Dear Zack

To say life has completely changed since 2014 would be a vast understatement. I was a 26 year-old coke head, an alcoholic, a thief, a liar, severely depressed, selfish, suicidal, an unavailable father to a son I've never met, and I had burned every bridge. I was lying in bed with a crippling hangover/headache from a 3-day bender - ready to kill myself.

How did this happen!? When did the lights go out? I honestly don’t know. Somewhere in that post-coke binge, blackout fog of September 29th, 2014, I began writing suicide letters. Even in that dark moment, I still knew there had to be something worth living for, so I wrote a letter to myself…just in case.

Here’s that letter:

September 29th, 2014
Dear Zack,
If by some miracle you are reading this…it means a miracle has really occurred. You were really going to do it. You had said your goodbyes, and it was time. But something happened. Something changed in your heart. Maybe it was someone. Maybe it was God. Whatever it was, I am so glad you have another chance to smile, another chance to spread the good news, another chance to hug your dog, another chance to be crazy, another chance to make someone laugh, another chance to sing, another chance to feel everything around you, another chance to love and be loved! What a great joy that must be.
Now, there’s a chance that someone else is reading this. Whoever you are, it is my hope that you keep this letter forever. Use it to remind yourself that in times of great despair, to confide in God, your family, and your friends. I chose to hold everything in. It was a choice that became habit over the course of time. This was my choice.
Life is not a game, love is not a game, friendships are forever, forgiveness is forever, love is unconditional, and happiness is unconditional. These things I know to be true. Hold on to these truths. You will waiver, you will stumble, and sometimes you will fall. Enjoy the fall. Seriously. Soak it all in. I was in a free fall for the last 7 years. I knew I was falling, but it became so normal that I started smiling again, I could feel the wind in my hair, the rush of adrenaline, the excitement of the uncertainty, and I eventually forgot that one day, I’d hit the ground. Well…here we are. The impact wasn’t at all like you’d imagine. Some people think that when you fall from such great heights, the impact will kill you instantly. Nothing happens instantly. While I’m speaking somewhat metaphorically, I literally hit the ground about a month ago. I am 26 years old. Seems like nothing to the average person, but it was long enough to hurt. It was long enough to conclude that I’m not getting up again. It was long enough to hope that someone would come along and rescue me. It feels like being stuck in the snow on a mountain with no food, water, or protection from the elements. You can hear the search party calling for you, but you can’t cry for help because you don’t have the energy. You know any moment could be your last, so you try not to close your eyes.
This was a great ride. I regret jumping. I wish I had never jumped. I don’t even remember jumping. Maybe I was pushed. Maybe I lost my balance. We will never know when the free fall began, but it was a long time ago. I’ve just now hit the bottom & taken my last breath of air. God gave me more than I wanted, more than I needed, and I am eternally grateful.
May the love of God be ever present in your life. My hope is that you find appreciation for everything, an acceptance for that which you do not understand, and I want you to learn to ask for help when you need it.

If you just read that letter (and you’re not totally crying your face off like I am), you can see that I had completely decided to kill myself. It was just over. BUT, you can also see that I was clinging to something – otherwise, I wouldn’t have written any of that. Looking back, it’s very clear that God was in the middle of that storm. He picked me up on that day, and He still holds me today.

The past three years have taught me that God is in the middle of everything, whether I choose to see it or not. The craziest part is that I’m truly grateful for all of it – especially the rough stuff. I now have a passion and a purpose in life, and I will continue fighting every day, because I love this life of freedom.

If you’re struggling with a similar darkness in your life, it’s honestly ok. But don’t you dare give up. My sobriety means everything to me, and I would not trade it for anything. 

9 comments

Elise Christine

Hey Zack, Wow I don’t even know where to start! I love what you are doing and really want to be part of it somehow getting your story, ministry and message to the east coast. I have been helping women with alcohol addictions for over a year now with a group based out of London. It is becoming somewhat of a fad over there to become a “Teetotaler” and they even have raves and festivals that are completely alcohol free which is unreal. I wish they had something like that over here in the States! I love your ministry, I wouldn’t have labeled myself an alcoholic either but more like you, just the party never stopped. I had that reputation of being the “fun” girl but I was so unhappy. Looked for love in all the wrong places and even though my faith was basically served to me on a silver platter, I decided I wanted to go out and do all the “bad” stuff first. So my 20’s was filled with 4 day camping music festivals, jam bands, and scenes were drugs were a plenty. I never had a drug addiction but I can see in my personality that that could have been possible. Anyways…. ALL that to say, that I am sick of being or trying to be this person. I am now devoted to helping others find their way too but never found a ministry that quite fit. Yours is the first I came across where you are so outward about your faith and God. I pray all the time and that relationship is why I am where I am today. Your story just resonates so much with me. It has been such a gift to help other women but I feel like God is calling me to help others within more of the faith/God based realm. I teach meditation and that is really cool and absolutely helpful but I feel like I want to share my faith and I can’t within the sober circles i am in now. Looking to totally get connected to awesome 20-30 year old peeps who have a relationship with God and are looking to live the clean life. Again, Thank you! thank you for sharing your story. Let me know if I can help somehow! Praying for your mission and this sober movement. You rock!

Colleen

Hello Zack,

This is Colleen. I’m not sure if you remember me, but my fiancé Reece and I remember you from some time we all spent together in Myrtle Beach a few years back. I had no clue you were struggling with addiction and I am very sorry to hear about the pain you have gone through. I truly believe Reece came across this site at a time when I needed to hear your words – I am completely touched. I have a sister that is a few years sober and a brother that has been battling addiction for years. He has almost lost his life four times and our family has done and tried everything to help him. We are currently at another crossroads with him, hoping to get him back into treatment. Reading your note to yourself and seeing how you are doing now – it gives me so much hope. I am always looking for ways to bring awareness to addiction, this heinous powerful disease, and for ways to help others. I will look out for ways we can support cltivate! Thank you – you’ve already helped more people than you know! Sincerely, Colleen

David CLark

All I know is that God picks some pretty strange people to do his work. Abraham was old and without children but God formed his kingdom from his descendants. Moses couldn’t talk well, yet he negotiated his people out of Egypt.

And then there is Zack. Stay tuned…….

Dianella

sometimes life’s most difficult challenges are a blessing in disguise. Those moments force us to find strength outside of ourselves and help us grow so that we can become stronger for the people we love. I am happy to know that in the depth of your pain you reached out to God and that He is working in your life. Always rooting for you and wishing you the best life has to offer!

Michelle Hawkins

Wow Zack….it takes a lot of courage to tell your story & your struggle. Let me tell you, you’re a living badass to acknowledge that God saved you. I admire your courage & have a ton of respect for you & your mission. Don’t ever stop!

Leave a comment