From June 26, 2018:
Recently I was interviewed by Annie Grace on her This Naked Mind podcast. Annie Grace is the Author of the best selling book This Naked Mind. Click here to go the transcript of the interview and to This Naked Mind website.
Annie Grace: This is Annie Grace, and you’re listening to This Naked Mind Podcast, where without judgment, pain, or rules, we explore the role of alcohol in our lives and culture. Hi, this is Annie Grace, and welcome to This Naked Mind Podcast. Today’s guest is a new friend of mine, Rob Lohman. Rob, welcome.
Rob Lohman: Yeah, thanks a bunch. I’m excited to hang out with you for a little while and just kind of talk about addiction and recovery.
Annie Grace: Yeah. It’s so cool. So, Rob and I met actually because as you might have heard, I’ve been moving. We had a third baby and we didn’t have enough bedrooms. So, we’d been looking for a different house and Rob was interested in renting my house for a really cool mission actually. So, I want to start with your story, but why don’t you just give a little color on your vision for why we met in the first place?
Rob Lohman: Yeah. Definitely. Well, I’ve been clean for 17 years from drinking and drugging and I just have a heart for guys that are between 40 and 65 that are coming out of addiction or life transformation that’s just really, really challenging. So, I feel like God kind of put on my heart to open up a men’s transformational house. That was the one day that we decided to go from buying a house to renting a place and I literally looked on zillow.com and your house was right in this perfect spot and I clicked on it and you called me right away and then we were just kind of dreaming together about how to help people and that’s taken a little different course of action now, but it was really cool how we did get to meet through that.
Annie Grace: Yeah. We got to meet through that and that’s the important thing. I’ve always had a vision. I look out my windows here in Colorado and I’m always like, “It’s such a beautiful healing spot.” So, hearing you talk about that vision is really cool. So, we’ll see where it all goes, but that’s just so exciting.
Rob Lohman: Yeah. It was fun because even talking, you and Brian and you were like, “Oh, you guys could put a ropes course here. You could build one there,” and just dreaming. But I know there’s, again, I hope your house sells soon, a new journey of the right property will come along and God’s in control of that deal, so I’m just kind of going through doors I’m supposed to walk through. Yeah. We get to meet and get to hang out and I got to hear your story recently too. That was a lot of fun. So, thank you for that.
Annie Grace: Yeah. I was just on Rob’s podcast, which was really fun. I think that it’s just so cool because there’s a seed kind of planted with all the dreaming and all the ideas and where it goes, we’ll watch it all unfold, but it’s just so exciting. So, Rob, why don’t you back us way up and just start with your story. I’d love to hear how you fell into it all, how you got out of it all. What you learned along the way.
Rob Lohman: Yeah. Falling into addiction and being ripped out of addiction. That’s kind of my thing, but no. I grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Kind of most of my family lived back home in Indiana and I was just that kid that was kind of just wired differently than most kids is kind of the way I always look at it. Because the minute I found alcohol, it was just like game on. The light bulbs went off and the funny thing about it was that I was your kid that knocked on your door and sold you magazines. After a while, they just said, “What are you selling now, Rob?” So, I was a confident little kid, but I was really insecure.
We went to church and all that kind of fun stuff. Youth retreats, but I actually went to a little youth event back home in Fort … So, we moved from Fort Wayne, Indiana to Fort Worth, Texas when I was nine. Then at age 14, I was hanging out at this little youth event. One of the guys said, “Hey Lohman. You wanna go drink some beer out in the alleyway here?” I was like, “Sure let’s go.” So, it was myself, this guy, can’t remember his name at all and two very pretty girls and that was like this is kind of fun. I slammed three beers like it was nothing and they were nursing their little beers. From that point, it should have been the clarity of maybe I have a problem because I come from a long line of alcoholics.
Then it was just kind of from 14 to 29, that was my drinking career. It seemed like everything I did had a hint of alcohol with it and a hint of manipulating situations to benefit myself.
Annie Grace: So, in those early days, those first three beers, first of all you had three when everybody else had probably one or two, so the physical effects on you were going to be really different, but you felt like … What did it feel like? Because most people don’t really love how it feels the first time. Uh oh. I can’t hear you.
Rob Lohman: Sorry. I hit the mute button. So, I felt like just the insecurities kind of went away. Because I was always shy around girls and I was also the class clown. So, I hid my insecurities by being that guy. I was like the popular kid but I was really empty inside if that kind of makes sense. I was covering up a lot of my own insecurities. I don’t know from where they came because my parents were awesome parents. My dad was a little distant emotionally like a lot of guys were, because I’m 46. So, I think the dads of my generation above us, they were kind of more distant emotionally, but I think guys in my generation now are really kind of pouring into our kids a lot more.
