I don’t want to be anyone I’m not. I just want to be me.

Everyone has a story, a past, a journey, which makes everyone special. If you read one story this year, this is it. Here Brad bares all and shares his journey in hope of inspiring others to pursue their best version of themselves.

As a youngster, I played a lot of sport, mainly football. I gained a lot of confidence in my footy days as I was constantly told I was a good player. For a young guy, this really built my ego. At the age of 15, Souths wanted me to grade for their club, but Mum said I was too young. Our family moved from the Eastern Suburbs to the South. Cronulla Sharks were then keen for me to grade with them, but again, Mum wouldn’t allow it.

At the age of 16, I started to get into some trouble. My neighbours boyfriend took me to the pub. Little did I know, this was the beginning of a downward spiral for not just myself, but everyone I loved.

I met a bunch of lads who were into water skiing, I started racing. It made my adrenaline pump. I honestly believe everyone is wired differently. I’m a control freak. I hated sitting in the back of the boat at 100 miles an hour, but I could ski at high speeds as I felt I had control. I could let go of the rope at any time. The racing scene was really social, we’d race over the weekends and smash into the beers and smoke a fair bit of dope afterwards. Good mates, great laughs and some pretty fun times.

I married at 25. We had our first child straight away and went on to have 4 boys. We bought a house and I worked long and hard to pay the mortgage and to provide for the family. But, I was still living a single life. My philosophy at the time was I’m working hard, I can party hard…and party hard I did. I was married for 30 years. If I’m honest, I don’t know why my wife stayed. I guess she got comfortable, didn’t know anything else or stayed for the boys, either way, I don’t know why she put up with what I’m about to share.

I started using heavier drugs. So not only was I drinking excessively (yep, I was a binge drinker), I was on cocaine every weekend. I carry terrible guilt for my behaviour. Most weekends I’d pick a fight with my wife so that I had an excuse to go off with the boys. You know, the missus and I are having a fight, so it’s Ok to be hanging with the boys. For years, I was going through groundhog day, working hard and partying hard. Most weekends I drank myself to blackout. Week after week. Year after year. When I was high, life felt great, I was so caught up in it all  that I simply didn’t see how bad things were.

At age 45, I had a heart attack and had 2 stents put in. I thought my party life had finally caught up with me. This scared me a lot and sobered me up. But, after a couple of months the fear subsided and I started again. Drugs and drinking took over again. One morning, I woke up on the couch and my wife said the two words I never imagined I’d hear ‘it’s over’. There was something about the way she said it. I knew she meant it.

My divorce was my turning point. I had two choices, I had a mate who had just separated from his wife and was drinking to numb his pain (he died at 54 years of age from drinking himself to death, he never found a better way ). I could join him down that path or I could go to Alcohol Anonymous (AA) and try to mend myself. I chose AA. I’m 7.5 years sober (now that’s a huge clap for Brad). I attend AA 3 times a week, I have a sponsor, I see a psychologist once a week and I exercise at Tribe. I’ve learned so much about myself. When everything is going ok mentally, all the other parts in my life also go well. It’s taken me all these years to realise, but I was a different person on the drink and drugs. I have focused a lot on learning to wire my brain to think and act ‘normally’. I just don’t think like others (well it doesn’t come naturally, it’s getting easier, but it’s not my starting position).

Life is about balance. For me, I need to balance my physical, mental and spiritual (inner contentment) being. Since joining Tribe, I’ve shed 17 kilos. Since my footy days, I never really felt like I fit in. At Tribe, I do. Everyone knows your name, everyone is here for the same purpose and it’s inclusive so you feel like you’re part of it. I exercise 4 times a week. It helps with both my mental and physical wellbeing.

Sometimes life is still a battle. But I’m very content with not wanting to be anyone that I’m not. I just want to be me. I’m very fortunate to have met a wonderful lady, Liz, to share my life with. Liz accepts my past and supports me for me. I’m blessed that Liz and her family welcome me into their family. As I said, I’m a work in progress, but aren’t we all.


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