I am pleased to present a new excerpt from my upcoming book,”The Addicted Lawyer”. The usual disclaimers. These excerpts are solely for content preview. These excerpts are not professionally edited. That occurs when I pay someone later. They also may not appear in this form in the published book. While your waiting for this book, feel free to read my previous book, Shattered Image.
April 7th 2007. Eyes Open. What time is it? What day is it? Lying in bed. Last I remember is walking into a night-club Friday night. It’s now Sunday afternoon.
Amanda is looking down at me, confused, worried, angry. She had moved in with me two weeks before. She knows nothing about my drug and alcohol issues. My two lives had previously coming crashing together in 2005 with my near suicide, and first trip to Green Oaks Psychiatric. I was not ready for recovery then. I went right back out and tried to re-create the buffer zone between the addict Brian and the “respectable Brian”
What I did not realize was that “respectable Brian” was long gone. Everyone who knew me long term, knew I was an addict. She did not know me long enough. She did not know the guy partying and doing blow every night, basically being a douche-bag around Dallas. Being THAT guy. The 30k millionaire pretending he was a big time lawyer. Pretending he was an integral part of the Mark Cuban empire. That is the Brian I showed her.
She was hesitant about moving in. She would later tell me that she knew something was not right. Getting in auto accidents as I drove her around while I was high on black market Xanax was certainly a concern and raised red flags. Showing up to a family function slurring my words. She didn’t know it was Xanax just that I seemed “zonked”. I told her it was my anti-depressants creating that affect. She had no experience with those so she did not question it. I was manipulative and persuasive. I told my brothers the same thing. They both rolled their eyes. They knew the truth. They could no longer be manipulated.
I thought that having Amanda move in with me would stop or at least curb my drug use because I would not do when she was around. That seemed perfectly logical to me. Like entering the United States Marine Corps. Like literally running away from my problems ten and twenty miles at a time. I thought Amanda could fix me. She would relieve me of the stress of having to fix myself. I told myself that every day while at the same time spending exhaustive amounts of energy trying to figure out how to live the life I felt comfortable with without her knowing. The “Insanity of Addiction”.
This Sunday afternoon as she looks down on me, there is cocaine on the dresser table. Alcohol bottles strewn throughout the bedroom. A prophylactic on the floor. Where had those two days gone? Who had I been in my bedroom with? I though Amanda was in Houston! She was. She had come home at the time she said she would be home. I am confused, afraid and my first thought was how I could manipulate myself out of the situation. I am a lawyer. I can come up with something that she will believe. Amanda is also a lawyer.
“There was no one here I was using the rubber as a water balloon”
Yes, I really said that. Yes, I really believed she would buy it. As Elmer Fudd would say:
“That… That’s.. Addiction Folks….
“I think I need to go to Green Oaks. I’ve been there before.
“What is Green Oaks?”
“A psychiatric Facility”
“You’ve been to a psychiatric facility?”
“Yes. I will explain later. Let’s just go.”
Into the car. I am silent. She is crying and angry. The familiar drive. The familiar route of “rock bottom” . Another rock bottom. The familiar parking lot. The familiar walk through the double doors to intake. This time my brothers are not there. They do not know yet. I can not look at Amanda. I look down at the floor in shame and fear as I give my name to the intake nurse. She is kind. Her voice is soft. It calms me a little. She has seen many Brian’s at that window. She is on the phone. I need air.
I walk back into the parking lot. Fixating on the black concrete. Thinking. Still in denial. Insisting there was no other women in my bedroom. I knew there had been. I could not remember her face, name or how she got there but the rubber didn’t lie. There were no water balloons.
In that parking lot waiting for intake, a thought that had never occurred to me before. The only way to save myself was to begin the process of honesty. I don’t know how I knew. I had not yet heard the term “rigorous honestly” as I would in 12-step. Maybe I was just finally laid bare. Broken down. The one time “emperor of Dallas” was finally naked. No where to go but the truth. I was beaten. I would need a power higher than myself. I did not know what that power was but it was over. I did not want to die. I knew there would not be a third trip back to Green Oaks. (Ironically there would be but under different circumstances).
Another thought. I don’t want to lose my family! At that moment I accepted that Amanda would leave me. I would have. There was no reason for her to stay. I had betrayed her trust on every level. I thought of my father. I thought of my two brothers. In the few moments of what seemed like an eternity, I thought of a little boy and his brothers in his father’s arms. Crawling over him on the floor as we tried to pin him down pretending we were wrestlers. Him laughing. The love. The bond. ‘the bond he had instilled in the three of us. He would regularly say to us,
“Mark Brian, Jeff, wives may come and go, girlfriends may come and go, friends may come and go, when push comes to shove as you go through live the one thing that needs to stay constant is your love for each other. Wherever your lives take you, wherever you live, always pick up that phone and call each other. Ask how things are going. Tell each other you love them. Never lose that bond of brothers
I knew in that parking lot that I was on the verge of losing the gift my father instilled in each of us decades before. Families distance. My family was distancing. They had wives. They had children. That did not mean I had lost their love but they had realized they could not fix me. I had to.
