The Courage to Change: A Recovery Podcast

Sean Nichols: Battling Multiple Addictions, Childhood Trauma and A Failed Suicide Attempt: An Incredible Story of the Journey to Recovery

Episode Summary

#31: Sean Nichols is the COO and Co-Founder of a tech company in Reno called Dragonfly Energy Corp. He grew up in the East Bay area in California, but he has been living in Reno for the past 15 years where he has worked with the homeless population in various ways, including founding the Big Reno Coat Drive. He loves helping others and makes it a point to volunteer, encourage and mentor people daily. Sean has battled addiction with drugs, alcohol, and food for the majority of his life. He was so excited to come on the podcast and share his story, so much so that he shared with Ashley parts of his story that he had never told anyone. Sean also shares about surviving shooting himself in the head in a failed suicide attempt.

Episode Notes

#31: Sean Nichols is the COO and Co-Founder of a tech company in Reno called Dragonfly Energy Corp. He grew up in the East Bay area in California, but he has been living in Reno for the past 15 years where he has worked with the homeless population in various ways, including founding the Big Reno Coat Drive. He loves helping others and makes it a point to volunteer, encourage and mentor people daily.

Sean has battled addiction with drugs, alcohol, and food for the majority of his life. He was so excited to come on the podcast and share his story, so much so that he shared with Ashley parts of his story that he had never told anyone. Sean also shares about surviving shooting himself in the head in a failed suicide attempt.

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Episode Transcription

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Hello, beautiful people. Welcome to The Courage to Change: A Recovery Podcast. My name is Ashley Loeb Blassingame and I am your host.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Today, I will be talking with Sean Nichols, who is the COO and co-founder of a tech company in Reno called Dragonfly Energy Corp. He grew up in the East Bay in California but he has been living in Reno for the past 15 years where he has worked with the homeless population in various ways including founding the Big Reno Coat Drive.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

He loves helping others and makes it a point to volunteer, encourage and mentor people daily. Sean has battled addiction with drugs, alcohol, and food for the majority of his life. He was so excited to come on the podcast and share his story so much so that he shared with me parts of the story that he had never told anyone before. He also told me about surviving shooting himself in the head in a suicide attempt. Please stick around for this incredible story. All right, Episode 31. Let's do this.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Sean, welcome to my podcast booth. Thank you for coming here.

Sean Nichols:

Thanks for having me. I'm excited-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Where did you come from?

Sean Nichols:

I came from Reno, Nevada.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. What's the sign say the Biggest Little-

Sean Nichols:

Biggest Little City.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Biggest Little City in America?

Sean Nichols:

It's just the Biggest Little City.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It's just the Biggest Little City. They don't specify on-

Sean Nichols:

On Earth. It doesn't say on Earth, but that's what they really mean.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. Are you from Reno?

Sean Nichols:

No, I'm not from Reno. Actually, I grew up in the Bay Area, but I moved there about 15 years ago.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Did you listen to Andre Nickatina was that your world?

Sean Nichols:

Oh, back then we used to call him Dre Dog.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Dre Dog. Yeah, me too. I was actually incredibly hood.

Sean Nichols:

Really?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Well, I tried.

Sean Nichols:

I listen to rap music but today, I usually listen to country. It's a little bit better for my anger management.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, yeah. What does it do for your anger management?

Sean Nichols:

Just keeps me a little more peaceful.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. Talking about your wife and dog and whatever they ... [inaudible 00:02:11] Can you tell I don't listen to country?

Sean Nichols:

Right. A lot of people in California, they like a lot of music anything but country. They can just tell you specifically what they don't like actually.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah.

Sean Nichols:

I get that. It's okay.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I mean, I don't know, there's this song, my husband is from Texas and he listens to this song and because I've been in mental health care and recovery and everything, every time I listen to country songs, I hear incest and all sorts of really crazy like mental, familial situations because that's what I'm so used to hearing. When I hear that stuff, my husband, when the twins were born, he was singing them this song about like a father's love and it's a special, and it's a secret. I just was like, I'm out. I'm out on this stuff. All my friends who listen to country it has brought out the fact that I am sick and twisted apparently.

Sean Nichols:

But you actually think that they're creepy for listening to it, right? That's what you're saying?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I just can't have it like all these years of listening to this stuff, I listen and I'm like, "There's more to this story than they're saying."

Sean Nichols:

Right.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right?

Sean Nichols:

I still like a lot of rap music too though. I listen to [crosstalk 00:03:19].

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Well, they just say what's happening. I am beating my wife, like drinking this 40. It is very clear. There are no nuances. I like that.

Sean Nichols:

I listen to a lot of music. I like music and I listen to a lot of country, but I'm not creepy.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That's good. I mean it's okay if you are though. I think, I've just shown that I'm a little creepy apparently.

Sean Nichols:

It's okay, yeah. Let it ... Don't hold back.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. That's a beautiful thing about recovery, we can get comfortable with who we are.

Sean Nichols:

Right.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

How long have you been in recovery?

Sean Nichols:

I've been in recovery over 12 years.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Awesome.

Sean Nichols:

12 years clean and sober.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What's your date?

Sean Nichols:

Two, eight, seven.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Two, eight, seven.

Sean Nichols:

If I would've known it would be that cool, I would have do it in January.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, he should have.

Sean Nichols:

That's right.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It would have been really good. You grew up in the Bay Area, that's what you said and where in the Bay Area?

Sean Nichols:

Concord, California.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. What was that like?

Sean Nichols:

Oh, it was just a regular city back then. Concord was a pretty small place. For me, it's where I grew up. I lived there for the first 20 years of my life in the same house and I grew up in a home with active alcoholism. There were a lot of things that happened in my life in my younger years that really kind of imprinted who I was for a long time until I got to recovery and got some other tools to move past some of that stuff and just become the person that I should've been all along.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What is a home with active alcoholism look like?

Sean Nichols:

Well, for me, I'll tread lightly on this subject because my parents have always been really good about financially providing for us. My dad worked hard. He worked hard his whole life and he still works actually but in my household, physical violence was the rule toward me specifically. I think that physical punishment and that's when you're with someone who's an alcoholic, you just don't know what you're going to do to set them off. Both of my parents are now in recovery.

Sean Nichols:

That's their story to tell though, but when I grew up I guess, they were doing the best they could do. That's what people say, but whenever I meet people that have children that I always tell them don't hit your kids.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah.

Sean Nichols:

Yeah.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You talked about them being alcoholics. Did you have siblings?

Sean Nichols:

I do. I'm a middle child. I have a younger sister and older brother.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Okay. How did their alcoholism, I mean, did it increase over the years or do you ever remember it being moderate and getting worse or was it always really bad or what did it look like and was it binge drinking?

Sean Nichols:

I never really said it in my mind that way. That's a term that I learned in recovery active alcoholism or I grew up in an alcoholic home or a parent-centered household. These are not terms that you'd use to describe your life as a six-year-old boy. When you're getting beat up, it's a huge-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What would you have said at six?

Sean Nichols:

I wouldn't say anything to anyone, ever. I didn't know it was really out of the ordinary until I got older and started paying attention to other people's families and the way that people felt about their parents. It was just different than how I feel. I've done a lot of work around it. I've done some outside work too. I've been to therapy and stuff and worked on that.

Sean Nichols:

What I've learned is that all the stuff that happened to me when I was a kid inside and outside of that home was not my fault. I was hauling it around with me for all these years. It was somebody else's anger or someone else's pain. I was able to do some work and really shed that weight off of me, which has allowed me to move forward with a different set of eyes on certain situations with people. I can see a little bit more gray sometimes and other people can see when I'm dealing with someone because of those situations.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What did hitting and violence in your home as a kid do for you in the sense that how did it inform your world view?

Sean Nichols:

Well, I grew up around a lot of guys. I like to fight a lot too and I never really liked to fight that much. I'd get in fights when I was a kid, but whenever I would hurt someone else, I'd feel really bad about it because I think I was already getting enough at home that I didn't really need to let that out. I didn't have that aggression in me. I can really get aggressive with people if I need to, but I don't typically do that.

Sean Nichols:

I've been that way since I was a young kid. I think it's because I knew that the pain of people that are supposed to care about you, really go on above and beyond like a normal spanking. I think that overtime if you start to allow yourself to let that anger and aggression out on someone, it's easy to continue to do it because they take it even just like verbal abuse.

Sean Nichols:

If you're around someone that verbally abuses you all the time, they're going to continue to do it to you because you're taking it but when you're 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13 years old, you don't have any choice. My parents were foster parents too. I was thinking ... There was a couple of times where my older brother tried to say some stuff to somebody about it and I would always, not...

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Deny it?

Sean Nichols:

... Collaborate his claim because I was thinking, this is a foster parent household here already. How bad could it be somewhere else? I wasn't willing to put myself through that. I would just take what I had.

Sean Nichols:

There was a time where actually my seventh grade basketball coach had saw a large bruise, I mean, the side of my arm was completely bruised and asked me what happened. I told her a story that my brother shot me with a slingshot with like a green apricot and bruised me, but it was actually from my father.

Sean Nichols:

It was kind of funny because I didn't really start thinking about any of this stuff until I got sober. Until then, I was just out here medicating myself to not have to deal with these, I always call them layers of reality, avoidance.

Sean Nichols:

I carried a lot of weight physically, like body weight and also emotional pain where like I couldn't be vulnerable with other people. I could be in a room full of a thousand people and people I would think they're the closest friends I have in my life and I would feel I was all alone. That's how I am. I'm still like that sometimes. I'm aloof. When I'm around a crowd of people, I'm like a chameleon. I'll just show up and I'll put a smile on my face and do what I need to do.

Sean Nichols:

In my business, I have to do that but it's one of those things where I really work on telling people exactly how I feel about things these days because it's more important for them to know exactly who I am and instead of me trying to be someone I think they want me to be.

Sean Nichols:

I think that when you're growing up in an alcoholic home like that, with that punishment factor when you never know when you're going to set it off. You're going to get home from school, you done something wrong, and then you're going to get it from your mom and then she's going to say, "Wait until your dad gets home. We put you into this world. We're going to take you out of it. We're going to clean your clock," whatever they're going to say, death threats, whatever it is that makes them feel like they're doing something beneficial for you. You allow yourself to shift gears and then enter your life and try to navigate other situations the way people think, you think that it's going to make people happy and it's really not how you should be.

Sean Nichols:

I just spent a lot of time working on that. I get my voice, my tempo ramps up about this stuff, but I don't really hold anything against my parents anymore for that. I really believe they went with the best skillset that they had.

Sean Nichols:

At that time, I mean, people thought it was okay to smoke cigarettes when you were pregnant back then too. It's a different world today that we live in. I think that all those situations, everything that's happened to me along the way that I was out of control of and everything that was happening to me when I was older and I was in control that I expose myself to, has made me a better person all the way around.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Absolutely. I think there's something that I learned and it sounds like you've learned too in therapy and doing trauma work, we can hold a space for the pain that happened to us as kids without villainizing the people around who contributed to it. That was a really important thing for me to experience because mine is parallel in the sense that my parents were doing the best they could. They weren't hitting me, but they were doing the best that they could.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I can understand what they were going through, have experienced similarities and still say I didn't get what I needed. There's pain as a result of that. There's imprinting of trauma and coping skills that came out of that and that's okay. I can hold those things in different places.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

My parents, that's on them. That's what they did. I still love them and have this be my reality and I don't know about you, but I had a really hard time with that when I got sober like separating those two things. If I was honest about what happened, then I was saying that they were the worst people ever and I didn't want to do that.

