A new season is among us, a new testimony is in front of us. This one gives hope for the town of Shenandoah. Let's give some love, support and encouragement for Mike who built the courage to share his touching story of life, addiction and the road to recovery.
Q: Could you briefly tell us about yourself?
My Name is Michael J. J. Mayeresky. I was born in Pottsville hospital. I had a hernia and was hospitalized the first 3 months of my life. The day I came home my father died that night. Then my mother, older brother and I moved in with my grandparents in Shenandoah Heights. My grandfather became my best friend and he became basically my father. He was such a great man.
Then my Mother met my step father and had my two younger brother and sister. Plus my deceased father also had two children from a previous relationship. So all together I have two sisters and three brothers. Three older and two younger so yes I am the middle child. So my step father a military veteran was an abusive to me and my older brother. Then my brother left in 1994 for the Marines and stayed in North Carolina.
So at this time I was to blame for everything and by no means was I a saint. But does that mean I deserved the treatment I got, probably not. I do not at all dwell on the days of physical and mental abuse I received daily.
So I joined football and played until I was 19. I had my first drink around the age of 8. That’s not including the whiskey and Busch beer bottle pictures from my toddler day. On two occasions I remember my first true drinks. Once at a New Years Eve party my brother had and I beat one of his friends in a Boilo chugging contest. The other was in South Carolina for a wedding and outside the hotel before lunch. My step dad was a big alcoholic drinking and recording camera in hand and I joined him and I asked for a beer. So I got a beer, a Redman chew and a big cigar. I thought I was big stuff being recorded then I puked my brains out.
Around 11-14 years old my Mom got cancer and went into remission twice. This was around the time when my friends and I began to drink and party. My Mom was too weak to parent and my grandfather let me have my space. My step father around this time had an accident at work and became a full blown garbage head. My mom and he split up. Around the time she was diagnosed again with cancer she found a new boyfriend. He also is an addict but still a good guy and he really loves my Mom.
In high school I was considered one of the popular kids but I also had an anger problem. I first smoked weed at the age of 12. I continued to play football and party. Eventually getting into dealing drugs. Mostly weed, prescriptions, crack and cocaine. Of course doing all the drugs I dealt. I graduated high school and by the time I was 21 I became a known dealer and a party guy. Throwing bush parties like crazy and dealing on the regular. Chances are if you went to a bush party 2005-2008 in Shenandoah, I was the one throwing it or at it. Then came the hard stuff Heroin, the pain killers were just too expensive. Dope was cheaper and more intense.
So I had started shooting at this point and got real close to rock bottom. Then I found out my girlfriend was pregnant and stopped shooting dope. That lasted maybe two years with semi-controlled use but in no time I was back to the races doing anything I can get my hands on. I had calmed down a bit then perk 30’s were introduced to me. I probably did my worst things on the 30’s. Steal, connive, rob, and anything I needed to do to get high all day every day.
At this point in my life I attempted suicide by hanging myself in my garage. My younger brother saved my life that day. This was not enough for me to change and I continued on the painkillers and booze. Eventually I went to rehab and I went to my first and only meeting. I wanted to drink that’s it, nothing else. That didn’t work for long. I got back into it all pain killers, dope, and crack cocaine and any and everything. An acquaintance told me to do this crank and it happened to be my first bath salt use. I loved it. Looking back I couldn’t talk or use my body properly otherwise known as being stuck. I became an avid heroin and salt addict and involved in two raids. I kept my insanity because I loved the lifestyle of doing and selling drugs and everything that comes with it. I even messed up an opportunity to get a welding degree. Chaos was the norm of my life, but what’s normal? A setting on a washing machine.
So before I made the biggest decision of my life I fought within myself for months. Either go to rehab for me and no one else or ride it till the wheels fall off. Third choice was just commit suicide when no one is around to save me this time. Something talked to me and coerced me to go to rehab. Thank you God, whom I choose to call my Higher Power! Today I live in Altoona and am involved in multiple 12 step programs. I build my spirituality daily to fill my spirits back up from being spiritually bankrupt. Spiritual principles, my Higher Power and meetings are my number one tools to keep me somewhat sane.
Q: What was your drug of choice?
Before I chose to live life it was bath salt, heroin and the lifestyle. I would do it all though I am an addict.
Q: What is your sobriety date?
My sobriety Date is January 29th, 2014
Q: Looking back, was there a turning point during your active addiction?
