Living IN the Reaction: Self-Medicating and Learning to Live Before the Reaction

04/26/2016 10:49 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

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The second hardest thing to do is admit there is a problem. The hardest part is actually doing something about it. I knew there was a problem. I knew my drinking had gotten far too out of control. What I didn't do, was something about it. There is an entire back story as to how often I was drinking. How many failed attempts at stopping that didn't work. How I hid it in the most creative ways from my wife and family. Felicia and I can laugh at a lot of these things now. Not always. But we do laugh now. The real question isn't when I did something about it. It's why. And not just why I did something about it. But why I won't go down that path again. It also leads to how fitness saved my life and my marriage.

My last night of drinking was a Tuesday night in December of 2005. I knew it was going to be it. I didn't have an after plan. I just knew I was no longer going to drink after that night guy. So I went hard. Triple tequilas for about 3 hours straight followed by a lot of pints of beer. When I went to leave and pay, Sam the bartender told me to hand over my keys. Sam saved someone's life that night. I can guarantee that. She was a hero to untold people. Leaving my car at the bar I got a ride with a friend who dropped me off at home and I was e loft, I'm not going to be drinking ever again." It is shortly after this moment that I get clarity. Not immediately. A few hours later actually. Clarity that I needed to do something and the reason I will never go down this path again and why I won't drink again. What I haven't mentioned yet is that we have, at this time an unbelievably amazing 1 1/2 year old son. This kid means everything to us. Well. Let's get to the part where my life changed forever.

I don't know how long I had been passed out on the kitchen floor but I woke up at some point in the evening with my wife staring down at me. I can't even describe the look in her face and eyes. The only thought that rushed to my mind was "OH MY GOD!" It wasn't the reaction I had based on her finding me. You see, I remember giving our son a bath that night. I don't remember at all putting him to bed. Right then. Right there. Laying on the kitchen floor my life changed. Felecia's life changed. Our son's life changed. Forever.

I had a problem. My problem wasn't drinking. Not exactly. My problem was why I was drinking. There was something I was trying to escape. To forget. To help manage. At this point I knew that I was at rock bottom. There was nowhere left to go but up. It took a few months of on my own sobriety until I got into a program that I knew would help me. All the while figuring out how to move forward after that night that I was found on the kitchen floor. Not remembering anything after giving my son a bath. What I learned was why. Why I was drinking. Why I was self medicating to avoid the past. But what people need to know when they are moving forward or even just trying to look up from rock bottom. Is that at first. Its all still there. The problems you've been avoiding. The issues you were self medicating from. They don't disappear just because you stopped using your substance of choice. But they can be handled. They can be dealt with. Instead of living IN the reaction we need to live before the reaction. We need tools to help us deal before we are thrown into a reactive situation.

That's where fitness saved my life. Saved my marriage. Despite being a personal trainer for years before I got married and had a son. Despite owning a fitness studio with my wife, also a fitness trainer. Fitness was no longer my thing. I didn't love it. I was going through the motions. What I didn't realize was that fitness was one of my tools I could use. Finding a program I loved. That gave me a feeling of instant gratification. That took me away from whatever it was I needed to escape from. That was IT! The best part was that it left me feeling refreshed. Invigorated. Full of brilliant ideas that actually made sense. It also gave me something to reconnect with my wife with. We have both learned in the last 10 years that when we are not together on things. That we are no longer on point or that things start to slip. We lose focus. We also notice that our fitness is no longer happening. Our food is no longer on point. Our communication is no longer occurring the way it should. Essentially, we are living IN the reaction again. This sounds so cliche but it really rings true; Fail to plan, then you plan to fail. Its 100 percent true. We need tools to survive. We need the tools to make things happen. To build. So many couples are in the same or a similar situation. It doesn't even have to be a wedge as big as alcohol. You can substitute anything in there. Any distraction in a marriage. What we as a couple found that brought us clarity is fitness.

That night in December was the best and worst night of my life. I went into that night planning to fail. I planned that night to be the last night I would ever have a drink. That was the night I had to throw everything to the wind and see where it landed. I didn't plan on waking up on the kitchen floor and not remembering putting my son to bed. I didn't plan on my wife being there at the end of my journey to sobriety. I had to do it for me. And in doing it for me I was doing it for all of us. No matter the outcome. Felicia and I just celebrated our 13th anniversary. Our oldest that I gave a bath to that night is now an incredible 11 1/2 year old hockey player and artist. Along with his 2 younger brothers we have an incredible family, full of fun, chaos and the unexpected. In fact, Felicia and I are still fitness trainers and educators. Master Trainers for Beachbody LIVE traveling internationally educating fitness instructors to teach BB Live formats. We also travel and talk extensively about our story and help other couples and individuals get their lives a little more on track. We are always helping others at Banging Out a Better Balanced Life.

Through fitness. Through planning. Through it together.

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Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) forᅡᅠthe SAMHSA National Helpline.