Sean Nichols:

I don't want to say they're the worst people ever but I've had that same conversation with myself. The real moment of clarity for me was when I realized that I actually believe that all the people around me didn't like me, all my friends growing up because I believe that my parents didn't like me either by the way they treated me.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right.

Sean Nichols:

I'd knew that they loved me because I was their child but I didn't think they really liked me.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Like they had to.

Sean Nichols:

That's right. That's right. There was this obligation. All my friendships in my life had been affected by this extra feeling of less than that I have. I've had some really good friends in my life that I've just let the friendship like dwindle because I didn't think that they actually really liked me. I didn't believe it.

Sean Nichols:

Interesting phenomenon, I think that people don't realize, I mean if someone out there decides to have a child, I believe you have an obligation to love that child as much as you can and not hurt it. That's your only duty in life. It's like you come home and you're a kid, and you and you want the people who are supposed to be taking care of you, say, they're taking care of you and they're telling you what they're doing for you, but they're still doing all this other stuff. I feel like it's one of those things. It wasn't probably the way that they plan for it to work out either. I don't think they set out to have a kid for it to sound like this today as a 44-year-old man.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, yeah probably not.

Sean Nichols:

I don't think so.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I mean, I can tell you as a parent and as a parent who has been through a lot, before sobriety, through sobriety and into parenthood and working on stuff that it is incredible how important it is to work through your stuff like in a way that I didn't even understand until I had my kids. Stuff came up for me, trauma stuff from my childhood came up for me when my twins were born that I thought was done. I thought I had ... I mean, I've done EMDR work. I've done all this work on and it came back up. I had a responsibility to go back and work on that.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

The reason is that when you have children and again, an experience I didn't realize was that sometimes they're doing things at normal developmental ages, kind of probably what was going on within your household where you're six. You're doing something, developmentally. I was joking about earlier, we were joking about, my kids are like little Vikings. They're doing something developmentally, discovering something and I'm afraid based on my whole history and belief system that that either means something, they're going to hurt themselves.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I think that whatever my reaction is, let's say it's yelling at them, grabbing them out of the street or not letting them climb on something or whatever it is, the intensity of my reaction is based on a whole slew of things that have nothing to do with them, right? It's automatic. It comes from this very deep place in you of wanting to protect your children and being afraid, and what does this mean about me? Just all these things come flying up at the same time. If you do not have a handle on that away from your children, I would say that it's almost impossible not to put that on them, because it just comes out and it feels like you're doing something to protect them.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That's what the feeling is. The feeling is and what I gather I'm disciplining them. When people hit their kids, I'm disciplining them, right? I'm teaching them. I've heard people say, "I'm teaching them what the world would teach them in a harsher way." That's a belief system, right? That's a belief system. I always think to myself, the fear, the intensity, all those things of having children, if you don't deal with that stuff, I don't know how anybody, I mean, I frankly I don't know how anybody does it without a program. I really don't. It blows my mind because I have to work so hard with it just to be run of the mill that I can't even imagine.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What's interesting about your story, your parents were foster parents, right? What I wonder a little bit about that is what drives people? They must have thought that they were good parents, right?

Sean Nichols:

That's right.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Because they believed that they were providing, my guess, right? My guess is that they thought they were providing safe harbor for children in the system. Is that?

Sean Nichols:

I think that based on some of their own past experiences is why they wanted to be foster parents.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

They wanted to help.

Sean Nichols:

I think that's their story to tell but I think that it's a lot easier to try to resolve someone else's kid's issues than your own. I think they just got into a cycle of taking out their anger and frustrations of their own life on me. That's what I think happened and I was tough enough to deal with it. It worked out for them.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That wasn't the case really with your siblings as much?

Sean Nichols:

That's not. They didn't experience the same situation that I did.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Interesting. Interesting. When did you pick up your chemical anesthetic?

Sean Nichols:

Well, I think my first drug of choice was food.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah.

Sean Nichols:

I used to make my own meals when I was five years old. I like to eat. It gave me comfort. I started smoking cigarettes when I was six years old. I started stealing my mom's cigarettes.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What kind?

Sean Nichols:

They were Benson & Hedges.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah.

Sean Nichols:

There was an older neighbor kids in the neighborhood that taught me how to smoke cigarettes when I was six years old.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. No one was really paying enough attention to-

Sean Nichols:

Yeah. I mean there was a lot. I had a lot of freedom as a kid. I kind of laid low. I know how to get away with stuff, so there wasn't.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Did your parents work, both of them?

Sean Nichols:

My mom was a stay at home mom and my dad worked. My mom had got a job later in our life, but my dad worked.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Okay.

Sean Nichols:

But, yeah.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What was your relationship like with the kids coming in and out of the home?

Sean Nichols:

It was always okay. That part never really bothered me. I think that's one good thing that came out of that house was the idea being able to help somebody else that's not that difficult to do. Some of the kids that came around were pretty hard to deal with though, but for me, they were just part of it. Some of them we really knew. They become...

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Close.

Sean Nichols:

... Frequently. I'd know there was always somebody around at the house.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What came after the cigarettes?

Sean Nichols:

After the cigarettes? Well, alcohol. Alcohol came after the cigarettes.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Your parent's alcohol.

Sean Nichols:

Yeah, at first and then other people's parents alcohol. Then, when I was 16-years-old, I started walking into the liquor store. I was buying alcohol.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. Did that solve the problem at the time? Did it make the violence easier? Did it make you feel differently?

Sean Nichols:

Things had shifted in the house at that point. When I was about 13, my mom got cancer and my dad actually stopped drinking.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh, wow. Okay.

Sean Nichols:

My older brother got in some trouble with the law. Really the focus came off of me and I was getting to the point where I was getting a little bit bigger. It wasn't that easy to want to do that to me. Things had kind of shifted about 14, 15 years old. Things changed a little bit. There was still quite a bit of verbal abuse, but the physical abuse stopped because which wasn't happening anymore.

Sean Nichols:

The focus entirely shifted off of I was pretty much just not even there. I was just flying under the radar. I had a job. I went to work and went to school and got my little cigarettes or alcohol here and there and just laid low.

Sean Nichols:

I think that's when it really... What happened for me was I found something that made me feel good. Cigarettes were always something that I did. I smoked them. I remember the first time I drank a 40-ounce of beer.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

[crosstalk 00:19:27]

Sean Nichols:

I felt so cool. I felt so cool. I was 16 years old. I remember exactly where I drank it at. I remember exactly how I got it. I know everything about it. I remember that before that I had really drank a few beers here and there and stuff, but I remember I drank this 40-ounce of a Miller Genuine Draft. I was with my buddies and I felt cool.

Sean Nichols:

Then, we went to the store at night and I bought some more beer and they were like, "You're crazy for going in there and buying this beer." I said, "Well, just wait around the corner. I'm going to go buy it." I walked in there and I did it like that ever since.

Sean Nichols:

What alcohol and eventually drugs did for me was it leveled the playing field for me with other people. It made me feel like people actually liked me because now I was like bringing something to a table aside from just Sean with all his issues that no one else knows about.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right.

Sean Nichols:

Right.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Was there any piece of you that thought, "Oh, this is how my parents drink," or "I'm worried about. I don't want to become like them." Were there any thoughts around that?

Sean Nichols:

There were people that I knew in high school that would tell me I was an alcoholic. I didn't listen though.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Who would, I mean.

Sean Nichols:

Because first of all, I didn't want to have to go to meetings like somebody else in my house was already going to meetings at that point. I didn't want to be like them and have to go to those meetings.

Sean Nichols:

What I did was when I was 18 years old, I had gotten in a scuffle with one of my buddies. We were like bagging on each other one night and he got all mad and we decided we were going to get in a fight about it. I ended up breaking my ankle real bad like six screws, a pin and a plate put in my ankle and shifted gears and was focusing on trying to go in the military back then, but then shifted gears and went to college because of this injury.

Sean Nichols:

I'd stopped drinking alcohol for quite a few years back then because I didn't want to be an alcoholic like other people in my house. What I did was I became a tweaker instead.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I laughed because they totally get it. It's like well methamphetamine is better than alcohol. It makes me productive.

Sean Nichols:

We used to call it crank back then.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Crank, right.

Sean Nichols:

That's right.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right, right, right. Tell me about that transition and walk me through because this is my favorite part, walk me through the logic of alcohol no good, crank definitely a winner.

Sean Nichols:

The logic of it was I already knew I couldn't control my alcohol. I had already drunk alcohol. [inaudible 00:21:46] the first time I ever picked up a drink. My whole life, I'd kind of been, not my whole life, but from fifth grade on, I've been overweight and I used to take a lot of flak for that. Kids are rough, but I got pretty sharp because of it. I can be really mean too verbally to other kids if they tried to say something to me about being overweight. I got pretty sharp. I'm pretty witty. I can really go after someone.

Sean Nichols:

I wanted to lose a little bit of weight. My friend's older brother, which I still remember the first time I did crank too, let me tell you what, I remember exactly to this day what it smelled like, what bag it was in, where I got it from, where I was at when I did it, everything. I was just planning on losing a little bit of weight with it. What happened was I got hooked on methamphetamines for over 13 years.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. Once you did that, what was the difference between that experience and the alcohol? What made you feel, okay, I don't want to be an alcoholic but I'm okay with this, might be the wrong word, but that this is something you wanted to pursue?

Sean Nichols:

Well, I kind of have ADD. When I started doing crank, I was going to junior college back then at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill. I was able to study a lot longer and really focus on studying, which is I had never been able to really study my whole life. I'd always been kind of discombobulated. When I was younger, I had a hard time learning how to read and stuff like that. I never was really that good of a student. This thing gave me like an extra advantage. I would prefer it over alcohol for two reasons: I didn't want to be like my dad. I didn't want to be an alcoholic like my dad.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right. Okay.

Sean Nichols:

Also once you have those kinds of drugs on you, you don't want to be drinking and driving because if you get pulled over for a DUI and then all of a sudden now you're catching a felony because you have control of substance.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Okay. There were some logistical-

Sean Nichols:

That's right because I didn't want to go to prison and later as my drug use progressed, a lot of the people I grew up with were selling drugs. It's the Bay Area. Everybody's, in my opinion, I don't know if it's still like that today because I don't spend a lot of time there but back then, it's like everyone I knew it was on the hustle for something and I was too. I would be driving around with some... I wasn't the biggest guy out there, but I'd be driving around with some extra dope on me and I'd never want to get busted for that. I didn't drink a lot and plus the fact that every time I would drink, I would blackout. I was a binge drinker. If I drank a little bit, there's no a little bit for that. It's either going to be like a case of beer or nothing.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right. You found something that did something for you that alcohol didn't do, which was bring you to the table even level that playing field, even more with the control of the ADD with the feeling and more control. Yeah. It was really that the experience of your drug of choice.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

When we talk about drug of choice in recovery, what we mean is we'll do most of us, if you take away drug of choice, whatever that is the thing that kind of matches our chemistry perfectly, if you take that away, we will still go find some. We will use against our will no matter what, whether it's food, sex, and we were joking about this earlier, gambling, whatever it is, we will find something, but there's usually that one thing that brings us to our knees that initially fits really well into our chemistry and gives us all the different components of calmness and ability to function and in our world that the others don't.

Sean Nichols:

Right. I mean, I think that I experienced that because a lot of my friends obviously liked cocaine better than crank because of the public stigma around methamphetamine. Everyone's like, "Oh, it's okay. [crosstalk 00:25:29] do a blow on the weekend, but don't be a tweaker."

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. Exactly.

