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May 9, 2021

My Favorite Author on Elephant Journal…and maybe yours too

My Favorite Author on Elephant Journal…and after this, he might be yours too.

There’s a writer around these parts that goes by the name of Jake Fortin. I know him as Senior, and I also know him as my best friend.

If you’ve ready any of this writing, you’ve probably picked up on how intelligent, articulate, funny, and incredibly wise he is. I could go on, but I don’t want to make his head so big that it injures his neck.

I digress. Jake has written many wonderful, impactful pieces on Elephant Journal particularly. And I know that those have helped me out time an again. But it’s easy to “say” things, or “sound good” without much, if any, implementation of such suggestions. I think we’re all guilty of that. Except for jake. He does what he says he will, and he takes sole responsibility for everything. Everything.

If I only knew Jake for the first night I met him, I would forever be indebted to his kindness. Lucky for me, I’m still working on finding whatever redeeming qualities I have that has made him want to stay close. But he has, and I’ve become a better man for it.

I’m making this sound like I was some sort of scoundrel and Jake showed me the light…it wasn’t quite like that. Here’s how it went down.

I showed up to a recovery center in the middle of the woods on January 3rd 2020. This was my first time going to a drug and rehab facilitation center and many of even more close friends still have no idea. Not because I was hiding it, and I’m the fursthest thing from ashamed for getting help. It was a mix of not wanting to worry anyone, and because I was one of those alcoholics that was often judged (especially by myself) because I hadn’t been drinking that long, I had a nice apartment, relatively financially well to do, owned a company. But as many of us in recovery have come to find, addiction doesn’t spare anyone from any group. I met plenty of other “functioning” alcoholics, and I met a lot of people who had been living on the streets. But first, I met Jake.

I first noticed Jake as I was waiting by the nursing station to get my room assignment for detox. When I spotted this young(ish) guy…I think 31 at the time,. He had a mohawk, tatoos, a style that I’ll call grunge/punk/hardcore heavy-metal motherfucker. With a nose ring and mohawk that was in surprisingly good shape given how disheveled he looked.

By “Disheveled” his eyes were wide, his speech was somewhat rushed but calm. He introduced himself with surprising manners and eloquence, but he still looked suspect as anything. And I was really hoping that he wasn’t going to be my roommate. But he was. And I’ll be forever grateful for that.

From the minute we stepped into our little room, Jake first apologized if he kept me up.

“Hey man, I’m really sorry, it’s been a hell of a trip to get here and I haven’t slept in 3 days. If I’m too loud or disturbing you I’ll go out into the lounge area, no problem. I have plenty of letters to write.”

­Oh, thanks man! I think I’ll be okay though. I haven’t been sleeping much myself. This is all pretty fresh.

“Well hey brother, I know how that goes. I was here 2 years ago, and I was doing really well – and then, fuck, I don’t know. But I got myself here, it was really fucking hard but I did it. I didn’t kill myself and I’m going to kick it for good this time”

Wow man, I can’t even imagine. I really admire you. I’m hoping for one and done

“You can do it, dude, if I could, you can. Hey, do you want some blue pens to write home? My sister gave me a bunch of pens and I’m trying to write some letters to my ex-girlfriend’s (it’s complicated) daughter. But I have a bunch of blue pens and I only like black.”

Hey, thanks man! That would be great.

“Sure no problem! Oh, and if you need a razor or anything like that just let me know, I forgot a bunch of shit the first time and didn’t know what to bring. Don’t worry though, I’ll show you the ropes.”

We kept talking long into the morning hours. Both of us finally feeling that we could take about the uncomfortable things, without making the other uncomfortable…suicide, when it was really, really bad, how the fuck we even made it here…ya know. Not the standard dinner table conversations.

For the next 3 days I didn’t do much but sleep. The valium taper they put me on knocked me out. I would wake up in the middle of the day and Jake would have brought back a styrofoam container filled with breakfast and/or lunch for me. I mean, I really slept. I tried to be social and go up to the main cabin for a playoff game Bills vs. someone that was not the Bills – we had a lot of very loud, very proud Bills fans. I fell asleep through all the screaming. I’m glad nobody narcanned me, I believe they were considering it.

Anyway, out of detox, I started making it to classes and activities. I hung by Jake as most as I could. Rarely do I feel so connected to someone in such a short amount of time. And although I met plenty of truly, wonderful people that I would love to be in closer contact with today, Jake was one of those people that I never doubted would be a big part of my life for the remainder of my years. We were both lucky to wind up in such a fantastic rehabilitation center, but I was even more lucky to find a best friend that I trust more than anyone.

I know so many of Jakes’s struggles, and those are not my stories to tell. What I can tell you is that when I’ve been at my absolute bottom, I remember that I have the support of a guy who’s been through situations that would make just about anyone call it quits. And he hasn’t. And he won’t.

I’ve never met anyone with his mix of intellect, work-ethic, and kindness. And it’s an amazing feeling to be able to truly aspire to be more like one of your best friends. Just knowing that I have him in my corner keeps me going on the worst of days, and many of my best days are spent with him.

These are just some of the things I want everyone to know about Jake Senior Fortin. And I wanted to share it with Elephant Journal because I know he’s touched so many lives here as well.

Love you buddy,
Thanks for reading everyone else.

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