Recovery Stories

Slade Skaggs's Story


My name is Slade and I was born and raised in Austin, Texas. I am 42 years of age and live a life of peace and service today. I am a redhead and so-called “ginger” as people say today and I remember that being the common theme in my life from as early as I can remember! Oh, would you look at that red hair or he is such a cute redhead or being teased copper top, I’ll beat you like a red-headed stepchild, etc. etc.

Saying that I remember feeling different than most right away singled out separate from so to speak. I carried that message with me throughout life that I was different than everyone else. That message carried through into everything I was ever involved in. I attached being different to all things and felt alone because of it. I remember one of the first times I was what I now called Wounded. My grandfather, one of the Kings in my life, was a man I trusted and wanted to idolize. He was a man who is in the First Church of Christ and that is the only way to believe according to him. That WORD, the WORD of The First Church of Christ was the only way to believe!

One day he told me that if other human beings didn’t believe that specific way even our baptist cousins that they would burn eternally in hell. I was 6 years old and in the pit of my stomach was fear and disagreement with one of the ” Safe People” in my life. I was at that moment having all these new thoughts and was kinda thinking for myself for the first time in life at 6 years old. I remember being scared to share that I disagreed with him, for all I had known up until then those Kings and Queens in my life and what they said was law, the way. It was the only truth.

A year later there was a young teenage high school guy on my street who was an older skater type, BMX bike rider who I looked up to. He dressed cool, acted cool, and was accepting of me even though I wasn’t his age. He had me over to his house when his parents weren’t home and started what became years of many different predators in my life. He molested me. I can say I didn’t know that it was called shame at the time but that is exactly what it was. How could I say anything to anyone? I was confused. There were these images on the news in the ‘80s that told me if two men were together they would die from AIDS. HIV was all over the news and scary, petrifying to a kid my age in the ’80s. So that was a message coming from the TV in the ’80s – you will die if you are with another man sexually, that was the way my brain interpreted it as a kid. This shame and guilt that was started from these two original wounds changed everything about the way I thought, saw, felt in the world, and not for the better. I already wanted to escape and I wasn’t even 10 years old.

From ages 7 to 10 there were more than a few predators in my life that I had blacked out until I came to recovery and did some Courage to Heal work. When I turned 10 my parents told my sister and me that they were getting a divorce and again another wound was created. At the moment they told us I remember all these images of my father coming to my mind about being around pretty women he worked with and being the Ultra-Cool King Guy Dad he was in my life. I thought I could have prevented their divorce and that it was my fault because I subconsciously knew he was being unfaithful, not that I knew the extent of what that meant or was!
So my mother was a single mother now doing the best she could to provide for 2 kids and we had moved from a house to an apartment, which was different. All the while I started getting in more trouble at school, being class clown seeking attention both negative and positive. I had already tried drinking from the age of 6 and pot from age 8 and then at 12 had tried cocaine with my father on a fishing trip. What I can say is I liked the effect, sure, but it was an escape from my feeling of guilt, shame, anger, and fear… from all these things I was finding that I believed were me, a young boy who was attracted to men and women and being around older people…the escape of the adult things “Drugs & Alcohol” from what was already a stressful life with all these things I couldn’t tell anyone!

Then the biggest wound event so to speak in my life occurred. A predator of the worst kind – a friend of the family “Safe Person.” I was with this person on a trip with his two sons that were about my age. The man had already been taking advantage of me for a couple of years when he had the chance on this trip he had a couple of hotel rooms across the highway from a theme park – one for us boys and one for himself. He asked me to come to his room and have a beer, which one beer at the age of almost 14 was nothing to me!

I remember things getting very drowsy and sleepy halfway through the beer and then darkness. I was out. I came to and two other grown men were trying to hurry and leave the hotel room. One asked what I could make out, “you think he will be okay?” The so-called “safe person” taking care of me on this trip, as I remember his words crystal clear, said, “he won’t remember a thing.” Well, let me tell you I now remember a lot of things. I was raped brutally by 3 grown men, two of which I will never know who they are and one of which I wished for dead for a decade or more and now just happens to be (He was taken by a Brain Tumor)!
This specific incident moved me into a very long struggle of what I now know to be Victimhood. Let me be clear when I say today I choose to believe that I am not a Victim. I am a strong empowered warrior in recovery!

This is where my life starts to become a blur. At the age of 14, the same year as my brutal rape, I was introduced to IV heroin and I fell in love, along with the introduction to Raves and psychedelics. The year was 1991 and I had found bliss in this “torturous world.”
The rave scene became the underground escape that I looked forward to. I started selling acid in high school and learned to recon Cocaine. I was making crazy money in school and honestly didn’t learn much except how to hustle & escape to oblivion as often as possible.

