ann arbor, michigan
Despite his mother's dedication to her son, between the two full-time jobs she had to accomodate to make the rent payment with enough funds remaining to feed them, Griffon had a knack for acting out and causing trouble. He smoked his first cigarette at the age of 10 with one of his friend's older brothers, and unsuccessfuly attempted to steal his own pack from a convenience store shortly after. The consequences weren't entirely worth the punishment in the form of many hours of community service, but he liked the attention he gained from these events. What he did not realize was how much these actions were hurting his hardworking mother.
By the age of fourteen, he and one of the neighboring boys decided to go for a joyride in their mother's car. With the keys in their possession, the two of them decided to just drive around the block, windows down and music blasting; It was a beautiful expression of freedom. However, their excursion turned an unfortunate corner when the boys lost control of the car during one of the sharper turns, and went careening into a wall. The car was totalled.
Griffon had always known his mother loved him, and at no point was his objective to punish her for all the nights she worked to make sure they could get by, but she was at the end of her rope. Within one months time, Griffon was placed with his maternal grandparents who lived in a suburb of Los Angeles near a private school. He was to attend this private school under the terms that he reside exclusively with his grandparents, which Abigail reluctantly agreed to in order to save her son from the path he was on, something she believed would soon destroy his life.
Things were good for a while. Griffon was always greeted when he returned home with a freshly prepared meal and two grandparents who could be there for him all the time and provide some real stability. His grades started to rise and he fostered friendships with other children in his grade who were headed towards bright futures. At the age of sixteen, he started taking private lessons to learn how to play the guitar which he picked up quickly. The instrument helped him cope with his guilt that he felt over putting his mom in this situation, it helped him cope with the lack of father that he wished he'd always had, it helped him cope with the poor choices that he'd made in this life. He spent hours practicing, perfecting his craft, before he was approached by one of his friends who had an affinity for singing, with the prospect of starting a band. Griffon vehemently agreed.
After some searching and try-outs, two more members joined the ensemble and thus, their rockband was formed. The band stayed local as the boys progressed through school, playing gigs at other student's parties and at school talent shows, with the occasional appearance in public. The band, which through a number of name changes, officially became Chordata, was good. In fact, they were great. Propelled to finish his degree, Griffon's grades weren't exactly perfect, but he was passing and soon graduated with the rest of his friends.
Born at the second half of the year, Griffon was on the cusp of age eighteen when Chordata was approached with a signing deal. It wasn't a huge label, known mostly throughout the Los Angeles area, but it was enough to taste their dreams coming alive. With the documents signed, they began touring up and down the west coast.
Tour life was more hectic and crazy than anything the boys could have imagined, and also came with demons. His grandparents had tried to support him with the signing, but didn't feel right about Griffon being on his own in a world full of temptation. He was an unpredictable boy who functioned best with structure, and conditions of a tour would not provide such an environment. However, it was clear that he was going to go through with it whether they approved or otherwise, and without a clear solution in mind, Griffon soon caved to those temptations, ditched any semblance of stability, and by the following year had started an unsustainable cocaine habit.
Along with Jason, their drummer, the two boys would snort lines both before and after the show, usually already at a state of inebriation from the dozens of beers they had consumed by that point. It was a dangerous period in his life where everything seemed more surreal than concrete, and his life started to feel like it was living itself without his consent. He was spiraling-- though he couldn't ever quite say if it was up or down. The shows were growing in size, audiences calling their names as they expanded their tour through Texas and the South, and Griffon was soon in too deep to perform on some nights which forced the band to acquire a secondary guitarist under the guise of improving their rhythm. With a much more reliable guitarist at their disposal, Griffon was slowly being let go, though he was too high to even realize the progression until it was too late.
After a number of unsuccessful interventions, he was axed from the band, kicked from their tour bus with only the clothes on his back and a bag loaded with cocaine to get him by. He was too embarrassed to go home, too disgusted with himself to do anything but snort more cocaine. At this rate, he knew, and partially hoped, he would just die and stop bothering the world that he had always been a burden to.
The next month was a drug fueled haze. He found himself at parties, full of people he'd never met, consuming all the funds he'd acquired with Chordata in the form of white powder. He slept with women he never saw the faces of and woke up in the dirt or under a bridge. His whole world had collapsed in on itself, and he had squandered every good thing in his life. This all changed when the police were called one night when a woman stumbled upon Griffon on her porch steps, face dusted with white and not breathing.
Rushed to the hospital, his cocaine was confiscated and his family was contacted, who hadn't known his whereabouts in months. Abigail, along with his grandparents, convinced him to seek help, and Griffon, aware now how far past Rock Bottom he was, agreed.
While in the rehabilitation facility, Griffon found clarity as he realized he was sober for perhaps the first time in months, and without the cocaine to shield him from the world, the pieces were finally fitting together. With the help of his counselors and fellow peers, light started to come into his life again. One of the other patients by the name of Carolyn became his closest ally. The two of them found solace in their companionship, and once they were both clean again, started to see each other on the down low. She was a severe alcoholic with a family history that suffered the same, and made a pact with Griffon that so long as he kept his nose clean, she wouldn't touch a drop of alcohol. It was effective in that it fostered both independence and a co-dependency that would keep both of them away from their demons.
