Jesse Trout 00:00
I very much felt God’s presence in my heart in my life at that moment. And something just washed over me. And I had the sensation of you know, maybe I can change.
Kristin Taylor 00:29
Hello, and welcome to How I Made It Through. My name is Kristin Taylor, and I’m an executive coach. This podcast is based on the immortal words of Robert Frost who said, the best way out, is always through. Through this platform, I get the honor of sharing remarkable stories of courage in the face of challenge. Stories that encourage us to step into our lives, even in especially into the heart places, allowing whatever it is that we are facing to shape and transform us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. My hope is that the people I introduce you to provide a much needed sense of inspiration, deepening your trust in yourself that whatever you’re facing, you two will find your way through. May you see yourself in their stories, and may their wisdom help to light your way. Today’s guest is Jesse Trout. Jesse is a transformational coach and facilitator specializing in supporting clients and uncovering their life’s purpose. One of the first things you might notice about Jesse is his authenticity. What you see and hear is what you get, and he pulls no punches, which is a great quality when you have an important story to tell, and boy does he ever. In today’s episode, Jesse will share his story of recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction. You will hear all the highs and lows. But more importantly, you will hear the lessons learned. Jesse will share how he began to learn who he actually is, and what he is here to do as a human being on this earth. He will share what it took for him to get honest with himself, and to have the courage to be vulnerable about what he was going through. Today, he will share with you exactly what he went through, and how he made it through. And just as importantly, how he continues to make it through every day. Welcome, Jesse.
Jesse Trout 02:37
Hello, hello. Thank you so much for having me. Yeah, I’ll dive right in. I have a really fun story. Right. So pretty, pretty typical, I think childhood and teenage years and things like that. Get to college, you know, great opportunity to be able to I stayed home, went to the hometown University, and, you know, got aligned with a group that’s been incredibly, incredibly influential in a lot of good ways in my life. In my fraternity, and story really kind of kicks off. summer after my second year of college I am, I had just moved into the fraternity house actually a couple like a month or two before that, and a couple of my fraternity brothers and I decided we were going to go down to Memphis so I live in Clarksville, Tennessee, you know, that’s where Austin Peay is it’s kind of northern part of Tennessee, almost to Kentucky, and we decided we were going to ride down to Memphis on a Saturday and hang out with some of their friends down there, hit Beale Street, do the do the all the fun stuff you do in Memphis, and come home the very next day. As a matter of fact, I had to work that next evening, so it was gonna be just kind of a one and done lots of fun. Saturday, right and on the way down there. Somewhere close to Jackson, Tennessee. We were I was not the driver. I was a passenger. And we were actually we had gotten over into the passing lane to allow a car that was merging onto the interstate to get onto the road. And he didn’t see us he didn’t check his blind spot and and continue to over into the left hand lane and it forced us off the road. So we were kind of there was a couple of swerves. And the car flipped twice and hit the end of a guardrail. And at that point I got thrown 50 feet out the window. They flipped eight more times. And my other friends that were in the car with me fortunate Lee came away from that with a you know, obviously lots of cuts and bruises. But other than one one of them had a pretty rough concussion. But But by and large came away unscathed other than you know, whatever sort of psychological mental stress, mental emotional stress from being in something like that will give you I was definitely in much, much worse shape than anybody else as you can imagine getting thrown that far out the window. And so I was actually clinically dead when the EMTs arrived on the scene. I was life flighted to a nearby hospital on on Route in the helicopter, I flatlined at least twice, and was flatlined when I got to the hospital. And then at least once more on the operating table. Inside as they were working to deal with some internal bleeding and things I had a ruptured spleen from a puncture wound, right, right at the bottom of my ribcage. flatlined, you know one more time on the operating table. And at that point, had my the initial surgery was to remove my spleen to get me stabilized. And of course, a laundry list of other injuries including severe brain injury, broken nose, torn rotator cuff, punctured long, broken ribs, broken ankle, and actually the broken ankle, they did surgery on a couple of days later, it was broken badly enough, they had to put in a plate and some screws that are all still in there. And I was in intensive care for about 10 days. And hospital overall for about two weeks left in a wheelchair with with casts everywhere. And yeah, came home and was incredibly eager to get the heck out of the stupid wheelchair. And I’m very, very stubborn. And sometimes that’s really good. And sometimes it’s really, really, really not good. In this case, it was at least okay, because it helped me tuck the local orthopedist into cutting off my casts and given me a walking boot. And like a brace or something for my arm and some other things like that. So I can at least get out of out of the wheelchair after a couple of days. I was supposed to be in that wheelchair for about six months. But I wasn’t down with that. So I talked him out of it. I’m a person of faith, and was then still am now probably much more so now. And I actually I had no sort of no sort of experience that I could remember. I’d imagine that. I imagine that if I had had that type of an experience, I would recall it for sure. Did not and that kind of to be perfectly honest, that kind of caused me to have some questions. And it shook me a little bit. Because, you know, in hearing about other other folks sort of near death or or at death and back types of experiences, you know, a lot of folks have have something there something occurs it’s a little bit extra right now. I’d certainly I didn’t. And yeah, I don’t remember anything until about, like seven or eight days after the wreck. I think it was unconscious, the first three or four days and then I would woke up, I would wake up my mom told me, you know, I would wake up every couple of hours and ask what happened? Because yeah, wake up, right. And my arms had been restrained. Because somebody my age with a severe brain injury would start I wouldn’t kind of tend to freak out. So they had to like, restrain my hands in the software strengths, but wake up and I’ve got casts everywhere and I got this big zipper scar with all these staples on my stomach, all this stuff. I’d wake up in this hospital room. I’d ask what was going on and how I got there and this and that they wouldn’t she would go through the whole thing. And then I would fall asleep and forget and wake up and ask again like two hours later, so they’d have to repeat everything every couple of hours. And it was probably the eighth or ninth day before she told me the story and I actually remembered it. The next time I woke up so yeah, I have no no recollection of those first several days in the hospital at all and no recollection of anything. Honestly. I don’t remember the wreck itself at all. Anything that I just said to describe it is taken from stories of the other dudes in the car with me and the police report and stuff like that. I don’t remember any of it still to this day it was jolly one One years ago that I had no I had recollections of that day earlier in the trip up until probably about 30 minutes before the wreck.
