Marvin: I’m Marvin …
Joey Osinski: I’m Joey.
Marvin: This is the Balboa Horizons Podcast. Today I have Joey Osinski here. He’s one of Balboa Horizons case managers in our Intensive Outpatient Program. Go ahead and introduce yourself, we want to get to know you, what you’re all about.
Joey Osinski: Well, so like you said, I’m one of the addiction counselors here at Balboa Horizons. I worked primarily in IOP. Before I started working in IOP, I worked at residential as an addiction counselor. I’ve also worked at men’s support staff, basically all the houses that we have here is a part of this program, to include detox as lead support staff. So I’ve been a pretty big part of, or I’d like to believe I’m a pretty big part of what Balboa has to offer. Really, that came as a result of just what Balboa showed me and offered me in my journey of sobriety.
Marvin: Talking about your journey to sobriety, how did you get to Balboa Horizons?
Joey Osinski: So, in a difficult way. Originally, I was born and raised in Seattle, Washington area. Mom, Dad, younger brother, decent family, you know, really nothing holding me back. My parents did the best that they could provide me with every possible opportunity. I know at a young age, I really longed for friendships. I wanted to be involved. I was very active in sports, really young age, cub scouts and so forth. Because of the way that my house was structured, Dad’s ex-military, my father is also a police officer. With that came a certain amount of expectations and responsibilities that fell on me that I had to meet. Very much a rule follower through and through, rules are there for a reason and I was expected to follow them, regardless.
Joey Osinski: Getting into junior high, I was always afraid of breaking the rules, because of that. Other kids around me, kids that I would call my friends at the time, knew that as well. They knew that I wasn’t going to break the rules and that I was going to do what was expected. Because of that, that made me an easy target for bullying. A lot of people picked on me, and I let it happen. Because one, I didn’t want to tell them, because they’re my friends. Two, because there was a rule and an expectation that I wasn’t allowed to do anything that would be considered out of line, so I couldn’t really stand up for myself. I was afraid to do that.
Marvin: That’s got to be tough.
Joey Osinski: Yeah, I know, it is. Wanting to be a part of something, and the only way that I can be a part of anything or any group of people was to be their punching bag, essentially. I allowed it, because I want it to be included, and that was really tough for a long time. I had a friend who I met in elementary school after I had moved from the Bonny Lake area and moved out to Port Orchard, Washington, which is kind of just across the water from Seattle. I had a friend that I met in elementary, his name was Drake. I used to hang out with them all the time, barbecues afterschool and things like that.
Joey Osinski: In junior high he started smoking weed, started doing things that I wasn’t a part of. I think it was probably the summer before high school, I had spent my whole junior high experience, really being that punching bag that I was talking about, and I did not like that at all. I saw my friend Drake, and some of the people he was hanging out with, they didn’t get picked on, they didn’t get bullied, they didn’t get messed with, people left him alone. That was attractive to me, like in a big way. Because at the end of the day, I just wanted to be a part of a community, and not necessarily feel like I was being diminished or looked down on in any way.
Joey Osinski: So, I started hanging out with him and he introduced me to marijuana, and I just started smoking pretty much every day with him. I started to feel like I belonged to his group of friends, and I took on that identity. Kind of came to realizing, people kinda poke at me a little bit, I’m a little bit of a bigger guy right now. I’m like 6’6″ probably 235 pounds or so. Even then I was always bigger than all the other kids, but I was afraid to defend myself. And by hanging out with Drake and his friends, I learned that I was bigger than you, and you weren’t going to mess with me anymore.
Joey Osinski: I wasn’t going to let that fly. All the kids that knew me in junior high as kind of this push over. By the time high school came around over the summer my whole presence changed, and then they weren’t witness to that change. So until I showed up, that wasn’t happening anymore.
Joey Osinski: For the first time, I really think that, my very first addiction wasn’t even necessarily to the substances itself. Because the first means of me coping with my reality was anger and aggression. I developed this anger that I used to keep people at arm’s distance. I didn’t want to let you in and, and they certainly didn’t want you to really get to know who I was. Because if I allowed you to do that, then you are going to see what I already knew. That I was doing the wrong thing, and that I was failing. That I wasn’t doing the things and taking the steps that I needed to take to actually be a success, because I was too afraid to address those things.
Marvin: Now as a counselor, I would imagine you see that all the time.
Joey Osinski: Oh, absolutely, 100%.
Marvin: So this is normal behavior for, for addicts, alcoholics out there, anger issues.
Joey Osinski: Oh yeah, anger issues. I mean that’s just one example.
