My story of addiction/alcoholism began for me in my mother’s womb. My father was a Navy man and we were stationed on the Island of Crete in Greece. When my mom was around 5-6 months pregnant with me my father who was an alcoholic struck her or pushed her down while he was drunk. One day my mother fell and hit so hard it broke her thigh at the very top. As a result it caused my optic nerve in my right eye to become partially separated, causing me to be blind in my right eye. For me this is a big thing because of God’s promise of a new body in heaven as in 2 Corinthians 5:1 “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For me personally this is such a great thing to look forward to. Not knowing what most people see that have vision here with both eyes… the first time I get to see with both my eyes.. will be to gaze upon the glory and beauty in the kingdom of heaven. It is something very close and personal between me and my Father in heaven.
In addition to my blindness in one eye, it is believed I developed epilepsy as a result of my mom being abuse while I was in her womb. Around the age of seven or eight I had my first major tonic – clonic seizure. When I came to I was fine, but because the seizure lasted so long, was so intense and my heart stopped, my doctors put me on a strong dose of a barbiturate known as Phenobarbital. I was prescribed 30mg 4 times per day. This would be my first encounter with being high. I did not understand it at the time except I would tell my mom,” Mommy this makes me feel funny”. As I went through my childhood, moving from place to place, my epilepsy was pretty much under control. We lived in decent places.. not rich, not poor, but in the middle. I observed my father drunk and physically and mentally abusive many times. My mother liked to take pills, but she was stable and did not use them to get high. For many years I was a good- drug free kid. However, I didn’t do well in school. In 6th grade I was given an IQ test, because the teachers thought I had some learning issues. As it turned out I scored really high, 163 on the adult IQ test. The examiner and my teachers were in disbelief. I didn’t like to write and do homework, but I scored well on my tests. This is when I was diagnosed as having a form of autism called Aspergers, as well as ADHD.
Around 16 years old I was living in Miami Florida and started drinking, smoking weed, and got involved with gang activity. I did this until I was 18 years old and moved to NJ with my parents. Both my parents have since passed on and I have totally forgiven them of any wrong doings, I love and miss them both.
I met my children’s mom Linda and had my first son Michael Jr. on 7/22/1997. I had a massive seizure and was put on benzodiazepine called Klonopin. This is when I really started to get heavy into use. I experimented with everything including pills, Heroine, Coke, LSD, etc. I got so hooked on pills, my favorite drug of choice, that I started selling forged prescriptions. I did this for a long time causing a lot of trouble with family and friends. Fighting, stealing, hurting others in my path of chaos. On 6/13/01 my second son was born. Brandon Nicklaus. Not long after, I got caught for prescription fraud and was put on 3 years probation. Not long after that I got into a fight and hurt someone pretty bad. I was then sent to prison for my actions. I did two ,three year sentences back to back. At this time I stayed clean and searched for God. When I went to prison, my Aunt Darlene took both my sons to raise them. I am so very glad and blessed she did because DYFS would have most likely taken them and split them up. I did my time staying clean, but when I got out I relapsed. I began drinking Hennesy and doing Cocaine. I overdosed and my heart stopped. I remember it being all black, but it was like I was still aware and conscious. I felt like God let me see a bit of Hell. I could hear my thoughts bouncing around me, like I was in a metal hallway. When I came to in the ER I was in a vegetative state. I was talking in my head, but the words were not coming out of my mouth. I could move around, I just could not talk. I then proceeded to think if I can touch my fingers together, I will be ok. Eventually I will talk again. So I did, I laid there and kept trying to put my two fingers together. My friend sat there with me for hours while I attempted this. Eventually I connected and my hands came together like when I pray. I slowly started to talk again. This reminds me of Job 1:21 And he said, ” naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
