Welcome to a new content series called Beards Behind the Brand! Our goal with this new series is to feature empowering stories from our community to encourage and inspire each other to be the best we can be. This week we're featuring Live Bearded customer Michael Whitworth and his path to redemption.
It’s been said that the purpose of life is to create the best possible version of yourself.
And even though that’s a never-ending process, Michael Whitworth is the closest he’s ever been.
But it wasn’t always that way…
“I grew up in Reno, Nevada,” Michael said. “I was the last of 12 children and by the time I came along, my parents were pretty worn out. Because of this, I didn’t have much supervision and didn’t do very well in school. My father died when I was 16 which put an even more difficult financial burden on my family and destroyed me emotionally.”
Without much for youths to do in Reno, and without a constructive outlet, Michael turned to drugs and alcohol at a pretty young age. To help his mom make ends meet, he started working a full-time job in high school.
“I actually landed a pretty good job and ended up managing the store,” he said. “But drugs and alcohol were still a big part of my life at the time. I felt like I had it under control. When I was 21, I decided to get the hell out of Reno and moved across the country.”
Michael was able to grow a full-sized beard in high school. Even though he wasn’t 21, he was able to be served alcohol based on his looks at virtually any establishment. As time went on, he became a full-blown addict.
“I moved up the ladder in various jobs,” Michael added. “But as time went on, the consequences of my behavior began to escalate. I had several run-ins with the law and failed relationships. The one that ultimately ran the train off the tracks was a DUI in my company truck while out of state. Needless to say I lost my job, my license and pretty much all prospects of driving a commercial vehicle again or any job for that matter.”
During this time, he was in a relationship with his now-wife, Erika. They had a very young son together and she had three boys from a previous marriage.
“We loved each other deeply but we were a train wreck together,” Michael said of their life situations at the time. “We both were alcoholics and pretty much everyone we knew felt we were terrible for each other, except for us. But we were in this for the long-run come hell or high water.”
After losing his job, however, things went from bad to worse. They were evicted from their apartment. Erik really bad and we were evicted from our apartment. Erika took the kids to her mom’s house, but Michael was not welcome.
“For the first time in my life, I was unemployed and homeless,” Michael said. “My addiction was at its breaking point but I could not stay sober. Over all these years I attempted sobriety for days, weeks, even months at a time but could never maintain it. At this point I was literally sleeping on the streets.”
One day, Michael decided to panhandle and did pretty well. Erika and their son were in a hotel room waiting for him… and they decided to try it again the following day.
“This time we weren’t so lucky,” he said. “A security guard called the police and we were both intoxicated. Now this is where the story may seem unforgivable to some. And maybe it is. But we had our son with us and the police called the Department of Family and Child Services on us. Fortunately Erika’s ex-husband came and picked him up.”
In Michael’s mind, this was the worst possible set of events that could possibly happen. But as it turns out, it was exactly what they needed.
“We finally realized things had to change,” he said. “We both checked ourselves into rehab and worked hard at rebuilding our lives. We both have remained clean and sober. In fact, we just celebrated six years and are now homeowners. Our lives have increased exponentially.”
Micael’s advice to anyone going through tough times is to never give up. There are going to be times when it seems like nothing will get better, but it could turn out to be the best possible thing to get your life back on track.
“The steps you take and the height you aim to doesn’t have to be huge,” Michael said. “Slow and steady wins the race. When I got sober, if I had made a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish in the next six years, I would’ve sold myself short.”
Case in point: In an ironic twist of fate, Michael was actually rehired by the same company that he got the DUI in and has been with them for over three years now. Michael and Erika were married in front of all their family and friends who thought they’d never make it.
“Our kids are happy, beautiful and intelligent,” Michael said with a smile. “My wife is my rock. She loves my beard. My kids are my world, my beard is me. I get compliments on it daily. I really can’t imagine being without it. Live Bearded was the first product I tried and it is simply the best.”
At Live Bearded we believe Brotherhood goes beyond the beard. We believe it is our responsibility, as men, to do better every day, to learn from our mistakes, grow through our failures, and strive to be the best we can be.
Through sharing stories of the men in the Live Bearded Brotherhood, we're continually learning and growing from each other. If you are interested in being considered for a Beards Behind the Brand story, send us an email!