Marvin: And this is starting way back in high school.
Joey Osinski: Oh yeah. Well yeah, I mean early, early high school, even before high school really started for that matter. But yeah, people, not just myself, and for me it was anger, but people take on many different roles to try, and present themselves in a particular way as a means of protecting themselves, it’s an offensive thing. We’re afraid, we’re full of fear and full of insecurities and we don’t know how to deal with it. So what do we do? We reach for a bottle, we reach for a joint, reach for a drug. Or maybe we even include these behavioral things, also to keep people at arm’s distance, because we’re too afraid of ourselves, and we’re certainly afraid of you. We don’t want people to see what we know.
Joey Osinski: I know internally, especially at that time that I was not happy. I was full of doubt, full of fear. I had no sense of direction, no sense of hope, no sense of accomplishment. I couldn’t even receive love. My parents were telling me that they loved me and that they’re proud of me, and I’d be like, “For what?” I couldn’t even receive the love from other people, because I didn’t love myself. That played into itself longterm, because as I continued to do that … and it works. It really does work. I kept people at arms distance. I put on a mean face and present myself aggressively, so you certainly don’t want to get to know me. At the same time I’m using drugs and alcohol to cope with my reality too. It all does its job. It protects me from addressing the real issues at hand. It prevents me from really taking a good hard look at myself, and doing what I have to do to move forward and progress towards what I want.
Joey Osinski: But the funny thing is, is because as I’m trying to progress towards what I think I want, at the same time what I want more than that is to be left alone because I’m afraid to do the right thing. I’ve always known what the right thing to do was, but I was too afraid to do it. Because either my fear of my ability or what have you. But I just wasn’t willing to do the right thing to get to where I was supposed to be, because I always knew what that was but I was too afraid to make those choices. I was too afraid of getting vulnerable. You see that here all the time. Hopefully, by the time guys get to IOP, they kinda work their way through that a little bit. Become a little bit more willing to be transparent, and get vulnerable, and get uncomfortable and talk about those things that they don’t want to talk about. Talk about the relationships they have with their parents and how they didn’t receive enough love, or whatever it may be. But they have to be honest.
Marvin: Why would you say that’s so important? For someone to get all those old feelings back up? Events that have happened in their life, traumatic events I’d imagine. What would be the benefit of that?
Joey Osinski: Well, my experience is that all the growth that you’re going to come and experience in sobriety, is going to come from painful experiences in the past. We’re experiencing all this pain, but on the other side of that pain is a whole lot of growth. The only thing we have to be willing to do is take those steps to work through it and get past it. Because we’d been so unwilling to address some of those traumatic things, whether it be emotional, or financial, or physical or what have you, we were unwilling to address them then and it just got worse. It didn’t get better. You know what I mean?
Joey Osinski: We continue to dig ourselves in this hole and wonder, “Why aren’t things getting better?” Then we look up and it’s like, “Shit, I got a long way to go before I’m able to get out of this hole,” and we just give up. Because like I said before, the anger worked, it kept me safe. The drugs, they worked. They prevented me from facing my reality.
Marvin: Giving up then would be easier than living life in reality.
Joey Osinski: Absolutely.
Marvin: Okay. Okay. So you’re in high school. Did you start playing ball in high school?
Joey Osinski: Sports had been a really big part of my life. I played sports since as far back as I can remember. I think in junior high I had to pick between either baseball or basketball, because of the level of commitment that was going to come into it. So, I chose basketball. Like I said, I’ve always been tall. I was six foot my first year of junior high. So, that’s what people were pushing me to do. In high school I played for the varsity high school team. I also played on the traveling team as well, and also just the city league as well. I had a pretty full schedule with that.
Joey Osinski: I was pretty good, I would hope, I would think. College offers to go play in college, and progress, and get an education and do all of that. But I can remember getting offers to play certain sports. My Dad would be super proud of me. They’d be super excited about all these opportunities that I’m getting, and I was so numb to it. It almost pains me to think about it now. How much effort my dad had put into filming the games, and getting my stats, and talking to coaches and doing all this marketing, essentially. Promoting me and trying to give me an opportunity to accomplish something that … He didn’t have those same opportunities, and he really wanted to see me succeed. But, I was not willing to receive that love. They were so excited. I can remember them showing me letters, and I just didn’t care about anything anymore.
