019 - Frank Eisenhauer from Buena Vista Health
Frank Eisenhauer of Buena Vista Health joins us to talk about his spiritual awakening. He had the hopes and talent to be a professional baseball player, but after a 20 year binge on drugs and alcohol, it took prison time and a spiritual awakening to get his life turned around. He now works with prisoners and parolees as they start their journey towards recovery. Enjoy.
The Illuminate Recovery Podcast is about Mental Health, Mental Illness, and Addiction Recovery. Shining light on ways to cope, manage, and inspire. Beyond the self care we discuss, you may need the help of a licensed professional. Curt Neider and Shelley Mangum are a part of Illuminate Billing Advocates. They are committed to helping better the industry and adding value to the lives of listeners by sharing tools, insights, and success stories of those who are working on their mental health.
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frank eisenhower from buena vista health joins us to talk about his spiritual awakening he had the hopes and talent to be a professional baseball player but after a 20-year binge on drugs and alcohol it took prison time and a spiritual awakening to get his life turned around he now works with prisoners and parolees as they start their journey towards recovery enjoy welcome to the illuminate recovery podcast we shed light on mental health issues mental illness and addiction recovery ways to cope manage and inspire beyond the self-care we will discuss you may need the help of a licensed professional my name is kurt knighter i'm a husband father entrepreneur a handyman and a student of life i avoid conflict i deflect with humor and i'm fascinated by the human experience and i'm shelley mangum i am a clinical mental health counselor and my favorite role of all times is grandma i am a seeker of truth and i feel like life should be approached with tremendous curiosity i ask the dumb questions i fill in the gaps frank it's um it's an absolute pleasure to have you come on the podcast today and share maybe a little bit of your story and your experience and um some of the the journey along the way and um so thanks welcome thank you the pleasure is all mine i'm grateful to be here guys thank you i know that frank frank eisenhower is with buena vista and a treatment facility and i'll let him talk about that a little bit um but frank what you know what is what i'm interested to hear and i was actually before we got on i was listening to a podcast that you did with um chris cling did i say that right kling incredible interventionist so i know you've got a lot of experience in that realm but like you know i suspect like most young boys you know you maybe you wanted to be a a firefighter or policeman or maybe you played you know you know cops and robbers or or cowboys and indians which you know were things that we did when we were little um and and today you're you know full grown and you've come a whole long journey what's happened between now and then and and how is that uh dream as a little guy to be a firefighter changed well um funny story is that i hope i'm not going way off track here but my real father was um he was actually murdered in the mob okay um and that was when i was very young my stepfather who stepped in the picture when i was very young as well um was actually law enforcement so he was a chicago policeman homicide detective in gang unit in chicago for 17 years and i wish i would have followed his guidance that's all i can say you know i was i was on track to be a professional athlete baseball um chain of events kind of led me down the wrong road i guess if you will and it kind of uh snowballed and before i knew it i was kind of so far away from the dream of being somewhat normal that i i just lost complete track of who i was the individual that's a pretty that's a pretty huge gap between you know having your your father your biological father i imagine be heavily in the gang activity and and then have a police officer as a father that that almost sounds traumatic in and of itself you know i didn't i didn't even learn of this until i was about 14 years old so you know my mom trying to do the right thing protected me from that for reasons i'm sure um that i didn't understand at the time but when i when i when i was notified that i had a real dad and how he had been murdered and that i had another whole side of my story that threw me into complete disarray you know i didn't know what my identity was i didn't know who i was anymore i thought this is my perfect little life in the nice suburban neighborhood in arizona playing baseball you know great neighborhood then i learned of this whole other side of my story that just really like i said man it was just completely tailspin and from that point on out man it was it was downhill from there from the time i was about 14 is when i really started dabbling with alcohol and marijuana and dabbling with like meth here and there and then age 21 is when i i really i really i found something that really made me feel better that was uh intravenous uh opium opiates it wasn't heroin yet it was uh pharmaceutical grade um opiates and that was that was it so up to that point your stepfather you thought this was you thought this man was your biological father yeah i called him dad you know and you know when my dad was murdered when i was very very young um i i was too young i had a few memories but i didn't even recollect those memories until later on in life but you know he he treated me as a son um you know i called him dad and then that day uh when my my grandparents found my mother and said we want to see our grandson and i don't know what that looked like but she was pretty she she didn't um she