So, I’m not really sure from where those came, but I just know that when I drank, I felt more confident in who I was. I was 14 years old, so I was still in … What is that? Middle school getting ready to go to high school. Then high school comes along and then you get your license. I’d go get drunk during lunch and then go back to school. I kind of had principals and teachers in my back pocket because as an addict, you’re really good at playing the field and playing everybody. So, that just kind of became what I felt like was an art and I was a chameleon and I felt like that was a gift that God had given me, but it was a huge, huge detriment to me, but I just felt good.
The hangovers and all those kind of things, it just kind of was part of the game, but I just … From the beginning, I was just alcohol was my thing. I always said I would never ever do drugs. That was my one promise to myself that I would never do drugs. I held on to that until the first semester of college and went away back to Indiana to go to college and I remember just one of my buddies was like, “Hey Lohman, you want to get high?” I thought, “No, I’m not touching that stuff. I like drinking too much.” Just a little bit, right? Just that little bit. I remember smoking pot. It felt really cool and I felt good. Then that just led into acid and mushrooms and kind of whatever you put before me, but alcohol and gambling has always been there as well.
So, gambling and alcohol have been two things that have kind of been driving forces in my own lack of emotional maturity.
Annie Grace: So, you’re in college. You’re drinking, you’re doing drugs, but are your grades still good? Where are you at?
Rob Lohman: If my parents were listening to this, they’d be like, “No.” So, I was a really smart kid. Getting good grades if I really focused was just really easy for me, but that wasn’t my focus. I went to college actually to become a doctor. Because I loved my grandpa. He was a family doctor and that’s what I wanted to become. So, there was this big vision of becoming a doctor, but there wasn’t a deep conviction I don’t think because my actions did not show that. So, just being in college, I almost got kicked out the first year in college due to poor grades and some behavioral issues.
I remember when my parents got the phone call and it was a hard moment for me because I was, again, really good at getting out of situations. I remember the one thing that almost got me kicked out was I think I had three fourths of a bottle of tequila on my birthday and went upstairs to knock on the door of a girl I liked who said she was sick and then there was another guy with her and that got me really steamed. I remember going in the stairwell, breaking out a window, and then just going into my room a floor below. The dean calls me in and says, “Hey Rob, we have a … I don’t think you can go to school here anymore because we have someone that saw you break a window out and you’ve been drunk, you’ve been written up this many times. This school is not a good fit for you.”
I remember sitting there and I got bold and I just said, “If you’re going to kick me out of the school, I want to know who saw me go into a stairwell on one floor and come out that stairwell on a different floor. Only Superman could be on two floors at one time.” Then they dropped all the charges. That just became my journey of how do I maintain some sort of academia? Because I was a fraternity guy. Alcohol was just what I did. I quit going to church. God was just on the shelf most of my life. I was just that guy that got arrested and got out of it and was just able to talk my way out of situations and so they always say when you take potential and alcohol and put it in the same room, potential kicks alcohol’s rear
end every single time. That was me. Because I wanted to be a doctor. I just was more of a drunk than an academic scholar.
Annie Grace: So, reverse. Alcohol kicks potential.
Rob Lohman: Oh yeah. Did I say the other way? Yes. Alcohol kicks potential’s bottom every single time. Thank you. That wouldn’t have made sense the other way. But graduation day came and almost my entire family was there. Both sets of grandparents. Everybody was there for my graduation. I wouldn’t tell anybody this, but I didn’t even know if I was going to graduate. My parents didn’t even know this. I’m on the cusp of my GPA and my major being lower than it needed to be and I’m freaking out because it’s a day before and I still have no clue if I’m walking across the stage or not. I have probably 23 relatives there. My biology teacher, my anatomy teachers calls me in and says, “Lohman, we need to talk.” I thought the boom was getting ready to be dropped.
He pulls out my exam and it’s five pages. Five pages of answers and he flips to the first page and he goes, “99, 98, 100.” He’s telling me my grades. He looks at me. He’s like, “What have you been doing all semester?” I’d had the highest grades he’s ever had on any exam. Then he said, “You’re passing by the skin of your teeth, but I would suggest you really start focusing because you’re a smart kid. You’re just kind of dumb.” In my actions. You know? That woke me up a little bit, so then I just graduated college and the next chapters start to begin.
Annie Grace: So, where did you go after college?
Rob Lohman: So, at the end of our senior year, a bunch of my fraternity brothers of mine and I bought a week long trip out to Lion’s Head near Vale. Basically Vale and Lion’s Head are right next to each other for people that don’t know. That area and I just told myself I’m going to find a job when I’m out here. So, here I am $120 grand in college expense that my parents paid, I didn’t pay for really any of it. Just kind of blew through that and I always felt horrible about that. Sorry mom and dad if you’re listening, but I got a job out in Vale and I said, “I have found a job.”