Joey Osinski: Drugs and alcohol robbed me of my serenity. It robbed me of my persons. It robbed me of my self esteem. It robbed me of my relationships, because I just bet into it, because it was so much easier just to give into those urges and given to those fears, than it was to just actually be honest with another person and say, “You know what? I’m hurt. I’m afraid. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve messed up.” Take some ownership and accountability, I wasn’t willing to do that. So, I just buried myself in more drinking and more using, it just didn’t play to my benefit at all. And you what? I missed out on a lot of opportunities. And I had some successes!
Joey Osinski: In high school, like I said, I was very successful, varsity coming in. But there was like this double life. I was at school, I was an athlete. I showed up to class. I didn’t really do that well, but I showed up. As soon as the bell rang, it was a whole ‘nother experience. I was out hanging out with friends, doing things I probably shouldn’t be doing, out, way too late. Getting into a little bit of trouble here and there. That within itself was even exciting.
Joey Osinski: I felt like I was doing something different than other people. Living life on the edge, and it’s exciting. But at the end of the day, some of my friends, they’re going on to college, they got good grades, and now they’re doing really well, they’re really successful. They didn’t have to experience all the same things I did because they were at least willing to say when they were afraid, and willing to ask help, and not only ask for help, but then when they got it, they did something about it.
Joey Osinski: Even when I was willing to ask for help, you might tell me what the answer is, but I’m not going to do it. Because that’s just too much for me. So yeah, high school was interesting to say the least.
Marvin: So, how did you get to the point where, it’s time to get sober?
Joey Osinski: Well, there’s a lot of things. The worst of my story really came probably after high school. I had no direction. I felt like I had failed and let down everyone around me. Meanwhile, I couldn’t figure out that all my failures was as a result of my drinking. I felt like it was everyone else’s problem and their fault, if they just would’ve done something different, then this would have been different. But really, I was the problem, and especially my drinking, for sure. I’d have a bottle in my hand wondering, “Why isn’t this working out?” It was because I wouldn’t stop drinking,
Marvin: You wouldn’t give yourself the chance.
Joey Osinski: I wouldn’t, I was afraid to. I remember sleeping on a friend’s couch. I had nowhere to live, really. My parents were pretty much done with me.
Marvin: At this time you’re out of college now?
Joey Osinski: I’m out of college. No hope, no sense of direction.
Marvin: Stopped going to college because of your drinking?
Joey Osinski: Yeah. They didn’t even want me back. My grades were that bad and I didn’t show up.
Joey Osinski: So, I was at a friend’s house and I was sleeping on the couch. And I don’t know what happened, I don’t know how this came about but, a friend of mine came over and he actually woke me up. He didn’t live there. He woke me up and he had some weed, and he’s like, “Hey man, you want to smoke some of this weed?” I don’t know. I was like, “No, I don’t think I want to do that.” What I ended up doing was I left that apartment and I went down to a recruiter’s office. I said I was going to join the army. So, that’s what I did.
Joey Osinski: I went down to a recruiters office and I walk in the door and told him I want to sign up. He’s like, “Great.” Let’s get you take a UA.” I’m like, “No. Give me 30 days, I’ll be back.” He’s like, “All right.” And I did, I didn’t really have any food, I didn’t have a job, I didn’t have any money and i was living at a friend’s house. I think I was 6’6″, had about 164 pounds.
Joey Osinski: You know, just skin and bone. So, I started running, I started exercising, doing push-ups and sit ups, and trying to refrain from using or doing anything and trying to be healthy, ’cause I knew I wanted to do this. And 30 days later, I went back to recruiters office and tested clean and was … So, I left after a little while for basic training, did really well, got an offer from Command Sergeant Major special operations to get into Ranger battalion. I took the offer to airborne school and through pre rasp. And then in Ranger School or rasp rather, not Ranger School, they’re different.
Joey Osinski: In rasp, I was a voluntary withdrawer, I chose to leave, and I don’t know why. Nothing had been able to stop me from accomplishing that goal. I thought that that was going to be … If I was able to get through rasp, get my tan bray and join regiment, not only would I be proud of myself for actually having ever accomplished something that I set out to accomplish, that my dad would also be proud of me.
Joey Osinski: The relationship that I have with him was tough for a long time. And he never gave up, not once, and I let him down every single time, no matter what. And I thought that if I was able to accomplish this, I’d be proud. I would have accomplished something and he’d be proud of me. And I wanted to do it probably for him more so than for myself, and ended up leaving.
Joey Osinski: I remember calling him and telling him that I left, and he was just trying to support me. Telling me it was all right. I’ll never understand why I left. My case manager in treatment told me that I had a fear of success. I think it’s a total cop out answer but it’s the best one I got.
