Last month, I returned to the place where I was reborn, Oaks Recovery. It was a special occasion. I was celebrating six months of recovery. I decided some time ago that, if I made it to six months, I'd pick up my chip there during their commencement night. My own commencement from Oaks wasn't that long ago. It was June 9th. I graduated from their short-term program. Unlike high school or college, this commencement is different. I was a bit taken aback from my first commencement experience. It was powerful, moving and inspiring. Every Friday evening, all of us washed-up drunks and addicts would gather to celebrate those graduating the program. There was a keynote speaker, and there was always at least one commencée who'd have their family in attendance. Someone always cried. Truth be told, I cried. At every commencement. When a person graduates from the program, they get to choose someone to introduce them. After that, the commencée shares a few words about their experience in recovery. It's meant to inspire those still working the program. The stories I've heard have stuck with me, as potent as the day I first heard them. You'd think that hearing one drunk's life story would be enough, but for me personally, every persons tale has been powerful. When it came for my speech, I spent most of it pointing out some of my fellow brothers and sharing how each of their stories stuck with me. Inspired me. Touched me. Believe it or not, I really didn't talk much during my time in rehab. I was broken. Lost. I didn't know myself. I really didn't. I was a shadow looking for its owner. I had no desire to fit in or appear cool. My only desire was to hold it together. Everything I had been through these past few years was starting to come to the surface. Probably because I was, for the first time in years, returning to the surface. Returning to the light after living so long in a deep, dark cave. And what happens to someone who is exposed to light after being in pitch black for years? It comes with a bit of shock. Sensory overload! That's a good way to describe my time at Oaks. And the first few months of recovery.
When I commenced the program back in June, my parents came. But they didn't show up with balloons and presents. They were distant and cold. Their visit for commencement marked the first time I had seen my mom in nine months (not counting the time she had visited me while I was in jail... and in case you're wondering, yeah, that was a shameful moment for me. But it was also a turning point. Seeing my mother with tears in her eyes, staring at her through a glass window, jolted me out of some fog. I knew it was time to get help). There was no rush to hug me. They kept their distance. After all the pain I had put them through, I couldn't blame them one bit. They had no idea whether or not I had changed at all. Neither did I.
Something happened after commencement was over, though. I remember running to my mom as she got in her car to return home. I wanted to give her my Surrender coin. I do recall her looking down at the coin after I placed it in her hand. Earlier in the evening, her silence was a strong indicator of her anger. Now, however, it was different. She smiled and hugged me. And then they went home.
I wanted them to be proud of me for commencing the program, but I knew this wasn't the end of this tumultuous journey. It was a step. One small step. But for me, that was a big deal. For the first time in a long time, I knew that it was a step in the right direction.
Driving to Oaks for my sixth month anniversary, I thought about that moment. Comparing it to the present. And I thought to myself, what's so great about six months of recovery? Do I deserve a cookie for not being a drunk or a drug addict? The thought sounds absurd. Yet here we are. Us crazy, selfish addicts, who have done some of the most outlandish things imaginable (I recently had a lady, a recovering Heroin addict, tell me how she once went to pee and ended up with both of her feet stuck down the toilet. How does that happen? Honey, you don't wanna know) and we have devised a celebratory system where we get shiny coins every few months to celebrate doing what we're SUPPOSED to be doing - not fucking up.
"Hey, I haven't been a crackhead for three months!" Awesome! We're gonna cheer you on as you walk on stage to get a shiny coin to commemorate that. It sounds absurd. And yet, our "clean time" really does have meaning to those around us. My family was very proud of me hitting the half-a-year mark. Heck, I was. That was a hard-fought six freakin months. And after I picked up my chip, and the evening was done, I relaxed a bit in bed just looking at my coin and the messages I received. It felt great. Why? I guess because it symbolized returning to life. I was literally killing myself. Putting myself in great danger. Destroying all potential I had. Abusing the ones that loved me. And despite the grip this disease has over me, I've been able to march away a good distance from it. If I'm blessed to make it into having years of sobriety under my belt, I imagine six months will look like a heartbeat. But for anyone who knows what it's like coming out of such a strong battle with addiction... man, that first year is tough and I'm only halfway through it.
Someone said that out of all addicts and alcoholics in recovery, less than 10% will actually make it. Whenever I think about that statistic, I look around the room. Whenever I'm in AA, there's usually about twenty people there. That means only TWO of us are going to make it? That scares me. The odds aren't in my favor. Not one bit. Scientists and doctors and therapists around the world are trying to understand addiction. So am I. I don't understand it. I am trying to make sense with what I went through, what I did and why. I don't think I'll get many answers to the questions I'm asking right now. That's okay. I'm a paranormal investigator. Chasing the unattainable is kind of my thing.
I'm alive today and that's what matters. If you're reading this and are struggling with addiction, my heart goes out to you. I pray that you find your way into recovery. And if you do, that's reason enough to celebrate!
