked alcohol.
My other drug that we can delve into and I spend a lifetime in hell in was cocaine. It was during the hell days.
I was in it big time, I was on top of the world, I thought. It has all crashed down now because of this one drug that I have literally begged, borrowed and stolen to get a hold of. Never in my life had I’ve been that desperate to get a hold of a drug, as I was at drug.
Guest: It’s evil. They sell it as a potpourri; they sell it as something to be burned, to be aromatic incense. They sell it in head shops with pipes. It’s sold to be smoked, everyone knows that. Supposedly, it has been banned in Nebraska now.
Tom: As I understand the problem with that is because it’s a chemical. You just change a little bit of the chemical compounds…
Tom: …and then it’s, “This isn’t what is illegal. The other stuff is illegal. This isn’t.” They are constantly changing it in all big things, which is very difficult for law enforcement to be able to shut down.
Guest: My understanding to this last ban and again this is how the bad time I want to break to break this addiction. I was following the ban because if they ban it, I can’t get it. My understanding about this ban is that this must be a flat ban, which is what they did in Kansas and Missouri. In Kansas, where I came from you could buy it the same as you could here. They shut down the [inaudible 12:58], shut them down, and took it out. I know that’s what is happening here.
Tom: You also lived in a small town. You are living in a small town in Midwest. Methamphetamine is big in small towns in the Midwest. Maybe more so a few years ago than what it is now but it’s still pretty prevalent. Was meth ever a problem for you?
Guest: No sir. No sir. I say methamphetamine was never a problem for me. Unfortunately, I do have a son that had a problem with it. We did fight that addiction secondhand.
Tom: How old is your son?
Guest: He’s 25. I have two. I have two wonderful sons and I have a wonderful wife who deserves sainthood. We’ve been married, it’ll be 33 years.
Tom: She stayed with you through the alcohol and the drugs and everything?
Guest: The alcohol, the cocaine, the bankruptcies.
Tom: Does she use? Was she partying with you with any of these?
Guest: My wife, when we first got married and she was young. Yeah, we were both partiers. We grew up. She grew up. I did too. I mean I went the long road. When I got into that it was designer drugs.
I got into the big things. Cocaine, it was, in the ’90s when I was at the top of the world. It was the deal.
Tom: Generally thought to be non-addictive. There was a period where cocaine was thought to be by people and not to be a problem.
Guest: Yes. I have to break that addiction too. Like any other addiction they come with just murders, murders, murders. Withdrawal symptoms are different for everybody, different for every single person.
Growing up, again, just at school, I was a very popular young man in school not for any other reason. The fact that I was the guy that sold the marijuana. I was the drug dealer. I was quite the cock of the walk in high school.
It started out, I want to give an idea of what I’ve done career wise, because it’s important to know just how far I went out before…we talk about before I went out.
Tom: OK. Let’s talk about that.
Guest: If that’s all right.
Tom: That’s great. Yeah.
Guest: It started out as steel ruler, cutting dice maker. Above all things, made steel rule, cutting dice. I started on the COE program in my high school. Probably one of the best jobs I ever had. Probably one of the best bosses I ever had. I should have stayed there. [inaudible 18:58] as my dad always told me. May God rest his soul.
I got my big break, what lead me to the top of the world but it has also lead me to where I am right now, which is the fucking bottom. Wouldn’t that a [inaudible 16:18]?
My brother-in-law was selling [inaudible 16:27] that time, big burn for a sale. He always said, “I bet you could sell. If I get you out there, I bet you could sell.” That man took me under his wing. Normally, they give salesman about two weeks. If you didn’t get a sale in two weeks, they kick you out from the society of sales.
It took me five weeks before I got my first sale. After that, I set the company on fire. I went from there; I became vice president of my own company. This was at 25, vice president of my own company, signing company.
Drugs back then, alcohol, marijuana here and there.
Tom: Are you working hard or playing hard?
Guest: Working hard, playing hard. Living an American dream, raising my kids. My first son has been born. I’ve got a beautiful wife. We were looking at getting out of our starter home. Get into our first, real home.
