Saving Grace: Island native discovers that music is a tool for living and overcoming addiction | Characteristics
Wherever life took Island native Collin Eaton, music always seemed to be a part of it.
As well as listening to the tastes of his parents, Eaton, 30, was surrounded by music when he attended the Island Baptist Church where his parents performed in the church choir and eventually followed in their footsteps. by joining the children’s choir.
“When they went to choir practice, I would usually go with them…and I loved being there,” Eaton said. “I just liked to hear music, see music, listen to music….”
Eaton became more active at age 15 when he began learning guitar from Wayne Morris, the church’s youth and music minister, when Eaton took over the place of his younger brother Tanner who was initially enrolled in courses.
The relationship between Eaton and Morris grew, with Eaton taking lessons every week after school and Morris even challenging Eaton early on.
“Wayne made a deal with me. … He said, ‘I’m going to teach you, but I’m only going to teach you if you learn and play and sing something in church someday’” , Eaton said.
Initially hesitant, Eaton didn’t back down and began practicing daily at home learning worship music to play, which brought him more enjoyment than just playing.
“At that time, it was very important to me to have that alone time with my guitar and God and to have that interpersonal worship time,” Eaton said.
Eaton began to expand his palette and explored the works of John Mayer, Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz in order to learn more familiar songs, while fighting his mindset of “trying to please people because I don’t didn’t agree with me on the inside”. ”
“…I was really living a lot of my life based on how (some) action is going to make me look like (someone) because I don’t like myself, I don’t agree with me, I hate myself,” Eaton said. “I was very codependent and people-pleasing, so all my worth was based on what I could get someone else to say what they thought of me.… I needed to have that verbal affirmation….
His self-image, coupled with toxic friendships and relationships, led Eaton to drop out after a year at the University of Kentucky in 2010 when he was overcome with anxiety and depression.
As he began to hatch a plan to get back on track, Eaton found himself heading in a different direction.
“I started hanging out with people I’ve known forever and—I don’t know why—I was never tempted by the party scene; it was never my thing,” Eaton said. “But I came home and was hanging out with some friends…and they offered me a shot…and I liked the way it burned. And then I liked it after a couple; (it was) like a “social lubricant”. I went from doing nothing for the first 18 years of my life to going from zero to 100 very quickly.
Eaton began to get people’s attention during these events, which gave him a certain confidence that overcame his self-reflection.
Eaton was not pressured into the party lifestyle or committed to the scene consistently, but was still introduced to other vices such as marijuana, which helped him. to escape his internal reality.
“I didn’t have to deal with the soundtrack of my life playing inside of me,” Eaton said. “…I told myself that I was not worthy and that I was not good enough; and when I was stoned or drunk, I didn’t feel those things. He almost cut that soundtrack or even threw it and put a new soundtrack on….
In mid-2011, Eaton began experimenting with narcotics and painkillers, which he remembers from when he was “willing to try anything” to keep people enjoying his company while showing success on the surface. continuing to perform at church and holding on to land a full-time job.
“I was that false prophet, if you will,” Eaton said. “I was a hypocrite. I would sing a song meant to worship the one I believe to be my creator, the one who is responsible for all things in my life, good and bad. But I was doing it higher than a kite and I was doing it because I was hoping someone after the service would come and say, ‘I like the sound of your voice’ or ‘Man, this song really touched today” and not give some glory to God than to take it for me…”.
Eaton continued down the path trying Adderall, which led to speed and methamphetamine before entering hot water where he was given a pretrial diversion for possession of methamphetamine.
He received three years of probation, but was facing a five-year prison sentence over his head.
After failing a previous drug test, Eaton “freaked out” when approached for another random drug test, speaking to his probation officer and admitting he had a problem.
“I really, really didn’t want to stop using drugs at this point,” Eaton said. “I just didn’t want to go to jail.”
Eaton’s probation officer saw a substance abuse counselor to get Eaton into CenterPoint Men’s Recovery Center in Paducah for six months, only to relapse meth and snort heroin for the first time about a month after graduation.
His ex-girlfriend, who found Eaton’s supplies, encouraged him to return to treatment for another six months, followed by a three-month stint as a peer mentor for people battling a similar fight before returning to McLean County in 2018 before moving to Owensboro a few years later.
Eaton has since been employed in the McLean County Clerk’s Office, married his wife Corie in 2020 and is currently expecting his first child this summer.
On March 30, Eaton will celebrate five years of sobriety.
“It was one of the best things that ever happened to me,” Eaton said.
The self-doubt returns over time, but Eaton said it wasn’t as exacerbated.
“Do I have breakouts? Absoutely. Do I have times when I just want people to like me? Absolutely – just for selfish (reasons). … I just don’t want people cringing when I walk into a room,” Eaton said. “But I don’t lose sleep over it anymore. It doesn’t weigh that much.
Throughout Eaton’s journey, the music was there through times that seemed dark.
“The music, at first, was just something I loved. I loved the sound, … it wasn’t just aural pleasing to me; it was like sensory overload. loved every aspect of it,” Eaton said. “…Once I (started) using, I still loved it and still had a passion for it…. The little spark of happiness or of joy that flowed from it (was) generally attributed in one way or another to the music.
Currently, Eaton is on the Worship Team at Walnut Memorial Baptist Church and Youth Worship Leader in hopes of starting a small youth group and giving back the same way Morris did for Eaton years ago.
He also lends his time to the Lewisport-based worship committee for Fireside Ministries and works with campus ministries at Kentucky Wesleyan College.
Although he doesn’t feel like the strongest guitarist or vocalist and doesn’t feel the strength to write his own material, Eaton doesn’t lose sight of why music is still a part of from him.
“It gives me what I need,” Eaton said. “…It’s euphoric. It really is possible. …It gives me a kind of tingle inside of me…. For me, music… is just a way that I love and there’s no need for words about it; just an expression of admiration, gratitude and appreciation for who i have been, where i came from and where i am now and where i am going….
And it’s also more useful.
“It’s almost as natural as breathing…. A guitar in my hands is where I feel at home. … It’s been such a therapeutic tool for me during my recovery and it just means more now,” Eaton said. “It’s not something I do because I want people to think about me more – it’s more of a tool I use to try to glorify whoever got me through the worst of the worst.”
“I’m just blessed. Music has played such a central role not only in my life, but also in my faith, my sobriety, my testimony and my ministry. It’s a part of me to the core. I think we all get gifts and the music is one of mine.