Yes there was a turning point when I had those three choices going in my head for the 2 months before I decided to get help. I didn’t like anything about me and needed to change it one way or another. I made the best choice and I thank my Higher Power daily for His guidance.
Q: What is a slogan that best expresses your current point of view in recovery?
Wow this is a tough one but over everything it “let go and let God”. Remember it’s not a religious program it’s a spiritual program and your Higher Power doesn’t have to be God that’s just mine. You need a Higher Power and spiritual principles in this to have hope and show faith to get this. Plus take things one day at a time, moment by moment and stay in the moment. Don’t dwell in the past also don’t project to the future. Just do the next right thing and good things will come. Patience is a virtue, things won’t come when you want but they will come. G.O.D.= Good Orderly Direction. Best way to make amends is to put action to your words.
Q: What are some daily practices and key aspects in your life that assist you in your recovery?
I keep in contact with my Higher Power throughout the day. Pray. Meetings. Literature. Knowledge of addiction and alcoholism. Sponsor. Be thankful. Stay humble. Other people in the programs and recovery. Service work.
Q: As a person in recovery, do you have any advice you could offer to someone looking to get clean?
Are you doing it for you or for others? This has to be for number one and that’s you. And the question that impacted me the most “HAVE YOU HAD ENOUGH PAIN YET???” Life does get better not easier but better, do you want that? This will be the toughest thing you ever do but the feeling of accomplishment is immeasurable when you can look back and see where you were, where you are, and notice the growth and awareness you gained. It’s going to suck but it’s the biggest thing in your life. So make a choice LIFE or DEATH??? Either way I will pray for all my fellow addicts still active, dead and in recovery. Are you ready to really live a life worth living?
Q: Addiction is affecting so many in Schuylkill County and abroad. It's very saddening. Any advice to people trying to help their loved ones to seek help?
Go to Al-Anon meetings, educate yourself to this disease. Never force them into recovery that does not work at all. They have to do it for them not you period. The thing that helped me was being pushed away by my family because of my using. You have to stop enabling their addiction.
Q: Why are projects like "The Skook Recovers" important in this day and age?
To show that we have hope as addicts and alcoholics. To help educate people to this disease. To build friendships with a fellowship of people in recovery and to give back and make amends to the communities. Show that life is better without using and that we addicts can find out who we truly are and be comfortable in our own skin. Prove that we all have purpose and using was not our purpose. Learn how to deal with our demons and the skeletons in our closets so we can move on to a better way of life. To know we have others like us and help through tough times.
Q: Could you tell us about the good things that your new life in recovery has brought to you and/or improved, including what you are grateful for?
The toughest thing I have done is move away from my daughter and family. In Altoona I have a job I enjoy. I have an apartment to call home. I have a fellowship of recovering addicts and alcoholics that genuinely care about me. I don’t wake up dope sick or hung over anymore. I am in a relationship with an amazing girl in recovery who supports me in my recovery. I have God in my life. I work His will, not mine and that works for me. I am overall a much better person and I am so blessed. It was a lot of hard work and it was difficult at times but the rewards are so immense. I am truly blessed to live two lives in one lifetime. I can go on and on I am so grateful for everything I have today.
Q: Anything else you would like to add and/or people you would like to thank?
I embrace my experiences today because they influenced who I have become. I have wronged many people and I am sorry for that. I truly am and if you do not accept my apology or forgive me I am ok with that. I understand and just hope my current actions show I have changed. I do not dwell in the past, or wonder what’s ahead for me. My life is in God’s hands. I go moment to moment, think before I act, and know I can only suggest things to others. I cannot make choices for them. I do not hold grudges and I try to accept all people and things.
I would like to thank my mother, daughter, grandfather(pop pop), grandmother (mam-mam), Kevin, my brothers and sisters= John, Tiff, Jerry, Shawn, Bri, Pat, all my aunts and uncles, my cousins, my friends, my acquaintances, all my supports and so many more… Thank you all. I appreciate, love and pray for you all daily.
Also I like to say rest in peace to loved ones who impacted my life Pop Pop, Uncle Robbie, Dad, Big Pat, Fresh, Bessie, MC, Dave Vega, and a lot more people I have lost.
I will continue to pray for the addicts and alcoholics we have lost to this disease. The ones who are still out using and haven’t found a new way of life. The babies who are born into this disease. People who are in recovery. All this is possible with my Higher Power.
THANK YOU GOD