My Name Is Spencer And I'm A Drug Addict.

I'll start off with saying that I don't normally talk about this part of my life. I am not ashamed of it, but I have found that when you tell people you are a recovering drug addict a snap judgement is made. I can't say I blame those people, but in any case it's easier to just avoid the conversation all together unless it is relevant. 

That being said, Michelle shared a dark chapter of her life not so long ago in hopes of helping people that might be going through a similar situation and after seeing the overwhelming positive response the post had, I thought sharing my dark chapter might also be helpful to some people.

I'll spare you the gruesome details, but at the age of 14 I was arrested on my high school campus for possession of narcotics for sale. I had a pretty hefty addiction to heroin and crystal meth and I had a stiff liking for just about any pills I could get my hands on. I had been using very heavily for about 3 years. Now I'm sure a lot of you are thinking how could you be a drug addict at such a young age? Well, let's talk about it.

Addiction is a disease. You are born with it, or you are not. An alarming amount of people suffer from it, even if they don't even know it. That doesn't necessarily mean they are drug addicts, it just means that they have become powerless over an addiction and their lives have become unmanageable because of it. It could be anything - shopping, sex, video games, food, etc. or in my case - drugs. Drug abuse just happens to be the most widely destructive because it is mind altering, in most cases illegal, and a lot of the time your body can become physically dependent on it. 

Now, in my case, my addiction caused me to do a lot of things I'm not proud of. I lied, I cheated, I stole, I hurt people, just like any respectable drug addict would. But at that age and especially with that kind of addiction, I didn't care. I just wanted to be numb. I hated everyone and I just wanted to be left alone. I wanted to escape from what I thought was a living hell. Which is funny now that I look back on it. I didn't have a bad childhood. I grew up in a loving middle class suburban family. I had plenty of friends. I played sports and was good at them. But for whatever reason I wanted to escape that. I started hanging out with gangs, selling drugs, fighting a lot, all with little regard for the potentially life ending - or at least life ruining consequences. All things considered I was very lucky to have been caught when I was, although at the time I felt very differently. 

I was obviously expelled from my school and spent quite a bit of time in rehab and began my journey of recovery. Of course, as a young rebellious 14 year old kid I had no plans of staying sober. I continued to sell drugs, fight, roll with gangs, and was arrested more times in my early years of sobriety then I was when I was using. I figured I would stay sober until I was 18 when my father would no longer have any legal influence on my life.

But as time passed, I realized what a mess my life was. I mean, what 14 year old is detoxing from amphetamines and opiates at the same time in the substance abuse rehabilitation wing of a hospital? As I reluctantly began to work my way through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous I realized that I had created quite a bit of wreckage even though I had little to show for it. I remember being in and out of court for the first year or two dealing with my felony charges and wondering if that was what my life was going to be like from then on. It was daunting. I had to learn how to live again. I had to learn how to feel things and deal with pain and depression without the help of narcotics. I had to feel all the feels and get through it. Sounds easy, but to a 14 year old who spent most of his puberty on drugs, it wasn't.

Early on in the program, I was told I would never be able to use drugs or drink alcohol ever again for the rest of my life, and if I did, I would surely end up in jail, rehab, or the morgue. I was told that I would never fully recover from drug addiction and that this nightmare of a disease would be with me for the rest of my life doing pushups in the back of my mind. And if I didn't do everything I could to fight back, it would undoubtedly destroy me. Some strong things for a 14 year old to hear. Especially because all I wanted to do was get high and all these crocks with their sobriety chips and 'higher powers' were bonkers anyways. It wasn't until I started to hang out with older people that had what I wanted that I started to realize how much of a piece of shit I truly was and that a change really did need to be made. Not only did I need to not use drugs ever again, I needed to repair the wreckage I had caused, and spend the rest of my life repaying my debt to society and working relentlessly to be the best person I could be. Again, a tall order for a 14 year old to swallow. Forever is a long time.

You see - by nature addicts are selfish. They are masters of manipulation. They are self destructive. And our disease will convince us to do just about anything to get what it wants. 