The promise to my parents was I would stay in Colorado for a year and a half and then I would leave and go back to Texas and get a big boy job. Essentially, it was a year and a half of just drinking like crazy. I went to college. I was 150 pounds. I left 210. What I didn’t tell you was before my senior of college, I totaled my car in a drunk driving accident. Flipped it end over end six times. Completely should not have walked away from that at all. I walked away with just kind of a hurt shoulder. Again. Consequence of my actions. There wasn’t much consequence. I didn’t think a lot before I acted. So, I’m out in Vale, Colorado just being a bouncer at a bar drinking 10, 15, 20 shots before a shift and just drinking the whole shift and that’s just what we did.
So, there was no goodness that came out of there. After that 18 months was up, I promised my parents I’d move back to Texas and I did. I got a job working in the banking industry and my career journey after that, again this was in 1995 I moved back to Texas. So, I was, what? 24 years old at the time. Got a job in banking and then real estate and in the middle of that, I went back and got my MBA because I thought that if I had a higher degree that that would get me a better job, but I was still drinking eight nights a week. Drinking and driving eight nights a week I would say because it was every night it was a party. I don’t know. I just wasn’t sick and tired of being sick and tired yet.
I was really empty in side. Completely, but then I met a girl and she drank worse than I did, but all my friends drank. So, we met in 1998 and still living in Texas and ended up getting married. It was a very short lived marriage. Let’s put it that way. Because I graduated with my MBA. Then my uncle hired me to work for his real estate company back in Indiana. So, we moved to Indiana thinking life would change if we got away from all of our drinking friends. The problem was there go the both of us in our own dysfunction. It was not a healthy marriage. It was very short lived for a lot of reasons along the way. We ended up getting divorced and then about six months later, I ended up getting clean.
Annie Grace: What brought that on?
Rob Lohman: Oh, wow. So, after I got divorced, I just kind of felt like it was … I was in real estate sales so I had a six state region I traveled in. So, I would make up these trips I would go to in northern Michigan and I would just go to the casinos and go visit some of our clients, but I would just go gamble and drink and come home. So, I was not a very honest and productive employee.
Annie Grace: But from an outward perspective, you said your uncle hired you, right? Although, what did it look like from the outside? Did it look as disastrous as you’re making it sound?
Rob Lohman: Oh no.
Annie Grace: Or were you really good at keeping it all together?
Rob Lohman: No. I looked good. I was fit. I had a good job. I portrayed that I was this happy go lucky guy and everybody called Rob to go out. My boss’s liked me. The owner of that company loved me. From the outside, I was the happy go lucky let’s go have fun guy. Inside, I was the just you’re a piece of junk guy and you may as well be dead guy, but I would never let that … I could see it building. I would go hang out in these small little bars in Fort Wayne, Indiana and they had video poker in Indiana so you could go to the bar down the street. I would sit there for five or six hours and play video poker with these old guys and just form relationships and I was more comfortable in that environment than I was in the big bar scene, but I went there all the time.
I was dating several girls at a time and just making myself look bigger than I was. I was about $65,000 in credit card debt at this time, but I looked good and I felt good and I was fit and I was running half marathons the night after a big bender. So, you couldn’t tell I was that messed up inside because I wasn’t letting anybody in. I was sleeping around and doing everything against what I really wanted to be doing, but my heart was changing quite a bit. I wanted to quit drinking. I was just getting tired of it. The mental illness of drinking was getting worse because I would literally-
Annie Grace: Describe what you mean by that.
Rob Lohman: Yeah. So, there’s a lot of depression and everything that comes along with drinking or people wouldn’t be doing it as much as they did. For me, I was very depressed. I hated who I was. I was thinking suicide was a great option, but I wasn’t telling anyone, so I was just my own little therapist in my head, right? I would be driving down the highway, completely not drinking. I won’t say sober because I’m sure I was still inebriated from the night before, but I wasn’t drinking. It would be the middle of the night and I would be driving down the highway up in Fort Wayne, Indiana and I would literally see my car veer off and blow up and hit the median and I would literally see myself dead.
They say most people don’t see themselves die. They might see an act, but I would see myself die. This was happening more and more and my blackouts were longer and longer. I would leave the bar after they would close down at 1:00 or 2:00 and I would drive to this casino which was two and a half, three hours away and gamble as much as whatever I did with my dog in the car and drive back and I wouldn’t even remember those trips half the time.
Annie Grace: Wow.