Sean Nichols:

For me, I didn't really like cocaine that much. I tried it and I didn't like it. I did it for a while, but I decided one day that I didn't like the way it made me feel. I'd stuck with the other go fast. That's if you ask me how I get loaded, I'll tell you I like to get drunk. I like to go fast. That's it. Later on when I started drinking again and using meth with it, I could drink a lot more.

Sean Nichols:

Now, I've got this maintenance substance that can help me get up earlier and help me pick myself up off the floor and do all these other things that you just do a little bump and away you go.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. For me, one of the things that's interesting that you're describing is like you're just saying like, "I had trouble reading. I had all these things and I'm thinking, well as a kid you are in a war zone."

Sean Nichols:

That's right.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

When you're in a war zone, your nervous system can't focus because it's on high alert. It has to be ready for whatever's coming. Learning how to read, learning how to focus. That's trying to learn your letters in a war zone, you know? In Iraq, there are bigger things at play that your brain has to be aware of. It makes sense to me that as a little kid that was a struggle and the feeling of, "Oh, I'm like others. This helps me feel like there's not something totally wrong with me."

Sean Nichols:

I agree with you on that. I also think the stigma of trying to hold up that public image that everything at the house is okay because my parents were kind of, I mean, my mother worked at a church. She was involved in the community. There's a lot of stigma. It goes along with that that you're trying to uphold, because you don't want anyone to know that your house is messed up inside. There's a lot of pressure that comes along with that too. There's a lot of things to focus on. For me at the time, you don't really think about that. You're just a kid, right?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right.

Sean Nichols:

You're just a kid. You don't know any of this stuff. You're not aware of any of these things that are actually holding you back.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

There was no piece of you that was like, "This isn't normal."

Sean Nichols:

No. There was a piece of me though that early on I developed this coping skill of thinking about killing myself.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah?

Sean Nichols:

Because I just didn't feel loved. I didn't feel like my parents liked me. I would get a lot of peace and comfort in thinking about if I could just kill myself, I wouldn't have to worry about it. I never tried it at a young age, but I thought about it a long time. It was a coping skill that I developed and when things would get rough, that's what I would think about. Then, when I got loaded, I'd stop thinking about that. I've never been diagnosed depressed or anything like that, but it was just a coping skill that I dealt with to deal with immense stress in my life.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right, right. No, that makes complete sense. At what point did you realize that like, "Oh, I came from a violent home."

Sean Nichols:

I realized it when I was going to junior college. I was taking a psychology class and I used to have this thing that would happen to me. I would get really bad nightmares. I think it's really stems now. I know it stems from somewhere between the age of six and eight years old. I was sexually assaulted at my sleep by somebody else outside of my family. I woke up during it, but I had blocked it out completely and this is the first time I ever said that out loud.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I'm so [crosstalk 00:28:36].

Sean Nichols:

I had a lot of nightmares in my life but my parents always thought it was because their house got burglarized when I was in sixth grade, but I already had the nightmares before then and I used to wake up and run through the house in my sleep and they weren't really that good about dealing with it. They would say stuff like, "If you don't stay in your bed tonight, we're going to chain you down to this bed." I got like broken toes, stubbing my toe on the stove.

Sean Nichols:

I was taking a psychology class. I just encountered some outside help. There's this psychology teacher and he said, "Hey listen, if you guys have something you want to write about that you are not willing to talk to anyone else about, I want you to write about in the paper, I'll talk to you about it in private." I wrote about this thing that I used to do. I used to wake up in the middle of the night in my sleep. I wouldn't be awake, but I would call 911 in my sleep.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh my God.

Sean Nichols:

A couple of times the police have showed up at my parent's house and they were wondering who called 911 in the house. I did it twice in my life that I know of. One time the cops did come and wake me up. I talked to him about this and his advice was you needed to spend at least amount of time as possible in this home. He's like, "All you need to do is the three S's." You need to shower and shave. I'm not going to, cuss on here, but you need to go to the bathroom, you need to shower and shave. That's the amount of time you're spending in this home with these people.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You were living in the home at the same [crosstalk 00:29:43].

Sean Nichols:

I was living there at 18 years old. I was going to junior college. When I turned 20 is when I moved out. I carried around these nightmares for years and years and years. It was like night terror traumas I'd have and my parents never knew what it's for because I never told anyone.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

When was the first time that you told anyone that?

Sean Nichols:

That that happened to me? Just now. You're the first person I ever told that to that specifically. I've talked to a therapist about something like that happening to me but the way I just said it is the first time in my life I've ever said it out loud.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Thank you for sharing that with me. I'm really sorry.

Sean Nichols:

Oh thank you. It's not my fault. It's okay.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It's not your fault.

Sean Nichols:

That's right. I'm not looking for sympathy on any of this stuff to say, "No." I take my licks in life and I move forward.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I'm not giving you sympathy.

Sean Nichols:

I just want to let everybody out there listening to know that. This is about a story about recovery and strength, not about trauma. There 's trauma that happens, but we recover.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

So many people, Sean, this happens to so many people. I sit in this booth. I sit in meetings. I sit with so many people and what I see is that men, it happens to men so much. The women are the ones that are comfortable saying because we're so used to it. With us, it's like what is your trauma not did it happen but I find that the freedom that we get from that is something that everyone should have and that this is not something that is just happening to women and that there's this piece about homosexuality that happens for young boys that is so confusing and causes them not to want to talk about it.

Sean Nichols:

That's right.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

If you are assaulted by a man, am I gay? I cannot tell you how many times I've sat with men and grown men, married families, whatever it is, and they've said to me, "I just have this voice in the back of my head that says that because that happened to me, maybe it made me gay."

Sean Nichols:

I could see how people would think that.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. That's just the beginning.

Sean Nichols:

Honestly, what it did for me was it made me really angry for a long time.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Scared to sleep, which probably doesn't help you to sleep.

Sean Nichols:

Scared to sleep. That's right. I don't have those nightmares anymore, just so you know, because I have a safe house.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah.

Sean Nichols:

Nobody gets yelled at or hit in my house.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah.

Sean Nichols:

I set my alarm every night and I sleep really well in there.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That's awesome. That's awesome. How does it feel to say that?

Sean Nichols:

I feel okay with it.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah.

Sean Nichols:

It was a lot easier to say it. I thought, a week ago, I was up in Sedona and I'd written some things down, I was with a friend out there and we'd written some things down and this is one of the things that I had written down is that this happened to the little Sean inside of me. It's my duty to stand up and say this out loud to help someone else, but also to let him know that he's protected and he's safe.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

If someone's listening to this and they have something like this they've never told anyone, do you have any words of encouragement or thoughts that go along with what it feels like to break free of that?

Sean Nichols:

If you're out there and you're struggling with something like that or you're thinking about hurting yourself or you're getting loaded because of it, because of this pain, whatever it stems from, find a platform that you're comfortable with engaging. Get some help. There's people out there that will help you. There's people that listen. There's people that will care, maybe a friend. It could be someone from your church, who knows? It could be a professional.

Sean Nichols:

For me, I've been in recovery a long time now, it's easy to sit down here and talk about some of these things because I've worked through them, through most of them, really. Done some intense work through the steps and also with outside help. Like I said, it's like layers of reality avoidance that you got to get to peel back those layers and find out where's your problems really stem from. It'll help you be a better person. It will exponentially improve all the relationships in your life by working through some of those things. Your deepest, darkest secrets, they're not that dark.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah.

Sean Nichols:

It's normal. A lot of people get victimized in their life. It's pretty normal.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It's pretty normal.

Sean Nichols:

Right. It's actually more than norm than not.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. Than not.

Sean Nichols:

That's right.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. It really is.

Sean Nichols:

Also remember that no matter, if you think you're going to be less tough by admitting something like this...

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. That must have been a huge thing.

Sean Nichols:

... It is a huge thing but I'll tell you what, I don't feel like less of a man for saying that at all. As a matter-of-fact, I feel better saying it.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah.

Sean Nichols:

I'm a tough guy. I can take care of myself. That doesn't have anything to do with it. I do all the tough guy stuff. I pay all my bills on time. I treat my employees well. I love the people in my life. I show people grace. When someone needs a hand up, I give them a hand up. Those are the things that are really tough to do in life.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

They are.

Sean Nichols:

That's right.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Those are the toughest things to do.

Sean Nichols:

That's right.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That's right. Yeah. This podcast is called The Courage to Change and we had all sorts of other names that I vetoed and against much pushback and the reason I love that courage, bravery, tough is because it doesn't mean that you're not scared. It doesn't mean that you don't cry. It doesn't mean any of those things. Courage means that you're willing to do it anyway.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Courage means you cry through the whole process, which I have done in my recovery where you drag your sorry ass through the mud, up that hill, crying, screaming, complaining, but you just keep going. You just put one foot in front of the other, because you are willing to go to any lengths to not have what you had, not be who you were yesterday.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That is what is courageous and sometimes the most courageous thing is opening the mailbox and taking out those bills that you haven't looked at that, that courage to say, "Yesterday, the person that I was didn't do this and today the person that I'm going to be is the person who does this." It's just those shifts forward that as you know, 12 years, however many years it is, changes us tiny bit by bit into it.

Sean Nichols:

That's right.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

A new person

Sean Nichols:

It changes us into the person that we should have been all along before other people affected us and before substances did.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. Yeah. I like to think, when I got into UCLA, after like not graduating high school and all these, like it was not a thing that looked like it was on the horizon. Someone said to me, "God, you got into UCLA in spite of all the things that happened in your life." I said, "No, I got into UCLA because of all the things that happened in my life."

Sean Nichols:

That's right.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I truly believe that. I truly believe that because if I had been the good private school kid that all my peers were whatever, I would have been a whole different girl but because I was someone who had overcome things and worked really hard to get to where those people had no idea what it meant to show up on the same day in the same place. They had no idea. It did not mean the same thing when they walked across that stage and took that diploma. I cried like I have never cried before walking after I walked across that stage and took that diploma because it took something that most people have no understanding of to be able to get up and shoot up and show up. It took work. It took emotional work. It took all the things that we talked about. I really think that we become-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Sean Nichols: Thank God they didn't need to go through that but I'm glad I did, because it would have been boring. My life would be boring if I didn't do all this other stuff.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It was so boring. I would've something naughty in some other way but I think that we are who we are because of what happened to us and we're the lucky ones.

Sean Nichols:

Right.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

We really are.

Sean Nichols:

No, I agree with you.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Tell me about the psychology teacher. Did you write about the assault?

Sean Nichols:

No, I wrote about calling 911 in my sleep, because I thought I was crazy.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh, okay.

Sean Nichols:

You said, "No, you're not. You just have some," and I'd be coming on this conversation about some of the trauma that goes around that home.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Got it. Okay. Was that the first time you talked about?

Sean Nichols:

That was the first time I talked to anyone about any of this stuff.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Why this professor? You just felt?

Sean Nichols:

He just offered and I bit. He said, "Here." He offered it to the whole class and I took advantage of it and he told me to limit my exposure to that home and I did.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And you did?

Sean Nichols:

Oh yeah, I did after that, very much so.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You deliberately changed, but you are still using crank at this time?

Sean Nichols:

Yeah, I was just getting started.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. Right.

Sean Nichols:

Back then it was all fun. There was no problems yet.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right, right. It was helping you.

Sean Nichols:

That's right.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I mean, interestingly enough, I love to look at these things, interestingly enough, I would bet that crank brought you to that moment because the ability to focus and be invested and listen, hear what the amphetamines did for your brain at that time, probably allowed you to have that breakthrough and served you more than it took from you at that time.