Skip forward when I barely graduated through an alternative learning program through a self-paced program that I got away with doing little to nothing, except for almost showing up the required amount of time just to sell drugs to those students who attended as well.
I tried to go to the army after high school thinking it would allow me to completely change and I would become, do, look as if I was a normal young man doing what men had done for generations in my family, go to a branch of the military and finally grow up be a “REAL MAN”. Nope, didn’t work out. I ended up leaving a week before I graduated and came home.
Drug dealing was what I knew. I was going to be a kingpin and the world would be as close to fantasy as possible. All the pretty lights and electronic music with strippers and the hush male on male behind closed doors no one knew about. I was going to just fade into nothing and ride the fantasy life till I hit the Big lick (Score) and could afford to make all the problems go away. If I had enough money to do anything, then everything would finally be ok! (LIE)

At this point, I had been through so much. It was 1998 & 99 and I had the first DWI. I flipped a truck 6 times, almost killing my friend who broke multiple bones in his body, and I didn’t have one broken bone. I was thrown 53 yards, half a football field, and not one bone broken. Instead, all the soft tissue in my lower body and cartilage was turned into jello. It took me at least 3 months to learn to walk again and a year or more with a cane for support. I walked for at least 10 to 15 years after that with a foot that swung in drastically like a duck foot on one side. From the age of 21 to 27 I received 4 DWI’s and many other arrests or close calls for partying. I also experienced 2 drug-induced heart attacks and my first overdose out of a total of 11 that I would have throughout my life. During those years of my life, I was also in and out of pain doctors office due to my wreck in 1999 I had healed in a way that left me with chronic pain which has followed me every day since not only physically, but emotionally mentally, and spiritually.

In 2007 I was told that the baby of a girl I had slept with died a month and a half after birth. This was a lie to protect the little girl from me, the heroin & opiate-addicted father. I couldn’t be there for the birth because I couldn’t leave the county I was in, due to an arrest. I still do not know my child and have no idea what her name is or what she looks like. Through some, I have been told she looks a lot like her father but those are just rumors and hearsay. I have thought many times about being selfish and disrupting a little girl’s life and saying, “I’m here, your father you know nothing about.” I will not do that, though. If the universe sees fit to put us in each other’s lives, it will be! Not by my selfish want to have a daughter in my life, who from what I can tell is living a safe and good life without the knowledge of who her true father is!

Also in 2007, my father died. This man never was at peace and there he lied on the viewing table. I was so skinny and tired and emaciated while I stood there looking at his peaceful body. I weighed 142 pounds at 5’ 11” tall and it hit me – peace only exists in death! At that moment I committed to myself I would be at peace and over the next 9 and a half years I had 6 suicide attempts along with many of the 11 overdoses I spoke of earlier. From the age of 30 and on I saw many pain doctors, went to many different methadone clinics and so many psychiatrists. I remember being in a methadone program for most of my 30’s and trying to go to different fellowships and get honest and then being told I was not truly in recovery searching to be a part of only to be told I was not. I remember trying to get into many Recovery Residences and having the door or opportunity closed to me because I was in medication-assisted treatment ( Which the term MAT was not even called that at the time). I believe if it was not for methadone I would have died during those years that medication saved my life long enough for me to continue to try and find peace in recovery.

Fortunately, something happened that brought me to my walk-in recovery.

I am missing so many things in my story because much again is a blur that I do not remember. I am still improving my memory and some of it may never come back. I have made peace with that now, though!

There were so many other traumatic events – some self-imposed, some not. Surrounded by bad things happening to me (LIE) the world was out to get me (LIE)!
Rather than continue with all the mess, please allow me to share some H.O.P.E (Hold On Pain Ends) ( Help Other People Evolve ) with a message.

I was blessed to go to a LONG TERM recovery community that helped me wake up to identifying lies in my head and taught me about getting grounded at the moment rather than living in Anxiety the future or Dwelling in Depression the past. They taught me about 12 spiritual principles that correlated to the 12 steps in a way that allowed a new experience as opposed to the same way that message was delivered over and over like a played out revolving door instead with a message about self-love what is that and message of about what codependency is and what it looks like Fear of abandonment. Also about identifying beliefs and messages that were given to me to go be as a guide to live that did not work instead held me struggling to breathe and kept me locked think I could not see what others could, that I was terminally ignorant (LIE) striving for an ideal I was told was the success that did not exist for me!
So I learned how to identify many of the things I mentioned above and began clearing them off my beautiful canvas of what was me truly finding out what I was not OMG the release to get to believe I was not these things I had accepted were all I was!

I learned how to choose to believe in a relationship, the only one that matters, a relationship to a power that works for me that I could abandon my life to and accept the life it provides with no condition. I no longer had a reason to escape life anymore. I have experienced profound peace that is available in all moments since I was gifted with this new life.

I have gone from being a cosmetologist licensed for 16 years to a new career working as a Peer Recovery Coach for an RCO (Recovery Community Organization )in Austin Texas as well as having my business venture opening an 11 man recovery home called Recovery Centered Living home for men seeking Recovery and Improvement of their lives. “We do accept MAT in this home!”

I never could have seen the canvas of this life I now live that is such a beautiful masterpiece ever-changing and growing of endless Possibilities and Opportunities!

I get a great more profound long-lasting high from helping other human beings than I ever did from all the drugs I’ve done and I’ve done them all. Truly having purpose-driven life being goal-oriented and sharing the hope in my heart and absolute belief that peace is possible is the best experience I could have ever asked for, I am grateful I don’t get to know what things look like no matter what my logic tells me the turn out will be, I would never be surprised or excited if I did…lol
My mantras today is to allow the world outside of me to begin in my heart!
Thank you for letting me share!