“There is a God, and His name is not Tim Ryan.” Those are the words I eventually uttered as I found myself in a cold prison cell for a crime I had committed.

For years, I’d lived as if I were God. Except, instead of creating things of beauty, I birthed chaos. Instead of helping others, I was a major source of suffering for those I loved, including my saintly wife and four beautiful children.

Sure, I had it all together on the outside. I had a beautiful house with an expensive boat sitting on the lake. I had a great job in downtown Chicago—well okay, jobs, since I seldom kept one for long. Once, when I still thought I was God, I jumped on the desk of a female coworker and said something pretty crass. I thought I was untouchable because I always made my company lots of money. So yeah, I was high on myself—and a lot of other things.

I would love to blame my parents for my descent into addiction. But I can’t. They were good Catholics who raised me right. They adopted my brothers, sister, and me and showed us real love. They supported my waterskiing—which allowed me to become nationally ranked. I loved getting up on the lake and skiing barefoot, showing the world my tricks.

I loved that almost as much as the tricks I pulled to get high—and the beer and drugs I consumed as soon as I got off the lake.

Those years of “Tim as God” stopped when my heroin addiction led me to seek just one more high—and that left me on the side of the road in my car, unconscious. I woke up on a gurney with a lot of yelling around me. The nurse said, “I think you killed two people.” And guess what I thought: At least they don’t have my blood and urine; I can beat this thing.

It would be hours before I’d learn that, while I hadn’t killed anyone, I had put four people in the hospital, including a nine-month-old baby. God started chipping away at me. I began to realize that maybe I wasn’t in control after all.