I spent a few years inside the business. Cut my [inaudible 17:41], get sales down, took path. Took that and leveraged it into a career with the largest insurance company in the world, Prudential Insurance, finance stage
Tom: You’re selling insurance? You’re drinking. You’re using and still think everything’s going OK?
Guest: At the end of my first month, one or two things happened that have really effected where I am right now. I was honored for being the fastest rookie to ever start in the Prudential Insurance Company. The fastest start by any rookie ever. It was on a Friday meeting, they had a plaque for me; it was just 30 days after I had just started. They had a plaque for me, everything’s happy, everything’s great.
This is the story of my life. Everything’s great, everything’s happy, everything’s going good. I walked to my desk and my phone’s ringing, it’s the hospital,” , we need to let you know that your father passed away this morning”.
Just like that Tom, my dad was so fucking proud of me for what I’d done at Prudential. He actually called the night before, on Thursday at around nine o’clock, thinking that I’d be home, but I was out late. I was always out late selling, unfortunately after we get done selling, we’d go out drinking, we’d celebrate. And that’s what I was doing that night. I knew I was getting a big plaque and I was getting a big pat on the back, big head.
I went out to the bar, came home about 10.30, half drunk, my wife wakes up. My dad called, “He just wanted to tell you how proud he was of you and wanted to talk to you,” but, said he was going to bed, so just call him in the morning.
I was going to call him in the morning. That’s why, here I am. I started with what has been the most lucrative job that I’ve had.
Tom: As I’m hearing this, and I’m no psychologist by any stretch of the imagination, but as I’m hearing this, I’m hearing like excuses and self-pity. Are you optimistic about being able to get out of this [inaudible 20:32] and out of this situation that you’re in?
Guest: Well, we’d have to jump now back to the end now, Tom.
Now, where we’re at now, maybe it’s a good time to do that and [inaudible 20:46]. I don’t know that I can make it through this myself. Now, that’s not saying that I’m going to walk out of here, in the middle of Dodge Avenue and let a truck run me down.
The only thing that keeps me from suicide is the pain that I know it would inflict on my wife and two children. It’s, painful to know that, and to say that there are probably friends, quite honestly, that would hurt, but would be relieved, so that you wouldn’t have to deal with the problems you had anymore. Where was I going with this? Keep me on track, Tom.
Tom: You’re talking about, you don’t think you’d get through this, but yet you hang on to your family.
Guest: I am the most lost that I’ve ever been in 52 years of my life. I don’t when I wake up in the morning, what I’m going to do. I don’t know since the last time we spoke, my wife’s now going to let go. We were brought to this little town in Nebraska, with the hope of a career, and a year later, we’re now stuck in Nebraska with no income. And all the repercussions of the things that I’ve done.
That’s what I don’t know how I’m going to get through because bottom line is [inaudible 22:42] a miracle, in about two weeks, I’m going to be homeless, my wife is going to be homeless, my kid that lives with me, the one that was hurt in the military, is going to be homeless because of the stupid things I’ve done, and that’s the only reason.
There have been a lot of things that I couldn’t control. The deaths, Tom, each one –when my dad died, my mom died, when Jeff died, when Johnny died– each of them just tore a piece of me.
Tom: Did any of them die because of drugs or alcohol?
Tom: So, was this just like in your family or anything like that?
Guest: Johnny was a dope smoker. Johnny smoked dope right to the very end. Johnny was a very unique kind of guy. We could talk forever on Johnny but I love him dearly.
But no, my father died of a heart attack, my mother died of cancer, my brother died of cancer, my brother Johnny died of cancer and my brother Jeff died of… Actually, he had cancer that caused him heart problems, that eventually the heart problems is what got him.
Even in death Tom, I was the baby of the family. When my dad died, I was the one who was expected to identify the body, I was the one who was expected to make the decisions for this, make decisions for that, to make this is taken care of, to make sure that’s taken care of, so I never got my chance to grieve.
My father and I had a very tumultuous growing up; I was a wild kid from that age, growing up in the ’60’s and early ’70’s. We had a tough time and then a divorce, but we had become best friends, you know? I was forced into making all those decisions for my best friend. Nobody else wanted to step in and and can’t handle it, can’t handle it.