Sean Nichols:

Yes. I agree with that. I think, I mean, there's a lot of other substances I was doing around that time. My buddies were throwing raves all over the Bay Area. We were doing acid and Ecstasy and mushrooms, but I really liked crank. It was my thing. It was only like one of my other buddies that would do it with me a lot. Everyone else was like, "Yeah. Those guys are doing crank." We would do it and it was my thing. I liked it.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

But it gave you something.

Sean Nichols:

That's right.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

We talk about drugs a lot in this like dare campaign way, which is, "Don't do it. It's bad. Say no. They'll ruin your life, blah, blah, blah." I always like to stop and say, "Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, wait a minute, wait a minute. We did this for a reason. It saved our lives. It got us through something. It gave us something. There was a payoff. It was the solution to our problem before it became the problem."

Sean Nichols:

That's right.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I like to acknowledge that because otherwise, because we're not maybe it's just me, but it makes me feel less crazy to say, "Hey, this did something for me, which is the reason I did it. I didn't do it just to be alternative lifestyle. It provided us with something." From what I'm hearing, it provided you with a moment to...

Sean Nichols:

With a coping skill.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

... With a coping skill.

Sean Nichols:

It was a tool. It was a chemical coping mechanism.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Chemical coping skill that brought you to this professor that allowed you to let go of the first piece of what happened to you.

Sean Nichols:

That's right. Yeah, that's exactly what happened and from there, I really, well, I ended up transferring to Sacramento. I went to Sac State for a while and took my drug use with me to Sacramento and some binge drinking too. I was living in the college apartment doing some binge drinking. I was pretty much like supplying the whole apartment complex with marijuana and mushrooms. Not a lot of people there are doing crank though.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right.

Sean Nichols:

It's not very popular. I was still doing it.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It's not really the college crowd.

Sean Nichols:

Not really the college crowd and I drank, I kind of I started drinking a little more then. Then, I got a girlfriend. She didn't really like the way that I acted when I drink because I get kind of crazy. I'm pretty gregarious. Get a couple of beers with me. I'm the life of the party, talking too loud. She didn't really like that. I guess she preferred it that I would stay up four days a week on meth for a while. It was only like 700 times. We almost got married, her and I. I was 26. We were living together. I think it was probably like maybe 7, maybe 800 times I told her I was never going to do it again. Of course, she didn't stop believing me. She believes in me. We loved each other.

Sean Nichols:

There are other things going on in that relationship but that was my part in it. I kind of tweaked my way right out of that love affair. I remember when she said she wanted to move out, I said, "Go ahead. Move out because I'm not going to stop getting loaded." That's when things really kind of started to go downhill from there.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah because there's not that like almost minor accountability.

Sean Nichols:

Well, not only that. There was not minor accountability and I was feeling sorry for myself.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right.

Sean Nichols:

I was having a giant pity party. There were no decorations that was happening.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What a party of one.

Sean Nichols:

That's right. Look around you, there's just no decorations. The pity party is over. It's time to move on but it took me like a year and a half, two years ago over that and my buddies are probably ready to kill me for complaining about that for a long time. My drug addiction really took off around that time was my grandmother passed away at the same time too and it was just-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Were you close to your grandparents?

Sean Nichols:

I was really close to my grandmother and because of that, later in my story, you'll hear about my grandfather but that's my grandmother's husband but my grandmother and me were very close. I never felt her death because I was loaded the whole time. I couldn't feel it. I didn't want to feel it. I was really like my drug use really ramped up at that time.

Peter Loeb:

Hi. I'm Peter Loeb, CEO and co-founder of Lionrock Recovery. We're proud to sponsor The Courage to Change and I hope you find that it's an inspiration. I was inspired to start Lionrock after my sister lost her own struggle with drugs and alcohol back in 2010. Because we provide care online by live video, Lionrock clients can get help from the privacy of home.

Peter Loeb:

We offer flexible schedules that fit our client's busy lives and of course, we're licensed and accredited and we accept most private health insurance. You can find out more about us at lionrockrecovery.com or call us for a free consultation. No commitment at (800) 258-6550. Thank you.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

One thing I just want to touch back on and we'll touch on it later but I just want to touch back on it. At this point in your using, the original reason that you started using crank to lose weight.

Sean Nichols:

To lose weight.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right? I just want to touch back on the fact that you got the food under control that it was whack-a-mole, right? That was under control now.

Sean Nichols:

Yeah. For a while, I gained weight.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Well, then you sleep on it.

Sean Nichols:

I gained weight on that because I emotionally eat.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Sean Nichols:

My buddies, we'd be partying. I had three or four buddies that partied with me sometimes but they'd come for like one day. I'll be sitting there and I'd be up for like three days. I'd go to Wendy's to get a cheeseburger or something like that. I don't know how you can eat that right now.

Sean Nichols:

I remember like eating bread after you've been up for three or four days. If anyone out there knows about this would know this feeling. It will burn the roof of your mouth. It stings because it's dry. Your mouth just feels so weird. It burns the roof of your mouth. The longest I've ever been awake is 12 days.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh, my God! I'm a heroin addict so that stresses me out more than you can possibly understand.

Sean Nichols:

Well, I do-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I'm like, the longest I've ever been awake is six hours.

Sean Nichols:

The most I ever ... I mean, I really, I snorted dope. I never used needles. It lasts a long time. An effective way to use meth is through your nasal.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. I was addicted to cocaine and then I dated this guy whose mother was addicted to meth and we ran away together.

Sean Nichols:

Awesome. The guy or his mom?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

No. I ran away with his mom.

Sean Nichols:

Got it.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

His mom. Yeah and he was very upset about that. I don't know what I thought was going to happen and really I don't like meth but we ran out of coke. Naturally...

Sean Nichols:

I was in a crunch, you can learn a lot there on.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

... I mean, in a crunch. Exactly. I got really into meth and I would do it and it was like, "I hate this, continue to do it. I hate this, continue to do it" and I just could be, well, and then the whole thing, it was like, it just did not work and trying to stay up for that amount of time, that's beyond anything. I mean, I was seeing shadow people within 24 hours. Just my ability not to sleep is real low.

Sean Nichols:

That's called night vision in the daytime, they call that.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, night vision in the daytime.

Sean Nichols:

We start flinching and stuff.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah or driving and then you see like driving and I would see a person run across the street and swerve, I would swerve. Your food thing continues. Where is, you're saying you're still emotionally eating. It subsided for a period of time but then came back to emotional eating. What happens when you and this woman you're with breakup?

Sean Nichols:

Basically, what happened was I just got more loaded because I didn't want to feel it. I call this like the time in my life where that train is gaining this much more velocity every time you turn around if the train is going a little faster and you're telling yourself that if anything bad happens, you're going to be tough enough to deal with it.

Sean Nichols:

You're having conversations with yourself like, "I'm going to get arrested. Maybe I'll end up in prison" but ...

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right. You're going through the less.

Sean Nichols:

... I'm going to be, I'm tough enough to deal with it." I'm not going to ask for help because if the train comes off the tracks, I can deal with it because I've been dealing with the train coming off the tracks my whole life and I could deal with it and that's what happens in those situations.

Sean Nichols:

My grandmother passes away. I break up with my fiancé and just more velocity. Let's just put five more miles an hour on that train. Runaway train and it's going to come off the track to some point and you don't know how bad it's going to be but you just get loaded and don't think about it. It's like not going to your mailbox and picking out those bills.

Sean Nichols:

I remembered I used to be so much in debt that people would call my parent's house and I'd tell my mom, "Well, just tell them I'm dead. I'm not going to pay those bills ever."

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. Right.

Sean Nichols:

I told my mother that, "Tell them I'm dead. If they call again, just tell them I'm dead." I'm not going to pay another bill the rest of my life.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

If we're writing a novel here, there's some foreshadowing to that belief system. What is the next scenario in your life that takes place that brings you closer to sobriety?

Sean Nichols:

Okay. Well, I ended up losing my apartment in Sacramento. I put all my stuff in storage and I was kind of just bebopping around. I basically minimized my whole life. At this point, it was the first time that my disease had taken a lot of stuff away from me. I had minimized everything I owned into a 1993 Nissan Sentra.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You minimized? I like that.

Sean Nichols:

Yeah. I had to minimize. People say that these days and they move into RVs but mine was not. Mine was a mandatory minimizing. It wasn't a voluntary. I didn't have anything. I didn't have a job. I got fired from my job at Wells Fargo. I was working at the bank and I was unemployable. It was the first time in my life that I realized I was unemployed.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

How old were you?

Sean Nichols:

Twenty-seven.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Twenty-seven, okay.

Sean Nichols:

I moved back to the Bay Area. I was kind of living in a warehouse over in right off 880, 23rd Avenue in Fruitvale. My buddies were cultivating crops over there, indoor crops.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What were you telling yourself?

Sean Nichols:

What was I telling myself?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah.

Sean Nichols:

I was telling myself there are-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I'm homeless.

Sean Nichols:

No, no, no. I wasn't telling that.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I'm winning. I'm a loser. What's the-

Sean Nichols:

I was driving around with this Jansport backpack with a book in it with The 7 Highly Effective Habits.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh man, that's good.

Sean Nichols:

I was telling myself, I'm going to read this book and I want to change my whole life.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Okay.

Sean Nichols:

Every once in a while I'd read a page out of it but I was so spun out. I couldn't read anything. I think my buddies were probably like, "You're really rough right now, man." I was like, "Yeah, it's going to be fine. Everything's going to be fine."

Sean Nichols:

I remember my ex-girlfriend called me and told me she wanted to get back together, my ex-fiancé and she said she wanted to get a place in Sacramento and I remember that conversation, I was with my buddy Allen and I answered the phone and she said, "Yeah. I found this new apartment. It's two-bedroom. We should get it downtown Sacramento" and I said, "Why? My life is great." My car was so terrible. It was the only car basically at this warehouse where I was staying at but didn't get stolen out in front of the warehouse.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

They were like, "It's not stealable."

Sean Nichols:

Nobody even broke into it.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

We're just saying something because I've seen them break into-

Sean Nichols:

My car got broken into one time in Oakland but it wasn't there. It was at a club called Ibiza but anyway, yeah. Everything I owned was in there and finally. I went and stayed a couple of weeks over at my buddy's house in San Francisco too, over in Lake Rach. I get tired. I was sleeping on couches, on the floors or I was sleeping on a couch in a warehouse. I'm really reluctant. It was one of the hardest phone calls I ever had to make because I'm going to move home now. I got to call mom and dad and I'm going to go home because I realized I need to do something different. This is not working out and I'm not going to be able to get back on my feet myself. I'm going to move home and I bring my drug addiction and my alcoholism into a home where my father doesn't participate in these...

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Things anymore?

Sean Nichols:

... Unapproved substances anymore. I move home to my parents' house in Concord and I'm back in Concord and I don't like Concord.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Are you in the same room?

Sean Nichols:

Yes. Yes.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That must have just made, that would have been gasoline on the...

Sean Nichols:

I had a shotgun at that point. I just sleep with a shotgun next to me every night. I feel fine there.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah but you don't sleep with a shotgun next to you. That is an admittance of being in a really bad situation.

Sean Nichols:

Let's be honest, I didn't sleep much at this point in my life.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. That's actually true.

Sean Nichols:

If would sleep, I'd be passed out. Hopefully, I wouldn't wake up and pee in my pants because I slept for 23 hours straight after being up for four or five days.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That was a big proponent of pants peeing.

Sean Nichols:

My parents didn't even know that I was like this meth monster living in their house.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Meth monster.

Sean Nichols:

Yeah, really. They had no idea.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh, my God!