Kristin Taylor 10:09
Wow, Jesse. So what an amazing experience number one just physically and then being a person of faith to have flatlined, but not have any recall of that experience. I imagine that was something to to cause some ponder, can you share with us a little bit about that year and what it required of you, and then let’s fast forward to the following year, because I know there’s an important event that happened pretty much a year later.
Jesse Trout 10:38
Sure. So there was needless to say, a pretty, pretty profound like, whoa, wait a minute. You know, medical science tells me I should have died on the side of a road. And I’m still alive, I’m 20 years old. It’s not something that typically a 20 year old, has faced, thankfully, you know, got an amazing support network around me. But now my body is also half broken, and my brain is foggy, and I’m in pain all the time. And I’m still, you know, I was not willing to take any time off completely from school. So I took a couple of classes, if I’m not mistaken, it was two classes in the fall. And then, you know, I’m working through some of the physical therapy and see I had torn my rotator cuff, and they never did the surgery, they didn’t do the surgery right away, because they were worried that my body had been through so much, if they did another surgery, I might not live through it. So they put that off until I want to say February of the next year, that following winter, so I only took one class in the spring, got my rotator cuff surgery, which was really challenging, that was a challenging thing to come back from in terms of physical therapy and everything as well. And then, you know, just muddling through, again, had a lot of support a lot of help. I had people helping me take notes in class because I had broken my hand in a way that I couldn’t really hold a pencil and write for a while. So in the fall, especially had some help with with note taking and things like that, and, you know, was just, mentally very much in this place of I can’t have been I can’t have been brought through that for nothing. So push and pull, push hard to come back from this. And we’ll figure it out, you know, the truth will be revealed, so to speak as we move forward, but it’s got to be for something so you can’t let it keep you down mentally for very long because it yet it was it’s a weird dichotomy, right, like you’re thinking, man, what an incredible thing for me to have been brought through that and how grateful I am How fortunate how blessed I am to still be alive and well I also went through a wreck or almost died and my body’s never going to feel the same again. And you know, I don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to be as active as I used to be again and and this is a life changing event. Why did this there’s a like, man, you know, thankful I got through it, but why did this have to happen and just all those sorts of questions that are really hard to wrestle with at any age, much less 20 years old, and when especially when a brain injury is a significant part of all that too. So just tough timing. And you know, work work through it continue to work through it like I said, I can’t stop saying enough about how much my support network had my back as I was walking through all that because that’s not the kind of thing I would have wanted to come through or attempt to come through alone and I don’t think I would have been able to really bounce back the way that I was and am able to without it right so we come through get through that full year never actually took time off classes from school like I said, I only took like two classes in the fall and then was one one in the spring because of this the shoulder surgery. progress is progress though right and you felt pretty good about that. Things are getting into a better place and then we get to the one year anniversary of my rack the one year of the day right and I got buddies that are told me a barbecue over at their house all this stuff. And I’m again I’m back to living in the fraternity house because I had moved in there before the wreck obviously was not in a position to stay there for a couple of months after afterwards I moved back in with mom and dad. But then you know once I got a little more physically stable, moved back into the fraternity house. And at any rate, my parents of course we’re going to be coming to this celebration and they come to pick me up at the house and really enjoy Interesting, my mom gets out of the car walks up to the front door, but my dad was still in the car. And then, you know, I’m coming out there and she says, Well, I think you need to go for a ride with your dad. He’s got some stuff he wants to talk to you about. And this is kind of cryptic, very unexpected, but am I okay, whatever, you know, get in the car, we start kind of just driving around town, he says, The, essentially, you know, I’m just puttering around some of the streets right there by by the school and he says, take it out, take, you know, go out to the interstate, we got a lot to talk about. I’m like, Oh, okay. You know, again, layers and layers. And I’m like, Alright, what’s, what’s really going on here, and he starts talking to me about how sick he’d been feeling. And they’re all this is very new to me. I didn’t realize it. Yeah, he had been losing some weight over the past year. So before that, but he had been diagnosed as diabetic. So I assumed that it was related to dietary changes and stuff, right, and starts telling me how he’s feeling really sick, and maybe having some trouble breathing a little bit. And feeling like acid is burning his skin on different parts of his body. And his joints are just aching, really bad, all kinds of stuff. And I’m seeing my dad sort of, even in talking through what’s going on with him expressing some emotions in a way that I just never had experienced with him whatsoever. He’s a 2020 year veteran of the Army, very stoic, very much of that sort of old school mentality of that generation, especially amongst males. There was no sort of no sort of revealing of emotions, if he was feeling them, you know. And then, in the course of this conversation, for literally, this is only the second time in my whole life, I saw him cry, he started crying, as