Joey Osinski: So, after that, I mean that’s what I set out to do and I didn’t do it, I failed again. So, from that point forward I was like, “What’s the point.” So, I just started drinking every day, heavy and hard, Jack Daniels by the handle, I just didn’t care anymore. And eventually got sent out to my duty station in North Carolina Fort Bragg.
Joey Osinski: I still was airborne qualified so they sent me to an airborne unit. I did pretty good for a little while but at the same time my drinking was out of control. Showing up to formation drunk, I just didn’t care. I felt like there is no point to any of it and eventually I ended up at a house party. I developed a cocaine habit and was at the house party, got drunk and decided that I wanted some cocaine. So I borrowed a car and try to make to the dealers house. I ended up wrecking the car and got stopped, got a DWI, unlawful possession motorized vehicle.
Joey Osinski: The DWI got dropped, the unlawful possession got dropped as long as I was willing to pay the damages for the vehicle because I ran a stop sign and avoided a vehicle and hit a ditch. The front bumper was sparked up and the front right and rear right tires were both popped off the car because of how fast I had taken the turn.
Joey Osinski: Basically at that point, my command knew only that I had a DWI, they didn’t know about any of the cocaine yet. And my captain asked me, “Why should we keep you?” I stood on a soapbox and told him, “This is where I want to be, this is what I want to do. This isn’t just a uniform.” All these things, and that was true. I meant what I was saying, my actions didn’t show it, but that’s really how I felt. And he asked me to take a look at his computer. He tilted the screen and on the screen it said POS for COC. And for those of you that don’t know that means ‘positive cocaine’ because they had given me UA when I came back to my duty station, came back to the barracks.
Joey Osinski: I pretended like I didn’t know what was going on. Like I have no idea, I don’t know what that is. He said, “So you’ve done cocaine?” I’m like, “No, I’m never done it, someone much have slipped something in the pre work out. I don’t know what’s going on.” He’s like, “Okay, fine.” So, he handed a piece of paper, he handed me a pen. He said, “I want you to write a sworn statement, you’re dismissed.”
Joey Osinski: So I left his office, came around the corner with my Sergeant, he was with me while I was supposed to write out the statement, basically lying saying that I had no idea about ant of this cocaine.
Joey Osinski: And they were contemplating up until that point to keep me. At this point I knew I was done. I was going to go for sure. And for the first time in my life I was honest. Probably the best thing I ever did. I was about to put pen to paper and write out this line, I couldn’t do it. Now, there’s like a whole process before you just walk … You can’t just like walk into the captain’s office. You have to be, like, “Welcome Daniel, stand at the door, salute …” and this whole thing.
Joey Osinski: I just went in there. I didn’t knock, the door is still open. I just went straight into his office. I told him, I did it, I used cocaine, gave him my whole story. Because of that they … Actually my captain, first Sergeant and my sergeant, were actually trying to push the paperwork through to give me an article 15 so that I wasn’t going to be discharged because of my honesty. But by the time the Command Sergeant Major found out, that was too late. They were going to give a court martial. Apparently that month they had something like 10 other DWI issues, so they were trying to make an example. And because of my self pity I was fine with being that example. This is what my life is. I’ve always let down and failed so this is just one more thing that I failed at, whatever!
Joey Osinski: So they did that. They gave me of summarized court marshal, did 30 days in jail. At the end of my jail term was my discharge date. I still had all my stuff and my sergeant and one of my other battle buddies, that is what they would call him, came to pick me up from jail. And they were like, “So where do you want to go?” And that was it. I had, I think $600 in my bank account because they were still paying me while I was in jail, which is really nice. I asked if they did want to do that, and they did.
Joey Osinski: So they dropped me off at a hotel.
Marvin: With $600.
Joey Osinski: With $600 and-
Marvin: And nothing.
Joey Osinski: … and nothing. I had a duffel bag full of clothes, that’s it.
Marvin: Empty inside.
Joey Osinski: Yeah. I had no self-worth, no self-esteem. I felt like my whole life, this is what it equates to. Like, no matter what I’ve tried. At this point, I had been a successful athlete, I had been a relatively decent student and never been in trouble with the law. I’ve never done anything bad, but i always fail. I always fell short.
Joey Osinski: I didn’t see through my college scholarship. I wasn’t continuing to play basketball. I got kicked out of the military. I didn’t have a job. I was never able to maintain anything like decent employment, I was a horrible employee. I had no life skill, there was nothing to show. At that point, I was almost, must been 22 years old, maybe 23 and with nothing to show for it. I was broken down, I was defeated.