So for the next 4 or 5 years I spent every day chipping away at my darkness. Letting a little bit of light in one day at a time. Making amends to those I had wronged. Being selfless wherever I could. Graduating high school ON TIME by some miracle. And I eventually got to the point where I could live a somewhat normal life and not every day was spent fighting a darkness that never seemed to go away. I stayed busy. Got passionate about other things or 'switched one addiction for another'. Occupied my mind and my hands any productive way I could. Because I knew that if I didn't, very very bad things would happen.

I still struggle every day. I still crave every day. I still fight every day. I still struggle with depression and social anxiety. Even though it has gotten a lot easier over the last 12 years, the darkness still haunts me every day. But it doesn't control me. I combat it by being selfless. Going out of my way to do nice things for people that may or may not deserve it. Working hard and trying to be the best at everything I do even though my cynical mind knows I am far from the best at anything I do and I never will be. I surround myself with good people that will push me to be better and rid my life of the poisonous ones. I don't sit in self pity. I don't feel sorry for myself. I take responsibility for my life. No one else can control me. No one else can hurt me if I don't let them. I have gone through just about everything life can throw at a young middle class Californian and more all in sobriety. And I'm still here. I'm not in jail or rehab. And I'm not dead. In fact, I am in a place in my life that I never thought I would be in. Now my biggest problem is that it's hard for me to stop working long enough to enjoy my accomplishments. It's also incredibly difficult for me to accept compliments and praise. But thats a whole nother battle. 

I will end with this by saying I do not regret my life's path. And I again am not ashamed to call myself an addict. It forced me to grow up a lot faster than most people, and because of that I like to think I got a head start on life. There are people from my high school that are still wasting their days partying and getting loaded and that is their choice. But I choose to be happy. I choose to work hard and feel accomplished. I choose to build a life I can be proud of. And I choose work to be a better person. I get to remember every great moment of my life. I get to enjoy the little things. I get to be happy. I get to be free. And that is a better high than any drug can give me.

Manly Flowers

Hey there! I'm back! :)

I have recently developed a weird love for floral print. Every time I see it in a store or on someone it catches my eye. I don't know why. I just think it looks really cool. When it first started becoming a thing, or at least when I first noticed people wearing it my initial thought was 'Wow... That is the dumbest thing I have ever seen.'

A lot of a my friends bands and bands that I liked were printing designs with the floral patterns and it was really frustrating. I hated it. I refused to have anything to do with it and I was sure that the fad would die quickly.

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But it never did. And I don't know what happened, but something flipped inside my brain and now I can't get enough of it. I love the colors and the patterns. And the warm noise it can bring to an outfit.

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I was doing my normal gander through the men's section of Forever21 after payday, finding all kinds of goodies when the pattern of this floral button up caught my eye. I scooped it up and showed it to Michelle, very very excited about my find. She kind of gave me this look like - really?

It was only like 20 beans and I felt like going outside of my normal plain and simple looks so I bought it. And thus - my first floral purchase.

When I started putting together this outfit I had no idea what to match the shirt with. Can't go wrong with black right? So I slapped on some black denim and my wine Docs and looked in the mirror. The shirt was so loud it was over powering everything.

So I figured I needed some sort of light outerwear to soften it up a bit. So I grabbed my black denim jacket and BAM! Perfect.

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This outfit is great. I was pretty stoked on it. Not the most comfortable thing in my closet, but it was worth a little discomfort for a nice looking - a little on the formal side - look.

And now I know that I have some shoes that will match just about any floral pattern and I can wear all the cool floral shirts my friends bands put out.

So if you're a dude or a girlfriend of a dude that is not sure if they can rock some floral, just give it a shot. Start simple, and remember that black matches everything.

Floral is almost always a really loud pattern, so just tone it down a bit at first. Or if you're a bold and confident dude with some nuts that can rock it than rock it. Go get 'em tiger.

