My name is Matthew Fidlow and I was raised in Chicago, IL. I was fortunate to have found Last House when I was sitting at death’s door as a 25 year old child, and am blessed to say that 3 years later, sobriety has taught me what it is to be a man with a passion for life. I came from what most would consider a great home, though my parents did divorce, I was given all I could possibly need, and want. My brothers did exceptionally well, both going to college, and getting scholarships to pave their way. I mention this because my circumstances did not dictate my path. I did. Drugs were just another avenue to trouble, but cheating, lying, stealing, those were part of my fabric. I was your typical know it all, I’m sure you know the type. I started selling drugs, because of course, I would be the most successful drug dealer at 17, and decided that school wasn’t all that important. Big shock, I got arrested soon thereafter. Most people would be cautious. Me? I thought, well, let me figure out how to beat the system, because that was just a slip that could be fixed. I had no idea how to live, it was just about surviving. I eventually got put on probation with the condition to “behave” for 2 years in order for my charges to be dropped. But as I always did, I figure I could think, or in some cases, charm myself out of anything. I’d sporadically serve a few days in jail with no real repercussions. But as the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says, this is a progressive disease, and it couldn’t have been truer to the word. By the age of 22, drugs were not my problem, they were my solution. And I torched everything in my path. Homelessness followed, relationships were nonexistent, and eventually a 4.5 month stint in jail brought some attention to this problem to me, albeit brief. I attempted to check into residential treatments, would do those for 30 days, and would be lucky to muster a couple weeks after. But the cycle continued, and got worse.
March 15, 2014 was a pivotal day for me. I came to California with essentially nothing left and insurance about to to no longer provide me with residential treatment centers to board at. This was it, it was now or never to get this “sober thing”. My family didn’t want to have anything to do with me, including my recently engaged brother, all for good reason. It was now or never. I had a counselor at a treatment center who simply told me that I could lie to him if I wanted to, but if I did, the advice he’d give me would be based on that lie, and would eventually hurt me. So simple, but something I had never heard before. I heard people say to “Give it a year, and if you don’t like what AA has to offer, drugs will still be there”. So I said, you know what, let’s try that. I’m going to put 100% into this and it doesn’t work, at least it wasn’t for lack of trying.
Seventy six long days later it was time to move to sober living. Chris Kirby, someone I heard a lot of good things about from the rooms, picked me up, and brought me to Last House. Initially the accountability in the house totally threw me off, and I found myself reverting to back to my old self, because that’s what I was use to doing. But something stuck out to me almost immediately. There was a sense of brotherhood, and a friendship between the guys. They were trying to help! And they were happy, laughing, enjoying each other’s company, and there were no drugs involved. It seemed almost impossible to me, such a foreign idea. I didn’t realize you could be sober AND happy. But I wanted to be that. The house taught me a number of things that I will be eternally grateful for. It taught me how to be accountable, how to be honest, how to look after myself and those I care about, how to do simple things like cook and clean, but most of all, how to have fun. These were all foreign concepts to me prior to the house. I remember a difficult situation I had with a job I was working at, running it by a house manager, Andy. He gave me suggestions, and I was systematically finding something wrong with each of them. He eventually told me to stop living in the problems, and focus on the solution. An incredible concept, and something I try and do today.
When I had a year of sobriety, I applied to work at Pacific View Recovery Center, the very treatment center I was at before coming to Last House. At this point, the obsession to drink and use had been lifted. But more importantly than that, I was happy. I was finally at peace with my life, not clouded by substances, not needing substances, not wanting substances. And the most remarkable thing about it? it wasn’t fleeting, it stuck! My mother came from Chicago to celebrate my one year with me and to give me a cake, the same woman I put through the ringer for so many years. It was one of the happiest days of my life.
Today, I am employable. I am accountable, dependable, honest, and trust-worthy. I recently left Pacific View Recovery Center after nearly 2 years working there, not because I was kicked out, getting high, or didn’t show up. That would have been the old me. I left on good terms, and moved on to another opportunity. I stress that word, opportunity. I have been given opportunities in my life that I was not afforded when I was active in my disease.
I am currently working for Last House as the Marketing and Outreach Coordinator. I get to apply the values that I’ve learned daily in my life, and hopefully my story can help give hope to someone. We all need to be reached in some capacity.
My life is blessed today. I have friends that I can count on, and that can count on me. I have a beautiful apartment that I pay rent for, and live with a sober brother from Last House. I have a puppy named Jasmine, that I adore. I have a great relationship with my family, including that same brother who is now married, and asked me to be a groomsmen. And I work for the facility that saved my life. I couldn’t be happier.
Thank you Last House.