Joey Osinski: And I remember talking to my parents about it. It was over the holidays, I didn’t talk to my mom, my dad or my brother over Christmas. They knew I was out of jail, they didn’t try to contact me. I didn’t contact them. Eventually, I did end up reaching. My mom reached out to me first, asked me how I was doing and I lied to her. Told her everything’s great, I’m doing well.
Joey Osinski: And that night I was … I probably prayed. Again there’s a series of firsts here. I prayed for the first time. Honestly, I remember crying, looking up at the ceiling in this house that didn’t have any electricity. I just didn’t know what to do. I wanted help, and then understand why everything failed and why I wasn’t able to be an example for others or provide anything to anybody, you have any sense of contribution. The next day I called my mom and I told her what was going on. They said they’d be willing to put me on a train from North Carolina back to Washington, but I had to go to treatment.
Joey Osinski: And up until that point, it wasn’t the first time I heard the treatment option, and I was never for it, I never want to put my name down that piece of paper that said I had a problem. I wasn’t willing to admit the fact that my life was unmanageable, and I had no sense of how to do anything correctly.
Joey Osinski: So I took the train ticket if anything just for a nice warm bed and a meal. I really didn’t have any real intentions of being sober. So I took the train ride from North Carolina to Washington’s, three and a half day train ride. You had to go from North Carolina up to New York, I think. And then you take the train from New York all the way across the country. I had no money, no cigarettes, I had literally three Kansas soup, one package of crackers and no can opener. I was miserable, absolutely miserable.
Joey Osinski: I took the train ride. When I got to Washington, my parents were there, pick me up from the train and gone to treatment. I ended up meeting my counselor for the first time. Now, I had seen therapists, talk to other people, and so forth. Trying talking about some of my issues, none of it ever stood, because I felt like I was terminally unique, like no one could possibly understand how I felt or what I’ve gone through, like you just don’t know. So don’t pretend like you know, ’cause I don’t know you, you certainly don’t know me, and you can’t relate to anything I gotta say.
Joey Osinski: So I ended up meeting my counselor. And this is the first time I sat down and talked to a guy who really could relate. I remember sitting down and he says, “So tell me a little bit about yourself.” And I tell him just enough to kind of please him and to shut him up. “That great, let me tell you about myself.”
Joey Osinski: And then he proceeded to tell me his story and how he went to prison, put to meth and like the other counselor in the next room was his cellmate. So someone’s got a worse story than me. So I no longer felt unique. And I think from that moment, for whatever reason kind of opened me up a little bit, you know, kind of broke down a few of those walls. I was more willing to hear what he had to say now that I knew that he … at least could relate to something that I had gone through.
Marvin: So, you got a glimmer of hope, it sounds like.
Joey Osinski: A little bit. I felt like he actually had something here. I remember the very first assignment he gave me was, he wants me to write a letter to my dad, and I wrote that letter. I had no idea that he was intending on having to share it in a group, and that was not the case. He brought the letter in a group. He asked me to read it in front of everybody. And I literally could not get three words into that letter. I was bawling my eyes out, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t talk, I really kind of broke down.
Joey Osinski: And that was probably the first time I realized just how miserable I was, just how much I had given up on myself, and my family, and the people around me, and the people that cared about me. So from that point forward, I tried to really get involved and do the treatment thing and do the assignments and do as much as I could.
Joey Osinski: The only problem was, it was a 28 day program. So in that 28 days, really what they accomplished was they convinced me that I had a problem, but they didn’t tell me how to deal with it.
Marvin: Go you.
Joey Osinski: So, I graduated from the program, I didn’t really have a very good aftercare plan setup. I ended up going to a hotel room that my parents bought for me following the residential treatment stay. I was still going to be doing the IOP program but no sober living.
Marvin: That just sounds like a bad idea, flat out.
Joey Osinski: Oh yeah, I know. Absolutely. You don’t go from residential treatment to a hotel, that’s not good. So, the justification was is that “Well, you’re still going to be an IOP, so you’re going to come in two to three days a week and check in.” So, out of a week, seven days, I’m spending three hours with a counselor in an IOP setting. That’s not going to be appropriate. After my parents left, I ended up relapsing about 30 hours later.
Joey Osinski: No wonder why I didn’t relapse sooner was because my parents were with me for the first 24. So I couldn’t, I relapsed. I still managed to get into a sober living. I manipulated my parents, let me go from Eastern Washington back out to Western Washington, because, “Hey I had a job, I got friends, I go to sober living. There’re more opportunities out there. I’ll be all right.” And they fell for it. They didn’t know any better. “Okay, fine. You go to sober living. You get a job, you work and it’ll be good.”