he’s explaining to me how, um, what he was feeling and how he was experiencing what was going on right now. And he started saying stuff like, you know, don’t worry, if I die, you and your sister are going to be taken care of and all this stuff and like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait, whoa, wait, what are you what are you talking about? If you die, you know. And, anyway, that, needless to say, that kind of, you know, rattled me a little bit, but I kind of also wrote it off as like, my dad was the only person in our family who never really got sick had, I mean, not even a cold or any of that stuff, except very, very rarely growing up. My mom, my sister and I, it’s like, we all had bad allergies, we are sick and felt like all the time and not dad. And so when he did get sick, he tended to be a little dramatic. And so I thought this was just being him, him being a little dramatic. And, you know, sort of shelved it, mostly wrote it off, in a way as a this is, this is just him overreacting to something he’s not used to having to deal with. We get to the barbecue, things are great, you know, whatever live life is continuing to proceed. And then a couple of literally just a couple, maybe not even two weeks later, we feel like you know, maybe he’s coming down with pneumonia. And put him into the hospital where his doctor was up in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. He was going to the hospital there because his work was right by there, as well as the safety director at a plant up there. And, you know, we get him in and they they check him in, admit him to the hospital, start giving him some treatment a little bit, start trying to figure out what’s going on and make the decision within a day or two, they ask us, you know, we’ll ask my mom really, if they can put him in an induced coma to help the medication work a little bit better. And so naturally, we agree and, you know, he goes in they, they do this and in the hot, you know, way leads on to way and he never actually woke up, right. So, a couple of weeks go by, they’re continuing to run tests and try to figure out what’s going on. They know something’s going on with his lungs. But it’s not lung cancer. It’s not emphysema, his heart is fine. They don’t they can’t figure out what’s going on. So after about three weeks, two and a half, three weeks to ask permission to send him the lifeflight him down to Vanderbilt to a specialist to see if they can figure out what’s going on. Naturally. We said yes, they get down there, run tests for a day or two, figure out what’s going on. But the news is, hey, you know, we know what’s going on. And what’s going on is he’s got an incurable an untreatable lung disease. So yes, we’re going to throw a little bit of medicine at it for a couple of days. If nothing starts to get any better. It’s not going to get any better. And it didn’t, right. So he was only there. He was there for about a week. After a couple days of being on medication, nothing’s changing, you know, and he had made it very clear to all of us while we were growing up, we strangely enough Have you said multiple times I don’t ever want to be kept alive by a machine? Well, I had been kept alive solely by the respirator for probably three weeks by this point, you know, and we have the family, little family meeting on like a Friday, then make the decision to pull them off that respirator, you know, I had to talk with my mom and sister a good bit. Some of this was the impetus, some of it really, really was with me to kind of lead into this conversation. It was a lot harder for my mom, I think, to accept where things were and to appoint my sister as well. I said, Look, you know, he made us promise. And that’s exactly what’s happening right now. He made us promise not to let him be kept alive by a machine. That’s exactly what’s been going on for a couple of weeks, like when is enough enough and make the decision to pull them off the respirator the next Monday, Sunday go down to kind of say our goodbyes. I’m the last person in the room with him. Telling him you know, I love you, dad. And don’t hang on for us. It’ll be really, really hard. But we’re tough. And we’ll make it through. Don’t do the I can’t, I can’t stand seeing you like this, I can’t take seeing you like this. So do what you got to do, but let go, don’t hang on for us, if that’s what’s going on, and you’re gonna get better, quit farting around and get better, you know, go ahead and do it, which obviously, by that time, I knew was not going to happen, but I was at least gonna put it in there. Like, if you’re gonna get better, you know, get get to it start getting better. Or, you know, or let it go. Don’t keep fighting for us, you know. And yeah, I got the call shortly after I left the hospital 20 minutes later from a mom or so. And she said, You got to get back to the hospital, they just called and said he’s not gonna live to the next 30 minutes, you know, get back to the hospital. And he actually had come to find out, he passed away while they were on the phone with my mom telling her, you know that he had about 30 minutes probably. Yeah, so that was incredibly, incredibly, incredibly difficult for that, especially looking at the timing in combination with the car wreck, you know, here I am, at that, you know, 20 years old at the time of the wreck 21 When dad passed away, and still still a young man, still a young person dealing with a whole lot of what in the world, you know, a lot of my own mortality. And then my dad, who I had a pretty good relationship with growing up, thankfully. And, you know, my role model for what it is to be a man is gone pretty all pretty pretty quickly. Like it all just took place so fast, it was hard to even grasp what was going on?
Kristin Taylor 22:48
Yeah, yeah, Jesse. So this is just such an extreme set of circumstances to live through in such a short amount of time. And from having talked previously, I know this really throws the whole family. But we’re focusing on you into a tailspin that really changes the trajectory of your life. Can you take our listeners into where you started to go, what you started to do? And how, just how that story unfolds at this point, given the devastation that you’ve just experienced?
