It’s hard to express in words how grateful I am for the Last House. I mean, how do you describe how it feels to have your life saved, and your feelings toward those who saved you? In all likelihood, it’s probably something that only people who share similar experiences can understand. But I am certain that at the Last House, anyone struggling with addiction will have their best chance of experiencing what that feels like.
Before I entered the Last House in July 2021, I was completely broken, mired in the tail end of a multi-year downward spiral. Over the previous months, I had lost my high-paying dream job, lost my girlfriend, burned bridges with friends and family, and blew a small fortune on drugs, alcohol, and their accompanying activities. I had been homeless for a couple of weeks, staying at seedy motels and crashing at friend’s couches until they invariably kicked me out for stealing. My family wouldn’t talk to me.
In those days I often repeated to myself the Samuel Johnson quote, “He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.” What the quote leaves out, however, is that the pain of being a beast is infinitely greater than that of being a man. I wouldn’t say that I was human. I existed, but for the sole purpose of using. You could say that I was tired, lonely, hurting, scared, but the truth is I wasn’t, I didn’t even have the emotional vacancy for those feelings. Using was the only thing in my universe.
As my money and options dwindled, I was given a choice. Go the Last House or be homeless. Not being a particularly tough or street-savvy man, I decided I probably couldn’t manage on the tough streets of LA. But to say I was excited to be at the Last House would be a blatant lie. It seemed like hell. Too strict, too many rules, people telling me bluntly the ways in which I was hurting myself and those around me. Plus, I figured I was better than everyone around me. I had a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins and was only recently making well over a 100k working for the U.S. government in defense. What the fuck could this place tell me, I figured. I was, as I would later come to learn, blinded by both ego and insecurity, twin pillars upholding an emotional structure that told me I was not good enough.
But then, somehow, the miracle happened. The Last House began to click. In the structure, in the accountability, in the work, are lessons, key lessons. What does it mean to be a man, to be a man of integrity, to be able to show up for not just yourself but for your loved ones and community? What does it mean to meet your obligations, to rest your head at night on your pillow knowing that you tried your best to handle yourself the right way? What is it like to be honest, both with others and yourself? How does it feel to support others, and to be supported? To give, and not take? These were questions I had often wrestled with, but was never able to find an answer to, when I was using.
But at the Last House, these questions are not only asked of you, but answered, should you choose to do the work. And the reward is spiritual freedom, and so much more. While at the Last House I made a new family, learned how to conduct myself with dignity, learned how to love myself, and be there for others – things I had always wanted for myself but never had. Things that I am so grateful for today.
And, yes, eventually the material things did return as well. I now live in a fancy apartment again making lots of money. But truly, those things, while nice, are not what is important. The values, lessons, and relationships I formed while at the Last House, that is what is important.
So, to you newcomers of the Last House, hold on, stay a while. It will not always be easy, nothing important ever is, especially not getting sober. However, I can assure you that if you put your head down, and do the necessary work, the life waiting for you on the other side is beyond belief.