made it happen so this wasn't this wasn't something that she had been building up to she didn't she hadn't been preparing with a story she wasn't it wasn't anything like that this was grandma and grandpa show up they want access yep she caves so it's just everybody's shell shocked here yes yep including my general stepfather that had been protecting us from this lifestyle you know and then all of a sudden i'm sure he felt betrayed at some point because our relationship went downhill my mother was just like you know it was just a mess and mob often is family oriented right so was grandma and grandpa i mean are they they still involved in kind of organized crime or they completely different and separated i mean they sure off the record they were probably somehow connected grandpa was you know i mean um my my other my other uncle my dad's brother had got murdered in a milk truck heist a few years before my dad and then my other uncle was uh i don't really know the whole story but he got he got into law enforcement and i don't know exactly why i've been really didn't really fit the bill that was straight up or not huh right is this so is this interaction with grandma and grandpa is this a one-time thing have you stayed in contact since did that no was there a relationship there they're both deceased um i saw them for two summers in a row you know and then i stayed in contact with them for a little bit and then when i started getting heavily into drugs 18 is like when i got got out on my own is when i really got heavy into you know drinking and dabbling with meth and um weed and hallucinogenics and stuff like that and i kind of lost contact with everybody for about 20 years until i got sober when i was 40. and they had deceased um years ago both of them my uncle just passed away i didn't really talk with him very much we didn't have a lot in common um and i still talk to one of my aunts and through and funny enough so through that my first interaction with my grandparents when i went back to chicago and i you know i thought i was gonna go visit these strangers i walked into the house and i remembered everything it was it was wild like i remembered the smell of the house i remembered everything and so they told me because my mom i mean this is we still haven't really talked about this but she told me that he had got killed in a fire because he was uh he did fire fighting um he was on the um you're like a part-time fight what is the reserves or something so she told me he'd gotten killed in the fire not expecting my grandparents to spill the beans and they said yeah your dad got killed like he got murdered and they went into detail how it had happened and it was pretty brutal and he said oh and you also have a brother and sister i was like oh wow okay so that on top of all these things i'm learning i have a brother and sister who don't want anything to do with me because i was you know my dad lived that lifestyle of being with um several women at a time the mob life you know italian guy good looking dude money power women um you know my mom was the side piece one of them so when his family his son and daughter found out that i was in the picture like they didn't want to do with me and it wasn't until about i think two years ago my sister found me on linkedin and she reached out she goes hey if you're frank dibartolo um we may be related and i was like i've been waiting for that day forever and like we talked and we she came out and visited and we just like reminisce we didn't reminisce but like we you know we're blood like she knew my dad i didn't know my dad that was her daddy you know like she just painted a picture of who he was the individual and um you know it was a lot of really cool closure finally because my whole life man i felt like you know [ __ ] i'm not good enough for these guys they didn't want to do with me like what did i do wrong well finally when i got sober at 40 i was like you know what ain't my problem and i you know like i a lot of closure came to me when i finally had that burning bush moment and got sober you know but then just things started falling into place for me so wow that's a lot that's a lot of history and a lot of action going on how did baseball play into all of that uh sorry i i mean i played baseball from the time i was six years old i was just a natural and um by the time i was in high school i was already having scouts come out and check me out at sophomore junior year i mean i had a bright bright future in baseball i was just i had the natural ability to just dominate on the baseball field man and um it just slowly kind of trickled to things less important and girls are more important and partying was more important getting in fights was more important and you know and that just became i just lost the passion to play baseball because you know i was just so in an emotional tail spin i guess you could say that i just i forgot that was one of my passions because i just got sucked into the vortex of you know um my identity and and just not knowing who i was as a person anymore you know i mean that's a lot for a 14 year old kid to take on that's a that's a heavy burden or not even a burden but it's a heavy realization to you know to come to terms with you know at 14 and like here i am this person nope that's not who you are this is who you are and i i just couldn't comprehend the gravity of that situation you know so so how did that kind of bombshell affect the relationship that you had with your mom what happened to that trust level you know man um i don't think any kind of trust was broken because i couldn't fully comprehend and i'm gonna be really frank here that when i was younger man i was i was clueless i was just i was clueless you know i i didn't