Yeah, so it in a lot of ways, kind of threw me off of a cliff. Hey, I say that at no point was I in this at this period of time, and no point was I not making that active decision, right. But I kind of went I went off the deep end, after a little while I at that point, I just I frankly, I just was not equipped, I was not equipped with the coping mechanisms or skills to do this in a healthy way to process to it in a healthy way. I didn’t know that was a thing that I necessarily had to do. I know that at some point I might need to but I sure didn’t want to I was I hurt so much. I was hurting so badly. It was just this all consuming in pain on the inside. It was just a deep, deep darkness, anger and sadness, kind of just this ball of everything bad inside, you know, and I spent a lot of time there in those in those days. And, you know, I I didn’t like it. No one would write no one would I wanted. I wanted to escape it. And I knew that that maybe wasn’t the right thing, but it was the thing that I could do. It was the thing that I it was all I felt that I could do. I didn’t feel like I had the strength to dive in and deal with any of it or face any of it. So I drank. I drank and I drank and I drank and drank some more right? I would wake up. This was another semester where you had a dad had passed away on a Sunday classes started on Wednesday. So I started off kind of behind the eight ball and ended up pretty quickly dropping down to just one class. So and they only met like one time a week on Thursday afternoons or something like that it was a speech class. And so I did it was obviously not a very demanding schedule. And I, you know, there was no keep yourself busy scenario, what I kept myself busy doing was just drinking, I would literally wake up and start drinking, and maybe at some point, grab some food. But it was literal like beer for breakfast scenario.
Kristin Taylor 25:47
Yeah. So it’s so interesting to me that you just experienced such a devastating loss such a blow, was there ever a question of like, maybe I should take a semester off? Maybe I should get counseling? Maybe I should get some support? Or was it just drive through, but I’m going to be drinking so that I don’t have to feel any of this. Like, what what was the thinking at that point, if anything other than I just don’t want to feel.
I didn’t consider really any of that. I just couldn’t, I was just like, well, it never occurred to me to take any time off school. I even knew at that point, the statistics about taking the semester off of school and the odds against coming back and finishing. And frankly, yeah, I just it just didn’t occur to me as a possibility. I knew I wanted to take at least one class so I could be in school did not even register as an option to get counseling. Yeah, would have obviously knowing what I know now, good Lord, that would have been such a such an amazing ability to have such an amazing support there. It’s such an incredible and much needed thing, but instead Yeah, I was just what I knew how to do was to avoid the pain. Yes, I knew that there was a lot of pain. I knew I was I just did not like feeling it. And I didn’t feel like I had a whole lot of folks around me that were very equipped to help so you know, it’s really hard when you’re a college student surrounded by college students. How do you it’s the blind leading the blind? How do they know? And how, how unfair is that? To put on them a little bit right? So you their lives were very much back to normal within a week. Mine was never normal again. And I did what I could do I did what was the easiest fastest thing to not feel not feel that any more than that was just a drink it never it never occurred to me to seek the support that I probably not probably that I definitely just desperately needed.
Kristin Taylor 27:47
Desperately needed. Yeah. And so if you will, because there’s so much to this story. And I and I know so many people who have had struggles with alcoholism and they can relate and we can all relate with the feeling of I don’t want to feel this hurts too badly. And this the elixir that numbs it all out share if you would a bit about your drinking and how soon it became you went from being functional to not functional and then that you know, sometimes they call it Rock Bottom or a defining moment, that place that started to change the trajectory of your story in your life.
Sure, so I mean, I, for the most part continued to drink pretty hard through the rest of college and then a little later in college got into some pretty hard substances. For a while as well, it definitely escalated beyond drinking. And beyond even just smoking pot, you know, turned into a pretty gnarly cocaine habit for a little while there. And if it was on the plate in front of me whatever it was, I was going to do and I was going to try it. I was addicted to anything that would make me feel good, frankly. And the drinking I managed to do enough to get through school managed to do enough to eventually graduate also managed right before I actually finished school I managed to get fired from two jobs related to alcohol, like related to consumption related to the effects of it right the first one I was supposed to be at work at a 7:30am shift and an electric company was up drinking and smoking weed until about 430 woke up finally got into work at about 1130 And you know got fired a couple a couple hours later as well. I should have like that job. The the main thing you got to do is be there as an after hours emergency dispatcher you really just you got to be a butt in the seat and my butt was not in the seat. Right? And then towards the end of being in school. I actually was working at a restaurant and you know working in the kitchen and then working on the door and a bar that was upstairs, got caught take Get a shot while I was on the clock on New Year’s Eve. What they didn’t know, of course, was that I’d actually been drinking like that whole time I was up there. But they saw me take a shot from behind the bar and that that’s what got me fired. And, you know, then kind of got my stuff together a little bit finished school the next semester, and got out into the world a little. It’s not long after I finished school, managed to rack up a nice DUI charge, and spend about five and a half, six days in the county jail, as well. I pled down, I didn’t end up actually getting convicted of DUI. But that’s, that’s 100% While while I was there, pled guilty to reduce charges. And sort of started to kind of like, wow, okay, man, you know, you need to, you need to figure out a way to start to become a bit of a grown up, even if it’s just like a sliver of one. And found a decent job, working in financial aid at a local community college just as a regular financial aid person in the office, and didn’t really enjoy it. But it was a decent paying job. I like to dealing with people. So it wasn’t too bad. It was a foot in the door to something. And I worked that job for I guess I was there for not quite two years. But somewhere along the line somewhere along the line. So Fridays was the day that we had a little bit of a shorter