When my mom died, that time I had to take on a whole lot more because she didn’t die quick, she died slow and painful. A lot of things had to be done and a lot of decisions had to be made. Decisions like how much morphine to administer. Things like that and I think you know where I’m going with that.
And guess who they let make that fucking decision? The baby, mamma’s little boy, had to make the decision to plunge the needle. Jeff was the middle boy in the family and he was a good guy, he was the guy that never got sick, never did drugs, never drank, he drank a little bit.
Tom: But again, I don’t mean to minimize the pain that you’re feeling with your death [inaudible 25:50] of these family members. But other people have family members that died. I’ve had a sister that died, my parents have died, why do you think others can handle it, they grieved, and they move on with their lives and grow and thrive, and you grieved and went on a downhill spiral?
Guest: I was never allowed to grieve, Tom, I’ve never grieved any death in my family. I was never allowed to, I was never given the time. Don’t know that I had the tools. Throughout my entire life I’ve been looked upon as the person who was supposed to make the decisions, supposed to make sure things happened, you know?
My mother, when my mother was alive, you know, she had two older sons, I was the baby, I took care of mom. I made sure the legal affairs were taken care of, I made sure bills and this and that. When it came time to put grandma and grandpa in homes, it was Jay that made sure and researched those.
A lot of people have had to do this. It’s just when you couple that with the loss of careers that we’ve experienced. For me, my catalyst into drug addiction and into self-medicated have been the deaths. Because that’s been the only way I’ve been able to deal it.
Tom: Do you go to AA or any other kind of counselling? Are you doing anything for this? Or you just quit cold turkey on your own and dealing with it that way?
Guest: I did attend AA; I went to AA for 16 months. Those organizations didn’t help me, most of my addiction, at the time; I’ve been on my own, cold turkey.
Tom: Your wife, your wife stayed with you throughout all of this?
Tom: Some people would call that enabling. Did she allow you to keep on this way and made excuses for you and everything? And now she’s lost her job, do you think your problem had anything to do with it? In other words, were the problems at home causing such a thing that she couldn’t concentrate at work or couldn’t do a good job at work?
Guest: I wouldn’t say that that wasn’t a part of it.
Tom: I wish I knew how to say something to tell you that people have overcome what you’ve overcome and had done OK. Try to make you look at something a little bit more positive. I don’t know if I was in your shoes, I would find some way to at least mow lawns, some sort of labor to at least get enough money so that I wasn’t homeless, or so that I was able to put food on the table. Instead, what I’m hearing from you is just a lot of self-pity.
Guest: I know I do that. That’s probably the biggest thing that has driven friends away from me and it’s probably the biggest change that you’re seeing because I never had this in the past. Pity myself, and picked myself up and [inaudible 29:34] it. As far as working, I’d work three, four, five jobs if I can find them. We’re out there, we’re looking, we’re trying to make a decision now. My wife has taken over the role of bread winner in the family. Now we’re trying to make a decision, do we stay here? Is there anything for us now?
A couple of goals that I had in talking to you, number one, I wanted to get some things off my chest. Just to be able to talk to somebody because I don’t have anybody I can talk to anymore.
Number two, hopefully somebody reads this, hopefully something I’ve said, hopefully something I’ve done, hopefully something they see that they’ve done, or that they’re involved in. Hopefully, it will help them, they can get out of it and especially I want to focus on the K2 addiction because it is an evil fucking addiction.
It is hard to break. There are people out there that are spending their food money. They’re spending their rent money. They’re spending their kids diaper money to get this shit. It’s always been, but when it’s a legal product being sold like that. The dangers aren’t being told, Tom. Not strong enough. There’s too much use of it.
Tom: Did you know when you first tried K2; did you know it was evil?
Guest: No. When I first tried it, I thought it was great.
Tom: I have a friend who’s a federal prosecutor and she does a lot of methamphetamine cases. The first time someone does methamphetamine, they say it’s wonderful. They say it’s sex on methamphetamine. It’s incredible and all that.
So, they’re happy with it. Even if you tried it that first time, you know what methamphetamines can do. The first time you tried K2, it was great or whatever. At the same time, did you know going into it, this shit is deadly? This shit is dangerous? This shit is bad stuff?
