Connection in Nature…and on the Golf Course
When I’m on the golf course, I come alive. On the green, under a clear blue sky, I find peace and rest. It’s like that anytime I’m outside. Hunting, fishing, hiking, laying on the beach: I love it all. There is something about being in creation that settles my heart and reminds me that I’m okay just the way I am.
Struggling to Love Myself
I was not always okay with myself. For a long time, I did not know who ‘Kevin’ was. I was the talented athlete and known for being my Denny’s little brother, but inside I struggled with insecurity, loneliness, anger, and confusion. I felt just a little different from everyone else, and I didn’t feel like I was worth it. I always had a kind heart, but I grew up thinking that sensitivity meant weakness, and I did not want to appear weak. Little did I know that many people feel the same way.
Substance abuse, addiction, and depression run in my family, and I was exposed to it in my childhood. By the time I was in high school, I was regularly using alcohol and drugs to numb my pain from a relentless pursuit of perfection. This behavior continued for about ten years. Alcohol, benzos like Xanax, and more. By my actions, I was crying out for help, even though I denied that I actually needed it.
Getting Help for Addiction
My turning point came in 2016. I was struggling badly after a childhood friend took his life. I already had gotten several DUIs had to attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) because of a court order. One day, I showed up for a meeting with family that actually turned out to be an intervention. My brother and sister helped me get to a detox center, and then I entered rehab.
Being part of a regular support group saved my life. I was surrounded by a community of men from all walks of life. Some guys had walked in from off the street, while others were millionaires. They were young and old. Each one of us had our own pain that we had tried to numb with drugs and alcohol. And as we shared our fears with one another, I began to discover who I am. It was powerful to hear what older, more experienced men shared about their own process. I learned that I am not my addiction and more than I realized. Through recovery, I am a natural leader and teacher, a guy who loves music and wants to learn to play the guitar.
Experiencing Deeper Love through Community and Faith
As my time in rehab went on, I started to be able to love myself for the first time. The insecurity and fear slowly disappeared in the face of my new community and the hope and truth they spoke into my life. There was light at the end of the tunnel. New friendships and deep relationships formed, which was something I always wanted. I discovered a passion to council, disciple, and mentor others.
Throughout my journey, my brother, Danny, has been an amazing support. He had an experience with Jesus years before me, and you could just see that something was different in his eyes after it happened. He’s been right beside me all the way on this journey, and valued and encouraged me even when I didn’t value myself. He embodied the love of Jesus to me for years before I ever came to faith myself: not judging me, but believing in me so much that it almost made me uncomfortable. Denny is the one who taught me that it’s about progress, not perfection.
Peace Affects Every Area of Life
It’s taken some time, but I can see the growth in my self-confidence over the past few years. The peace that has come from this transformation process has impacted both the deepest, most profound parts of my life and the areas that are just for fun. One example, which may sound silly but matters to me, is my golf game. I’ve always loved golf but struggled for years with insecurity, anxiety, and stress that kept me from my full potential. The recovery experience, and finding greater peace, helped me play from a different place, and my scores improved by 10 – 15 strokes per round (which is a significant amount). I’m not in my head anymore. The quest for perfection paralyzes, but patience and persistence yields growth.
Giving Back in the Process
These days, I feel privileged to be able to share my experience with others, particularly young people dealing with similar issues. Hopefully, they won’t have to learn the hard way that I did. Through recovery, I’ve rediscovered the empathy that I’ve always had, and grown in my passion to help the marginalized. I now find myself doing things that I would have been very uncomfortable doing in the past. And I’ve also found a new ability to just be ‘me’ and enjoy sitting on the beach, doing nothing but staying still.
Being real is a powerful thing. I know that if it took me ten years to build destructive, addictive habits, it may take me a while to build something healthy and good. But I’m okay with that. I’m up for the challenge, and I know I’m not alone.
Taking OneStep Forward
You are only one step away from finding help. Take one of these steps Kevin took towards freedom:
1. Be Thankful: Focus on what you have and not what you’re lacking.
2. Be Patient: If you’ve lived in 10 years of destructive lifestyle habits, including your ways of thinking, do not expect a drastic change overnight (although miracles can happen). With patience and grace for yourself, you will create healthy habits over time with practice, precision and patience in the process that will renew your mind and allow to you to thrive.
3. Serve: Serve people, your church, in AA meetings or wherever you have found community. In humility, think of others as greater than yourselves and be willing to help.
4. Find Mentors: find someone who has characteristics and attributes that you want. Ask questions and find the best in all people. Be authentic and vulnerable. Try and receive from people in the past you may not have even given the time to listen to.
5. Find something you love or are passionate about.