work day. And we had about a half hour lunch break instead of our normal hour. Well, one day, I just got sort of like a strange notion, as my mom would say, got a wild hair, and decided to go to the liquor store and grab a bottle of vodka. Because I’m thinking, Well, you know, if I’m drinking vodka, and I just don’t go crazy, and I drink plenty of water, they’ll go, they would never know, they wouldn’t smell it on my breath. No one’s around me that much. It’s a slow day. So essentially, I kept the bottle in my car. And you know, I drink some before I went in back from lunch, and then would go out periodically throughout the rest of the afternoon. And this was just a way to jumpstart my weekend. Well, I got away with it. So as a natural boundary pusher, my idea then became well, what what else can I get away with so it just continued just spread, you know, through, then it was all day Friday, then it was Thursday and Friday, then it was Thursday, Friday and Monday. And you know, and at any rate, and so then it would turn into sometimes go in weeks at a time where I was drunk every single day, drinking all day, every day as a professional and an office job, right. And I didn’t again, I wasn’t getting a ton of fulfillment out of that work necessarily. And you had begun to start to look around and other opportunities. I had a friend that worked at another school, that very similar in nature to the one that I worked at, but they had an opening for the director of financial aid, right? So what what in the world what better solution to a job that you don’t like than to do more of it? Right? It’s take on more responsibility. And I started off okay there, honestly. But it didn’t last long. Because again, I had never at any point taken the time to try to develop anything like a set of healthy coping skills. So what was I going to do, when this increased pressure that I knew was coming actually really came to bear and situations came up where I was a little more stressed out or had a little more pressure or anything I did what I always did, and that was kind of run from it and not deal with it and drink instead just easier to drink instead, you know? And I can I convince myself that that was that I was operating better with a little bit of a bus and I was nicer to people that I was this that and that I was smoother. I was smarter and all these things, all these sort of justifications, you know, that you go through, if you can convince yourself that you’re on you operate better, with a little bit of a buzz and that’s all the more reason to try to get one all the time. Exactly. And, you know, I gotten to a point where, again, I was I was drinking at work, oftentimes now I only managed to last at this job for like three months, three or four months, right? And it gets to be late October, early November. And there’s a day when I go in I had actually no, this was a week where I really had ripped it up all week. Get in there it’s a Friday go in. You know it gets it’s a couple hours into the day. And I had gone out for probably the third time to my vehicle to drink after having started drinking at home before I left for work. And on the way back in said something to some co workers and you know, just just some sort of like Hey, aren’t you glad it’s Friday? What happened? Oh, right. And then within a couple of minutes, they come to my office that the Director of Education at the campus comes to my office and says, Jessie, we need to I need to talk to you, over in this classroom, this empty classroom, walk in, and it’s a couple of the people who had been outside that I’d said, Whatever to, you know, whatever greeting or whatever. Two, he says, Jessie, you know, so these folks are outside smoking cigarettes together, taking a break, and you walk by you, you were talking to them, and they said, they smelled liquor on your breath. Can you explain that? So well. I was out drinking till about 230 in the morning last night, which was the truth. I neglected to tell him that obviously, I neglected to tell him I started drinking about 730 That morning as well. He says, Well, we can’t have you at work. Right now. We’re going to get somebody to give you a ride home. And then when the campus director comes back to work Monday, you guys can have a conversation. And when you can imagine how the conversation went and went exactly how it should have gone, and that was, this professional relationship has come to an end. You know, right as I walk in the door. And that’s it. That’s exactly what I earned. That’s what I deserved. That was accountability. Yeah.
Kristin Taylor 36:23
Well, can I can I slow you down here a little bit? Sure. Well, what I’m really curious about thank you for sharing what you have. And again, I think the sharing of the story will help to shed some light for other people who don’t understand what the experience is like to be someone who has a dependency, but also for those who do to normalize just how under resourced and under equipped. You were. And they have felt, it’s interesting to me, and all this time, even in your firing, no one said, here’s a resource, or maybe they did, and you didn’t hear it, you didn’t want it. But what helped you to recognize and finally admit, I have a problem, and I need help.
Well, what’s really, I don’t know if this is necessarily strange, I don’t think it is from from lots and lots of years now. In the rooms of recovery, hearing from other folks, like I’ve recognized a lot for a long time that I was an alcoholic, I didn’t really necessarily know what all the implications were of that I knew I was an alcoholic, and I didn’t care. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. I didn’t think it was hurting anybody. I used to, I would say that repeatedly, which is something that a lot of folks, you know, wrapped up in, in alcoholism and addiction, say, you know, I’m not hurting anybody. I’m only hurting myself. Or this, that or the other. Right. And I was convinced that, you know, it’s nobody’s business. Nobody’s been through what I’ve been through. And I’m not hurting anybody else. You know, I couldn’t fathom how much I was putting people who cared about me through and I guess honestly, the point where something I knew something probably had to change was after I got fired from that last job so that was the that was literally to third job in six years. I got fired from twice getting caught drinking on the job and then once you know drinking all night and going into work way late so three to three times fired in six years because of drugs and alcohol, mainly alcohol, of course. But even then, honest to goodness, Kristen, even then, after getting fired, getting caught drinking on the job at a grown up job, I legit job, right. I knew something had to change. I didn’t really know if that something was me. I didn’t really know. Like, I was so convinced. so wrapped up in denial, I was convinced that I was just maybe unlucky. Or that somebody had it in for me, or something like that. And yeah, I didn’t, I didn’t really think it didn’t really sink in that maybe the drinking and the drugging was what had to change.