Guest: No. I was not, at the time when I first tried it, as knowledgeable of the product as I probably should have been, not at all. For that, I’m extremely sorry, pal.
If I’d read some things, I’d check some things, there’s a possibility I might not have tried this stuff. There’s a possibility that I might have saved five years of my life.
There’s a possibility I might not be looking at going to jail. I might not be looking at garnishments and things taken away.
Tom: You say you’re looking to go to jail. What do you mean you’re looking to go to jail?
Guest: Again, there were three things. Get it off my chest.
Tom: Before we go to that, had you been in jail before? You said you stole for your drug addiction and everything.
Guest: That’s right.
Tom: But you never got caught with any of this. So, you’ve been able to state all this time, up until now, and now you’re looking at some jail time?
Guest: Yeah. Basically, what I’m looking at is because of tax evasion. Here, again, this is not my wife and I’s first rodeo. We lost two careers in Kansas City. She had a very good career. I had a good career, decent. My job was eliminated. Her position was moved.
Those are the kinds of things that have happened in my life that I can’t control. That, along with things that I’ve controlled, that I’ve screwed up, really have led me to where I’m at. Which is a mess.
I lost my train of thought. I want to make a point and I’m losing my train of thought. What was it you just asked me?
Tom: About your jail.
Guest: Jail time. Yeah.
Tom: You never got in trouble before, but now you’re looking to go into…yeah, the feds are coming after you for tax evasion.
Guest: Yep. I’m in what most addicts know as a dark zone, a danger zone. I’m clean for now. I want to stay clean. Now, everything in this world is going to fucking attack me and going to tell me “You want to go get stoned again.”
My biggest fear right now, Tom. I mentioned jail time. I’m also scared we could be homeless. We got our final checks from the company. We’re stuck in Auburn. We have nothing. Our last time that we got let go from companies due to downsizing ate up every bit of retirement, savings, everything. I lost a big beautiful home in Kansas City. That, well, I say I lost it. They’re still telling me I own it.
I’ve hit a danger zone. There’s only so many ways out of a danger zone. One is back now. I don’t think I can do that.
The only thing that’s going back up, and this is where it gets into the danger zone is that all the repercussions are coming back now. All the bad debts, the money borrowed, the bills not paid.
I’ve got to try and figure out how to get my family back in Kansas City maybe.
Two weeks time, I will have zero money. I will be completely and entirely destitute. They told me in Nebraska, it takes 15 weeks for unemployment to kick in. In two weeks, I’ll be broke. So, I need a miracle. I need something happen in my life. I need something to change. I’ve changed the drugs.
When we were kids, we had do-overs. Tom, you know the thing I would love in my life right now is a do-over. Somebody give me a do-over. Come on. Let me start this son-of-a-bitch again.
Tom: You say you were a deacon in your church?
Tom: Is religion a part of your life now?
Guest: It is not as big a part as it has been, of course. It’s not as big a part as it probably should be, Tom. I’m very cautious of being very hypocritical, too.
Tom: What do you mean hypocritical? Because as I see it, if you are a man down on his luck, being honest about it, and you’re saying “I need help”, that, to me, is not being hypocritical. What is hypocritical is you being the Deacon of the church acting like you are a man of honor and a man of virtue.
At the same time, you’re smoking K2 and doing Cocaine and whatever else around that. Stealing and robbing for your addiction and all that. That is the hypocritical part. To go to church right now and say “Man, I totally messed. I lost it. I have nothing else.” That, to me, is being incredibly honest. I think that that might be something that could maybe help you.
Guest: I’ve got a very good friend in town that is a pastor that I’ve known for years. He was actually, as a matter of fact, he was my boss when I started with Prudential. Great guy. He ended up getting a call to become a leader and pastor. So, he’s a pretty strong Christian focus in my life, I guess.
I’m trying to think. What else, Tom. I didn’t want to come in here. The thing I did not want to do is I didn’t want to come in here and I didn’t want to sound like somebody.
You pointed out that it’s full of self-pity and woe-as-me. I am a very depressed individual. I fight depression now that I no longer have health insurance. I’m off my depression meds. I can’t afford them. I did not want to come in here. That’s never been the kind of person I am, but that is what drugs has done.
