I am passionate about meeting new people and hearing their stories. I believe everyone lives a life worth learning from. A recent lunch meeting at Square C Café in Carrollton proved to be yet another example of paths crossing and life lessons cultivated.
Adam J. Henderson, born and raised in Clifton, New Jersey, was fifteen years old when he began drinking alcohol. Beer and marijuana were his gateway into hard liquor (vodka in a water bottle during school days) and crack cocaine. Adam did as many high school boys do; he joined the football team where he fondly remembers partying after each game. He wasn’t an anomaly; in his mind everyone was doing it.
Adam’s father didn’t care what Adam was putting into his body; he just wanted Adam to be sure he didn’t “come home with a cop”. Adam’s mother was completely naïve as to what was going on during Adam’s induction into years of addiction to both alcohol and drugs. In hindsight, Adam says even he didn’t care what he did to his body…his dad and two older brother’s example of substance abuse caused him to believe getting drunk and high was what he was supposed to do.
A year out of high school Adam met a girl he thought was “the one,” at nineteen he was fully committed to the idea of their lives together when they discovered she was pregnant. As soon as the baby was born, Adam was shocked and dismayed to learn his girlfriend had left out of state and taken their daughter with her. He spent months trying to locate them; Adam was determined to be the kind of father his dad had not been to him. After months of searching, Adam gave up and began to drown his unhappiness and anxiety in repeated nights of hard partying.
Eventually Adam’s father and brothers managed to get clean. The same could not be said for Adam.
Upon his return to New Jersey, twenty-something Adam went to work at the same company his father had been employed at for years. But, it wasn’t long before working with his dad proved to be too much and Adam moved on to a totally different line of work.
For more than a decade, Adam was employed by a well-known grocery chain; he continued to party hard every night. He was well paid and enjoyed being social, buying drinks for all who were interested. As he continued to self-medicate there were instances when Adam lost jobs due to his inability to make it to work on time, however, somehow he’d always find a new position. During his late 20s and early 30s his addiction to alcohol was escalating to a point where it was taking over his life and Adam was drinking just to wake up in the morning and was experiencing blackouts as well.
In 2007, Adam slipped at work, heavily damaging his knee. The surgery led to an addiction to pain medication. When his doctor would no longer prescribe pills for him, Adam began to buy them on the streets.
Adam’s addiction to pain medication and alcohol was out of control.
In 2009 Adam’s father was suffering from kidney failure. Fiercely loyal to his dad, when Adam learned he was a match, he began his first serious attempt at sobriety and losing the weight needed to go through surgery to donate his kidney to his father. A beefy guy at 400 lbs, Adam worked hard for months to get into the kind of shape needed to undergo the transplant. He was committed to the endeavor of cleaning up his life.
Unfortunately Adam wasn’t able to lose the weight quick enough and his father passed away from complications due to a heart attack in August of that year. This caused Adam to again take up the bottle, even though he’d been clean for months.
Once he lost his dad, Adam lost his job as well. Another intense spiral led to his being homeless which prompted a renewed determination to get clean so he could at least live in a shelter.
At his lowest point, Adam remembers eating out of garbage cans because he’d learned from his father that stealing was never okay under any circumstance. Eventually Adam found a wonderful shelter and began the slow climb out of the rock bottom life he’d created.
The journey to put his together life has been arduous. One day while living in a shelter in New Jersey, Adam’s mother (who’d moved to Texas after his father’s death) reached out to Adam and asked him to come down to Texas. His mom paid for a bus ticket and after three days of travel, 400 lb Adam landed in Dallas.
After months of ups and downs in Dallas, forty-year-old Adam is now working in Carrollton for Stan and Shelly Newman who own Square C Café. They have taken him in as an employee, a friend, and a brother on this journey of life. He is eternally grateful for the gift of trust and unconditional faith and love they have shown him.
Adam is 32 months sober and is now fully committed to spending his free time at the gym. Dedicated to rebuilding his physical and mental health, his mantra as he steps onto the fitness floor each day is “Go hard; kill it; and never give up.”
Adam’s story inspires us to believe there is always hope, and that with perseverance and inner strength we can rise up from whatever circumstances we’ve created in our lives. What a gift it was for me to meet him and to share his story with you.
Kim Muench is a married mother of five children living in Flower Mound. A certified parenting coach, her passion lies in supporting and encouraging parents of adolescents. To read more of her work, or to learn about her parenting program, go to www.realifeparentguide.com.