Kristin Taylor 39:10
It. See, God that is so interesting. What that speaks to, for me is like, like the developmental delay, once you start drinking, you stop growing, that there’s no awareness and that like you keep saying, you’re like I was not equipped. If you are spending all of your life, all of your waking moments inebriated. There’s no growing no self awareness living in denial. So you were still in that denial. What? What did it take for you to start to move towards seeking help, or accepting how maybe you didn’t seek it? Maybe you accepted it and recovery?
Yeah, so I knew at that point as I got fired. I knew there was a really good chance, you know, first off, I’m not going to be just immediately employable again, in a situation like that. And fortunately, still had my mom. I hadn’t destroyed that relationship entirely, but also knew like, hey, if I’m going to be asking to move back in with her, I’m probably going to need to do whatever it takes to appease her, I was very much still in that manipulative, manipulator, you know, sense of state of mind. So like, well, I’ll just, I’ll do whatever I got to do right now to not be on the street. And she made it pretty clear early on, that she wanted me to at least call about it and see about maybe going to treatment going to rehab. Sounds like well, if that’s what I got to do to keep her off my back, if that’s what I got to do to keep her appeased and happy so I can live here, cool. I’ll do it. It’s nothing is nothing to me, I’ll go, I’ll go spin 30 days in some place where I get food, free food, place asleep, hang out with some whoever, you know, will probably be a bunch of losers, but it doesn’t matter. I’ll make it I’ll be fine. And then I’ll get home. I’ll start to put my life together, get a job keep just lay low for a while, get a job. And then it’s business as usual. Right?
Kristin Taylor 41:13
was business as usual? Then I’ll return to drinking after I go through ice and
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, I had every every idea that most likely I would end up drinking and all that again. But, you know, I was going to do what I had to do in the meantime. And, you know, once I, once I found out that they had a bed for me at this rehabilitation facility, I had to wait a little while before I could go. And before they could get me in, but I knew I was like, You know what, it’s something I don’t know, some sort of shift happened. I was like, You know what? Dang it, if I’m going to do this, like, at least go in with an open mind, I’m at least gonna go in with an open mind and listen what they had to say, they’re probably not going to change me. But I bet I can learn some things or whatever. You know, if I’m gonna be there, I don’t want to waste time, I don’t want to just have it be a whole waste of time. You know, because I could do that I could go through the motions, I could tell them what they want to hear. I’ve been doing that you know, my whole life up until then. So you just go in with an open mind, whatever happens happens, get in there. And for the first little while it was, you know, oh, man, I’m surrounded by a bunch of like people that came straight in off the street or came straight from jail or about to go to jail or whatever. I’m nowhere near as bad as any of these dudes in here. I’m nowhere near as bad off. And then I got my intake interview a couple of days into it, like it wasn’t right away, but a couple days into it, where they’re asking you about, you know, health history, family history, and then substance history. And I started telling the girl who’s checking me in, you know, she’s asking about what do you drink? How much you drink? What do you use? I’m going through the specifics. And I told her nowhere near as much what I drank. I was not I wasn’t, I was telling her about half to three quarters of the drinking part. And not really fully honest on the drug part, either. And she still her reaction was still. And I quote, wow, that’s a lot. I’m like, Are you kidding me? In my mind, I’m like, Are you kidding me? I’m in here. Look at all these junkies and all these, this dude, this dude was living under a bridge last week. And you’re telling me, that’s a lot. And that you know what your scale is. And I’m not telling you the truth. So that’s sort of dinged me a little bit in my in my head. But I still was like, Ah, she probably just said that, because she says that to everybody. Because she’s got to try to help them sell this thing to people who are in here. So they’ll cooperate. You know, I still wasn’t quite to that point and had a conversation with my counselor at one point. And he says, Well, I think you might be in a little bit of denial. And I was like, I don’t know, you know, I denied the denial, right? And but I can’t even like, I can’t pinpoint necessarily the catalyzing event or a thing that somebody said or something in there. But I can tell you exactly when things changed. And tell you exactly when and I hope I never forget, I pray I pray every day that I never forget this. And I never forget this feeling. Right. So there was a day about. It was probably about 10 days in and we had had our normal, you know, you got your little schedule, you know, we’d had a normal morning gratitude meeting, which we had to have every morning and that was kind of a pain. Some days. Of course, you know, it’s kind of hard to be grateful for stuff when you’re grumpy, locked in there with a bunch of crazy dudes. But at any rate, we had had that and then we just come out of a small group session. And I have my little folder, they give you a folder with worksheets, just Like you’re back in third grade, you know, and I’m doing a little homework and I don’t know why I mean, I do know, I do I know exactly what happened, you know, and I wasn’t something somebody said, necessarily, but it was very much a very much felt God’s presence in my heart in my life at that moment. And something just washed over me. And I had this sensation of, you know, well, maybe I can change. Maybe I don’t have to do this anymore. Maybe I don’t, maybe I don’t have to be this guy anymore. You know, maybe I don’t have to. What what if? What if? What if I gave this a chance? Then what then what can I do? Do then who could I be? What if? What if I messed around and became who I was supposed to be? You know, and? Yeah, it was, it was the biggest relief that I’ve ever felt in my life. And, and I started to kind of feel emotional. I’m feeling pretty emotional about it right now. Every time I talk about every time I think about it, it takes me back there. And so how in the world wouldn’t you experience it? And I just remember this big exhale, kinda, you know, and like, Oh, dang. You know, like, just this, this release this burden release?