put two and two together i i didn't hold her um i don't want to say accountable but i didn't i had no grudge against her you know like i i mean obviously i wondered like why you know i was more mad at my dad you know i kind of just i guess innately understood that my mom was probably protecting me once i found out the real background of my dad who he was as a person he was a pretty brutal individual you know so um and i started hearing little stories throughout my life and especially in the last five years i heard a lot of stories especially with my sister like she told me a lot of things that really clarified a lot of things and made perfect sense like why she protected me from that lifestyle and um yeah it makes sense man that's crazy yeah so what did obviously that's i mean you hear that story and to me i think it's just you know uh that sounds like a really ripe place for addiction right i mean or emotional challenges right and trauma and that kind of thing what did how did you get from there to recovery you know what's the what's the end of that story where you start to get some of that you know emotional insight and change again i i was i was clueless up till the age of 40. um i i was in and out of probation um i went to prison in 08 i went again in 15 and i stayed sober for any time i was sober it was because i was incarcerated i didn't know what recovery was i didn't know i wanted recovery i didn't know what lied on the other side of recovery of addiction i just i had i was clueless man i thought that was my life that's the way it's going to end and that was it um so 2015 i mean i'm i'm heavy heavy heavy heavy into meth amphetamine um i was on a i think it was an eight or nine year binge you know again the only time i was sober i got incarcerated for a short time or whatever but 2015 i picked up some heavy charges looking at six to 15 years in prison because of my priors and for the last 18 months of my freedom i was suicidal and i just wanted to kill myself and i was trying to figure out a way how i could kill the cop and the cop could kill me and just all kinds of things were going through my head and um finally i mean and this this is what's really cool is that looking back on all these things when i finally had that burning bush moment that's god was already present in my life and i thought he had abandoned me a long time ago i was very mad at god not that i didn't believe in him that i was very angry with him like why'd you take my dad at 40 years old so having that mentality um that speaks volumes of where i was mentally right um so you know he he was he was already showing off my life setting up these these next um next steps in my life so i i go into court and i'm expecting to get six to 15 years and um it was my last court date the last continuance that i was allowed to have the prosecutor actually turned over evidence to the to the judge that liberated me of that sentence and i was sentenced to a mandatory four months for an aggravated dui and because of the weapons charge i had which was a man mandatory with no priors was five years but the police report didn't align with the dash cam footage and the process or the the judge said yeah i can't i can't sentence them to this time i'm going to give him a five-year probation tale i'm gonna go do four months in department of corrections and then you know that's it so i had every intention of staying on drugs in fact when i got taken into custody i had an eight ball of meth in my in my boot thinking i could sneak it into jail and stay hyped i got the prison yard or whatever and god had other plans for me um i didn't get snuck in and the first day i'm in jail i'm like sucks you know i am 40 years old going to prison again the next morning i woke up hopeless and sober for the first time and i reached for a bible and i opened up the bible and i read the scripture man and god revealed himself to me full blown right then and there it was it was the most intense experience i've ever had in my life surpassed any drug anything it was just intense and he he revealed himself to me and i felt the love and peace of of jesus christ right there that that enveloped me and i knew everything was going to be okay and he you know i i'm not going to say i heard it out loud but i i inaudibly heard him saying everything's going to be fine give me three years give me you know have faith in me and i and i i bought it and i believed it and i felt it and that carried me through the next four months in doc i got aligned with the right people in there the right books just really focused on and it wasn't the 12 steps but when i got out and saw what the 12 steps were that's exactly what i had done and what i started doing was going to the 12 steps making amends to people accepting responsibility accountability all those things and i really changed my life in there when i when i came out with all the obstacles i was supposed to you know overcome they weren't obstacles anymore like it was just like okay it's part of the path and it was very it was almost effortless man for me you know um i got out i got enrolled in college at age 40 years old immediately i went to college and i signed up for this college and i started going to college i got a dishwashing job for 11 an hour and i was washing dishes and i mean one thing led to another man i started a recovery program at this college and started getting all this momentum there and then um the opportunity for me to get into the field finally presented itself through all these amazing synchronicities and god shots man and next thing i know i'm down in tucson working at the facility working with probation and parole you know really developing business with those agencies the treatment center i was working at