Joey Osinski: I honestly believed that to be true as well. I really wanted to do the right thing and be sober and get through this, but I just didn’t have the skills necessary to accomplish that. So again, I moved into sober living out there. Lied to him said I had 30 days clean, I did not. I’m still able to pass the UA and everything like that. So I got into the house and I think I lasted maybe a month, relapsed again, got kicked out of sober living and ended up at a friend’s house. And ended up working construction, lost that job. Frank kicked me out.
Joey Osinski: And again I was like, “I can’t do anything, I cannot do the simplest thing. I can’t just keep a job.” My friend who’s letting me live at his place, rent free. I can’t just maintain that. I couldn’t accomplish … There’s nothing that I was able to accomplish on my own accord. So I was defeated. I talk with-
Marvin: Once again.
Joey Osinski: … Again defeated. One of the things that we talk about, treatment and recovery circles is this concept of surrendering. Long before I ever surrendered to this program, I was defeated. There was nothing left for me. There were no other options. I was completely hopeless. I ended up going to a psych ward/detox, and did that. I think was like four days, five days, from there they say, “Hey, you should go to treatment.” I’m like, “Whatever. I got nowhere else to go. Okay.”
Joey Osinski: So I did, I went to this treatment center in Long Beach Washington. It’s not a good place. I won’t say the name of it. I wouldn’t recommend anyone else ever go there. But at the same time, even though I was willing to work on my alcoholism, drug addictions, I slayed that anger issue, in a big way. That was the biggest hurdle for me to get over, I think was just working on my anger and addressing my fears associated with it.
Joey Osinski: So that treatment center, they sent me to from detox, kicked me out, after about a week and a half, because I was labeled a liability. Actually when they kicked me out they had a squad car and an ambulance in the parking lot, because I thought I was gonna freak out. And I didn’t freak out. I didn’t touch anybody, thankfully, ’cause my dad was there. And he was able to kind of keep me calm.
Joey Osinski: So I was kicked out. It was just another-
Marvin: Another failure.
Joey Osinski: … Another failure, another let down and that felt … It was even worse because I was finally willing-
Marvin: You were trying.
Joey Osinski: … and ready to get help. I wanted help. I wanted to do something different. And even when I was asking for help, and wanted it, I couldn’t, I couldn’t get it. These people were supposed to be willing to help me out and they’re not willing to help out, and they weren’t willing to do that. Now, whether right, wrong or indifferent, whatever the case may be, I’m grateful that I got kicked out of that place. That’s was one of the first time that I really got to experience the repercussions of my anger, and the fact I gotta keep that in check. You know, that’s just not appropriate.
Joey Osinski: So from there, they sent me … They send me anywhere, they kicked me out. My parents were able to get me into another Treatment Center in Oregon, which was a 30 day residential program. Remember my dad not knowing if I was even going to be able to get in, because admissions was a little bit nervous about me, because they got a report from the last place I was just at, and they didn’t really paint me in a positive light.
Joey Osinski: Thankfully, the first counselor that I had, the first [00:28:10], I went to Dave. He was able to vouch for me and talked about my experience there. So, he actually was the reason why I was even able to get into treatment, and I did.
Joey Osinski: I remember be in there, and I think I was there about a week and a half, and I wanted the NA, I want to leave. They’re saying, “You got new staff, you got to do assignments, you got to complete treatment, you’ve to do all these things.
Marvin: You mean they gotta work!
Joey Osinski: Well, not even that, like I didn’t have a job, I didn’t have any money, didn’t have a house, didn’t have a car, didn’t have friends. Didn’t have a family that was willing to take me. So, “Okay, I’m gonna do your 30 day program, right? And will work your steps. I’m going to read your book. And then I’m a going to complete this program and like what? Everything is going to be better all of a sudden!. There’s no way.” It didn’t make sense. And here’s the reality is, sobriety shouldn’t make sense to somebody like me. I’ve never done it. It should not make sense. If it made sense I would have done it a long time ago but it didn’t.
Joey Osinski: So they told me like, “Just stick around, do the work, it’ll be okay.” And I was like reluctantly, “Okay, fine, I’ll do the work, I’m gonna do the work and when it doesn’t work out-
Marvin: I’m gonna stick it in your face.
Joey Osinski: … I’m gonna stick it in your face, huh I told you.” But they were right, I stuck it out and did their program. I tried to be of service to other guys who then wanted to leave. I told them, “You know what? I felt the same way, I’m still here. I don’t know if this is going to work or not. I know what life has to offer me if I choose to leave. I don’t know what life has to offer me if I choose to stay.” So I did. I realized I just wasn’t … I didn’t know what to do. So I just took some simple direction.