Sean Nichols:

They had no idea. Then, I started drinking a little bit of beer. I'd fill up the recycling bin in like a day. For the next six days, it would just be piling up around in all these beer bottles.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Things were working out.

Sean Nichols:

Things were working out great. I was living at home.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What happened?

Sean Nichols:

Well, what happened was my friends kind of changed when I moved back to Concord. A lot of my older friends had moved other places and stuff like that and they were really doing the things that I was doing. They weren't staying up for four days a week, that's for sure. They had jobs and kids and stuff like that, stuff that normal 27-year-old people are doing.

Sean Nichols:

My friends changed. I started hanging out with a different group of friends. One of my ex-girlfriend's friend that she went to high school with had become my dealer. He was guy I knew and we're hanging out. It was hanging out with people that were in and out of prison a lot. My friends group changed. The people that I was around changed significantly very, very rapidly.

Sean Nichols:

I was aware of this fact that these are different kinds of people and I'd always hung out with a little bit of a tougher crowd. I'm okay. I can take care of myself. I can hang out with whoever I want. I'm okay.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Are you the 6'5?

Sean Nichols:

I'm 6'3.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Okay, 6'3.

Sean Nichols:

But that doesn't mean, just because you're tall doesn't mean you're tough.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

No, but it helps.

Sean Nichols:

The point is, I wasn't that unfamiliar with hanging out with people who'd been incarcerated or into non-society approved things.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Non-society.

Sean Nichols:

This guy was my friend. He was a real friend of mine. We were friends even though I was buying and reselling and doing a bunch of dope that he had. We'd known each other for quite a number of years.

Sean Nichols:

One day, I was with my little brother, a guy, who I call him my little brother but he was like foster kid in my parents' house and he stayed after he's 18. We're still close today.

Sean Nichols:

I had a seizure from meth one night after work. I had a seizure. I would never have known I had it unless he was in the room with me and he didn't really do it that much. We were just in there. We were drinking a tall can or something too and I had just did a big rail of meth and I woke up with him grabbing onto me.

Sean Nichols:

He's a little guy and I told him to get off. "What are you doing? Get off me and I just dozed off." I was [inaudible 00:53:19] for three days. He said, "You didn't doze off. I thought you're having a heart attack. You're having a seizure," and instantly laid down on the bed and I fell asleep. That's how strong the seizure was when in this meth reaction, whatever caused it.

Sean Nichols:

The next morning I woke up, he was sleeping in the same chair right next to my bed and he woke up and the first thing he says to me is, "We're going to go to the doctor or I'm going to tell mom that you're doing meth." I'm like, "All right, let's go to the doctor."

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Little kids, little siblings.

Sean Nichols:

He's 18, 19 years old but he was really scared. He thought I was going to die. Well, after he explained to me what happened, I realized about a week and a half before that, the same thing had happened to me but I was by myself and I actually managed to walk out to the kitchen and get some water. I remember just like walking out there like in this fog.

Sean Nichols:

I didn't know I had two seizures from methamphetamine and that is the point where my drug use started to slow down and my alcoholism was right there like, "Hey, let's go. We're ready. We've been packed this whole time. Let's do this." Then is when I really started put some more momentum on that train because the meth slowed down.

Sean Nichols:

The real reason I slowed down doing meth was that I was afraid to do it because I didn't want to have a seizure while I was driving like run someone over. I was driving around loaded all the time.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. Well, because you were just saying like, "I'm driving around." That's your medicine. That's the thing that you put into the gas tank to make you run. It's not even loaded. It's like, "This is how I function."

Sean Nichols:

It's maintenance, right?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. It's a maintenance high. You know how to do it. You get up in the morning, you hit a little rail, you stop at the store, get a token, smoke half a joint and go to work and at that time, I was working at the Sun Valley Mall and I was getting paid $9 an hour cash under the table to manage a store for one of my buddies I went to college with. It was a gift shop and that was where my unemployableness took me from almost... I quit school in Sac State.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I didn't graduate but I was working in a Wells Fargo. I wanted to make a nine bucks an hour cash under the table, working six hours a day at the mall. I was at $54 a day. That's what I was doing. That's where am I. That was near my bottom for meth. That wasn't my bottom for alcohol but that was my bottom for meth.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I can be forever grateful. I got fired from that job. My friend's dad fired me the day after Christmas because some other employee told him I had marijuana in the store, which the guy's name was Dubs. I thought that meant like a 20 [inaudible 00:55:45].

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I asked him if he wanted to smoke a joint and he told on me. I got fired but you can't get fired from a job you don't really work at. That was okay. Gave me a $500 bonus. George was his name. He's passed on now but he was a good man and what he said to me was, "You need to run your own ship." He's like, "You need to get your own company." That's what he told me.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

He gave me $500 and sent me on my way and a couple of weeks later, I got a job at T-Mobile and that's how I ended up in Reno.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Okay.

Sean Nichols:

I transferred with T-Mobile to Reno.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Okay. Because I worked with that job and because I had those seizures, I was able to really kind of stop doing meth a lot, which made me able to really get a real job which is nice, right? Get a real job with benefits and all this stuff and doing some sales. I'm really cut out for sales.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I was able to kind of start making some steps toward a life of recovery, even though I was still drinking every day but to me, I was a clean off of meth. This is a groundbreaking moment.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Great.

Sean Nichols:

I was ready to announce it to the world. I'm six months without doing meth, had been years I'm doing meth. Later on, I picked up a little bit of meth. That's why I say I did it on-and-off for 13 years but from 18 to 27 years old or 20 whatever that was, 2002 I did a lot of meth, a lot. It affected me, really kind of after a while it started to wear me down.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. What happened when you moved to Reno and you got this job at T-Mobile?

Sean Nichols:

It was funny. When I moved to Reno, I called my grandfather because he lives in Reno and I said, "Yeah. Can I stay at your house for two weeks? I was just going to stay there for two weeks and then get an apartment somewhere in Reno because I'm going to get a transfer of my job" and he was like, "Yeah. Come on up. Come stay here."

Sean Nichols:

I went up there for the interview and actually, this is kind of a backstory. I wasn't supposed to get a transfer that soon but I told my manager, this guy, and I still know him today. He actually came and visited me in Reno last summer. It was the first time in my life I've been honest with someone about, "Listen, if I don't get out of here, I'm going to go to prison or I'm going to die. I have got to get out of the Bay Area. I can't stay here anymore." I just can't do.

Sean Nichols:

I told him what was going on. I said, "I just stopped using meth. I don't want to get back on it. I need to get out of here. Can you help me get a transfer?" "He said, "Yes." I got the interview and the guy called me and told me, "We decided to go with another candidate." It was a devastating moment for me because I was thinking, "Man, I'm finally going to get out of here again," because I really like living in Sacramento. I didn't like living in the Bay Area anymore for a long time.

Sean Nichols:

About a week later, he called back and he said, "Can you be here tomorrow in Reno?" I said, "Yes" and I packed my little red car up and I went to Reno with all my stuff in my car that I owned and parked it at the mall and went to work.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. Those lifesaving moments is a little God shots when we look back of the people who showed up at the time that we were willing to say yes or desperate enough to say yes and it sounds like that was what that was for you.

Sean Nichols:

Oh, it was great though. Someday, I can really look back on. It's almost an emotional moment. You can see I'm getting a little emotional. It was a relief that, okay, now, maybe I can change and because I know at this point I know that I'm wasted talent. I know I'm just burning it up because I'm watching life go by me and I know that I'm just like where I felt worthless at this point.

Sean Nichols:

I drink every day and I put that alcoholism right in that car with me and took it to Reno. I drank every day on that job for that guy who gave me a transfer. I used to go on my lunch break and get so drunk. I'd go back to the cage where they stored all the cell phones. I pass out on the floor.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

How long did that go on for?

Sean Nichols:

Drinking on the job or just drinking in general?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It helped that you're drinking in general?

Sean Nichols:

Well, I got sober. The last time I ever got blackout and drunk was November 30th, 2006.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Okay.

Sean Nichols:

At that around, just kind of a backstory on that time, I was making good money. I had quit T-Mobile. I was running five cell phone stores in Reno. I was a vice president of this third-party cell phone company. I had a company car. I had some money in the bank. I was still living with my grandfather, which is interesting because after two weeks staying in there, my grandmother had passed on. He said, "Why don't you just keep staying? I really like having you here" and I said, "Okay."

Sean Nichols:

We used to get drunk together, me and my grandfather every night. He would drink like a six-pack and I would drink like 37 Keystone Lights and I smoked cigarettes. I'd smoked like three packs of Marlboro Lights. I had like a stain on my mustache and my fingers. I was like a real social butterfly back then.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

30, what was it?

Sean Nichols:

37 Keystone Lights.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

37 Keystone Lights. What's the mentality behind that? I just never understood, why don't you just get a bottle of vodka?

Sean Nichols:

Well, that's what happens when I started getting really fat. I was really overweight. I shouldn't say fat, it's not a nice word but I was overweight. I started drinking Diet Coke and Captain Morgan.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Okay.

Sean Nichols:

I switched over to a handle of 1.75 liter of Captain Morgan a day.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. That makes more sense to me.

Sean Nichols:

Right but at the time, when you go to Walmart and buy a case of beer for five bucks...

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right. Okay, okay, okay.

Sean Nichols:

... It's a pretty good deal.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, yeah. That's true.

Sean Nichols:

Right?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That's true. Okay. Yeah.

Sean Nichols:

You're drinking with your grandfather, still hanging out.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right. It doesn't feel less alcoholic when it's beer, that much beer. You're drinking a beer versus booze?

Sean Nichols:

Well, it's a maintenance thing. It's easier to control the beer buzz overtime as the buildup goes but you eventually get to the same point where you either like puke or pass out or do both. It happens. If you have a dog, they'll clean it up for you.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh, poor dog.

Sean Nichols:

That's where my life went though, at my grandfather's house, drinking myself to death. That was the thing about me is I come around the family drinking myself to death right in front of him. I would never hide it. Some people drink in private. I never hid my drinking ever.

Sean Nichols:

I drank and I started drinking that rum and then okay, here comes the rum. Before I started out as a tall can after I stopped using meth, then it was like an 18 pack, of course, a banquet beer on my day off. It went to from there to a lot of beer. Here in Reno, I was drinking a lot of beer. I became a bar drinker for the first time in my life. I never used to hang out in bars.

Sean Nichols:

I used to be a bouncer at a bar for a long time in Sacramento. I kind of got tired of that scene but I'd hang out in some bars and I could be in a bar full of people and be drinking in there by myself. I started drinking a rum because I didn't want to gain any more weight. I go after work and I could drink. I took a lot of pride in the fact that I could drink a fifth of Captain Morgan with two Cokes.

Sean Nichols:

I just drink it with a Coke back and just drink the whole bottle. The bartender know I was going to drink a whole bottle when I got there and that was it. I get a ride home. One of the bartenders is my friend, she'd give me a ride home or I drive home drunk every night.

Sean Nichols:

I tell my old boss that I wouldn't. He said, "Do you gamble when you go? He put the slot machines in the bars?" I said, "No. I don't gamble." He said, "You gamble every time you go into a bar, Sean." He'd be waiting at nighttime to get a call for me to call him, I got a DUI and company car. They still believed in me. His name was [Tom D. Young 01:02:45]. He was a pivotal guy in my business life.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Interesting. There were a lot of people who believed in you along the way.

Sean Nichols:

That's right and you know what I did was, I squandered all those opportunities because I didn't know how to show up. I didn't know how to suit up and show up at all until I got to recovery. In recovery, people showed me how to suit up and show up and they showed me how to study books. They showed me a lot of stuff.