Black Denim Jacket // Forever 21

Black Jeans // Forever 21

Floral Button-Up // Forever 21

Wine High-Tops // Dr. Martin

Photos by: Girrlscout

One Hundred & Eighty Three Days

Spencer,

This is going to be a post that is written over a number of days in a number of places because life gets crazy and when thoughts hit me, I need to write them down. Especially when they're about you.


Location #1: My living room floor, in your sweatpants, Fri, Jan 23rd, 3:15pm.

We're leaving for Hawaii in less than 24 hours. i should probably be packing for Hawaii right now but fuck it. But it hit me, 6 months? Feels like 6 years. i mean that in the best way possible. I'm not really one for celebrating month-aversaries but since we are in Hawaii and I'm a sucker for writing about you, I figured why not.  I haven't seen you since Monday morning right before you left for work and I'm aching. But we are about to spend 10 days of pure paradise together and I cannot fucking wait. You truly are my best friend. You make me forget about the shitty times and all those cloudy thoughts that my past produced. You make me feel safe. 

Sometimes home isn’t four walls, It’s two eyes and a heartbeat.
— Unknown

Location #2: In Hawaii, lying in bed, you're in the shower. Sun, Jan 26. 4:11pm.

Tried a new face product before we left on vacation and it made me break out. We came back from a hike and I had a moment of "blah" about my face and you could tell something was up. I told you what was wrong and you walked over to me and kissed me on the side of the head and said "you're the prettiest girl in the world." 

You have no idea how much these moments mean to me. 


Location #3: In Hawaii, you're stocking your cameras with film, and I'm sitting on the bed. Sun, Jan 26, 9:16pm

Today was our first day in Hawaii. Not our first getaway together, it's been awhile since we've had a solid one, one that wasn't just one night. Usually people are nervous about going away, especially in the "beginning" of a relationship, some just wouldn't take the risk. I'm glad we did, even though i saw no risk. It feels so good to BE with you with no distractions, no stress-related work issues and no responsibilities other than to explore, relax and have fun. So far so fucking good. You seriously make me feel on top of the world. *end cliche rant

sorry mom

sorry mom

Location #4: In Hawaii, curled up in bed, you're outside talking with my brother. Wed, Jan. 28, 9:28pm

I think every day you impress me more and more. Which is something my mother told me as well. which is a huge deal if you didn't know. Six months into a relationship and you choose to embark on a 10-day vacation with me and my crazy insane family. Takes nuts. I'm not even sure you know how grateful I am that you're here with me. It would have been empty feeling without you. I already experienced Germany without you and my glass was definitely half empty. I think that's when you know shit just got real.. when you don't want to experience traveling without that one person because it wouldn't feel right. You need that sidekick. You need that other half to experience it with you. You are that. You are everything. 

I'm so excited for what is to come, our future together and the experiences we will share. I'm even excited for the disagreements and the hard times. Feeling confident and solid in a relationship is something I haven't felt until you. I love you so much and I'm not going anywhere; I'm all in. All my chips are in and I feel like I've already won. 

Love,

buttmunch



My Queen,

I've never been one for monthiverseries. Or even bi annual celebrations. But we are in Hawaii and it did seem to be very important to you. And something about when you get all gitty and excited about stuff makes me gitty and excited too.

Over the past year and a half or so I've worked really hard on bettering myself and being as independent as I can be. Not letting anyone else dictate my life or the choices I make. Doing things for myself and being confident in my life's path. Before I met you I had developed the notion that relationships and girls were a distraction and ultimately crippling to my master plan of success and happiness. I guess most of my experiences with relationships in the past had influenced this notion.

I knew that I was miserable. I was angry and bitter and I was alright with that. Because if I was cynical and pessimistic, no one could hurt me. No one could tell me anything that would make my outlook on life and the people around me any worse. If I convinced myself that everyone sucked, no one could disappoint me or let me down. Yes, this mentality is just as poisonous and miserable as it sounds. But I had already been hurt so many consecutive times that I had all but given up. And I was alright with it. I was alone and doing just fine. I was living the selfish and lonely life I wanted to live and it felt good.