Rob Lohman: So, I don’t know what happened in those blackouts and I never will. Those are scary times that you just have these big blocks of five or six or ten hours of I don’t know what I did. When you’re that messed up drinking wise, you’re capable of a lot of things. So, here I am $60,000 in debt, feeling like a total schmuck I guess you could say and hated who I was. Lot of self loathing and it just got to a point where I was hanging out in a bar one night in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Girls everywhere, music was loud and it was my zone. That’s what I did all the time. Then all the sudden the bar got completely dead silent and then I audibly hear the words, “You’re done,” and then the bar got really loud again. I have no clue what just happened, but I looked at my buddy Sean and I was just like, “Dude I gotta go home.”
I look over at him and I said, “I don’t know what just happened. I might be done drinking, but I need to go home.” So, I drove home very emotional. Not knowing what’s going on and I walk into my little one bedroom apartment in Fort Wayne, Indiana and I have a workout gym in my living room like every bachelor does. I just remember walking right past my dog, kind of on auto pilot and put up all the plates I had on my barbell in my workout gym. Laid down on that bench and
picked up 350 plus pounds and right as I lifted it up off the rack and I was getting ready to drop it right across my chest and take myself out of the game, as I was lowering that weight, only by the power of God did this thought go into my head and I looked at my dog Jake who was nudging my leg and doing the puppy eyes at me and my first thought was, “Who’s going to feed you tomorrow morning?” Then it had to be the hand of God that just pulled that weight up and put it back on the rack because I couldn’t even bench that much weight.
The fact that it stopped on the way down is a miracle because when you can only bench 225 pounds, it should have just kept going. It was at that moment that I just knew that God had a different plan for me because I felt the comfort of his arms. I literally felt him pick me up off that bench and just kind of say, “I got more for you, buddy.” He walked me into the kitchen and we poured out all the alcohol I had. Glenlivet scotch was my deal. Poured that out into the sink. I can see all of this happening as I’m telling you this. Just picturing it happening as it’s happening at the moment. I slept in comfort that night for the first time in a couple decades and woke up the next morning and I didn’t know what to do now. I felt like I do now. Just alive. Just completely different guy.
I meant to call my aunt Carol who, she has now passed away, but she died with about 35 years of sobriety. She was about 20 something years sober at the time. I remember calling her up and thinking I was calling her but I accidentally called my mom and dad. This was the phone call my mom was praying for for years. She had no clue I was this bad off. I said, “Mom, dad, I can’t quit drinking and gambling. I need some help.” That was the first time I authentically from my heart had called out to reach out for help to anybody. Not even reached out. Cried out for help. My mom said that I cried for probably the next hour and she just listened to me. Then my aunt came and picked me up and she took me to a recovery meeting.
These people were laughing and talking about how great their life was sober. I’m thinking, “Last night I tried to kill myself and these guys are laughing and having fun. I’m going to choose these guys over what happened last night.” I just dove into recovery, counseling, 12 steps and the crazy thing was, this was, again, miracles of God. Mine was divine intervention to not drink anymore because I could drink up to two bottles of scotch a day. Because I was in sales and marketing like you were back in your day. You were in sales and marketing, entertaining clients, have some drinks at breakfast, have some drinks at lunch, play golf. That’s just what I did, so for me, it was just sustainability throughout the day. I went from that to literally having no detox, no withdrawal, I can honestly say I have not had one craving to drink or drug since I got clean on June 8th, 2001.
Despite all the chaos in recovery, I’ve never ever, ever, once felt like drinking would solve a single thing.
Annie Grace: That’s amazing. By the way, happy anniversary.
Rob Lohman: Yeah. Thank you. Yeah. It’s pretty crazy. I did a post on Facebook while I was camping with my son at the sand dunes in northern Colorado. It was just like, “Hey. I’m sober today and I can remember this trip and my son’s here.” He’s only 10 so he’s never seen me drink, but just doing that and it’s crazy how many people have shared and watched that video and it’s awesome because I’m not ashamed of my story. There’s a lot of shame that can come from my story later which we’ll get in to, but just the fact that I haven’t had a drink or drug in that long when I did it for 15 years just all the time is pretty amazing.
Annie Grace: Wow. Gosh. That story gives me chills. A lot of my work, try to keep everything really rooted in science and where’s the proof and the evidence and really talk to the intellectual side of the brain, but there’s a big part of me that I don’t often talk about on the podcast or in other places, but the spiritual mystery of the world. The divinity of just the fact that I can’t look around and think that we weren’t amazingly and beautifully and profoundly created and to talk about … It’s funny because so much of my work is so much about the proof and the facts and the science, but then so much of my heart in living my own life is just walking around in just awe and wonder of what is this mystery and what is this magic and what is this? Just hearing your story is to see such clear intervention, it’s really, really cool. Thank you for sharing that. It’s amazing. So, yeah. So, then what happened next?
