Hi. Many of you may know me as Ashley’s husband and Jupiter’s dad. If not, I’m Christopher French, nice to meet you!
Some of you also might know that I’ve been clean and sober for a long time, and having just celebrated my 15-year anniversary, Ashley asked me to write something about it to share with you all here.
Editor’s Note: The following will include mentions of alcohol and drug use.
I’m from the Bay Area in Northern California and I was raised by two kind, loving parents. My childhood was not traumatic in any way; on the outside, everything was probably pretty normal — but I always just felt different. It’s hard to describe it other than I just felt “off”. Like an outsider, I felt as though I was separate from everyone else. Alone. As early as I can remember, I was always looking for something that would make me feel “better” or more complete. Something that would help me rise above the feeling that I just wasn’t good enough.
I saw people drinking and using drugs and said to myself “Oh man, that’s gotta be it.” In middle school, I started drinking and smoking cigarettes and getting high — and it made me feel better. I suddenly just didn’t care. “So maybe I’m an outsider, maybe I’m alone, so what?” I told myself. That was the beginning of my journey through the maze.
I got into all kinds of trouble through high school. I thought, “Why should I care about the future? All I need is to have fun and get wasted, whatever happens happens.” I stopped going to school. I dropped out in the beginning of junior year, took the CHSPE, and was done. But watching all my friends graduate from the bleachers was one of the saddest moments of my life.
It went on like that for years, getting worse over time, including being locked up for a while. When I got out, I got my life together for a bit (mostly because I had to for the courts) but it didn’t last. Fundamentally, nothing changed. I was still separate and alone and thought drinking and using was my only solution.
Eventually, even though I was doing what I loved to do (making music) and basically living my dreams, I was miserable. Nothing would relieve that aching feeling that had followed me since I could remember. I thought maybe my life was just over.
After one exceptionally crazy and dangerous night, I woke up in my bed the next morning — with no idea how I got back there — and I had this feeling. Whatever God is was telling me maybe there was another way: get some help and try to change.
So I turned to Google. I looked up some recovery meetings in my area, it immediately showed me where one was that night and I went! Weird that it was so easy, I know.
Even though I didn’t really wanna talk to anyone, I met a dude there who kept me from leaving at the smoke-break. He introduced me to his friends, and they took me to more recovery meetings for weeks. They said to me, “Just give it a chance and see how it goes.” That guy is still one of my closest friends to this day. He basically saved my life.
That was Groundhog’s Day, February 2nd 2007.
Since then, by accepting some help, I started to feel better. I learned that I was never really separate or alone, I was just stuck in myself. Self-centeredness had destroyed me. I had to do the work to clear out all the baggage I’d been carrying around and repair some damage in my life, but the more I did, the more connected I felt to life and to others.
One of the common characteristics of addicts and alcoholics is the tendency to over-complicate everything. 12-step programs are especially helpful with this because they were created by people with the same problems and specifically designed to guide you through the process as simply as possible. I’ve gone through this process multiple times myself over the years, and had the honor of helping others to do the same. It’s challenging, but amazing. And for some people, it’s the only way.
These last 15 years have honestly been the most insane and beautiful adventure I could’ve ever imagined. It hasn’t always been easy, sometimes it’s been really hard, but I’ve stayed on the path. I’ve just kept moving forward a step at a time.
If this story resonates with you in any way, that makes me happy. I hope that if you only take one thing from it, it’s that you’re not alone. None of us are separate. We are all perfect little oddly-shaped puzzle pieces that fit into life just right, as we are.
Everything is constantly changing, including us. So if you, or anyone you know is struggling, and ready for a change — it’s ready for you too. There’s a whole community of people waiting to help. All you have to do is take that step.
I love you.