Then you came prancing into my life with your glowing happiness and irresistible smile. You had suffered through much worse betrayal and still found a way to be positive and inspiring. To see the best in people. To give people a second chance and find forgiveness. And I knew that I had to stick by you. I had to learn and be inspired. You had brought a new light to my very dark world and I had forgotten what bliss that could be. And I had to know what we could be. Where this new found light could take me.

So here we are. Sitting on a bed in your brother's guest bedroom in their beautiful beachside home. Finding adventures in a place most only dream of visiting. And each day I'm finding new reasons for fall in love with you all over again. If someone had told me a year ago that I would be waltzing around Oahu with a girl like you I would have laughed in their face.

Today I am grateful. I am humbled. And I am happy. And I could not have done it without you. So thank you. You have been my the butter to my toast for 6 months now, but it feels like I've known you my whole life. So heres to the next 6 months, and the many years to come. 

 

We're goin' places and we're goin' there fast.

It's Your Boy Spence

Hello there. I'm Michelle's boyfriend, Spencer. Nice to meet you. 

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I know, right? Not winnin' any beauty contests any time soon. I still don't understand why she likes me. But I digress.

Anyways, here's a little bit about me...

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I am a 24 year old professional photographer and musician. I play drums for a band called Moderne and work full time for an international clothing company taking web and lifestyle photos. You can see some of my work HERE. I grew up in sunny Southern California and for the majority of my adolescence I played club ice hockey 7 days a week. I am a loyal Red Wings fan and have been my whole life. Go ahead... talk your sh*t... our cup count isn't listening. ;)

I have one blood brother who is 7 years older than me and a "step" brother and sister who are both older than me. 

When I was 14 I went through rehabilitation for a severe drug addiction and have not touched the stuff since. God willing, I will celebrate 10 years of sobriety on December 7th this year. Ever since my incarceration I have done everything I can do to pay back the universe for my wrong doings and be the best person I can be.  

When I was 14 I joined my first band that would eventually be named Catalina Burning. I played guitar and as you can imagine... we were pretty awful. But we played shows for friends and family for 4 years and I loved every second of it. Shortly after that bands disbanding, I rotated through 3 or 4 bands, most notably playing drums for a very talented man by the name of Taylor Collins until I was offered the spot in Moderne last year.

Anyways, without boring you with my life's story, we will get to the stuff y'all really care about....

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I've never been much for fashion - or facial hair for that matter. But in the recent years working in the fashion industry I've had to learn trends and style pretty quickly. Before I met Michelle, I was the guy that would wear Levi's and band tees no matter the occasion. I didn't care too much about my appearance. The first time I grew my beard out it was due to sheer laziness. I'm blessed with European blood so my facial hair grows fast, thick and full with little to no effort. The length it's at now is about 3 months with a trim about a month ago. I've been able to grow a decent beard since I was 15. However, back then, facial hair was not so trendy so I was ridiculed a lot in school and social environments because of it. Which seems funny now.

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Michelle does a pretty good job of hunting down styles for me. I encourage her to buy things without asking me. I like being surprised. I get flustered in stores... mostly because I don't have a lot of money so picking one or two things out of an entire store can be daunting. But she has also opened my eyes to bargain shopping. Which I must say has been life changing. Why didn't I do this sooner?!

Anyways, she asked me to just introduce myself to you lovely readers. So here I am. The man behind the camera. I have very much enjoyed being a part of helping her with this blog so far, and I am very much looking forward to the future with her not only on the internetz, but in real life as well. 

In the future I will be featured on her blog with a beard care post, some style posts, and a few cynical rants about women's fashion. High waisted shorts aren't doing ANYONE any favors. Leave them in the 90's where they belong.

Instagram: @deejaybm

Ta-ta for now, friends.


Peacoat // Macy's

Pants // Forever21 Men's

Button Up // Forever21 Men's

Kicks // Dr. Martin

Hat // Target

 

My website: www.baldwinmediaphotography.com

My band: www.moderneband.com