Joey Osinski: From there, I knew I needed more treatment. Like I said, I knew nowhere else to go. My parents weren’t going to take me in. And that’s how I ended up here. Ended up in Balboa. They sold me on this phenomenal extended care program, where guys are going so surfing and all this stuff. And I’m glad that I came here. Because what ended up happening is, I met a lot of really great people and had a really awesome opportunity not just to work on my recovery or my sobriety and get a sponsor and do step work or any of that stuff, but learn just basic life skills. Things that normal people acquired at a young age. I got to just do the right thing. Like show up on time, be accountable, you say you’re going to do something, you do. You follow through, you hold yourself. You’re honest to your word, just basic stuff.
Joey Osinski: There was a foreign concept me, so I got to learn all that. I learned how to cook, I learned how to clean, I learned how to do my assignments, show up on time, and how to build a resume. I learned how to get a job, we ended up having fun.
Joey Osinski: For so long I thought just having fun means getting drunk, getting messed up. If I was going to go do anything, it was because like, “Well, we got to get drunk first, and then we go do this first, and then we can go to that, and then we’ll have fun, but it’s not true. I got to learn how to … I remember the first group that was road to recovery. And like I’m a fearful, insecure person, and you’re going to throw me into this group and expect me play I don’t play instrument. I’m not musically inclined at all. And then give me a drum. They want me to bang on it and look like an idiot. I’m like, “Absolutely not.” And there was this guy who was running the program, and he’s like this stereotypical Southern California guy. And I’m sitting in the group just judging everybody. And he asked me, “How much time do you got man?” I’m like, “I don’t know, 45 days.” Then, “You what man? Like, “what?” Like, “That’s rad.” I’m like, “Freaking weirdo, that’s rad! Okay.”
Joey Osinski: And they want me to bang on these drums, and I wasn’t willing to do it, because I was uncomfortable. Over time, I learned I went like, “I can bang this drums, I don’t have to know to play any instrument. I’m going to have fun. You want to be miserable and sit in your corner and soak like that’s fine, but I’m going to have a good time.” That was my first example of letting my guard down, being okay with being uncomfortable, which is something I was never willing to do.
Joey Osinski: I got into treatment, doing the road recovery, learning how to have fun and then having a case manager that I respected at the same time. I had this really bad habit of saying, “I know, I know, I know, I know.” “Pray this morning.” “I know,” you make your bed, “I know.” And finally he yanked me out a group, and he took me out to the park lot and he says, “Listen buddy, you don’t know shit.” And I don’t know why that stuck with me all these years, but he was right. I had no clue, how to stay sober, how to do the right thing. I had no clue. If I knew then I wouldn’t have to be in treatment. I hadn’t had to have a counselor, and a therapist, and a group of guys who are like a hold me accountable, ’cause I know. And I didn’t.
Joey Osinski: So I did the 90 day residential treatment here. Six months of IOP, and just continuing to take direction and just stop listening to my own advice because he was right. I didn’t know what to do. I had no idea. So I needed to listen to someone else who might have an idea. And even if they were wrong, at least I was willing to take direction, which is something I wasn’t willing to do before.
Joey Osinski: And slowly but surely everything just started to get better. I have really healthy friendships. I have really healthy relationships. I have a fiance now. That blows my freaking mind, that there’s another healthy human, I mean emotionally and physically, that wants to be …
Marvin: That wants to be with you.
Joey Osinski: Forever, the rest of her life. That’s insane, it blows my mind. I got kids.
Marvin: That’s great.
Joey Osinski: I have an apartment that I pay for. I’m responsible, I pay bills, I hate how expensive bills could be. I really enjoy paying bills. It’s awesome. These are things I never got to do. I have an awesome relationship, a healthy relationship with my dad. Our younger brother now who has an older brother to look up to. I was absent for most of his youth, most of his upbringing. I wasn’t around, I was certainly not a role model, if anything I showed him what not to do. I’m gonna be part of his life now, he’s doing really well.
Joey Osinski: I have a job that you know depends on me to accomplish certain tasks. I do them and the best thing that I would hope that I’m able to offer anybody else is when they come in here and get to show them, offer them the exact same experience that I had. Understanding that, “Yeah we’ve done some bad things, but that doesn’t mean that we’re bad people, and that doesn’t mean that we’re not capable.” The worst thing that I ever did was give up on myself. I gave up on everyone else around me, and then gave up on myself. And at that point, there was nowhere for me to go. And I didn’t know what to do.
