Nate Dukes is living proof that no matter how bad you think you are, or how bad things get, you can get through the darkness. Even when the story you’ve heard all your life is “You’ll Never Change” he is here to tell you it’s a lie. You can change and you can become the person you want to be.
This conversation is a revealing insight into how a devastating self image can lead to misery and disastrous life choices. It is also fully packed with inspiration and wisdom.
‘Fun’ for Nate used to be chasing what he thought was the good life – parties, drugs, gambling and spending money. Now he says that ‘fun’ is seeing other people set free from this unhealthy lifestyle.
From a difficult childhood, through the angst of teenage years, the liberation of leaving home and then falling into bad company and unhealthy habits, life has been a journey for Nate. And yet, this roller coaster has brought a lot of insight and wisdom which he shares with us in bucket loads.
“After being in the darkness, I now have the ability, desire and passion to help others and see them come out of that darkness and create their own comeback.”
Since our initial conversation Nate has been working on his book ‘You’ll Never Change’ which is all about proving that you can change. The book was released last month, so we have brought this podcast forward to celebrate it’s launch and share the journey that has brought Nate Dukes through the darkness to be the person he is today.
“I was a poor kid growing up. My parents were really just kids trying to raise kids and so their unhealthy mindsets were passed down to us. I don’t blame them for anything, they were doing the best they could with what they had.”
As all parents know, raising children is expensive, time consuming and challenging. But it can also be richly rewarding and joyful when you have had the opportunity to discover what brings joy to your own life. This was not the case for Nate’s parents who found themselves in the tough situation of raising children before they’d had a chance to experience life and build the financial reserves required to support a growing family.
Fortunately the local church community recognised their struggle and rallied round to support them. But sitting in church, Nate always felt like God was watching and waiting for him to mess up. He believed that if he did, God would punish him.
Freedom came when he went away to college at 18. Finally he felt that no-body was watching him. But instead of raising his confidence, this was the start of his journey through the darkness. It was a downward spiral that eventually led him to desperate measures.
Into The Darkness
“Instead of trying to better myself, I found I was drawn to the party scene. And what started out as a weekend experience turned into a full blown drug addiction.”
Gradually this distraction from his college studies became so compelling that he had to abandon any possibility of getting a degree and ended up returning home to live with his parents.
For a short while, things started to look up when a series of fortunate events led to an opportunity to open a bar with a friend. They took something that was failing, and over the course of two years managed to turn it into a success. Now, with access to more money than he had ever seen in his life, Nate started to seek fun in the Casinos. Inevitably this led to a gambling addiction and embezzling money from the business to fund his habits.
Things came to a head when employees were due to be paid and there wasn’t enough money in the account to cover the salaries. Nate was offered an ultimatum. It was either legal action, or the chance to walk away clear of any recriminations by fully signing the business over to his friend.
Naturally, Nate took this opportunity and went back to living with his parents. But he still wasn’t through the darkness. What followed was a series of failed attempts at sticking to a job, and culminated in a desperate act that led to a criminal record.
Hitting Rock Bottom
After many sleepless nights of feeling hopeless and desperate for money to feed his addiction, Nate finally hit rock bottom.
“When you find yourself in a really tough spot with only two really bad decisions in front of you, often times you go towards the one that feels less painful, even if it takes you down a darker path”
Nate thought he had been given the chance of a new start and a better life. He had, but not in the way he expected. Instead of driving away to freedom, he wound up…
“Sitting in the back of a cop car with the weight of every decision I had ever made sitting on my chest like a ton of bricks. I just kept hearing this thought over and over in my head saying…“
“You’ll never change. This is who you are. This is your life now. You’re never going to change!”
However, the next six month stint in jail turned out to be a really good opportunity to get his head clean and ask himself: “Who do I ultimately want to become?”
Rehab and Recovery
Nate was lucky. It was his first offence and there was no record of his drug addiction. So he was charged with felony and sent back home to Ohio with a two year probation. If he’d had drugs on him or his chequered past hadn’t been swept under the carpet, things could have been much worse.
Back at home he joined a Narcotics Anonymous programme and, despite being a mess, he connected with a really great community of people who were willing to “get in knees deep” and “speak life” back into him. They were able to help him face the hard truths that turned his life around.
Nate started looking at what beliefs and habits he needed to change, and fully explored his damaged relationship with himself through the perspective of past, present and future.
“I looked at ‘past me’ and I hated him.”
But remembering a quote from Tim Ferris (Everything we want in life is on the other side of an uncomfortable conversation) he recognised that:
“Unforgivingness is a prison that we keep ourselves in.”
Nate was now ready and willing to have those uncomfortable conversations with himself. So he found a way to face his past and say:
“Even though you have messed up our life, I still love you and I forgive you”
“I set myself free in that moment and it was very healing for me”
Into The Light
With the support of the people around him, Nate made it through the darkness. He is no longer chasing success. Instead he is focussing on fulfilment and says that one of the greatest joys in his life is helping other people make their own ‘Comeback’. But, as he points out below, the transformation isn’t instantaneous. It has taken him years to reach where he is today.
“WAIT is the hardest word any of us want to hear,
but this is a process that you need to work out.”
He goes on to say that it’s easy to look at somebody else and think they’re shiny, they’re successful and they are a finished product. What you don’t see is that, before any finished product, there has been a process of discovery.
But ultimately Nate’s message to the world is:
“Who You Were, Is Not Who You Are.”
“The decisions that you’ve made don’t determine who you are as a human being”
Discover More and Pay It Forward
If you have read this far, and have listened to the podcast then I expect, like me, you have found this young man uplifting and inspiring. So, if you are interested in learning more, Nate’s book is now available on Amazon. The direct url is available along with his website and social media links below.
Nate is also inviting you to be a part of someone else’s comeback story with “Pay It Forward”
There are 19.7 million people in the US who are in Active Addiction and Nate works with recovery centres in multiple states across the US sharing his story and delivering books. If you would like to support this cause you can follow this link for further details: https://www.youllneverchange.com/payitforward
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Nate Dukes Website & Social Links:
- Website: https://www.youllneverchange.com
- Pay It Forward: https://www.youllneverchange.com/payitforward
- Buy the Book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/057888996X
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