I have the disease of "MORE." All my life, I've been told by parents, loved ones, peers and colleagues that I am tough. I can handle life. I am capable, intelligent, good looking. You've got promise they'd say. From a young age, I've felt something inside me that showed great promise.
My twin brother and I were on the cusp of stardom after making our television breakthrough on a made for TV movie back in 1992 in Chicago, IL. It was not long after that our parents divorced and the non-fiction story line of my life began to feel like a movie. As a twin, I already felt like part of a "set", like we were ceramic dolls you buy at the store, but after that I felt even more divided. The deepest parts of my spirit awakened and I numbed the pain with that toughness and charm I became known for. It became my identity. I learned to wear the mask that is all too familiar to most of us. Such was my introduction to the hollow, the void. A yearning awakened that equalled my promise, a yearning for more. More than I was on my own. More than I already had.
My adolescence was marked by honor, prestige, accomplishments and lies. I began lying at a very early age to get attention. If your aunt died in a plane crash, so did mine. If you were a kung fu student, I knew crane style. If you were writing a book, mine was already published. So the splitting of my soul continued, until there were so many story lines and personalities that I couldn't keep them straight anymore. My house of cards fell many times. Instead of surrender, I would "toughen up" and just rebuild it all again. Therapists, school counselors, preists, doctors all labeled me this, diagnosed me that. Pills, sessions, books all piled on the lie that was Kyle. The word "addict" never came up. It was too dirty, too repulsive. "No one is an addict at 14" they must have thought. Funny, I've been clean for years now and it's more obvious than ever that I don't need drugs (which includes marijuana and alcohol) to be insane. I met drugs in high school like most kids, and found the key to my lock. The lock that had kept the door of my freedom closed tight for so long. I finally felt complete. I finally had that courage I was marked for. I became popular. The fun was never ending, every day a party. Until the ugly side of addiction was revealed.
It only took 7 1/2 years before I was introduced to intravenous drug use, which brought me to my knees. Emotionally unstable, mentally insane, physically on the brink of death and spiritually bankrupt I cried out the God that I didn't believe in and blamed everything on. I asked Him or Her or It to just take my life. Take my sorry ass out of there because I couldn't do it anymore. He did. Just not how I expected. I ended up in treatment. There, a 12 step fellowship came in and carried a message of hope, the promise of freedom from active addiction. I was willing to do anything.
Today, my life is completely different. I would say that I am recovering, but this is something entirely different. I can't recover what I never had, and I've certainly never had joy, elation, freedom, kindness and excitement like this. Nor have I so intensely felt sorrow, grief, compassion and frustration but heat only warms when we've known the cold. To those who have seen great adversity, so too are we blessed with enormous strength and depth of character. Today I speak at conventions and meetings around the country. I sponsor guys in the program and serve my community in other ways as well. I love my job, my friends and my family actually cares to be with me today. I am only 26 but I feel like I am a pillar of community. I say that not to brag, but because for someone who spent a long time hating himself, I like to be proud of what recovery has done for me.
It took me becoming an adult to learn that I never felt like I was enough. Enough of anything. I wasn't coddled or cuddled much by my father growing up and my mother has been absent all my life. She's still using to this day. At least part of this disease is inherited. Bear that in mind when you're just "having fun." My father did the best he could with what he had and I fancy him a saint. My other brother is autistic and has extremely demanding needs. All this sounds like a well written novel, but my life is something too bizarre and extraordinary to make up. It's funny, after I've learned to take off the mask, I am worth something after all. The truth is enough. I am enough.