Love blossomed between the two, and they chose to co-habitate in a two bedroom apartment in the small city of Topanga, California. Carolyn was raised by her single father in it's city limits and found a comfort in returning there, which thus gave Griffon the same sort of comfort. Only one city away from his own family, he felt like he had a grasp on his life again, and even started an online degree program at UCSD while he worked as a guitar teacher for young children, hoping to pass that gift on to another young boy who needed some direction.
By his third year in the program, Griffon was finally independent once again, standing on his own two feet without the help of his grandparents, his mother, or even Carolyn and was providing for the family that he wanted to once have. He wanted to be that father that he never had, and a husband that his mother always deserved. Despite having his degree under his belt, he had trouble finding employment in the psychology field without a masters degree and chose to pursue his efforts as a guitar teacher, employed at the elementary school as a private instructor. He was making enough funds to support a family, and thus decided to propose to Carolyn. She emphatically accepted, and one year later, just months after Griffon's 23rd birthday, they were married in a beautiful chapel in Topanga.
Life was good. Their marriage was full of laughter and mutual respect, and they lived in that bungalow happily for the next five years. Carolyn was extremely close with her mother, calling home nearly everyday and desperately missing her childhood home, but she kept this quiet from Griffon. He had given her a nice life, a home to call theirs, and a wonderful marriage -- but her mother was aging, and she wracked her brain with guilt over missing those final years so far away. When she finally told him, there were a number of discussions, but ultimately, Griffon decided the best thing to do was to uproot and head for Michigan.
The first few weeks were spent in substance abuse counseling. They had been warned of big life changes like this and how the stress of it can bring about a desire to use again -- the last thing either of them wanted. Of course, it was a much smoother transition than they worried it would be; they found a larger home for a lower price, and both were able to find work without much trouble. It was at that point that Griffon decided he wanted to work in substance abuse and help others like him who fell to temptation. He could be an ally who understood, and save someone the way he could never save himself. After searching for a job in the field, he discovered that his education wasn't quite fitting the bill. The best course of action came in the form of beginning a masters of social work program at the university of michigan where he worked tirelessly for 16 months to get that degree.
His job search was much more fruitful by the end, landing him a job working with the Salvation Army as a Peer Support Coordinator where he would remain for years to come. The year came with even better news when Carolyn confirmed she was pregnant with their first child. However joyous the occasion, Griffon was worried sick. He had no idea how to be a father, having had zero male presence in his upbringing other than his elderly grandfather, and while it had always been something he wanted to eventually become, he wasn't sure that he could pull it off. It was a tremendous undertaking but he warmed up to the idea over the next nine months, solidifying that he could do this when he saw his daughter's face for the first time. Molly Abigail Clarke was 7 pounds and 10 ounces of absolute joy and brought a happiness into Griffon's life that he had not thought possible. He took to being a father well, and sang songs to his daughter every day with the help of his guitar. He wondered when he could teach her how to play, herself.
Caught up in the chaos of having an infant to worry about, Griffon was oblivious to the struggle that his wife experienced. Carolyn lost her carefree attitude, and the smile that was nearly a permanent fixture for years made less appearances as time went on. She was struggling silently with severe Post-Patrum depression. It was months before Griffon found out in the form of finding the anti-depressants in the back of the medicine cabinet, which spurred an argument as to why she never told him, to which she reminded him, he never asked. There was a tremendous amount of stress in Carolyn's life, and her desire to drink started to flare up, a detail she never shared with her husband.
On Molly's first birthday, things weren't good between Carolyn and Griffon. They were about to begin marriage counseling, and Carolyn still suffered from the effects of her depression, claiming she was completely over it while she stashed her prescriptions in more secretive places. Only two more months would pass before Griffon found her, post-seizure and not breathing, with a fifth of Jack Daniels clenched between her fingers.
Rushed to the hospital, Griffon was a wreck, demanding the doctors do more to save her life. She couldn't just die on him like this; he felt so deeply betrayed by both Carolyn and himself as he tracked the last year, realizing how absent he had been from her side. She fell into a coma once they pumped her stomach of what turned out to be alcohol, anti-depressants, and ibuprofen -- Griffon wondered how accidental the whole event really was. Less than two months later, she was gone and Griffon was left a widower and now a single father. He had lost his companion, his wife, and his closest ally. He was lost.
It wasn't long before he needed to move out of their home, haunted by dark memories. Choosing a less permanent option, he moved into Windsor Commons, an apartment complex in Ann Arbor not far from where he worked where he could raise his daughter as a single father. It's been three years, but with a combination of regular therapy and his daughter's welfare to think about, he's stayed on track better than he ever could have thought. Life is a little quieter, a little less full of light these days, but he's come to terms with his past and knows that he just needs to keep moving forward.