Ever since I broke free from chemical addiction, I've experienced this phenomenon where I wake up in the middle of the night and have an urgent need to go outside, listen to the silence and see the stars.
Hello all. Well, this is weird. I'm sharing a story with you that I've (mostly) kept to myself for over a decade. I finished writing "Shadow Man" over ten years ago, but due to the launch of "Paranormal State," I put this on the back burner. After finishing "State," this was to be my next project. But life stuff got in the way. I didn't know it yet, but I was about to go on a five year journey into personal exploration. Not all of it was good. But, some good came out of it. The release of this book is going to be my major goal for this year.
One of the upsides to admitting I'm a (recovering) addict have been the messages I've received from other recovering addicts. The need to process and talk about what I've been through is great. During my first week in rehab at Oaks Recovery, I rarely spoke. It took a few people there to push me to get that ball rolling. Fast forward to the now, post-jail and post-rehab, the desire to talk things out during this self-examination period is greater than it was before. Maybe this is normal. I don't know. I've made attempts to get clean before. But this time is most definitely different.
I have wanted to make a blog post here since I got out of rehab. But I found myself asking, "where do I start?" It's not that I have nothing to say. My mind is about to explode with ideas, thoughts, fears, shame, guilt, anger, etc.
But, I'm just trying to figure out ME right now. Whatever that means.
I'm not in the mood to write something epic. I don't want to think about certain things. Sometimes I just want the day to pass by. Other times, I'm feeling myself coming to.
I really can't describe it. Not yet, anyways.
So for now, I'll throw out a few things I thought about today...
I wear a necklace that was given to me by a man named Charles Gibson. It belonged to his mother. He passed away March 2013. He showed me what unconditional love was. He spent his last two months of his life with me, trying to get me to stand back up. At times I'm so angry with myself because I feel I disappointed him. But lately, through the passing haze, I can hear him, plain as day saying, "my dear boy, have I taught you NOTHING? I... love you... and not in a funny way. Your ears...mmm... they're too small.... your nose... mmm... too big... but I love you. You are loved."
I'm a hopeless romantic and when I care about someone it hurts way too much, which is why I have generally been so closed off. To avoid hurt. There, I finally admitted it. Yay, 12 Steps.
I'm a recovering drug addict. Most of of you guys have heard that by now. But no, I didn't abuse illicit drugs while investigating cases or while doing "Paranormal State." I did struggle with pain pills during the second-half of the final season of "State." Someone recently asked me if I think things would've been different with me staying on "State" longer had I not struggled with prescription use. Maybe. But I was also really, really exhausted that final season. I was executive producing and also investigating the cases.
Yeah, I believe dark forces tried to take me down. So what? I'm not going to blame it all on that, though. I am still responsible for my actions. There are a lot of interesting parallels or similarities (even just metaphorically) one can find when it comes to addiction and possession. No, I don't think I was literally possessed by a demon. Sometimes, when I lie awake in bed at night, I do think about some very disturbing things that occurred or happened around me. It's something I'm trying to process and figure out.
I did get involved with some very dark things. In time, I'll open up about them. I think it's right to come out and talk about it. To warn people and perhaps give them some things to think about.
I don't wan't to disappoint people again.
If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you may have seen a post or two (or dozens) about "Paranormal Twitch." The most common response is usually, "what is a paranormal twitch?" People have asked if it's a new piece of paranormal equipment or some kind of dance (I suppose it's being confused with twerk. And I assure you, it has nothing to do with twerking). It's actually a live online channel dedicated to paranormal gaming.
Sometime after I had hip surgery, in June, a colleague of mine, Gracie, along with Serg, suggested an idea called Twitch. I kept mispronouncing the name, so if you're not familiar with Twitch, don't feel bad. I'm probably the most uneducated person out there when it comes to games and online gaming. Serg had even heard of Twitch.
Evening everyone. Every week, I plan to answer some of the most commonly asked questions sent to me. Here is one that I get quite a lot:
"I'm sure you get messages all the time and I hope you're doing well with your health and I wish you the very best in life and future endeavors!! Do you and the PRS crew have any plans to get the show back on tv? I miss your show! You all worked together so well and made me believe of the afterlife, good and bad! Good luck Ryan, I hope to see you back on tv very soon.."
Yes, I appeared on the "Maury" show. The producers were great and accommodating. They asked me to come on a few times after but I was never able to make it work due to scheduling. But in the spirit of Halloween, I thought I'd upload it here for you all to watch... just in time for Halloween!
Here's a blast from the past. In 2003, I met George Lutz at our annual conference, UNIV-CON. He is, of course, the man who lived in the Amityville house and fled after 28 days. It later inspired a book, "The Amityville Horror" and two films based off of it (one in 1977, then a remake in 2005). Back in my journalism days, I was a freelance writer. In 2004, knowing that they were remaking "Amityville," I asked if I could interview him about the process.