This was around the time I met my wife Dorothy. We fell in love and a year later in August 2007 got married. I kept using and relapsing and kept going in and out of jail for petty things. In 2014, my wife kicked me out. This started my journey of living on the streets. For about a year or so I lived in a tent in Chesapeake VA. I tried to get clean, but didn’t. I worked in my wife’s family’s Body Shop painting cars and what not. Then a little over three years ago I had a seizure and fell down and broke 4 ribs and collapsed my lung. I had surgery to put me back together again, like humpty dumpty. During surgery the doctors had to cut out a lot of my right lung because my ribs splintered into it. The doctors also put metal in my back to help me heal better. I experienced the worst pain ever physically in my life. Now I realize that pain and suffering will bring you closer to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. A few days after coming to I had a spiritual hit from Jesus. This is when I had a feeling in my soul to come out here to California. 10 days after surgery, I left the hospital and got on a bus. I stopped in Texas for a month to see my older brother and then continued to San Diego. I have no doubt Jesus led me out here. When I got here I hung out downtown and was doing Meth and Pills, etc. I had a seizure and ended up at Scripps Hospital in Hillcrest. I spent the next three years living on two squares of sidewalk in Hillcrest next to El Cuervo restaurant… that was my home. I would blow my money in the first week and then eat out of dumpsters and do a little panhandling. I didn’t feel comfortable asking others for their hard earned money, so I would mostly dumpster dive and sell things here and there that I found.. or eat out of the trash. It was all very humbling and I learned a lot in that dark place.
I got into some trouble in San Diego. After I had just gotten a bottle of Klonopin filled, I was jumped by three guys for my backpack. I threatened them and they stole my money and pills. They called the cops and got charges put on me because of my record and the three guys didn’t have one. Charges stuck, threat with a GBI likely. I went to jail, then court and was put on three years of probation. I needed help. I needed a program. Probation kept telling me I had to do it on my own. I was given a list of programs and was told to call and get into one. My charges were not for drugs. Probation didn’t even know I was an addict until I tested dirty one day.
On January 2, 2018 I called my wife and she asked me if I was sitting down. I said, “Yeah, why?” She informed me my son Michael Jr. had passed away. He was found in a field, all alone, with a needle in his arm. I was in shock! He died from an overdose of Heroine and Fentanyl. He was only 20 years old when he went to be with the Lord. Matthew 11:28 “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. ” So the Lord gave him rest. I lost it…. I went through the roof…. I ran to CVS in Hillcrest, jumped behind the counter and was yelling,” drug dealers!” and tossing meds off the shelf. The cops came and tazed me. CVS didn’t press charges because they knew me and my wife had called the cops before hand to let them know..”Hey his son passed and I’m gonna tell him, so be aware he might go nuts!” They took me to seek mental health, at CMH and put me on a 51/50 watch. Eventually they let me out. I kept getting high and then it hit me, Jesus said ” It’s time Michael, it’s time for you to come to me, so you can have your rest.” I called my P.O. and told her I was not coming in, she knew where I lived and that I would see her in court. Sure enough on May 2, 2018 I got picked up. I went to court and told the judge it was my second time coming to court and wanting help. The judge got mad at the probation officer and wanted to know why I did not get put into a program. On May 30, 2018 I was picked up and brought to where The Lord wanted me to start changing my life, to have my soul walking in line with Holy Spirit.
The Lord brought me to Restoration Ranch. I am so grateful for it. I praise God and worship Him. God put a strong hedge of protection around me at the Ranch and a tight circle of very wise counsel. I no longer have bad days. I have learned a lot and have more to learn. I take my faith in Jesus Christ and my recovery seriously. I am so grateful for the brothers and sister God has put around me and who have taught me through the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such things there is no law.”
I now live such a more blessed life. God has blessed me with so much. I now realize how blessed I am. My relationship with my wife is getting stronger. My wife is now reading her bible and strengthening her relationship with Jesus. Now that I put God first everything is falling into its proper place. Doors are opening, my relationship with my family is being restored, and I no longer have anxiety or worry in life. This is all due to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God has put people in my life to help me learn to walk closer than ever to Him. Thank you to God first and foremost and to everyone at Restoration Ranch.