January 2023

Jason Skaling

Hello, I’m Jason and I am an addict.
My clean date is November 28, 2020.
I was born in Oceanside, California and come from a long line of alcoholics and addicts so it seems that it was inevitable that I became one myself.
I am the oldest brother to four siblings in a very blended family. My parents divorced when I was young, and my dad attached himself to a woman who already had two daughters and eventually they had a third of their own. My mom dated various men who were abusive and eventually had another son with my stepdad. I never felt like I belonged anywhere, nor did I feel a part of either family.
When I think about my childhood the only thought that comes to mind is that when one parent got tired of me, they would ship me off to the other, and that I was everyone’s problem. From California to Colorado to Florida, I always felt alone and abandoned and it’s safe to say that everyone decided for me that geographical changes might be the solution to everyone’s problem.
My drug use started at a fairly young age. My drinking was far too obvious and people started to notice that I was buzzed or drunk so I thought maybe sticking to pills would be easier to get away with. My drug use started with my mother. She gave me Vicodin for the first time and our relationship began to develop more as a friendship as we would use together and doctor shop. I think my mom felt guilty for not being able to be the parent I needed as a kid, and we bonded over partying and our drug use. She eventually lost her life to an alcohol induced heart attack when I was about 32 years old. 
When I was about 14 years old, I moved away from both parents and lived with my grandparents for a little bit. I had parents that let me do whatever I wanted, my grandparents let me get away with so much more, I had very little to no contact with my siblings and could not get away from the feeling that there was nowhere I belonged.
I started hanging out with older kids and dropped out of school. Eventually I moved out on my own completely. I always had jobs to pay my bills and support my drug use. The only problem was that there was never enough. I have stopped using at various times in my life, but I did not know what recovery was. Drinking and using was a way of life in every household I lived in. It was acceptable and normal. What I know to be unmanageability now; I thought everyone’s lives were that way.

*After I met my wife and had my children, I thought I had finally found something that I would always be a part of. A place I would always belong.*

My wife had the same mentality as me that drugs were fun, and it wasn’t such a big deal to use on occasion. Eventually the fun ended, and responsibilities got bigger, demands became greater, and my little family began to fall apart. My daughters followed in my footsteps with dabbling with drugs and I am grateful that they both had the ability to stop before they were 18, and the only thing my son is addicted to is video games.
The first time my wife and I split up I lived in a homeless shelter with my son and his twin sister stayed with her mother. My oldest daughter was already out of the house living with friends. When my wife and I got back together things were decent for many years, but the drugs and lies and damage to our relationship could not be mended and we split up again in July of 2020. I lived in my car sometimes because my brother didn’t want me around his new family. Once again there was no place for me in this world.
In September 2020 after speaking with my stepmom and dad, I found out that one of my sisters had been living at this place called Fellowship RCO, and that she had 7 months clean. My sister and I had only seen each other maybe twice since she went to live with her dad when we were kids, but I reached out to her. At first, I wanted to offer support, but then she asked me if I wanted to come live at Fellowship RCO’s Men’s Recovery Residence. I had never considered myself an addict prior to coming to Fellowship RCO. I didn’t even know what an addict was. I’d compare myself to how addicts were portrayed on T.V. and I knew I wasn’t like “them”. I always knew I had a problem, but I didn’t know what it was. 

I knew there was a lot at stake. I loved my kids and I wanted to do right by them. 

I was so angry with my wife, the world, my parents, everyone, and I really had no reason to stay where I was. It took many conversations with my sister, almost daily, but the day after Thanksgiving in 2020 I drove from Tampa and checked into Fellowship RCO’s Respite. That was the day my life began. I found an entire community of people who shared common experiences, who were seeking a place to belong, a place to be loved, a place to learn that we are worthy of love, and a place to heal and forgive.
The last two years have not been all roses. I spent most of my time at Fellowship RCO with almost no communication with my kids, which was the worst part because all I wanted was to be well enough to be the dad they deserved.
I spent that time working on myself. I went through a few sponsors before I found the right sponsor to walk me through the steps, I built a support network of other men in recovery who support me when my disease wants to act out, and I will be real with you- it sneaks up on me more than I’d care to admit. 
Without the relationships I have built at Fellowship RCO I would not be writing this today. I built a relationship with one of my sisters that I never thought I’d have. She’s one of my best friends. I work part-time at Fellowship RCO’s Respite, and I have found a sense of purpose in helping others who need the same love and care that I needed when I got here. I have not forgotten where I came from, and I still carry a lot of it around with me. 

My message to the newcomer is this: Be careful of what you wish for because it might come true, and Be Ready!

I had about 20 months clean when I finally got to visit my brother and my kids. My brother let me stay at his house, and I spent the weekend with him, my niece, and all three kids!

Two months later my son wanted to come live with me. I was still living at Fellowship RCO’s Recovery Residence at the time so he moved in with my sister for a month until the three of us could find an apartment. 

We all got our own place in October, my son’s twin sister moved in with us in November, and my wife moved into the Women’s Recovery Residence. We all got to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas together. I got to pick up my 2 year medallion in front of my kids, which might be one of my greatest achievements so far. My oldest daughter came to visit, and I have my family back far beyond what I thought possible. 

I’ve had some interaction with my youngest sister and father, which gives me hope for a future reconciliation, and hope of seeing my middle sister again. There is still plenty of work to do to heal my relationships with my family, but one thing I am certain of is that my Fellowship Family has the suggestions, and experience to help me push forward so I never have to look back no matter what!

Recovery is possible and like I said, be ready for the blessings!