Sean Nichols:

The way I ended up in recovery was it's kind of a thing. I was on a 280-day. I did the meth on 283-day bender and I just had knee surgery. I had some pills, which I don't normally like pills but like you said earlier, you could learn to like them. I had some Percocets and some muscle relaxers. I had hurt my back. I was lifting some heavy weights. I was working out at the time and had some meth also because I had a lot of cash. I had a lot of money.

Sean Nichols:

I rent a room from my grandfather. I actually had some money and I had some dope, I had some pills, I had some alcohol and I remember the day, the day started off, my buddy was in town. He had been storing a vehicle at my grandfather's house. He lives out in the woods. There was some property there and the vehicle needed a new transmission or something.

Sean Nichols:

He stuck around for an extra week and I was off work because I had knee surgery. We were drinking all day. We actually went out. He didn't believe that I knew. I used to sell cell phones at the bunny ranch. I knew Dennis Hoff and he didn't believe that I really knew him. I called him up and Dennis took us to lunch that day and we went to his place. He had this restaurant, it was called Dick's Roadhouse and all the girls had shirts say, "I love Dick's," on them. That was their theme.

Sean Nichols:

Anyway, he didn't believe it and he was getting a kick out of this whole thing and we were drinking that day and we started drinking and then we went back home and we ended up at the bar that night. I remember the last drink I took, my buddy ordered like a 25-ounce Guinness. I took the beer from him and I pounded the whole thing without putting it down and I let out this horrendous burp in the bar.

Sean Nichols:

I got my truck out of the back and I basically like parked half it on the sidewalk out in front of the bar and told him, "Let's go. We're going to take off." We went to the house. I drank a bunch of Bacardi rum and then that's all I remember up until about 4:30 maybe 5:00 in the morning. I woke up out of a blackout. What I had done was I've been filled in the details later. What I had done was I told my buddy that I was going to kill myself and he was like sneaking around my house, gathering up all these firearms that I had. He didn't find one.

Sean Nichols:

I had this rifle and I found around in my drawer and he tried to stop me. I picked this guy up. He's a pretty big guy too. I threw him in the back of my pickup truck and I just found out a couple of months ago, he actually said he jumped kicked me in the face too and I didn't even do anything.

Sean Nichols:

I went out in my grandfather's backyard and I put a rifle to my head and I pulled the trigger and I blackout and I blew a hat off my head. It was a Kinder's barbecue hat, a blue one. I had it on backwards. It was a flex fit hat and I tried to kill myself. I woke up sitting on a rock in the woods. My ear was ringing and I thought I was dead but I wasn't dead.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Where did the bullet go? When you blew the hat, did you get any of your head?

Sean Nichols:

Yeah. I got a little bit of a muscle burn right here on the side of my temple but it blew out the side of the hat.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

How?

Sean Nichols:

I came really close. I had a little scab right here.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. I see it.

Sean Nichols:

That's the scar.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh, that's different. I'm sorry.

Sean Nichols:

It was just right below that. There was this little scar.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

How do you blow off the hat if you have a muscle burn here?

Sean Nichols:

I don't know. I'm not sure. I don't know what to tell you about that but I don't know how much closer you can get.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

The hat fully on your head?

Sean Nichols:

Yeah. The hat was fully on my head and I blew out the whole side of it. I wish I would've saved. I burned it one time in Montana.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Maybe it was kind of up.

Sean Nichols:

It probably got blown up and then it got blown out. Yeah.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

The bullet did not graze.

Sean Nichols:

No. The bullet did not touch me.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh, my God!

Sean Nichols:

It must have been a higher power or something that stopped that from happening.

Sean Nichols:

Ashley B." How do you below a flex?

Sean Nichols:

I don't know how much closer you can get to shoot yourself in that.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

No, no, no. It defies logic.

Sean Nichols:

Right? I think it was a spiritual experience. Remember, how I was telling you about that train?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah.

Sean Nichols:

Here it is. It's off the tracks now.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You wake up, your ear is ringing, you're on a rock in the woods and you look around, there's the gun. Yeah?

Sean Nichols:

No. It's totally quiet, first of all because it's in the woods. It's like 4:00 in the morning. It's November 30th. It's cold. No one's out there and I'm just sitting there in this moment, everything, I'm saying my whole world stopped. I'm thinking if what happened? Am I bleeding? What am I doing out here?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Do you see a rifle?

Sean Nichols:

Yeah. I got it in my hand.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You have it in your hand?

Sean Nichols:

Right.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

In your head, do you feel your head burned? Your face?

Sean Nichols:

I wanted to feel my face to see if I had any blood running down my head but my ear was really ringing pretty hard and that's the thing I really remember was like that and the fact that it was, I could've heard a pin drop out there. I heard my buddy yelling my name. He was looking for me.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Did you see that you had pulled the trigger? Did you see any-

Sean Nichols:

I didn't know about that until the morning when I woke up. I went in the house and I will lay down on the bed and I passed out. I woke up in the morning and I woke up and I was really scared. I didn't know what exactly had happened and I was really afraid.

Sean Nichols:

I walked out and my buddy was sitting in the living room with my grandfather and I said to him, "I got $25,000 in the bank, why don't just pack up all my stuff. I can just move to Montana with you and just start over again." He said, "You're not moving in with me bro. I got a family at home. I've got kids. You can't. You need to get some help." That's what he said.

Sean Nichols:

He said, "You're acting crazy. You need to get some help." He said, "I want to take you to the hospital." I said, "Why? What did I do?" He pulled out the hat. He said, "You tried to shoot yourself last night," and now the train's totally off the tracks because I'm thinking, I'm never coming back from this. My life is over.

Sean Nichols:

I've been a meth addict for so many years. I'm carrying around all of his pain and now I've tried to kill myself. I'm going to have the stigma. My whole life is over. Everything's done. There's no coming back from this.

Sean Nichols:

Ashley B. The thought for you when you realized you'd tried to kill yourself was about the stigma of being a man who tried to kill you?

Sean Nichols:

That's right? Yeah.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That's really interesting. Seeing that to me, I wouldn't have thought that. That's a stigma.

Sean Nichols:

I'm going to get fired from my job. All the stuff is going to happen and this whole thing is going to just fall apart.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right because men either succeed or they don't try.

Sean Nichols:

Right. That's why I'm saying I just wanted to leave. Let's just do a geographic.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What else do I do?

Sean Nichols:

I got money in the bank. Let me just go to Montana and just restart there together. Let's go start over one more time and see if I bring any of this other bad stuff with me. There's still people that doing this kind of behaviors, doing geographics all the time, not changing.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Did you get help?

Sean Nichols:

I went to the hospital and they put me in this weird room at the emergency room because I didn't tell them I actually tried to shoot myself because...

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It will alarm the people.

Sean Nichols:

... I didn't want them to freak out.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It turns out.

Sean Nichols:

I looked around, I started sitting in the room and I started looking around. There was a theme, they could like lock over the sink and there's this metal shed. They had me in the rubber room. It looked like a regular room but it could become ...

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It will make me really close.

Sean Nichols:

... Like a confined room and really quickly. I was just keeping my cool, keeping my cool because I really didn't want to be there but then I knew I couldn't leave.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right.

Sean Nichols:

I talked to this... They brought this guy and he talked to me and I told him the same story that I told my old boss.

Sean Nichols:

For the second time, I got honest with someone about my substance abuse and-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

This is an emergency room physician?

Sean Nichols:

Some kind of evaluator guy, I don't know. It wasn't a doctor but anyway I went to... They made an appointment for me to see this counselor or somebody. That night, I went home and I called my dad. I said, "I need to go to a meeting," and he said, "Good because I got a schedule right here for Reno." He lives in the Bay Area. He's waiting for the call for months.

Sean Nichols:

I went to a meeting and there was after the meeting, I talked to this guy. It was cool back then you can still smoke in meetings. I probably might not have stayed so I sat down. I smoke cigarette. I sat down at this table with these two old guys and lit up a cigarette and sat there.

Sean Nichols:

After the meeting, I talked to this guy, I thought he was a guy in charge because I didn't know anything about recovery. My father and me had never talked about it.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

But you knew he knew?

Sean Nichols:

I knew he knew about how to do it I never knew nothing about it. It was good because I didn't have any kind of ... I just knew that I didn't want to have to do that just so you know. I did everything in my power and not have to go to a meeting.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh yeah, God forbid.

Sean Nichols:

God forbid. You do something nice for yourself. It's so to ask for help that I almost wasn't going to be here to have this conversation today because I was too much of a man to ask someone for help because I knew I could take care of myself. It's that moment where you just had one too many drinks at night and then the whole thing falls apart and you're lucky enough to live through it. I was lucky enough to live through it.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

There were enough people placed along the way that gave you just enough of something that accumulated into what you needed in that moment.

Sean Nichols:

That's right. That's right. After the meeting, I went and talked to this guy there and I know ... like he's passed on now. He died of cancer but I knew the guy for a long time after that and he asked, "You're on a court card?" "No, I'm not here on a court card." "You know what that is?" He said, "Oh, you're just sick and tired of being sick and tired?" I started crying. Just shook my head yes.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah because that's what it takes for us, right?

Sean Nichols:

That's right.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

We got to be sick and tired of being sick and tired and that doesn't stop in recovery either.

Sean Nichols:

No, it doesn't. It doesn't.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I guess, how many times I've felt that same thing going, "Oh, sick and tired of being sick and tired, right? I know what this feels like," but that first time, that first time that you truly walk, that you truly surrender at sick and tired of being sick and tired, that's a feeling like no other.

Sean Nichols:

Yeah, well I wish I could tell you that was the last time I ever got loaded but it was only about 60 days later that I ended up getting a date that stuck.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, but you have to start somewhere. You have to keep ... That's why they say keep coming back because it doesn't really matter what happens in between as long as you can keep going because something will happen.

Sean Nichols:

I think the thing is for me was that I've been around recovery long enough to know that meetings don't have a monopoly on getting sober but it was for me though, just like meth was for me, meetings are for me. That 12-step program is something that really has had a big impact in my life.

Sean Nichols:

I think it's just one of those things that that's where I decided to apply my passion and it worked out just like if we went to some other solution and you gave it a hundred percent effort because you were desperate enough to give it a hundred percent effort that it might work out the same way but for me this is how my story unfolded.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What did you feel when you walked into that and felt that there were like I've tried to explain to people what it feels like to have other people tell your story or commiserate, why is that so healing to hear maybe even particularly from other men the same thing even if it doesn't give you any direct solution to your problem. Why is it healing to hear that?

Sean Nichols:

It's just a common ground that you find. I think the one thing that's really good about recovery is that you walk into this room full of strangers and they welcome you and they have no reason to other than the fact that they actually want to help you. It takes a little while to get tuned into that because you're like what's really going on here you know where are they going to drop that like $1,200 membership fee or something like that.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Some weird cult band.

Sean Nichols:

It never comes. It never comes. You got to realize though you're still in a room full of sick human beings. Not everybody in there is going to be your Eskimo but there are going to be men or women that you come across in recovery that are going to make a difference and change your life for you sometimes and sometimes with you and for me what happened was I had some really strong sober men show up in my life that really, along with my grandfather.

Sean Nichols:

My grandfather is still in the picture of this whole time. I'm living at his house. They walked me into manhood. They showed me how to be a real man.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What did that look like?

Sean Nichols:

Well, my grandfather taught me how to pay my bills on time and repair my credit score and all this other stuff that he just little by little and he taught me about a lot of other stuff too. One of the most valuable things that my grandfather ever told me was you can never get caught telling a lie telling the truth.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, that's true.