Rob Lohman: Well, even though those too addictions were rooted out of my life, there’s always other things to work on. You know, one thing I just never really paid attention. I’ve always had a gambling addiction from high school on until recently. It’s always been there. So, there’s that risk taking. I’m an entrepreneur at heart so there’s risk taking there and then there’s also just the thrill of something. So, that always kind of stuck around throughout my life. When I got clean, I wasn’t married and didn’t have kids. So, as life continued to go on, I got out of the whole real estate world and I ended up moving out from Indiana actually to North Carolina. The cool thing about recovery is it’s everywhere. Whether people love the 12 steps or they go to church or they just love spiritual books or whatever it is, you can find it anywhere you go. So, there’s a real estate company hiring people out in the … That I used to work for and they were out in North Carolina.
So, I flew out there just to go interview and just went to go look around. I went to an AA meeting one night and it was probably 250 people at this huge speaker meeting. They always say, “Is anyone traveling or new?” I raised my hand. I said, “My name is Rob. I’m thinking about moving here.” I literally had a stack of business cards an inch and half think and people says, “Hey, if you need a job, if you need this.” I’m like, “I’m going to Charlotte, North Carolina.” And I did. I went out there and I wasn’t running from anything because I’ve learned now that I need to have wiser men in my life than myself. Sponsors or guys that go to church or whatever. So, I would say, “Hey I want to go to North Carolina. Here’s why.” Sounds like you’re not running from anything so I went out there and just started my life as a carpenter because I needed a job.
So, a buddy of mine gave me a job laying carpet and never did that before but it was a community and community was so important to me in recovery. I was in community. We were playing softball together, having coffee all the time together. I had to learn how to do everything sober now. I had to learn how to play golf and throw darts and date. Read a book. All this stuff and it was fascinating. So, I’m tied into this great community and I became an eighth grade algebra teacher because in North Carolina you can actually teach without a license for a year as long as you’re getting your license in that year. Because I had my MBA and all this stuff, they’re like, “Yeah. Great.” So, I started teaching eighth grade algebra. Never did that before. Started coaching the girls softball team because they needed a coach. Never did that before, but I would ask for advice.
I was training for a marathon in Rome with Team Diabetes. So, I raised $3500 and went to Rome to run a marathon in early recovery. I’m a guy that used to take your money without your permission. I used to joke about that in early recovery because that’s called thievery. Just all the stuff I would just take and now people are sending me money to go do cool things like this. Then the progression in my career has just been an interesting one. I then became a college career counselor a little while after that. Then left that great job to work on what became my first book I published called The Momentum Journey. I feel like I was being called to inspire our youth to explore their life options. Now that I’m sober, I can do anything. I can go anywhere. It was cool. So, I ended up buying an RV that eventually broke down. I made a documentary about these people’s stories and why they love what they do and wrote a book about it. Was speaking at colleges for a while.
I’m a dreamer, so I’m speaking at schools. I love to speak in front of people. Not for my own good, but just to share stories and let people learn from other experiences along with my own. Then I ended up in Colorado in 2004 due to the RV breaking down. Because it all happened, I just started interviewing people in the Vale valley and I was on the TV and doing cool stuff and out speaking and having a great time. Then I go to a youth event in 2006 over here in Denver with our youth group and at the time, my story is just so weird. I can’t imagine having one job my whole life and just going this linear path. I’m a roller coaster. There’s so much in all this, but I was working on a big three day Christian music festival that I feel like God put on my heart to do. I’m not a musician. I’ve never organized a big event at all.
It was a small career fair at a college once, but I felt like God was calling me to do this. So, I start sharing the vision with all these people and then all these volunteers are coming behind the vision and like, “Wow. This is really cool.” Then I meet my wife who works with K-LOVE radio. Well, she wasn’t my wife yet. So, there’s a booth at this youth event and there’s a couple girls working the booth. I was joking with a friend of mine and said, “Hey, maybe I’ll find a pretty youth pastor or youth leader here that I could marry or whatever and find a great girl.” Joking, but then I get done sharing my vision with Jen who worked for K-LOVE radio and we just started talking about the fact we loved to run
marathons and we want to write books and own a coffee shop and we love board games. I walked away from this little encounter thinking, “I think I just met my future wife.”
Her friend says, “Jen, I think you just met your future husband.” Six months later, we ended up getting married. It was just a crazy journey that we’ve been on since then. Yeah. I just keep walking through doors and kind of go not to the next thing, but just what can I do now to inspire people? Because I love to inspire people because I’ve been inspired by many others too, but then the marital journey begins because in early sobriety like I told you, I wasn’t married and did not have kids. I’m sure with clients you work with, they can start their journey here, but then big life events happen and it brings other stuff up. I don’t know if you see that with people that you talk to a lot.
Annie Grace: Yeah for sure.