In that parking lot, I realized that even ore than the thoughts of the decline of my own life, the thoughts of disappointing my father who knew none of this and losing my family was more than I could bear. I was afraid. Fear was my motivator. It was time for a step. I did not know what that step would be in that parking lot but I had to find that power greater than myself. In the midst of that fear, shame, and humiliation with Amanda at my side, I for the first time felt something that had eluded me for decades. I felt hope.
That bond of brothers instilled by father has carried through to this day. As I write this book, one Thousand Two-Hundred miles away from our childhood home in Pittsburgh, Pa. Decades later. Mark, Jeff, my father and I all live within walking distance from each other. The bond of brothers. The bond of family.
I am pleased to present a new excerpt from my upcoming book,”The Addicted Lawyer”. The usual disclaimers. These excerpts are solely for content preview. These excerpts are not professionally edited. That occurs when I pay someone later. They also may not appear in this form in the published book. While your waiting for this book feel free to read my previous book, Shattered Image.
Going To Law School:The Good, Bad And The Stupid
Once upon at time I hosted a segment on show called “EyeOpener TV”. My segment was called “Cuban’s Legal Briefs”. The premise of the show was to provide short, provocative commentary on legal issues in the news. For instance, The question would be “Is burning the American flag protected by the First Amendment”. My trademark opening would b:
“Are You An Idiot, Of Course It Is!”
For those from the the East Coast who remember, “Crazy Eddie” electronics store commercials, I was kind of the “Crazy Eddy” of EyeOpener TV. Those videos of my ranting are still on the internet for those interested. Let’s play that game with law school.
“Are their good, bad and stupid reasons to go to law school?
“ARE YOU AN IDIOT OF COURSE THERE ARE!”
My reasons for taking the Law School Admission Test(LSAT) and then attending the University of Pittsburgh School of Law(Pitt Law) definitely fall into the last category. Stupid. I say that with the caveat that I now have a degree and went through a process (to the extent I participated) that certainly provided to a way of thinking that I will always take through life. That is a positive.
I also was able to make that choice in a different era for law schools and in the legal profession. In 1983, it did not cost an arm, leg and a first born to go to law school. Student loans for an in-state school like Pitt Law were manageable. Of course, that did not stop me from defaulting on mine when I was spending all my money on cocaine and booze instead of paying my outstanding debt obligations.(I remedied that)
In 2015, it is much softer legal market. Many students are running up incredible amounts of debt that they will have a difficult time paying off because the jobs just are not there either at all or on pay school in proportion to the debt. Especially those students like me, who came out with mediocre grades. Add in a possibly mediocre law school and well… Let’s just say, it’s a decision that needs to be thought out to a greater degree than when I went through the process.
In 1985, my third year at Pitt Law, the average, in-state tuition was $2006.00 per year. Today, the cost to attend Pitt Law is $29,660. Of course, we also have to adjust for inflation and the relative job market. The bottom line is that it was much easier in my day, to say:
“What the hell, I will go to law school”
Almost the reasons I went but in reality, mine was much a much more dysfunctional thought process.
As a junior in 1982 at The Pennsylvania State University, I was a criminal justice major. At Penn State at that time, it was called “Administration of Justice. I wanted to be a police officer. I was also traditionally bulimic. I was exercise bulimic. I was an alcoholic. I of course, left all of these “qualifications” off my law enforcement employment application. I felt completely alone with my disorders. I was however, comfortable with them. They were the things I had control over. I did not want to have to reveal myself to the other students. I did not want to have to reveal myself to the professional work place. That would be a loss of control. I did apply for some different police officer positions. Like when I would enter the Marines a few years later, looking back, I think that I felt being a police officer, with the training, the discipline,would fix my problems. I never scored quite well enough on the entrance exams to get on the short list for hiring. I was terrified of my future.
One day, I was in the placement office for my major, the place were they kept all of the law enforcement jobs. It was also the gathering place just to chat about what other students were up to. I was looking through the list of police officer openings when I head one of the other students talking about taking the “LSATS” . I had no idea what that meant. I asked. He said:
“The law school admission test” I am going to law school.
Before that moment, the thought of going to law school had never entered my mind. Law school was hard. I had a hard enough time functioning at Penn State. I asked:
“What schools are you considering”
“I really want to go to Pitt Law. I can get in-state tuition and it’s a good school.
My wheels started turning in the most dysfunctional way possible. I did not consider what it would mean to be a lawyer. I did not consider the hard work necessary to excel in law school. I did not want to be Clarence Darrow. I did not want to make a lot of money. I did not want to change the world.
I had the answer to my fears. I could maintain control. I could continue to binge and purge, exercise and drink by going to law school. I could hide from the world for three more years. That is what drove my decision to go to law school. There are the good, bad and stupid reasons. I was firmly entrenched in the stupid.
Let’s play that “Cuban’s Legal Briefs” game again.