Kristin Taylor 46:35
wait a minute, you know, and then this, then this followed a little bit by this excitement, like, oh, man, oh, man, this is a new thing. And maybe I maybe I can, maybe I can do this. I don’t have to worry about doing this for the rest of my life. But like they said, You know, I can I can know today. I can worry about today and let tomorrow worry about itself. But I could. I bet I could do it today. You know, yes. Yeah.
Kristin Taylor 47:09
And Jesse, so I’m really moved by that, you know, that. I can hear it in your voice right now that wake up call, you said, feeling God’s presence. And having what I hear is that experience of hope, and possibility, and reclaiming your life, and it brings us back and brings me back to the accident, that your life was spared and spared for a reason. And that you are here for a reason. So, share a few word a little bit about your life right now. And how you are living that reason, and all the things that you are learning, and have learned that sustain you.
Yeah. So it took me a little while, of course, you know, come out of treatment and start to do the things that I need to do to get my life back. And it took me a little while to kind of come around to anything beyond survival mode, right? I had to get a foundation under my feet underneath me get some sobriety get a little bit of time, get a little bit of understanding and wisdom, right. And then as I started getting into positions where I could really I don’t know really, we’re really grow, really learn a little bit more like it’s all a learning process, of course. But it’s relearning how to live first. And then it’s it learning a little bit more about yourself, and then learning how to be frickin honest with yourself and everybody else and, and then you can start to move, move forward and build up rather than just rebuild. And so I discovered through, I wanted to get back into higher education. I knew that and I was desperately sort of this is this is a couple years, two and a half, three years clean and sober. I think and I’m you’re applying to jobs to get back into higher ed and roll the dice on this one that says, you know, higher education success coaches, I don’t know exactly what that is, but I bet I could do it better. I’m sure I bet I could learn if it’s high. Come on. If it’s higher ed dealing with people, I’ll figure it out, right. And, like get in and make it through the process. I get hired, things are great, you know. And then I start to figure out a little bit about actual coaching. I was Oh, so it’s not just me going to be an advisor, but me kind of giving people a little bit of a little agency, a little bit of permission to design their own path forward and figure out their own, you know, purpose and best self and things of that nature. Right. And so, I start to do I feel like I want to develop my skills further, I look into some external opportunities for training and start going to actually some life coach, quote unquote, training, right. And in the course of that, I got to the training, these really intensive and incredible experiences in the training of the collective, what’s now called the collective Training Institute. And at some point, and one of one of the last trainings, you know, some of that sort of arc is designed around helping you find your life purpose and things like that. And it just really hit me a couple things hit me all at once, you know, that I was, I was put on this earth to help people uncover and then be the best versions of themselves, whatever that is, you know, empower other people support other people, and be there for other people, you know, I don’t think any of us are put on this world or put on this earth to, to live alone or to only do our own thing. I’m not here to live for myself. I don’t I don’t, I really don’t think anybody else is either. We do. We do spend plenty of time living for ourselves, sometimes, but I don’t think that that’s that’s our purpose. I don’t think that’s where our deep fulfillment comes from. Right. And so I uncovered that and then I started to think, Well, sure, so I had heard this, this phrase, you know, find your pain, find your purpose, right? And so I started thinking, not just about my pain, but the places that I let my pain take me, right, the things that I did the ways that I acted in response to, to pain and to suffering. Before I started to kind of get healthy, right, and I started thinking about, obviously, the substance abuse, I started, think about the ways that I would treat people in my lives in my life, right, treat other folks. And some of the things that I would do and I started thinking about at that, at that time, this was around the time when sort of concept of this unhealthy or toxic masculinity started really becoming something that was more cultural awareness. And I was like, Well, yeah, man, that was largely me. I never sexually assaulted anybody. I never took it to that extreme. But man, I sure didn’t treat people right. I sure didn’t, you know, treat females right. Didn’t didn’t even treat my buddies, right or, or any of that stuff. When I was acting out of a lot of hurt acting out of a lot of, you know, filling a role that I thought I had to fill as a man. And it was the truth, it was not the truth. Like I got, I got felt like I got sold a bill of goods and was not being my real self back then. I moved into a place to live in as more as my real self, my authentic self, my true self, you know, who I was meant to be. So I thought, Well, God, dang. Why in the world, why in the world would I keep this to myself? Right. I know, I know the freedom that I’ve experienced. I know that they like the beauty and the fulfillment and the the aliveness and the freedom that I’ve experienced by getting to a place of more health. Well, hey, well, come with me dudes. Right? Like, come on, let’s let’s let’s do this together, I can I deepen this experience by bringing other folks with me, I keep it by giving it away, so to speak. So I really found a lot of purpose in helping helping men supporting men to get honest with themselves similarly to how I finally had to get honest with myself about the way I was living and that that was not, that was not what I was put on earth to do. I was not put on earth to drink myself to death. I know that right? Or to live just for me. And, you know, if I can support men and figuring out why they were put on Earth, and who they need to give themselves permission to be and what they need to forget about this junk bull that they’ve been taught culturally for generations. Right, then then I can really, what can we do? What can we do together? You know?
Kristin Taylor 54:13
I love it. I love it, man. Oh, man, you are saying so much that I think speaks well speaks to me as a woman. I can imagine what it feels like to be listening as a man to this because it is that bill of goods, right that toxic masculinity and so much of what you said about acting out from a place of hurt and your pain is your purpose. Really moving in the world from your true self as we go into wrapping up? Who is your true self? And what is your purpose?