I was on top of the world again. One point in time, top of the rock. Top of the Prudential. I’ve kept that job, Tom, who knows where the hell I’d be today. I have not let Cocaine ruin my career.
Who knows where I would be today. Started again, but alcohol ruined another one. Started again, and now, it’s K2. I’ve always fought an addictive personality. I’ve always fought self-medication. I’ve always fought the pain and the pain doesn’t go away.
Tom: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Guest: I don’t know.
Tom: In your younger days, when you were on top of the world, did you always have goals and ambition and see OK “In five years, I want to be here and five years after that I want to be at this level”?
Guest: Oh, yeah.
Tom: Have you been goal driven in the past?
Guest: Oh, yeah. Very much goal driven.
Tom: And you don’t seen any goals now about bouncing back and doing what is necessary and having a great story to tell five years from now about overcoming your addictions and homelessness? Because people do that. People do overcome this.
Guest: I have those hopes and dreams, Tom. I’m holding on to that. Yeah, this is going to turn around. It’s a fear factor because I’m clean, because I’m straight. Now, I have to deal with this on a daily basis, I have to deal with what I’ve done.
Now, it’s how. Yes, I want to believe in five years, I’d love to believe in five years from now that my kids could look up to me again. I don’t want to be a king of industry. All I want is a good job. I work hard. I’ve always been a hard worker. I just want my life back. It’s really what I want. I want to try to get just some semblance of a life back that I had, Tom.
I don’t need to be top of the rock. I just need to be a guy out there that is clean. That is living his life and doing what he’s supposed to be doing. That’s where I’m having trouble finding how I’m going to get there. Money is the root of all fucking evil.
One of my biggest fears right now, I honestly do not know come two, three weeks from now, what my situation’s going to be. I have no control over that. I have very little control over that because of this situation. It’s those times in life, Tom, when I haven’t had that control, when I haven’t been able to control the things that have hit me, the things that have blindsided me. Those are the things that make me sound self-pity.
Because of what’s happened in these last five years of my life, because of the things I’ve seen happen, because of the losses, I lost a business, I lost a career, I lost a home, all these things… I allowed myself to get this far down. Now, I’m struggling and as I’m reaching up for help, there isn’t anybody reaching down this time.
Tom: Because in the past, there’s been people that you’ve burned those bridges?
Guest: In the past, there have been the friends that have been able to assist. Yes, I’ve burned those bridges. I am in the process of rebuilding those bridges. Yes, they were burned. I’m in the process of rebuilding a whole lot of bridges now, Tom.
That’s the other thing that I’m trying to do with my life. That’s going to take a long time. I start talking about do-overs. I need somebody to give me a do-over.
Tom: How many do-overs have you had in your life?
Guest: Because every other time I’ve done over on my own. It’s the only one I’ve ever asked for or needed. Every other time, Tom, maybe I didn’t get myself down as far.
I don’t know. It’s tough for me to look back. It’s so painful to look back at the things I’ve done. I don’t want to call it regrets. I always hesitated to use the word regret. I hate that word regret.
Am I not happy with the decisions I’ve made in my life? Hell yes, I’m not happy at all with the things that I’ve done. I have been the one that has stepped up and made the changes in my life in the past when they had to be done. This time, Tom, unfortunately, I’m not being able to do it. I needed help.
Tom: I hope this…
Guest: I don’t know where that help’s going to come from.
Tom: I know some people that might be, at least, a first place to start talking. “The Open Door Mission” does amazing work. With homeless people, but people that are just in the situation you’re in with counseling and education and support.
So, that you have some hope. Let me just say, I’ve never been down as hard as you, but like anything else in life, like any other human being, sometimes life just kicks you in the balls. You have got to just find something deep inside to get you to that next level.
I’ve always used other examples of famous, successful people. You look at the failures they’ve had in their lives and what they’ve overcome. Many of them, problems even worse than yours, and they’ve overcome them to achieve the things.