Rob Lohman: Yeah. Not just that but undealt with stuff. So, here I am now. So, I’m working on the music festival and I wasn’t really making much money. It was just a big vision and a big dream, but all these things were coming behind it and partnerships were happening and it was exciting. It was like, “God’s doing amazing things.” We had John Waller and Big Daddy Weave and all these really cool bands, but about 100 days before the festival was supposed to happen, we had just a couple hundred bucks left in the checking account. It was one of those things of just saying, “We gotta rally the troops or pull the plug.” In the next 100 days, we raised $250,000 of in kind donations and all this crazy stuff and this big festival happened and lives were changed and it was a cool thing called The God Rally project.
The whole theme if you’ll see in my deal is that I just want to help people be better and realize they are better than they think they are and they can do bigger things in their life. So, we’re going to fast forward to 2011. So, I had had an insurance business for about two and a half years. I finally got a big boy job. Software sales I was working in, they closed their division down and then in 2008, I ended up getting this nice sales job with Farmer’s Insurance. I started my own insurance company. I was that go getter kid. That go getter guy that just ran, ran, ran really, really hard. I now have two kids. So, I’m now married with two kids, but I never had ever really dealt with in early recovery my insecurities as being a dad and a husband that could provide.
That started coming out sideways. I quit going to AA meetings because I needed to close another deal to pay rent or pay the mortgage or whatever, so I needed another deal. So, I just quit plugging in to Bible studies and church the good stuff. I quit plugging in to my community. I just became this isolated guy trying to provide and do what I thought was the right thing. I ended up losing my agency in 2011 just due to missing some production numbers as a person who’s been in sales, it’s like you miss your numbers, there’s penalties. You miss them enough and there’s more penalties. There are a million details in the middle of all this too, but I lost my agency in November of 2011.
My wife quit her job of seven years with K-LOVE radio in December of 2011 and she had given them a four month notice because we were both spent. I was living on energy drinks and no sleep. Jen was living on no sleep and just stress. Our adrenals were shot. We were just kind of like that passing in the night couple of here’s the baton. I gotta go to this meeting. You watch the kids today and just weren’t sleeping. We were both complete wrecks and I’d lost my agency so now I’m a complete loser in my mind. I’m a horrible dad because I can’t provide. I’m not loving my wife well, so I just had a lot of self loathing going on. Then February of 2012 comes along and I’m sitting in my living room up late one night. It was after Valentine’s Day. I’m a late owl. My brain turns on when everyone goes to sleep.
It’s like kids are in bed. So, I was up looking for a job and working on a side business. As I looked up in our living room, we were in a townhouse community and our townhouse, everything was in disarray because we were in the middle of remodeling a kitchen due to something that happened before and I’m looking around and there’s just stuff everywhere. At the time, I had no clue that I had OCD issues with stuff being out of order because I was just in survival mode. Now I realize I have a big problem with stuff being cluttered. I’m better at it now, but then I just did it. So, I got up and I started organizing the living room and then the next thing I know I’m staring at my covered patio and it’s on fire.
I had grabbed a box of matches in between getting off the couch and organizing this and kind of like a mental blackout and then I’m out on my patio and I had set some boxes on fire in our covered patio. Before I could do anything at all, it was already grown too big. I couldn’t stop it at all. So, I closed the sliding glass door, ran upstairs to get my wife out of bed, she rips my daughter out of her crib and I rip my son out of his bed and we run downstairs and the fire is still outside so it’s not in the house yet and I’m beating on my neighbor’s doors trying to wake them up and just screaming get up trying to save people so nobody … I was just in complete rescue mode.
Then when my wife had the kids because it was wintertime, got them all dressed in their boots and we went outside, right when we shut the front door, the entire covered patio exploded like a bomb went off. It was almost like God was holding his hand there and saying, “Would you please get out of the house now?” Then right when we went out, the back draft caught I guess is what the fire investigator said and the whole thing just blew up. I’m sitting there in my own mind of addiction because I’m not drinking or drugging, but I still have this mindset that is like an addict like how am I going to get out of this one? This is not something I can get out of. We walked around the corner of our townhouse and the flames were 30, 40 feet high because it had melted the … it was kind of one of those things you tell your story so much and it kind of takes away the emotional piece of it sometimes, you know?
But I’m looking around and there’s fire trucks and cop cars everywhere and I’m just like, “What have I done?” I’m looking at my kids and my wife like I have screwed up. I’m going to prison. I am going away. So, I had to try and figure out
how to cover this up so I could figure out what I was going to do to protect them. Long story short, I ended up confessing to what I did. They thought it was me from the get go because we were stressed. It was just a lot of things. Lost a business. Things did not look good. My wife thought I had done it. Not because that’s what I do, but just because I was so at the end of our rope and so desperate and so lost. So, for a couple weeks I lied to her and then just had to confess to her and she just grabbed me and hugged me and said, “We’ll figure this out.”
