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Aubrey Zaruba: an inspirational story


Once Recovering Alcoholic, Now Entrepreneur

Over the course of our lives, as the years progress many things can change but you remain essentially the same person. I, however, feel that at this point have lived more than one life. It took the death of the old me to be reborn into a life worth appreciating where I get to make a positive impact in my life and others as well.

My name is Andy and as of now I’ve been sober for almost 7 years, even just writing it feels almost otherworldly, an overwhelming sensation comes to me when I reflect on that fact but it definitely was not easy, far from it. As I said, it took the death of me to be born again into this great life.

The Encounter

I was born in Colombia, but my family and I moved to Southern California in the mid-80’s; growing up in SoCal was awesome. My folks were both incredibly super hard working and they did nothing but provide for me and my little brother and sister.

My faithful encounter was with alcohol and happened when I was only 12 years old. You see, as colombians when my family would throw a party they would do it big, invite tons of people, with even greater amounts of food and, of course, a tons of alcohol too. Colombians absolutely love an anise-based alcohol beverage that they call Aguardiente (it’s a portmanteau of the spanish words for Burning Water), somewhat similar to vodka with much flavor and acidity. I was absolutely mesmerized watching the seemingly positive effect having this drink was having on the adults, every single time they would do shots of it they would scream and shout in celebration, my curiosity was running wild and really wanted to find out what was so special about this funny smelling water. I sneaked around when everyone was dancing or too busy stuffing food in their mouth to pay attention to me and had a zip off a glass; the taste was strong but I became completely enchanted by the sensation it gave me. Many years would pass before I realized that was the night where my spiraling descent began.

How it Continued

My teen years where were filled with a lot of consumption and experimentation. I continued to sneak around having alcohol at parties or when hanging with school friends. At 14 I tried marihuana for the first time and the same thing happened as with alcohol, I loved the feeling and kept consuming on a constant basis throughout the years. Then at 19 years old I tried Meth, this would prove to ultimately be the beginning of my end. I ran absolutely wild with drugs and alcohol for about 4 years, and went as far as to start selling it just to get my hands on it easier while making a buck (ok, tons of bucks). Until life caught up with me and I was arrested at 23 years old with the charges of possession and intent of distribution, put on trial and sentenced for 2 years in prison because it was my first offense. At the time it felt like hitting rock bottom.

While in prison I was introduced to both the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) programs. At first going to these meeting was just a way of killing time, this is prison after all and there wasn’t much to do, but that was the extent of me in the meetings, going; I wouldn’t utter a single word and would hardly listen what others were sharing. To me it was nothing but nonsense and I had convinced myself I did not had a problem. As time went by I kept going to the meetings and some of the stories the inmates were sharing started to resonate with me.

There was one that really touched me, an older guy who used to be a physician stood up and share his story about how his angers and rage fueled by drugs and alcohol ultimately destroyed the life he had with his wife, the love of his life; he shared that no matter how hard she try to support him and be there for him and how she blamed herself thinking she was guilty for his behavior, ultimately she came to his senses and abandoned him. To hear of this person’s story made me realize how I absolutely didn’t want to lose the one woman I love and loves me, my mother.

One Last Fall

When I was finally released my outcome on life had changed but there were still several foundations that needed to be shattered and I would learn this the hard way, and even though I was still attending AA/NA meetings it wasn’t long before I relapsed several time. I decided the best course of action was to check into a rehab center in Boise, Idaho. By this point in time I was 26 drenched in shame and lacking a focal point, so I went the route of the prodigal son after exiting the rehab center and moved back with my parents in California, there I got a job as a salesman selling knock-off products, mostly colognes and perfumes. And I was good, very good at it.

Once again, you cannot learn of things while they’re undergoing it’s only through retrospective that we learn. I became a very proficient salesman, to the point that I even earned my very own office space and was training people to sell the knock-offs, I needed to be the best, sell the most and show the most impressive results. It became very apparent very quickly that I was obsessed about it, sometimes even skipping meals and neglecting my friends and family to focus on the work. This was my true rock bottom, the realization that I wasn’t cured of my disease, I wasn’t sober at all for I had simply exchanged drugs and alcohol for work.

Rebirth

Thanks to an AA sponsor, I enrolled in a community college course about HTML and Website Design, I’ve always had a liking for computers and internet. This was the beginning of my rebirth, my old self had been beaten bloody so hard, but that was necessary for me to experience a new age, go back to school if you will. As part of that new journey I decided to revisit my roots and travel to Colombia. I fell in love with my natal city and decided to settle and create a business here.

Fast forward 7 years and I’m now the proud owner of a profitable Online Marketing Agency where we provide great online services to many US companies. The staff in the agency doesn’t work for me, they work with me and have become my family, as a matter of fact my younger brother followed me to Colombia and works with me.

I now understand that everything that went down in all those years of my life, needed to to in order to give me the sight and vision to follow a path where I can positively impact other people’s lives and by extension my own. Having a clear focus and an incredible support group give me the confidence to say: Sobriety is Awesome!

Thanks you for taking the time to read my story.



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