Mike Gliem sat down for a Q&A to discuss his own journey to sobriety and his incredible path from 20 years of addiction to becoming a part of the Manor’s therapeutic community.
I am grateful to be a part of the Manor of Hope and what it stands for. The community they’ve built and the passion behind it is inspirational. I truly believe that the long-term therapeutic community model the Manor of Hope uses is extremely beneficial and the best way to treat addiction. Hearing the incredible stories of so many of the men who’ve successfully graduated from the program and who have gained a sober life is proof in itself that this model works compared to a short stay at a treatment center.
Q: What Was Your Drug Of Choice?
Mike: It was anything, literally anything that would get me out of the right here right now. A lot of the time it started in a bottle and ended in a bottle. There was nothing specific, a bottle, a needle, anything to escape reality.
Q: How and Why Did You Start Using?
Mike: For me, there were a lot of issues. I had depression, anxiety, and a lot of the time I didn’t feel connected to friends and family. I didn’t fit in, so I found an escape. Little did I know what road it would lead me down, but I started using when I was twelve years old. I started with weed and alcohol, just on the weekends; a lot of the kids did at that age. Back then, the other kids did it for fun but I didn’t, for me, it was never like that. I never chased a high, it was just an escape, a way to fit in and feel comfortable in my own skin.
Q: Are You Willing To Share Some Of Your Darkest Moments During Addiction?
Mike: I used for twenty years of my life. There were a lot of dark moments, you know, a lot of jail time, institutions, shelter systems, homelessness for years on end. Some of the worst points were in Philadelphia, it would be minus ten, and all I would have were slides on my feet. I can recall, I started selling drugs at a young age. I always needed something external to validate and feel better about myself. I felt a bit of power with that, some authority, and I felt needed because I had what other people wanted at the time.
During the time I was selling drugs, I was robbed and stabbed a few times. Guns were put to my head, and I was shot at a few times. I’ve always been stubborn, and I had to learn the hard way. I came to that point six years ago. I was collecting some money from selling drugs, and it didn’t go as planned. I was almost murdered. I had my left cranium shattered with a hammer, and I ended up waking up in the hospital as ‘John Doe’ with about thirty staples in my head.
Q: Was There A Turning Point In Your Addiction?
Mike: Honestly this ended up being one of the best things that could have happened to me, waking up in that hospital. I had to relearn everything, when I woke up I couldn’t walk or talk, I couldn’t write. I was reborn that day. I realized that it was God’s work. I had always been the type of person that sought vengeance, but when I woke up days later in the ICU, I felt something. I felt a forgiveness that I couldn’t have felt on my own. It was a higher power, and I felt a lot stronger in my faith. The first year there was a lot of recovery, a lot of therapy, and a lot of rebirth.
Q: What Helped You In Recovery?
Mike: When I was going through everything, before recovery, I thought that that was the best my life was going to be. I accepted that, and that was what kept me in that lifestyle for so long. Even after brain surgery, I went to inpatient therapy, as I wasn’t completely all there. I was at inpatient therapy for three months, and I was labeled mentally impaired three different times, where it was suggested that I go and live in a traumatic brain institute. I couldn’t accept that, I held onto my faith, and I surrendered myself to it. Surrender is where I found my freedom, and my faith helped during recovery. During my time, when I went to inpatient, I willingly refused the narcotics that they used for pain management. Pain is temporary, but the strength we have inside is endless and you just have to dig and believe that you can do it.
Q: What Is Life Like Now In Recovery?
Mike: It’s amazing. I have an amazing girlfriend and combined we have five children together. I have earned my relationship with my children back. My faith is unwavering, I would say that I am more led by my faith than anything else, not fear. I don’t need anything external, not money or wealth, to feel abundant. I choose to not be anonymous; I recover out loud. I talk about addiction and substance abuse with others that are going through it. I go to school, jails, and different institutions to help and encourage growth. I have a recovery clothing website, and I LLC the company as well. I want to bring awareness and break the stigma.
Q: Is There Something You Would Like To Say To Anyone Still Struggling With Addiction?
Mike: One of my favorite mottos is ‘Don’t end up MIA down the way.’ For anyone still suffering, or for those in early sobriety, I want to say that, with any emotion, any physical pain, trauma, if you go through it, you’ll grow through it. Things don’t always get better in recovery, sometimes situations don’t get better but we do get better. We get better so we can handle these situations. This also leads me to encourage people to look at their circles, who they choose to surround themselves with. If they don’t feel like they are encouraged, or inspired, or if they feel like their circle doesn’t want the best for them, then they aren’t in a circle, they’re in a cage. You need to surround yourself with those that fit your future, and not your past. You need positive people. If you’re struggling, you need to remember that today’s struggles are developing you for tomorrow’s strength and you just need to keep going.