down there because that's what i knew man i didn't know what business development was but i knew i could help people and part of my revelation that i had was on a prison yard and i'm standing there looking around and i'm like it was one of those god shots those moments because i was super connected i just it was revelation after revelation after epiphany in prison is just like oh my god oh my god i was just like waking up and so alive and i had this revelation that i was going to come back into these prisons and help people and you know it's pretty odd thought to have when you're standing on a yard with a bunch of convicts thinking yeah i'm coming back in and i'm helping people well that that happened you know like i i i speak at parole um orientations i speak to people on probation i i work with pos and parole officers and i've been back into prison and talked to guys in there and it's it's crazy you know god has been so present my life once i finally allowed him into my life it's just been uh it's a charmed blessed life man it's crazy so frank before before you had this revelation in in prison what was your exposure to god before that in spirituality my grandma used to you know drag me to catholic church with her and i hated it you know i like i said i was very i was very i don't know ignorance the right word but i was very just blind to things when i was younger i i didn't understand the meaning of spirituality you know i didn't i just thought god was the guy in the sky you know i really had no understanding of god other than me being really mad at him you know for him taking my dad and for him making my life this way blaming everybody about myself and taking responsibility for you know where i was you know that was that was the only perception i had a goddess he's mean you know that's i think that's an incredible step to go from you know that kind of perception of god to being open to what he has to say to you or whatever that experience was like for you that seems like a a huge leap yeah it was i mean it was it was totally unexpected you know i guess what they call it in the rooms is the burning bush and like it was it was there was nothing i was gonna do about it there was no fighting it was it was so real and so intense that it was like holy [ __ ] okay okay i hear you well and it's interesting that you that you chose to pick up the bible right that you know like maybe that was the only connection that you could have right there and then but it's it's just it's interesting how the series of events and a lot of people that i talk to they have these pivotal moments in their lives right and they can pinpoint those pivotal moments yeah yeah and they're ever present in my everyday life man this is just you know being able to work with this population of individuals that are somewhat motivated to get sober and they just need a little bit of encouraging and motivation to be able to carry those guys through has been it's just i i can't like when i look back on where i was six years ago and where i am today and i have families calling me and parole officers and pos and other agencies calling me and individuals calling me and trusting me with their lives like that's just that's god it's nothing i did you know it's just being an instrument of god and allowing him to work through me you know i i have a i'm just absolutely curious and so i have kind of a nerdy therapist question and you may not even know what i'm talking about but but go with me if you can so i was in a training here not terribly long ago it was probably before pre-covet and they were talking about generational wounds that we you know this idea that we bring these generational wounds from our ancestors maybe you know maybe our dads and our moms or our grandmas and grandpas or even before that um do you feel like you carry some of that generational wound from you know your dad and maybe some of that so is that like cell memory yeah some something like that i mean there's a whole theory around it but cell memory and and maybe wounds that you know it's genetic because you're you've got their genetic inside of you but you have you bring their trauma on some level inside your body i i definitely believe in that and i believe i unknowingly believed in that philosophy but when i had like that moment and there were a lot of them too i mean after the first initial one like it was just non-stop i was just always i always had chills and i was always just like always choking up but i felt all that stuff being released from me like not even through therapy it was just like just god just saying just letting these things go and like you don't have to carry this anymore and having the faith to know that i didn't have to carry those things like i mean i haven't been through therapy you know and god knows you guys don't know the half of what like there's a lot of things i'm obviously not sharing with y'all but i mean there's i probably should have been through therapy you know but i i really feel like god just let all those things go when i when i gave the over the power to god to take those things from me i don't i don't feel like i carry that stuff anymore you know i just don't so how do you go from that to convince people to come into treatment you're not a very good example of treatment right i know right um i mean that's a really good question i think i have the innate ability and and i've been blessed with having people trust me to follow these steps to you know i mean what what i say to a lot of these kids and a lot of these ones that i have this conversation with is that you know do you believe in god yeah or not even asking though like but you know you got to understand like what i've been through and for me to be in your life