So, I know it’s possible. I know it’s possible. Thomas Edison failed 110 times or something like that before he invented the light bulb. The point is, is that, and I’m not trying to oversimplify or make it to be Pollyanna or anything and say, “It’s all going to be sunshine and lollipops and rainbows,” because you’ve got a big road ahead of you. I know that road can be taken, and actually, can be won. I firmly believe it. If I didn’t believe it, I wouldn’t have done this podcast with you. OK.
This podcast was not just to have some person come on the air and talk about problems with drugs and alcohol. It was also to help you. There was a little bit of conversation we’ve had in the past help you understand that yeah man, it can be better. It can be better.
I mentioned the self-pity a few times. Yeah, it’s easy to get that way. You look at what it is right now and you don’t see any way out. But you what? There is always a way out.
For all the problems that we have in this country, it’s still America. You still get another chance. I spent a number of years doing stand-up comedy. Somebody told me this old show business ad one time. They said “You’re going to get your big break the day after you give up”. That has stayed with me for my entire life. That’s how it is sometimes. You don’t lose until you quit.
Don’t quit man. Don’t quit. Don’t wallow in the mistakes you’ve made. You can’t do anything about that. What you can do is today and tomorrow and the next day and the next week, that you can do something about.
You say you’re going to lose your house in two weeks, be homeless in two weeks, well, don’t make that a self-fulfilling prophecy. Seriously, get support, find a church group, find a homeless shelter, counseling of some sort.
I know that it’s out there. Find that support that you can get so that when you’re down like this, you get a little bit of inspiration. A little bit of motivation to overcome these trials.
I believe you can do it, man. If I didn’t believe you could do it, I’d be, like OK. There’s just some poor guy. I don’t think you’re that guy. I don’t think you’re that guy. I think that you’re a guy that can look back on this and maybe five years from now, be writing your autobiography.
Maybe five years from now, you’re back living in a nice sized house or not even nice sized house, just a nice, clean house in a decent neighborhood with a wife who stood by you through all of this, who’s still there with you.
Become the man that she sees you are. You are that guy; you just have to find him again. You are that guy. You just have to find him. I know he’s there, Ben. I wish you all the luck in the world. All the peace and serenity and support you can find. Because people have overcome worse than you and it seems bad now. I know that. But you haven’t given up. The fact that you’re here proves you haven’t given up. The fact that you haven’t killed yourself proves you haven’t given up.
Guest: I know.
Tom: Understand you can’t do anything about the past.
Yeah, you fucked up. Yeah, you got yourself into a bind. But you know what? If you want to, you can make it happen. Again, not to oversimplify, but start looking at where you want to be in five years.
Where do you want to be in a year, six months from now? Envision it. Then, from there, you can go to the next level.
Because I’ve seen these stories, the self-realization stories. The comedian, the actor, Jim Carey. When he was homeless, living in his car, trying to make it in show business, he wrote a phony check for 10 million dollars. He kept it in his wallet believing that someday he will get a check for 10 million dollars.
Guess what? He got a check for 10 million dollars. Now, granted, that’s one guy with a pretty big story. There are a lot of other people out there with similar stories of a belief of faith. They didn’t give up.
Don’t give up man. Don’t give up. Don’t be afraid to go to a minister, to a homeless shelter, to Salvation Army, counseling. Don’t be afraid to go to people that are overcoming and dealing with the same issues you are. They can help you better than I can.
Guest: Tom, I hope…and that’s what we’re reaching out to people who can help us out and that they can provide support and can provide some guidance and provide some…there’s anybody out there that needs a good worker, or there an angel out there or a saint out there that wants to help this family, we’d take it.
Tom: Yes, everyone has a story to tell and unfortunately, not all of those stories are happy ones. I wish him all the best. I hope that he gets his act together. Only he can really do it. Hopefully, he will.
As I’ve said, I’ve invited him back a year from now to see how he’s doing. If you want to reach out to him, if you have any words of encouragement, support, if you’ve been there and got over it, you email me and I’ll make sure he gets it.
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, B-E-C-K-A, email@example.com. Every week we do another one of these. Every week it’s somebody entirely different. Subscribe, and that way you won’t miss a one of them.
Thank you for being a part of it. Until next time, take care and bye you all!