There’s a lot of healing that still is going on with us years later, but I confessed to what I did in June of 2012 and there’s a lot of weird details and all this, but I didn’t get arrested until six months later with 19 felonies and 13 misdemeanors. That ended up in July of 2013, I plead down to two cases of arson and the judge, we had so much support from our community it was just amazing. Just knowing that wasn’t really me, but that was a guy that snapped. Now I get emotional pressure. I never got that before. The judge sentenced me to 13 years in prison in 2013 and ended up suspending an eight year sentence and sent me to the department of corrections in Colorado for five years.
At the time, I was the only guy I knew that had ever been to prison. That’s not my normal circle of influence. So, we had to learn how to navigate the whole legal system which we knew nothing about. It was in that time away that it was 10 and a half months that I was locked up, but it was in that time that I was away that I was able to really secure who I was and get back to the roots of who is Rob Lohman. Who is God? Why have I been a Christian my entire life? I’m just this surface, bogus, hypocritical Christian guy, but I had all the time in the world now and thank goodness I got sent to a minimum security prison. There were no fences. Nothing. Just a big dirt path around it. If someone escaped, they could see the footprints. But I decided when I confessed to my crime a couple months after I committed it that it was God’s show at that time.
He has done so many miracles along the way that the legal system said could not be done. He’s done. I can only attribute it to them because my attorney and DAs, they’re jaws are on the ground like how did that even happen? Not egotistically, but I’m like, “I serve God. I don’t serve the legal system. He will do whatever he’s going to do and I have to be okay with that.” While I’m on my little sabbatical from life, right, in Delta, Colorado, my wife is back here having to be mom and dad, disciplinarian, nurturer. Trying to figure out homework and sports. So, she’s on this own little island to figure out who’s the idiot that she married and who is he really and what do I do with him?
It was through that process that she just had people pulling her from left to right. You should divorce him. You’re a Christian. You have to stay with him and all these things. She just said, “God what do you want me to do?” He just said, “You know the guy that set that fire is not my child. That’s one that got way off the beaten path,” and so she chose to stay with me. Again, we have a lot to continue to work through still, but I only saw my kids six days of those 10 and a half months and my wife. The community back here in the Denver area just
surrounded my family and they surrounded me in prison. They sent me books and letters and cards so for me it was a huge time of reflection and I knew and now I know who I am.
I know what my triggers are. I know what things going well in my life and I’m real in tune and self aware of Rob now. Before I was just this ship in a raging sea that had no clue where he was going, but when I was locked up I read this book by Mark Batterson called The Circle Maker. In that book, he talks about quit praying for things from the Lord that he’s already promised you and praise him for them. So, I started doing that. He promised me that I would get into the halfway house the first round which normally no one gets into the halfway house with arson charges because of insurance. But I knew in my gut he promised me two things. That I would get the halfway house the first round and that he healed my marriage already.
I hold on to that because there’s a lot of times Jen and I, I’m not doing well or whatever and we argue like most married couples, but I believe he’s healed my marriage and I know he’ll heal the relationship with my kids when they’re old enough to really understand what happened to day, but I got into the halfway house at 10 and a half months of a five year sentence. It was a complete miracle. Even the director of the halfway house said, “We don’t let arsonists in this place, but because you have a stack of letters from pastors in your community, you have a lot to lose so we’re going to take a risk.” I was their model child. I don’t do anything I’m not supposed to do. So, I lived there for 11 months. Rode my bike everywhere because I couldn’t drive. Took the bus. I lost all my liberties to see my family until a period of time.
So, you had to earn all these freedoms back. The reason I do what I do now in working with addicts and felons is because honestly I couldn’t get a good sales job because of my felonies. I don’t know if people realize that but if you have a felony on your record it’s an obstacle, but it’s not I can’t get one. It just makes it harder to get a good sales job to what I was doing before. So, after too many rejections, I heard about becoming an interventionist and a recovery coach and getting trained and certified and I ran through those doors and then just officially launched my business December of 2015 after I got trained. I’ve just been out in the society and the world just getting my name out there.
Now, I do a lot of interventions, a lot of recovery coaching. I have this Beyond The Bars radio podcast and I want to open this house. So, I just continue to pray that as doors continue to open, I don’t stand in the hallway too long for the next one. I sit there and pray that people will come behind the house. I want to open up and get behind it and help that get on the tracks because that’s what I really want to do. That’s what I really feel called to do is love on men that are struggling and in that hole that I was in for way too long.
Annie Grace: Wow. Wow. Gosh. That’s a hell of a story. You probably get asked this and you might have covered it but in that moment when you set the boxes on fire, do you have any recollection of intention?