right now that's god right now like me me being in front of you right now and and coaxing you over this finish line and into treatment motivating you you got to understand that's a guy shot because i shouldn't be here right now and i'm blessed to be able to be here and having the opportunity to help you get across this line and get to the light um you know that that's usually all it takes man and you know my lived experience too you know um they listen to me because my testimony i mean i have some pictures that i'd show you guys you'd be like that ain't you it's me you know um you know fully redeemed and and uh i mean the transformation in my life spiritually mentally physically just in every aspect of my life is just 180 180 degrees different than it was uh six years ago you know yeah you you've got like a healthy aura right have you always been physically fit you've always been in good shape or is this a recent thing too um no when i was in high school obviously i was fit you know and then after high school you know you start shooting heroin in your neck and you know cocaine and alcohol you kind of get out of shape and you know um and then you get on meth so i was my addiction consisted of cocaine alcohol heroin and benzos for 10 years and then i went to treatment for 30 days and came home sober um on suboxone and a bunch of pharmaceuticals so i'm like i could drink and i can do cokes don't have a problem with that stuff it was only heroin and you know i got like the day i came home from treatment i got coke and started drinking and smoking pot doing my adderall and my xanax and my suboxone and all that stuff and then i was introduced to meth and so yeah i was i haven't been physically cognizant for 20 years prior to my my sobriety from 18 to 20 18 to 40 i was pretty messed up looking you know so crazy what's the program like at buena vista tell us about you know what you're doing now what's what's the what are the focuses there and and you know what are the what are kind of the high i'd say high points of of what you guys are accomplishing well we we have 155 inpatient beds here man and um so my job is is business development representative so like i said i'm working with parole for so we accept medicaid um for detox and intensive outpatient and our tucson facility accepts medicaid for the full continuum our chandler facility which is another so chandler and tucson are both 70 bed facilities okay there's 35 beds of detox 35 bed residential tucson is this medicaid heavy um chandler is commercial um and then we have the 14 bed detox it's kind of like a boutique detox 14 bed detox up in near cave creek arizona we accept the medicaid and commercial there as well but our focus man is really just just to get the word out in the community to you know obviously i love working with individuals that are that have my kind of story on probation on access very limited income getting them through our detox and plugged into the community resources that we have here you know we have we work with a lot of great programs in the valley that have little i don't want to say boutique treatment curriculums but it they're they're not large facilities you know 15 20 30 bed facilities for the for the medicaid population um however our business model is is really focused on um commercial you know so we you know we we have the we have the 35 bed residential and 35 bed detox in chandler and then the 14 bed detox which is mainly mostly commercial so um i think i kind of got lost on the question i forgot what the question was man that's what you're doing that's that's what you answered so um so detox detox heavy right we've had um we've had a couple of people recently where you know the conversation was really they never looked for treatment right and whether they were in jail or whether they were in kind of a forced detox right at some point someone showed up from a facility yeah gave him a quick heads up you know and had had some magnetism and had some positivity in their life where you know that person walked out of whatever their circumstances was right into treatment without really having ever considered it right right prior to that because they just didn't have hope right they had they had the guilt and they had the shame and they had all of the negativity there and so i i mean i think that can have a little bit of a stigma of like i think those relationships are very valuable right both for you guys as a detox but also as a as a treatment facility and i think when you talk about going into prisons right when you talk about putting yourself in a position where you really can't market to right this isn't yeah this isn't search engine optimization this isn't getting a billboard up this isn't any of the traditional streams you've really got to go out and you've got to build those relationships you've got to be you know an approachable and understand person understandable person like you are right and so um you know to me it's obvious that you'd have success right you know that you've got a lot of the intangible elements as a person of saying you know this is if if if i could do this you can too come up together right yeah so i think that's awesome that's amazing yeah so frank do you um do what do you see in your future do you see you do you know doing this kind of work for ever or do you see something beyond this interventions that's that's my long-term professional goal i think is to be able to do interventions and what does that look like in what terms in in two terms in how do you become an interventionist and then what you know what do you what does an interventionist do and who are they connecting with well i mean if i can just be real i think we there's been plenty of times we perform interventions on a