I Went in to Give This My All | Andy Bob’s Story
Andy came to Guiding Light with nothing to lose. His addiction burnt every bridge he had, and he wanted to prove that nothing could change him. Today he is a family man, a businessman, and a shining example of what a little bit of willingness can do for a young man that puts in the work of transformation.
“You’re Killing Mom and Dad”
By the time he was getting kicked out of his apartment, Andy had broken the trust of everyone who cared for him. The drinking, the drugs, the false confidence – it was too much. Even his parents were exhausted. “In December of 2018 – it might have been Christmas Eve – my dad said, ‘After today, you can’t come around here anymore.’ My brother pulled me aside that same day and told me, ‘You’re literally killing Mom and Dad.’” That was tough to hear. Today he can look back at that memory from the perspective of a life recovered, thanks to the work he put in at Guiding Light – the place he calls the “ground zero of my new life.” He is healthy and proud to be a father, husband and son, excelling in business and looking forward to the future. He knows now that painful moment of truth with family was many years in the making. He had been asleep to how he was hurting others and himself. And like Lazarus needing the community to help unbind him, he needed to end his isolation and restore connection with others to truly wake to a new life. When he got fired from his job and was about to be turned out onto the street, it was his “gift of desperation” that brought him to Guiding Light. “I had run out of options trying to figure it out myself. I had nowhere to go, and my mom had been leaving brochures out because one of her friends’ sons had gone through the program, too.”
Nothing to Lose
He figured he had nothing to lose. “I went in with the intention that to give this my all. If it works, amazing. If it doesn’t work, then I can say, ‘See, I told you so’ to everybody.’ So, I figured I was going to win no matter what.” That confidence and commitment to going all-in had helped him get good grades and succeed in sports in high school and earn his way through four years of college. It also turned out to be a pretty effective attitude for the rigor and accountability he found at Guiding Light. The faith-based residential program is a four-month immersion into a dynamic culture of community, peer support, and accountability. Men participate in life coaching, therapy, spiritual direction and physical fitness. It demands full commitment to wake up to a new way of life. In other words, it was exactly what Andy needed. “There’s no excuses at Guiding Light. And it kind of humbles you to realize the world’s going on and my family’s fine without me. Maybe I had delusions of grandeur about what I was bringing to the table. Because I wasn’t bringing anything to the table, you know?” Once he found community at Guiding Light, he realized what it cost him when he pushed people out of his life. “What was great, just as soon as I got into Guiding Light, was being around people again. I mean, for the few years before that, I had just isolated so bad, even though that’s not who I am. So, I started feel like myself again.” That included an opportunity to challenge and explore his faith in sessions with his spiritual director. “She didn’t let me get away with anything. I couldn’t play games with her. She posed the hard questions. It gave me time to comprehend my relationship with God.”
Embracing a New Way of Life
Andy embraced the Guiding Light approach – to the point where he would get frustrated with anyone who did not bring the same mentality to the program. “I would say, this is working for me. Don’t waste our time.” For the first time, he started to see himself as a leader – traits that would serve him well later in his recovery and career. But he knew he had work to do first. Sometimes those objectives seemed far away, like seeing his name on the wall of men who had achieved one year of sobriety. He eventually graduated to Guiding Light’s Iron House, the next step in recovery, where men full-time, pay a modest rent, participate in support groups and community meetings. And then he got his chance to add his name to the wall. “That wall is ingrained in your memory when you’re in the beginning. A year or so might as well be a million years when you’re there for those first couple months. But then you start to build a little confidence in yourself and build a little confidence in that you can do it.” Confidence comes naturally to Andy – his brother once described him as “the most confident homeless person he ever met” – but that was not always based on a solid foundation. “No matter what was going on, I thought I could figure it out. Well, when I finally realized I couldn’t figure things out, when I was in too deep, that’s when Guiding Light came in. I’m not trying to pull one over on anybody anymore, and that’s all I was ever trying to do before. I’m backing it up. There’s proof there. There’s something to stand on. It’s not just bravado.”
A Completely Different Game
Today Andy manages two restaurants with a staff of 50, with the opportunity for a larger role ahead. He has married a former acquaintance after they bonded over sobriety; they have a 14-month-old son and another baby due in October. He remains close with his stepson from his first marriage, and he is grateful for restored connections with the rest of his family. “My parents came and visited about a month and a half into Guiding Light, and they physically looked better. I mean, here I was 37 at the time, and … your kids are your kids. I didn’t realize the extent that I had been draining them.” Andy keeps close ties to Guiding Light, the place that helped him wake up to a new life. “I used to want to go to bed because I wanted the day to end – but I also wouldn’t want to go to bed because I knew it would just be another day. Now I go to bed and examine my day, think of anything I could have done differently, and with hope for the next day. I wake up the next day with the power, willingness and ability to take on whatever. It’s just a completely different game.