Sean Nichols:

That's right. It's one of those simple statements. It's the first drink that gets you drunk. It's one of these statements that stick with us.

Sean Nichols:

What that looked like was I got a guide that took me through the steps and read this book with me and then I took that information and took other men through that same process, lots of guys and took my personal time to do that because it felt good. See, I'm a feel-good junkie. If something feels good and helping other people feels good to me. I took this time for once in my life, see when I started going the meetings, I heard these people saying, "Oh, I pray every morning. I do all this other stuff. I started thinking, "Maybe I should try that. Maybe I should try that.

Sean Nichols:

I started trying all these little things and I [inaudible 01:16:23] to sit. At the time, I was really big. I was about 380 pounds and had a bad knee. I would sit in my chair in the morning. I just bought a cigarette and I'd say a little prayer. I'll just say the serenity prayer something like that.

Sean Nichols:

Over time, these men and these women in recovery have showed me how to have this faith but a deep faith in a higher power. I'm not a religious person. I grew up in a Catholic household but I'm not Catholic. I'm not religious. I'm spiritual but I have a deep faith and I do not go anywhere anytime without saying a prayer before I do it.

Sean Nichols:

Over time, I've explored that faith and it's nice. It's good to have options. It's one of the best things about recovery program. I mean, you can choose your own higher power but there's a saying that all the religions in the world have one thing in common, right?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yup.

Sean Nichols:

They all centered in the same types of programs to get help and that's because they're open. I need to be open, right? Open-mindedness is an important part of being in recovery and because I was open-minded enough to listen to a stranger, one day this guy told me, "The last time I ever got loaded, I ate some giant weed brownies. I went to the Bay Area and saw my buddy and I ate these giant weed brownies. I was high for three days." I was talking to my guide or sponsor, what you want to call it, about it and I didn't know that you weren't supposed to use marijuana. I thought you're not supposed to not drink. It was like the record skipped in this conversation. It's like you did what? He did what? That was the day that I had to restart over.

Sean Nichols:

Well, I went to this meeting and I was talking to this other man and he said, "Yeah, you're new again." I was like, "This is first time I was new again." I said, "Yeah, I know it's no big deal though. I just ate these weed brownies." This guy like basically got up in my face. He was like almost like sticking his finger in my chest and he said, "It is a big deal. You're just a selfish prick who likes to get loaded."

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Wow.

Sean Nichols:

I was thinking, who is this guy? You know what I did? I listened because he was right, because I was a selfish person that liked to get loaded, because I didn't want to deal with any of my problems. I just wanted to get loaded so I would never deal with them and let the toilet back up on everybody else, up into including the point of trying to kill myself in my grandfather's backyard. How much more selfish can you be for this little old man has been helping you out helping you become a better person? That's where my disease took me. The person who's my best friend, I would you ruined it. He built that house. He lives in there with his bare hands.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, that's where it takes us. Yeah, I mean, I don't know that I would have had such a graceful response to that. Good on you.

Sean Nichols:

Luckily, I listened.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, yeah. I mean, sometimes things seep in even if your reaction at the time isn't the one you'd hoped for but it is ... I didn't understand. I was in pain. Using chemical coping was a way to deal with that pain and deal with the trauma and all the things that happened. I didn't understand why I was selfish. I didn't understand that portion of it when they told me that I was selfish and self-centered to the extreme because to me, I was doing everyone a favor by eliminating myself. I was I'm dealing with myself. I mean, I'm not hurting you.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I'm taking care of me by and removing myself from the picture for running away, whatever it was and then we go back to you got some time and you see how deeply affected the people around you are and you see how the only thing in your world, the only thing that matters is your own pain that you can't feel anything beyond your own pain and that that is where the self-centeredness and the selfishness comes from and it didn't mean my pain wasn't real. It just meant that I was constitutionally incapable of feeling anything other than what I was feeling.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

The world, your grandmother passed away. Things happened in my world. My grandfather passed away. All these different things happened. I couldn't feel anyone else's pain but my own because it was so big. It was so all-encompassing and when I got to program and started to peel those layers back and look at that, I finally understood but I just remembered going in and I'm saying, "You're selfish. You're self-centered to the extreme," and thinking like you don't know what I've been through. You don't know what this is. You don't know why I'm here and feeling very defensive about that.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Now, when I remove the drugs and alcohol, I see how that piece of me is still alive and well, how I can get so wrapped up in my pain and that it's the only thing I feel. It has nothing to do with believe it or not, the chemicals or the things that I went through that that is my alcoholic addict brain that is stuck on Ashley.

Sean Nichols:

It was like that moment in time I was standing there. It was a spiritual experience. I mean, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was 31 years old. I hadn't accomplished anything in my life. I was really not that spectacular and I was a selfish prick who liked to get loaded. He was exactly right.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You know what's interesting about your story too is that there's a lot of this like tough-guy stuff, you grew up in this alcoholic home with violence. You're a big guy but the people who you heard were men and sometimes in this situation it's like it's women because that's the only people, people can hear from but you were able to hear. All along your story, these different people, they were all men and we were able to hear what they said, which is remarkable. It's unusual.

Sean Nichols:

No, it's good for me and I think later on in recovery, I was doing some other work in different programs. I've encountered some women that really helped me to learn how to be more vulnerable and love myself better. I'm very blessed with that too but early on it was, along the way, a lot of the helping hands I got where from men that just showed up in my life that wanted to help me yeah because they saw the fact that I have an immense amount of energy to do some cool things in my life but I'm just like spinning my wheels. I think they saw it. I'm always the last to know. I was the last one to know that the train was going to come off the tracks too. You know what I mean? I'm the last to know. Everybody else sees it coming.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

When you admit you're an alcoholic and drug addict to people and they're like-

Sean Nichols:

Finally.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, they're like, "Oh really?"

Sean Nichols:

Like when you call your dad and he's like, "Yeah, I got a schedule right here."

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You're right. "Dad, sit down. I have to tell you something. You're going to be very shocked. I have a problem." We are the last to know. What did your outside work look like? What did the therapy-

Sean Nichols:

I didn't start that for a just up until about two years ago so you know. I went through a number of years of recovery and did really well, I went back to college, earned a couple degrees. It took me 17 years to finish my first college degree. It's hard to finish school when you're staying up four days a week on meth and hoping yourself to sleep but I ended up getting my undergrad degree. It felt really good to do that. That was in 2010.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Congratulations.

Sean Nichols:

Thank you. Then, I went back to school in 2012 and 2014, 2012 to 2014, I got my MBA from Nevada and that's where I met my business partner. We started a company while we were going to graduate school. Throughout that process, things were really intense in my life. Things are ramping up. I was running another company and then working on starting my own company and I'd find these flare-ups, anger, anger. You're really mad about stuff. Would never really hit people or anything like that but I will get really mad and I can-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Rage.

Sean Nichols:

Some people probably just prefer if I hit them instead of cussing them out or telling them what I really think about them because I'm not very nice. I've been like that since I was young. I'm very sharp verbally and it's not nice. I really work on doing that because I'll unload on someone and it will ruin relationships. I got to this point where I really wanted to do some work and one of the sponsors I was working with was telling me, "Maybe you should do some outside work." I did.

Sean Nichols:

I found a guy that initially didn't really click with but we did a lot of childhood stuff him and I. I just decided to go a different direction with the treatment. I ended up finding this guy. I Googled an anger management because that's what all tough guys do. They don't go to therapy. They go to anger management.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Whatever, right. Exactly.

Sean Nichols:

Even though if it's different gears that happened in that room. Now, at the end, he is my coach. That's what he wanted me to call him. He didn't want me to call him as my therapist. His name was Mick and he just recently passed away last month actually.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh, I'm so sorry.

Sean Nichols:

That's all right. I went to him and I told him all the things that I didn't want to do. I don't want to talk about my childhood anymore. I don't want you to tell me to be my girlfriend even though this relationship is not. I don't want this but I want you to help me.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, right. You can feel like-

Sean Nichols:

He was like, "Why don't you come see me tomorrow? I might be able to help you." I went and saw him and he was an amazing man. He helped me change my whole life. He taught me a lot of stuff about love and relationships and about that past anger and about my anger now. Even these beads that I'm wearing right here, he was a Buddhist. He would teach me how to use these if I get well enough to hold on to him breathe, really, just some extra tools, the things that I never could have learned in recovery. I needed a little bit of help and we walked through a lot of stuff together, him and I. I was working with him for almost two years, straight through and he had cancer. Like a year ago, maybe like in the middle of the first year I was working with him. He told me, he said, "I got somebody I needed to tell you. I've got you know stage four cancer.

Sean Nichols:

It was a funny conversation because I'm sitting there thinking, "Well, now I got to find someone new to work with.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

How does this affect me?

Sean Nichols:

He says to me, "How does that make you feel?" I said, "No, I'm really sorry. I hear you got cancer?" He said, "Why are you sorry?" I, said "I'm actually not sorry. I'm grateful to know that our time is limited and that we only have a certain window of time to accomplish this work. I can't be in this room forever. I need to get back out there and live my life.

Sean Nichols:

The next week, I went back and saw him and this is how this guy would handle me. He'd know how to deal with I kind of got a big ego, he knew how to deal with it. He said, "Do you have any more questions about my illness?" I said, "Yeah, how much time you got left?" He looked at me and he said, "How much time you got left?" Because we don't know. You really empowered me to try to operate at 99% efficiency through every situation in my life, in work and in personal life. I don't spin my wheels as much anymore because of the tools he gave me.

Sean Nichols:

A friend of mine made me this book actually that all the sayings that that um that he said to me, I should wrote them all down for me in this book and I take it with me all over the country and I read it though I can remember the stuff, the tools they taught me. What do you think is the effect of having your coach, you're mentor, passed away, how does that changed you?

Sean Nichols:

I don't know yet. I haven't processed that yet. I just found out on like October 26 that he had passed. It was funny because I was at a trade show in Tampa, on October 3rd. I was at a booth, trade show booth. It was the last day of the show, which if you've ever been doing trade show, you know the last day is like no one's there.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

No one there.

Sean Nichols:

I started crying in the booth and my coworker said to me, "Are you crying right now at this trade show booth?" I said, "Yeah, I think makes Mick's going to die today." I found out later because I had an appointment. I travel a lot for work. I got home. I had an appointment with his business partner and he died the next day. It was cool because that was the day we were writing down all this stuff. I think she did that to help me um kind of like get through that moment.

Sean Nichols:

We started writing down all these things. I got terrible handwriting. We started writing down all this stuff and then she like spent this time to make this into this special book that I get to take with me so I got to keep him, even though he's not with me anymore and I'll tell you what, his work with me has exponentially improved every single relationship in my life. I would leave there and my buddies, I call my buddies to say, "Do you want to know what Mick told me today?" I was like, "I'm not even going to charge you for it. I was going to tell you right now." They would eat it up because they knew that he was such an important person and when they found that he had cancer, it was a devastating moment for me. I wanted to run again. I want to go I'm going to find someone new. I'm not going to deal with this.

Sean Nichols:

I didn't. I stuck with it and I remember the last time I saw him, the last time I saw him, I remember the last time I saw him and it was on July 3rd and he took a couple months after that and just had his own time with his family. How does it feel? I'm not sure yet but I do know that I'm going to be. I know that for sure.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

In the beginning of our talk, you talked about your struggle with food.

