My name is Brian Rehn. I was born in the North but raised in the South and recently felt like I was born for the first time at 26 years old. Originally, I was raised to respect the church by my mother and to respect others. Though, most of that respect turned into hate through judgments and fear. Looking back on my childhood, I know there were many good things moving me in the right direction, but the painful things are what shaped my character into the man I am today. To me, the pain I have felt throughout my life is what makes me a real person. I have been abused many different ways and have mistreated and abused more people than I can count.
At an early age, I feared rejection and therefore put an insane amount of pressure on myself to succeed, yet always fell short in my own eyes. I always had the grades and the athleticism growing up, which is the only place where I found acceptance. Other than that, I was introverted, insecure, depressed, unhappy, and so it seemed—alone. Welcome to my addiction to drugs and alcohol. Really, I don’t blame anyone, including myself, anymore. I made so many bad decisions for many consecutive years only to trap myself in a world of self gratifying attempts.
By 15 years old, I was using hard drugs and drinking regularly. At 17, I went to jail for the first time. My lifestyle was destructive not only to myself but my family. I stole any unity within my family and separated from them emotionally, and when I moved to college, physically separated as well. It’s hard to believe how deceiving I was to everyone. I always kept my grades up, even through college, and tried to look good from the outside, so no one would question my alternate ego—drug dealer, heavy drug user, liar, and bridge burner.
My friends were starting to die or go to prison, and the craziest things seemed normal to me. Jails and rehabs were the only thing on my horizon and at 22 years old, I was introduced to 12-step recovery, which only kept me from not dying. My personal opinion on why 12-step recovery was never enough, was that it allowed me to blame my problems on my addictions just so I didn’t feel like a bad person, and as long as I didn’t use, was successful… just another lie I believed plus more denial (trust me, I did the whole thing—having a sponsor, sponsoring other men, service work, step work).
The next 4 years were a miserable process for me, because it seemed impossible to live in reality. My life would not have crumbled the way it did if I knew how to live. I know I’m smart and talented, but unfortunately that does not mean I have any clue how to live life. I needed a heart change and a new belief system. At 26 years old, I had backed myself so far into a corner that I asked my family to send me to a long term treatment center for help. It was the last thing left for me. I was a pile of nothingness from years of using heroin, cocaine, pills, pot, alcohol, and everything in between.
I went to live on a property in Cumming, Georgia at a program called No Longer Bound. During the process of ten months, my childhood spirit was awakened. God turned my pain and brokenness into something words can’t describe. I came to believe in my heart that Jesus Christ is my personal savior and teaches me about my relationship with my father in heaven, who is the only one that could take that pain away from me. True recovery only started happening when the root of my problems and bad decisions were dealt with first. I had a chance to begin re-building relationships that I desired in my heart, specifically the ones with my family, my daughter, and myself.
Today, I am constantly practicing what I learned at No Longer Bound and learning proper maintenance for a better future. I still make mistakes but know I am a saint at heart because of God’s perfect love. After that first bad decision, I have the courage not to make ten bad decisions right after, which is a HUGE difference for me. Sometimes all I can do with a problem in life is admit I am scared and don’t know how to fix it. Presently, (1 year 3 months after graduating NLB), I am following my heart and my passions, which is the only thing that matters to me anymore. The restoration in my life was directly related to the work and sacrifice I put into the process. My goal in life is to be a good father to my daughter and to maintain the relationships NLB gave me back. I am finally starting to understand what it means to love and be loved…