Yeah, so my true self and I’m somebody that is here. It is real, that is honest and rigorously honest, not not brutally honest, but rigorously honest. Because I care about the people in my life enough to tell them the truth, wrapped in love, but the truth, that government and you know, I’m here to empower people to set themselves free, I’m here to give to others what I’ve been so freely given. And that’s the ability to, to be free to live free to live authentically, to live truthfully, to live from the heart, you got to be a man who experiences the entire spectrum of emotion, and who’s not ashamed of it and who’s not controlled by it either. I’m not here to like, I’m gonna, I’m gonna feel all of it, but I’m not gonna be run by it. You know what I mean? To me?
Kristin Taylor 55:50
Yeah. Well, I do. And I think that’s such a profound statement. So to feel all of it, but not be controlled by it. What are some of the practices and beliefs that help you to feel but not be controlled? How do you do that? If someone’s listening to you, they can say, Oh, my God, that was a wake up call, perhaps. What does that mean to you?
Well, I think that there, there are layers, right? First off, you’ve got to get a really, really honest accounting of who you are. And get honest about where you want to go, where you need to go. You know, to kind of fulfill the reason you’re here, the way a lineup, figured out your values, line up with your values, figure out where you’re going, and start to give yourself then within the contract, once you get honest, once you get to wipe the slate clean, so to speak, get back to ground zero. And then just just giving yourself permission, it starts I feel like with giving ourselves permission to feel things to notice we got to notice, right, we have to slow down and be in the moment enough to notice. Do not rush past things and not brush past things or minimize things or stuffs things down. Or convert. You know, we as men were in a way taught to convert every everything’s either anger. Or like happiness, or laughter fun, whatever. It’s that like that’s it whoa, dang come there’s a whole this whole this whole entire universe outside of just those two things. It’s not just all anger, you know, so you got to or, or just having fun right? Or you know, being happy it’s there’s so many different like facets and different nuanced feelings that exist in between in between those, right? So
Kristin Taylor 57:48
it’s so vital. Right? Hearing spin alive. Yeah. Yeah, you are such a way showare to people and I love that it is a man speaking to men and not women speaking to men, I think it holds such a level of credibility. Yeah, and influence that is so important. I love how you say taking people with you. Yeah, your story is incredible. And at the same time, credible because of the way you speak to it with such candor and openness. As we go into transitioning. What do you want your legacy to be? What do you want people to remember you for? Now
I want to be somebody that everybody in my life first off everybody in my life that I love. They never have any doubts about my love for them. First and foremost, because I don’t know if there’s anything else that I could do that matters if that doesn’t happen. But I also want to be somebody that people remember like, dang, tag GM, that guy. When I was when I got to be around him. Just by the way, he showed up and he cared for me that made me know not just feel comfortable in that moment, but know that I can I can really be me. It was okay to be me. And every every bit of me unapologetically. You know, and that was good. And that was good enough. It was more than good enough. You know, I want to be somebody that that people experience just the way that they experienced being around me they can remember like, okay, yeah, that that just being around him listen to him. Being in his life or having him in my life made me remember that. I was here put here for a reason. And I know that that I know that at least part of that reason is nothing less than being every bit of who I was born to be.
Kristin Taylor 59:54
So beautiful. That is a gift that is a gift that they feel safe enough for They have that level of trust, and they see the best in the worst and everything in between reflected in you. And you are holding them. This is what I hear with love and acceptance and belief in who they are, and that they matter and there is purpose to their existence. Yeah, so good to good. Jessie, thank you so much for sharing in the way that you have. It means a lot.
For sure, for sure. Thank you for thank you for giving me space. Thank you for inviting me, and allowing me to share this time and to speak from my heart.
Kristin Taylor 1:00:36
You really have…my pleasure, truly my pleasure. We are all here for unique and important reasons, each and every one of us. For Jessie, this truth was demonstrated more than once, having had more than one harrowing brush with death, and having actually clinically died after his car accident. He faced so much hardship and its aftermath. So much need for physical recovery. But the healing and recovery that was needed most was left for many years, and touched. He poured himself into his physical recovery after the accident. But like so many of us, when emotional pain shows up, we have either been conditioned to run away or numb out. We are chronically under resourced, leaving us so vulnerable to choosing drugs and alcohol instead. No one is immune from its alone. Who doesn’t want to escape to feel high to numb out in the face of immeasurable pain avoidance and denial work for a while until they don’t. Jesse’s story illuminates the cost fills in the contours of a life that no longer works when addiction to substances keeps us locked in denial. And further and further away from learning how to feel our feelings, and learning to face our fears. When we avoid pain, we also avoid life. Life is often full of pain and it hurts. But when we avoid the hurt, we also miss out on authentic connection, deep love and moments of ecstatic joy. We avoid growing, maturing and evolving towards an inward awareness and spiritual connection that serves to clarify our purpose for being alive. Jesse now walks a very different path each day and choosing sobriety. I hear him choosing being fully awake and fully alive and connected to his purpose. doing the hard work to feel all that life’s lessons have to teach him and in so doing, offering a hand to others to do the same. Thank God His life was spared. And although we may only guess at why it was spared, I would venture to say that for those whose lives he has touched and helped, they do not have to guess they know. Again thank you Jessie for sharing your story.
EIQ Media, LLC 1:03:15
How I Made It Through is produced and distributed by EQ Media LLC. Elevate your emotional IQ with podcasts and content focused on overcoming adversity, leadership, mental health, entrepreneurship, spiritually transformative experiences and more.