In 1984, on a scorching hot July summer afternoon in a town just outside of Phoenix, Arizona, I, Aaron James, was born into the James family. I am very blessed to have been born a James. Proudly and honorably both my grandfathers served in World War II, one in the Navy and the other in the Army. Before retiring my father was a successful business consultant. The love, strength, and courage both my mother and father have provided me throughout my life is truly precious. I have one younger brother who is currently a store manager at CVS. Despite all of my past mistakes my brother has always been there for me with love and compassion while also challenging me to do better. I am a better person for each of my family members, immediate and extended.
As for extended, I have an older half-brother currently happily married in the Dallas area. On my Mother’s side, I have two uncles, one aunt, and four cousins whom I love very dearly. My Nana and Papa did a great job in keeping us all close. My bond with my Dad’s only sibling, his older sister, is very tight. My Aunt never married nor had children, so my brother and I were sometimes treated like her own. I am a much more rounded person because of it.
My childhood was one of constant moving, mainly due to my father’s occupation. By age fourteen, I had lived in five different states, in over a dozen different towns and communities from coast to coast. Constantly the ‘new kid’, lasting friendships was impossible to form. By the time we settled in Westford, Massachusetts, in June of 1998, depression and drug abuse begun to take its toll.
Throughout high school I was in and out of treatment. I was tired of moving all the time and wrongly put blame on the wrong people and loved ones. I was not in a good place, at all. However, thanks to many factors, I got through it. In 2003, I managed to finish high school on time and went on to complete an Associate’s degree in Criminal Justice at Dean College, two years later.
During high school, I was able to put down my “drug of choice”, Ecstasy. What I learned in rehab at the time was enough. I was done, no more.
However, from 2003-2010 I began to abuse alcohol like never before and the drinking led to other bad decisions. I was still digging myself a deeper hole, in many senses. Having successfully quit ecstasy, I believed that I had everything under control. Sadly, nothing was further from the truth. Alcohol had become the center of my life. Drinking led to the use of other recreational drugs, which only exacerbated all my problems. I still had a long way to go.
By March of 2010, I was living in Cambridge, attending Suffolk University as a part time student and working as a professional phone fundraiser. It was then that I met Yvette. Yvette did not normally go out to bars however, it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend and her roommate successfully managed to convince her to come out and celebrate.
Little did we know that night would change both of our lives forever and eventually lead to this campaign. Without her, I could not imagine me being here today presenting myself to you as a candidate for office.
Yvette’s upbringing was quite a bit different than my own. She was born and spent her school years in Troy, NY. She lived in the same town basically her entire youth, where her family has ties that go back several generations. Yvette graduated from MIT with a degree in Architecture. Following graduation Yvette traveled for several years before settling back in Boston.
It was a few months after meeting Yvette when I finally came to realize what I needed to do. My life had gone way off track, it was obvious, and so I made the decision to re-enter treatment for depression and alcohol. I had hit my personal rock bottom. As they say, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.
I started with a six-day stint at a detox center in Brookline. I left there to Danvers for an intensive ten day inpatient post-detox program. After that I lived in a sober house in Roxbury for three months before moving back to Cambridge. Eventually, a good friend of mine from Suffolk University had a room open up at his apartment in Somerville during the fall of 2014. It was then that I landed in city I have always loved most in the greater Boston area. I have learned a great deal during this whole process since 2010. I have made mistakes in recovery, several. I have learned from them. I will make more mistakes; I am only human. I will learn from those mistakes as well. But I am here, alive and well in Somerville, capable and eager to serve as your State Representative, asking for your vote, blessed to have Yvette by my side.
In many ways, I consider Yvette to be a personal miracle. We could have easily not met and I could have continued drinking and drugging myself into the grave. God works in mysterious ways having brought someone into my life who would not have known the difference between ecstasy from aspirin on the night I had met her. Now, six years long years later and we are embarking on this journey together.
Recovery is a process. A very difficult and different process for all of us. Post treatment is not easy, there is a lot to it. I have been through it, I am still in it, I will always be a recovering addict. I look forward to sharing more of my personal experience in recovery during the coming months. And my story is not yet complete, it has barely started!
But this is not about me. This is about us, those of us currently struggling with mental health and drug addiction issues, about those of us dealing with the burdens of a punitive criminal justice system, about every family member who has lost a loved one or who may be watching a loved one go down that path of an unproductive life rather it be from drug abuse or other mental illnesses, about making that transition from treatment to the real world just a little bit easier. I believe there are things we must be doing differently.
Along with electoral reform, this is a central reason to why I am running.
Yvette and I know that we are capable of serving you proudly as your state representative. We are all in this together, Yvette, our team and myself. Together, we ask for your honest consideration. We believe if you can give us that, that this campaign will become both viable and historic. And that we will make positive change for Somerville, Massachusetts, and even the country. We have a great opportunity with this campaign to start chipping away at the two party system and the overall corruption which keeps most people wanting to stay as far away from government as possible. This is the perfect campaign to start doing just that. We ask you to join us.