Joey Osinski: I have faith in myself, I have faith in people around me and I take direction, I listen to them. If you would have told me five years ago that this is the life I was going to have, and that I was gonna be living in Southern California. Nice car, nice relationship, nice apartment, nice job with no fear. There’s really nothing that I have to fear, there’s nothing wrong at all. It’s pretty nice. It’s relaxing in a way that, that’s possible, coming from where I came from.
Joey Osinski: I’ve overcome a lot of hurdles. But even then, all those difficult days and difficult nights and stressful situations, all the BS that I went through, those are my greatest assets. On the other side of that pain is growth.
Marvin: Yea. So you’re using all that baggage that you said when we first started talking, as a springboard.
Joey Osinski: Yeah.
Marvin: That’s truly remarkable.
Joey Osinski: Whether it is or it isn’t, I guess it’s a matter of perception. But I’m proud of myself. That’s the most important thing. I was talking about before, like doing these things from my dad so that he could be proud of me. Funny thing is, he just wanted me to be proud of me. He just wanted me to be happy. He didn’t care what I did, he didn’t care what I was doing. He just wanted me to be happy. And now I’m happy and I get to have an awesome relationship and it has nothing to do with him. I even tell him to shut up sometimes, it’s okay.
Joey Osinski: No, it’s insane just how everything starts to come together when we just stop doing the wrong thing and have a little bit of faith, and do the right thing. I really truly believe that no point in time did the right decision was beyond me. I always knew what the right decision was, I was just too afraid to do it. It was either too hard or too uncomfortable and I wasn’t willing to go there.
Joey Osinski: Now, I just take that action, I do what I’m supposed to do.
Marvin: And you help other people do the same thing.
Joey Osinski: I try to, I really do. That’s a difficult thing for a lot of people is, having that willingness to do whatever it takes to stay sober, because you’re going to need it. Even if you come in here and you just go through the motions, things are going to go get well, you’re gonna get healthy, your mind’s going to clear up, things are starting looking good, and you’re starting to want to regain control of the show again. And you got to remember, “It’s not up to me, I need to rely on other people around me who have gone through this, and continue to take that direction, continue to do what I know I should be doing. I should be going to group on time, I should be completing my assignments, I should have a sponsor, I should be going to meds.”
Joey Osinski: We would talk ourselves out of it. Like, “Things are good, let’s roll the dice and risk everything we’ve gained.” No, you got to continue to do this thing, continue to do work. And as you’re doing work, you’re helping other people.
Joey Osinski: If anything you’re leading by example. Showing up to your meeting on time, every week, same meeting. I sit on the same freaking chair. And if I don’t share, they see me in that same chair every single week. I’m leading by example, I’m showing up, I’m sitting down, I’m on time. I’m listening during the meeting and I’m participating. You might go to meetings. “My favorite thing, I went to four meetings this week.” “What did you do? Did you listen?” “Oh, no I was playing Tinder, on my phone.” “Hey bro, just listen, put the phone down. You want to change, you want to get what you’re worth, you got to put in to work.”
Joey Osinski: It’s hard and it’s uncomfortable, and it’s sometimes really easy for us to talk ourselves and justify why we don’t have to do something. But we have to understand that we have to do it.
Marvin: It’s so worth it.
Joey Osinski: I can’t describe to you the life I get to live today. The opportunities that I have today. There’s nothing you can’t accomplish. I never once believe that until I got sober. There’s literally … If I want to do something, I can do it. If I want to be a counselor, I’ll be a counselor. There’s nothing standing in my way. If I have a goal I can accomplish those things. There’s nothing that’s preventing you from doing it. I had everything in the world preventing me from accomplishing the simplest of tasks a number of years ago.
Marvin: Now you’re an example to everyone in our program.
Joey Osinski: I would like to be.
Marvin: You are, you’re a great example. You’re example to me and all the guys that come through our program, and I really appreciate your time here and sharing your story. I was crying earlier with you, because I could relate. In those instances where we can relate and find the similarities in our stories…thats when we can finally open that door to the hope that you were talking about, and actually change. You know, at Balboa Horizons, we have a saying, “Inspiring change and transforming lives.” And I truly believe that you are doing that. So thank you for sharing your story. I really appreciate it.
Joey Osinski: Yeah, absolutely.
Marvin: I’m Marvin.
Joey Osinski: I’m Joey.
Marvin: And that’s the Balboa Horizons podcast.