I started using drugs at a very early age to deal with my emotions. I began with prescription pain pills, and that escalated quickly to doing heroin. Long story short, I ended up in rehab three different times and almost lost my life more times than I can count. I always ended up going back to it, because I still didn’t know how to deal with life. Nor did I even know who I was. I put my family through more pain than anyone should ever have to endure. I was on heroin for about five years until my brother (who was more than a brother, he was my best friend) helped me get away from it.
Then, in one month, I lost my fiancée, my home and my job, and my brother committed suicide. I felt completely alone in this world and was completely broken. I could be in a room full of people and still feel like I was the only one there. I did the only thing that I knew how to do, and that’s when my meth addiction started.
Fast forward five more years into my addiction. I had lost everything and was looking at a lengthy prison sentence. I got lucky and only did a couple of months, and it was a blessing in disguise. It was exactly what I needed to start fixing my life. I was forced to stay clean, take classes and undergo therapy and grief counseling. I learned more about myself in the three years after prison than I had learned in my entire life. I learned how to deal with past trauma and deal with my emotions in healthy ways. I learned patience, self-awareness and empathy. I learned how to live a normal life. The problem was that I was still unhappy. I had spent 10 years wasting away and ruining my life. I still had no purpose and no idea of what I had been missing.
My brother always talked about going skydiving, so I made the decision to go try it in his memory. I was terrified at the thought of jumping out of an airplane at 12,000 feet, but I pushed past those fears and went anyway. I was shaking the whole drive to the drop zone and the whole plane ride up. The moment we left the plane was the first time I had ever experienced pure bliss, 100% pure happiness and peace. For the first time in my life, I was completely in the moment with no boundaries.
I knew I had to keep going. Skydiving showed me what it felt like to live again. It showed me how important it is to face your fears and find yourself. But it wasn’t only the experience, it was the sky family, as well. Nobody at the drop zone judges me or treats me like a reject because of my past. Skydivers are the most welcoming and nicest people I have ever met. Everyone shares an unspoken bond and are always there for each other. Skydiving has helped me stay sober for three and a half years now and counting. So, when people ask me why I’m in such a hurry to kill myself, I tell them it’s actually the complete opposite. For the first time in my whole life, I’m living!
Ryan Bartik | A-90066