Tomy (It’s not a typo) was born in Hawaii. Beyond the weird spelling of his name, everything else about Tomy Parker screams typical American male. He was raised in rural Montana. The epitome of a tough kid from ranch country, Tomy was known by everyone in his small town as a successful high school football player.
After graduating high school, Tommy was ready to serve our country at the height of the Global War on Terrorism. Tomy became a grunt in the United States Marine Corps in 2008, and a couple of years later, he deployed to Afghanistan with the 3rd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment.
During a routine patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan, Tomy’s life was changed in an instant when he stepped on an IED. His wounds were so significant that, without the expert care of some US Navy Corpsmen, he would’ve bled out on the side of a mountain in Afghanistan.
Eighteen months and an untold number of surgeries later, Tomy started the process of learning how to adapt to an entirely new way of life after losing both legs and part of one hand in that IED attack. Most tough, physically talented guys that I know would never fully emotionally or psychologically recover from this kind of loss. Tomy was able to survive the surgeries, but what he did to himself after the IED attack almost killed him.
Hopscotch of Doom
War and surgery couldn’t kill Tomy, but pain pills almost did. His many surgeries led to pain. The pain led to strong prescriptions for painkillers. The relentless cycle of painkillers led to a powerful addiction. Like other Podcast guests, Tomy’s addiction to painkillers led to illegal behavior. Which, in turn, led to multiple arrests and convictions.
Tomy calls this spiral his Hopscotch of Doom. He was in and out of prison while slowly killing himself through his drug addiction. And, of course, this kind of self-destructive behavior always hurts loved ones more than the person with an addiction. Perhaps no one understands the type of pain that families will go through watching a loved one self-destruct like this.
Owning his addiction
Prescription drugs almost did to Tomy what an IED in Afghanistan couldn’t. Tomy’s family and friends were forced to turn him out on the streets after many attempts to help him get clean and healthy. Although he didn’t know it at the time, this tough love was exactly what he needed.
The USMC and the broader military do a great job of training warriors to handle the physical pain of combat. However, the emotional and psychological scars are much more difficult to bear.
I know more than a few warriors who have followed Tomy’s addiction to pain pills down the same spiral of doom. Few of them have made the radical turnaround that Tomy was able to make in his life, and I’m convinced the difference is 100% attributed to Tomy’s willingness to own his addiction before he could start to conquer it.
3 words that define his new life
The pill pandemic is wreaking havoc all across America. It’s not my purpose to define what causes the problem in this article, but I want to use Tomy’s story to illustrate that there’s only one way through the kind of pain that Tomy was feeling. And you can’t get a prescription for this kind of pain.
Tomy’s life started to turn around after a chance encounter with a fantastic woman at a gas station and yet another stint in prison. Dara took a risk when she saw something that most others couldn’t see inside Tomy. This led to a relationship that turned into a growing relationship and a fulfilled marriage.
Dara Parker taught Tomy how to accept himself, wounds and all. Although Tomy still lives by the values of the USMC, he has started to use three different words to define who he is today. Now, every time Tomy is in public giving kids a talk on the dangers of drug addiction, he doesn’t try to hide his wounds or failures.
If Tomy can make this kind of radical turnaround with his life… so can you. Like Tomy, I’m convinced you’re never too far gone for supernatural, sacrificial love to change your life completely.