non-i mean but not interventions you know there's plenty of times where i meet with a family and an individual who's just like f this i'm not going to treatment f you the fru you know that that is that you know everything and i come into the mix and i'm able to talk to the individual pull them aside and kind of coach the family through it on what's the word uh unofficially um you know i think that that's what i was groomed to do through life i have the live experience i i had that i have lived experience men you know i'll just leave it at that um i'm effective working with individuals and families getting the families to understand you're approaching it wrong or hey like just it's just a natural ability like baseball for me getting somebody to commit to treatment or to least sit down and listen if it doesn't happen today they're going to call me a couple weeks like hey i think i'm ready you know and that's just happy having the patience and professionalism to to be able to approach them the right way man you know i mean i i that's where i'm going to be next time we talk within a year or two that's my prediction is i'll be somewhere doing interventions you mentioned explaining to the family that you know they're doing it wrong to me that seems like maybe half the battle right sometimes it seems like it'd be a challenge to be able to to come to this family and who's expecting you to do the work right help us fix this individual in our family and have to be able to have the conversation you know some of this might be your fault [Laughter] that's hard to take on as a family right and and let's say the individual does get fixed by some miracle you know you or the solution and they they leave and come back the family can't be the same there has to be changes on on on kind of both sides of the fence there right how do you know how does that conversation go for you do you feel like that's as easy of a sell for you or yeah i think it is man um eight out of ten times they understand you know like y'all gotta do your work too this is not just this is not their problem it's y'all's problem and you guys gotta do your work too you know um because i i mean in my experience when i do get these individuals that are not going to treatment and not open to get help go into treatment the family kind of like okay what else and they start listening a little bit more you know and there's there's a lot of those cases man it's like let me just talk to this guy real quick let me talk to your son we ain't gonna talk to you okay let me talk to you next thing you know the parents are sending me emails oh my god what'd you say to my son he's gonna go to treatment you know no i'm not surprised by that i think you've got i think you've got a good energy and a good charisma so that doesn't surprise me um yeah i'm sure you know we we kind of work in a bunch of different areas but uh you know i would think that hopefully we've got some listeners who hear this and think okay frank's our guy right he's he's the one who can get through especially for you know i'm sure you get through to a lot of different people's but you know i'm picturing who that teenager is right who's who's going to be somebody that a teenager or an athlete or you know whoever is going to listen to and that feels like a no-brainer you know to me so what's what's the what's the way that they get in touch with you where do people find you um i mean you can find me on linkedin um on facebook frank eisenhower um through buena vista health and recovery centers you can reach out to me directly at 480-798-6902 it's my personal cell phone number pick up 24 7. cool yeah i think uh it's you know it's an opportunity right and i think that's the um i i don't think that every facility is right for everybody i don't think that every path is right for everybody right but you know when i hear when i hear you talk and i hear some of the things you're talking about it would be attractive to me so that's why i think it's i think it's worth you know putting that out there um and seeing who can help get sent your way i appreciate you guys so much was a fun conversation frank it's been fantastic getting to know you and uh just kind of hearing your story is it's incredible to me i know for when i when i first started as a therapist i did an internship at a halfway house of women coming out of prison and and listening to some of the stories that they shared with me it blew me away and it was life-changing right i had to step back and and reassess what you know what really was what what how i wanted to look at people because i didn't come from that kind of a background and you know i i had you know makes me feel like i mean i didn't come from wealth but i certainly was had everything that i needed and all you know all of my needs met and and certainly was safe and here's someone saying you know the one that sticks out to me was that i started running away she said i started running away when i was nine years old and and i i was safer on the street than i was in my own home and she would just tell these stories of living on the street and she wouldn't talk about the trauma in her home but but it definitely changed my whole outlook and how i wanted to think about people and so very powerful it's a powerful environment and and the fact that you can talk about god and have people take you seriously and and not write you off because you're you know you're out there talking about god and not just a higher power but you know you're making it somebody that has an image and a name and a person and and reality i think is pretty huge so thanks thanks for what you do thank you shelley kurt thank you very much for having me on guys i'm very grateful for the opportunity it's our pleasure