Sean Nichols:

Yeah, it's a good time for this part of the conversation.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, I really relate to that and as I've dealt with each piece of my recovery like every kind of whack-a-mole, piece of my recovery or my addiction is waiting for me ... The perfect example was how you talked about when after the seizures and alcohol was waiting like, "Okay, here we go. Come on. I'm ready." That, to me, has been different things over the course of my sobriety and particularly people who have been survivors of sexual assault tend to struggle with weight gain, 85% of sexual assault of a survivors struggle with weight. I don't think that that's a coincidence.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You talked about, before our interview, we talked about tough guys and talking about weight and how you really want to talk about that and I just love that. Can you tell us more?

Sean Nichols:

Yeah. I think, I mean, like I said early on, food was my first drug of choice. In my second year recovery, I encountered a lady from my neighborhood I grew up with I got contact with her over the phone and I see friends with her daughter too. I'm still friends with her daughter but you don't live in Concord anymore. She kind of worked me through a like a 12-step program around food and I lost like 135 pounds. It was pretty big when I got sober and I quit smoking and I started that thing on like the same week, it's like my second year of sobriety. I quit smoking cigarettes too and I lost all this weight and then I went on for a couple years like that doing pretty good.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

On a food plan?

Sean Nichols:

Doing pretty good.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Did you stay with that woman as a guide? Did you stay in that program?

Sean Nichols:

I just continued to work my regular program really but I did work that one for a little bit. I used to call every day but it's one of those things. I only have so much time to work a program.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I know.

Sean Nichols:

I did well for a long time until the stress of my new company started to really wear on me and I started gaining weight and I gained ... Well, I gained back a 106 pounds, got back up to 352. Mick, this is a great time to talk about this, we're talking about Mick. Mick's office specializes in doing the pre and post-surgery counseling for weight loss surgery. One day, just clicked in his mind like a lipo, "I don't know why I haven't brought this up to you but you're sitting right in front of me." Because people always say, "Oh, you look great, Sean." I'm like yeah, this is my dying of obesity look.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I'm sure that really brings out the-

Sean Nichols:

I'm just saying. It's the truth though.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I know. I know.

Sean Nichols:

People tell you this stuff.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I know that what you say? I'm literally dying of sleep apnea and obesity and I'm like running this rapidly growing company. I'm not sleeping very well at night. I haven't slept very well my whole life but I'm definitely not sleeping good now because I can't breathe and I'm overweight and I don't feel good. I had already been at a different weight. I mean, I was like I already knew how it feel like be able to get up and ride my road bike like 60 miles. I'd done all this stuff and it was like torture to me. I feel like, then I started thinking, why do I even stay sober if I'm not going to take care of myself? What's the point, right?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yup.

Sean Nichols:

Mick says, "You should think about getting this bariatric sleeve surgery. I'm not doing that. That's a shortcut. That's not what tough guys do, right?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sean Nichols:

I started thinking about it and I'm like, "I'm going to be 43 years old. How much more time do I have left of not having a heart attack?" Walking around 160 pounds overweight. In February this year, because of Mick, get advice from a dying man, you might want to listen to it and I took it and I ran with it and I lost 101 pounds since February 20th of this year.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Awesome. Congratulations.

Sean Nichols:

I got the surgery done and I'm balancing out my... It's tough. It's tough eating right when you're travelling like I do. It's tough. I do a lot of praying about it and I'll just do my best.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Talk to us about the difference like feeling that that's a shortcut and how that works like like what about that particular decision allowed you to have the freedom that you have without feeling like it was a shortcut.

Sean Nichols:

Another thing that you're not supposed to talk about is like our society has a sing of like you're a man. You should be able to take care of this stuff yourself. In the years of doing a little bit of food recovery, I've said things out loud in meetings and had men come up to me afterwards and say, "I throw up. I do other stuff that in ways I had never acted out in my disease." I overate. I think there's a lot of stuff out there for people or for women in particular you know about food issues and things like that but there's not a lot of help for men dying of obesity and it is killing millions of men every year. It was killing me.

Sean Nichols:

I really just kind of I wanted to talk about that today because it's something that you're not supposed to talk about. Getting the weight loss surgery is not how you're supposed to do it. You're supposed to go to the gym. You listen to Joe Rogan, he's like it's a shortcut but I'm pretty sure Joe Rogan's on testosterone too. He's not taking any shortcuts though, right?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right.

Sean Nichols:

He's talking about weight loss surgery. I was listening one time. He was talking about weight loss surgery. He thought I was a shortcut that you shouldn't do it. Well-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Explain how it's-

Sean Nichols:

It's just a stigma that people don't want to talk about and I think that it's a medical technology. It's like saying, " I'm not going to take chemo I'm going to fight this cancer on my own. I'm dying to this disease of obesity. I've never been able to control it my whole life. I got this medical tool now to try to get another shot at it. I did it. Well, I'm happy that I did it. It was the smart thing to do. It was a big decision. I thought about for months before I did it. I did it and it feels good.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, oh God. I'm glad because I think that that's recovery is ultimately about doing things that make us feel good and not in a superficial way, right?

Sean Nichols:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Feel good deep into our core and about how who we are. Sometimes we have to, there's a lot of stuff going on in the recovery community about Suboxone and naltrexone and all these different things that are blockers and I think that it really comes down to, we have to do what we need to do to save our lives and in the order that it will kill us and that's kind of what happens. It's like, okay, for me, the drugs were going to kill me first.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I got rid of those things eventually. I got rid of the cigarettes. I was the next and each piece and then it comes to the food and that's what's going to kill you next. I think it's so important to say that the bottom that you feel from your food, will take you out of your substance abuse recovery. That is such an important piece. I have seen it happen. I know what those thoughts, sound and feel like, and is that is why it's so vital to continue to deal, to seek out guys like Mick even when you're a decade into sobriety because all of those things are potential threats to what we have achieved and make no mistake that that piece of our brain is still alive.

Sean Nichols:

Oh for sure it is. It's actually the part of me that I need to protect the most because it's the little Sean like seeking comfort. A lot of people talk about overeating and things like that. I was like, yeah, like a sick dog living inside of you and you got feed it. You got to take care of it. You're going to love it. It's a part of you that you hate the most because it makes you overweight and unattractive to other people and things like that and you get all these other issues that come along that when you're young, you got made fun of and it's the part of you that you hate the most.

Sean Nichols:

You need to love it. I need to love that part of me the most much more as I love all the other great attributes that I had in my life. That's is how I am able to make a difference when it comes to that. I need to embrace that part even more. That's why I want to bring it up today. I think it's important.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. I think that's really important and really awesome. What does your life look like today?

Sean Nichols:

Oh, my life today is crazy. So awesome. It's not ... Some of the things that are going on in my life today or as a direct result of people giving up a hand up in my life, showing me how to be a better man.

Sean Nichols:

I went to college I mentioned that. I met a guy in college. He's now my business partner and he gave me an opportunity to join his company. It's a battery company and we make lithium batteries in Reno and he didn't know at that time but I was like really planning on showing up for this opportunity. You know what I mean, I was like really knowing that I was in a great position to make an impact here.

Sean Nichols:

Now, we started building batteries in our garage and then we went and raise some seed money just here as a fundraiser, a couple of million dollars from a battery company. Now, we've got 40 employees working in Reno. He got a factory. It's sort of interesting time for a guy like me to be part of something that's so successful because this isn't how my life is supposed to look based on where I come from and it might have been how my life was supposed to look if I didn't veer off on all these paths. I don't know but this is where I am and like we said earlier, it's kind of one of those things. I savor it because I wake up every morning and I get to work with people that I love working with. I'm passionate about what I do.

Sean Nichols:

Then, I was talking about passion like when I got into recovery, I found a few passion. I found my passion of something that I really liked and now I do this renewable energy battery source saying like, it's my passion and I love it. It's really special when you an opportunity to do something like that in your life.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

When you're excited about what you do every day. It's a different feeling. It really is.

Sean Nichols:

Yeah, it's a great feeling and I get to travel all over the country and start next month around the world too. I mean, we've been doing some international travel. We're expanding our business. I get to meet the most amazing people. I get to drop in and go to meetings in random places and I don't know. I feel like, sometimes I feel like the luckiest guys, most days, I fly the luckiest guy in the room. I really go.

Sean Nichols:

That's what Mick. I just say, "You know what? You're like a real life superhero in my life. The things you showed me. The way you talked to me. The things you tell me. You know what? Don't let people hold you back anymore. Fly high as you want. Be an eagle. Go as high as you want. If your people, you want to do this company, you want to give it 100%, go as high as you want. The people that loves you and cares about you are going to come with you. They're going to be here when back. Go for it. This is your time.

Sean Nichols:

I get to hear that stuff from him. I don't want to slow down. I don't want to slow down. It's like one of those things where people show up and they tell me these things and I say I'm the luckiest guy in the room. You know what Mick tells me? "No, no. I'm the luckiest guy in the room because I get to watch you do this." That's important. It's important to have people around that really are tuned in to the fact that you're part of something special and they want to support you in it. I keep people in my life like that. I don't let those people go.

Sean Nichols:

That was as hard of having to let him go. He died but I'm just saying it was hard to let him go because...

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh, I can't even imagine.

Sean Nichols:

... You get someone good like that, you keep him around because they know, he gets to hear a million stories like that in his career, a million miracles of people who really changed their life.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, I think there's something to ... I totally put my finger on it but there's something to this the fact that you had abbreviated amount of time with him as opposed to years and years and years. I think there's something very much to that as something about that that changed probably the way that you absorbed the information that was coming from him.

Sean Nichols:

Yeah. But it might as well-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Maybe the way he gave it to you?

Sean Nichols:

That's right. A buddy of mine told me one time that the universe will put people into your life in a certain time and take them out at a certain time and the more you fight it, the more difficult it becomes.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, I believe that. I believe that.

Sean Nichols:

That's right.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You created community. You took advice from others. You trusted the process. You sought outside help. You did all the things that we do to get better and you're continuing to do those things and not as how we stay clean and sober one day at a time and put these lives back together and become go from these person seeing people, he's snorting crank up for 12 days to someone who runs a battery company and is passionate about the work they do and it is a journey that sometimes feels like a dream. Sometimes it's a dream state. I mean, I think in some ways we were in a dream state but you've had a lot of miracles in your life and shooting your hat off your head is definitely a big one in there that shows like something is there and watching out for you in some energy source, whatever you want to call that is, is really wanting you to be happy and do well.

Sean Nichols:

I agree with you. I think one thing to recognize is that I remember a woman told me this one time that luckily I didn't kill myself that night because I would have killed the wrong person because I knew who I was. I feel very lucky and I feel very watched out for by something, other than just people. It's definitely my spirituality is deep.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You're a beautiful person, Sean.

Sean Nichols:

Thank you.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Thank you so much for coming and trusting me with this process and sharing your story with others and just being part of the solution. I think that's really what we all want to do is just be part of helping other people and letting people know that that pain that you're hiding deep down inside that dark place that you're hiding when you shine the light on, it's not as scary as you think it's going to be.

Sean Nichols:

That's right. Thank you so much for talking to me today. It was really, it was a spiritual experience. I appreciate it.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

The Courage to Change: A Recovery podcast would like to thank our sponsor, Lionrock Recovery for their support. Lionrock Recovery provides online substance abuse counseling where you can get help from the privacy of your own home. For more information, visit www.lionrockrecovery.com/podcast.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Subscribe and join our podcast community to hear amazing stories of courage and transformation. We are so grateful to our listeners and hope that you will engage with us. Please email us comments, questions, anything you want to share with us and how this podcast has affected you. Our email address is podcast@lionrockrecovery.com. We want to hear from you.