“Did Brian Cuban Go To Law School For Stupid Reasons? ARE YOU AND IDIOT OF COURSE HE DID!
They however seemed perfectly logical to me at the time. As I tell students when I relate this story, whatever your reasons for considering law school are, good or bad, don’t go for the stupid. Don’t go for the reasons I did.
A new excerpt from my upcoming book. “The Addicted Lawyer” to be released in 2016. While you’re waiting, be sure to check out my previous book. “Shattered Image” and my full website
INTRODUCTION EXCERPT These excerpts are not professionally edited as my book will be. These excerpts may appear differently in the final product. They are posted only for a preview of content.
I am a lawyer. Well, I was once a lawyer. I was an addicted lawyer.
I was addicted to cocaine, alcohol and Ambien for starters. (Ambien withdrawal is brutal) Loved the long oblong Xanax pills and opioid medication when I could get it either through a friend who battled leukemia or making up pain I didn’t have for a prescription.
I never used heroin, crack cocaine or “meth”. I don’t know why. Maybe just the circles I ran in. Maybe my self- deception of “privileged status” cause me to consider crack and meth beneath me. Not just status of occupation but status of a last name in a town where more often than not it was recognized. It got me things. It got me drugs and easier access to drugs. I was a high class, suburban addict. Poor people used crack. Suburban housewives, “Hillbillies” and “Rednecks” used meth. Powdered cocaine only. My drug buddies only used powdered cocaine(at least in front of me). I knew where to get my powdered cocaine. Hand to hand cocaine and money exchanges in the garage of the Merrill Lynch Building where my gym was. Cocaine and a workout. Transactions outside of bars just off the campus of Southern Methodist University were easy. Hundred dollars in hand, window open. Boom! Just keep driving. A personal drug-dealer who made house calls and gave me coke on credit when I was broke. My kind of guy.
The only pause and second guessing I ever had during the climb to the apex of the addiction roller coaster, was the very first time I used as thoughts of Lenny Bias went through my mind as the powder entered my right nostril. Lenny, a first round draft pick of the NBA Boston Celtics in 1986 is a cautionary tale that anyone can die using cocaine the first time or the one thousand time. No warning. No second chance. Just dead. Lenny died on in such a way on July 19th 1986. Just under three months before I took my first snort. I had no idea what I was putting my my nose any more than Lenny did. I was chasing a feeling that I had been chasing since my teens. That chase was more powerful than thoughts of Lenny. That chase was more powerful than being prevented from taking the Texas bar exam if I was caught. The latter thought never entered my mind then or a few moments later when I was officially a drug addict. The very… first.. time..
Heroin was not my thing. I’ve never seen anyone use heroin. If I had, and it looked like they were having the feelings I considered important in my high, I would have gone that way. It was all about achieving a feeling that made me feel like I was accepted and loved and confident. Cocaine gave me that (at first) so that was fine. Heroin was also very expensive at that time as compared to cocaine. Today it has reversed and we are in the midst of a heroin addiction and prescription opioid addiction epidemic. It’s in the news every day. People dying. Young people. Old people.
I am currently in long term recovery and have been since April 8th 2007. Hopefully still going strong, one day at a time, when you read this book. I attend 12-step meetings at various rates. I have never been to in-patient drug or alcohol treatment. I have been in private counseling with a shrink for many years. Think that’s enough? I’m not done yet..
I also battled an eating disorder for over two decades. Yes, men do get eating disorders. Let’s keep going. I self-harmed for a while. Loved to punch myself in the face when I felt stupid. Who does that? Clinically depressed. Came close to suicide in 2005. Two trips to a local psychiatric facility. Wrap it all up in a package called body dysmorphic disorder. Ok. I’m done.
Quite a resume of dysfunction if I must say so myself! I know what you’re thinking. “He’s a lawyer” With all that going on, this guy had to have been disciplined by a state bar at some point. Stolen client money at some point to fund his habit. Sued for malpractice? Disbarred? My answer is no to all.
You forgot one question. Ask me if my ongoing dysfunction prevented me from providing my clients with the effort and service they expect and deserve when giving me their hard earned money to represent them. Ask me if I should have been have had grievances filed against me for failure to provide proper representation and taking cases I was not qualified to take because I needed money to fund my addiction. The answer is yes.
Ask me if I would have done better as a law student if I would have taken advantage of whatever mental health resources the University Of Pittsburgh had in the mid 1980’s. I honestly don’t know. I don’t believe in looking back on “revisionist recovery” but it probably would have only helped.
None of this is something a lawyer probably wants to include on his/her Biglaw or in-house resume or a law student wants to reveal to the National Conference of Bar Examiners when applying to take the bar exam or even to the student health services of his/her law school. Better to maintain the appearance of strength than actually be strong. That’s what being a lawyer is about right? The projection of confidence and strength in an adversarial system inherently designed for our opponents to take advantage of perceived weakness, no matter what that weakness, including mental health challenges. Why even bother getting help. Why even talk about it?