Rob Lohman: No. I wish I could honestly say I did it for this exact reason. As you and I have talked before, I wish I would have understood so much of this back then of the subconscious and how it drives us so hard and fast sometimes that I don’t know what was back there, but I know it wasn’t to hurt people because I don’t do that. I love my wife and my kids and it was literally me just saying … I don’t know. Was it a suicide attempt? Was it a … I don’t have a clear cut answer says this is what it was, but I do know a million factors that were not in place in my life that if they were, none of this ever would have happened. So, I pay attention to that now in my own life where I also wait tables part time just to bridge the financial gap. I’m a hard worker and I work hard, but I know my pride is completely leveled.
I just want to walk humbly and I know I can be stubborn at times, but that’s why I have friends of mine Jeff and John and Todd and these guys that will say, “Lohman, let’s do a reality check here real quick.” So, with the Rock Transformational House that I want to open, I’m so patient with that and just letting God kind of run the show. That normally, back when I did my first book and documentary, I think I was more driving that train than he was, but then I just gotta pull the reigns off and say, “Look. You know what’s better for me than I do. I really feel like that’s where he’s calling me to go.” I hope along the way I run into some people that say, “I don’t want to physically do that, but I have a heart for people in recovery and addicts or even just someone on a nervous breakdown path and I want to donate a ton of money to you to help you out to get this off the ground.”
Or we have a house we’ll let you use for a couple years just to donate the house or whatever it looks like. I don’t know, but it’s going to be a lot cooler than what I think it is. I just know there’s people out there that want to help that don’t know how to but have the resources to help people and people are listening who want to have that conversation, I’d love to do it, but the intervention that I’m working on now is for a 15 year old kid to a 72 year old man. All the way in between there.
There’s a lot of people that need help and a lot more advocates that need to be out there. There’s another interesting part to my story on restitution and stuff that I can get into if we have time, but yeah. So, I’m just kind of being an advocate out there trying to help people and leaving my legacy for my kids along the way.
Annie Grace: That’s so beautiful. That’s so cool. So, well first of all, where can people … Podcast Beyond The Bars which is just a genius name by the way considering all the dynamics.
Rob Lohman: Yeah for sure.
Annie Grace: Then where else can people find you?
Rob Lohman: So, I have a centralized website called theaddictionrecoveryhub.com. So, theaddictionrecoveryhub.com. It has all the information on there from interventions and coaching to the podcast to the house and that’s kind of the best place for people to learn more about myself. I’ve got some cool new videos I’m putting together that a friend of mine green screened me with that I now get to work on getting out there to everybody, but yeah. I’m just here to be of service and along the way make a living at it.
Annie Grace: That’s awesome. That’s so cool. Then I always ask this question. What if you could go back in time … First of all, the fact that you had six months before you were arrested and knew you were going to be arrested and I’m assuming that your stress in your life had to have gotten worse because now you don’t have a house, right? All your stuff has been burned up and everybody is looking at you funny. So, through this fact, so many times oh well, people are trying so hard and then something stressful comes up and yeah some of the things are really stressful. Some of them are death or divorce. Then some of the things are like my mother in law and they’re stressful certainly, but they’re not necessarily. The fact that you in this moment did not go back to drinking or using drugs is really cool. So, I just wanted to acknowledge that because that’s just huge and it just shows that if you really decide it’s not an option without never an option.
Doesn’t matter what circumstance, it’s not an option. I don’t think the strength that Rob had is not unique. Anybody can have that strength once you make that firm 100% decision which is so cool.
Rob Lohman: It’s interesting though because through that, you were saying the six months before I got arrested. From the day I really confessed and I committed, there was some stress, but honestly I was just trusting God with all the details. There was a lot of weird peace that was happening too because Jen and I didn’t know what to do, but it was like we were just trusting that God did. So, there was this weird peace that was happening when we didn’t know when I was going to get arrested, but because my wife was listed as a victim, she got a letter that said there’s a case that’s been officially filed which is what my attorney told me that you’ll get a letter probably before they arrest you because they have to make a case.
So, we were just kind of living life in a weird kind of like that weird eerie sound of crickets or whatever, but there was a tremendous amount of peace I had from the day I literally turned it all over to even still today and just the only way I got through that was his strength completely. Because there’s no way I could have done it. I don’t know how people go through life in these stressful times without having a very strong faith because my faith can never be taken from me. That’s how I got through all this and that’s how my wife has gotten through it and it’s been a really weird journey of look at all these darts being thrown at you but trusting that God’s absorbing the darts.
Even with my restitution. I have a huge restitution that I owe and the state of Colorado has a 12% interest rate on all restitution. So, when you look at it, I’m
upside every single month on the amount I pay towards my restitution to how much interest is being added on to it. So, I’m working with some senators and house reps now and if anyone knows any other ones that’d be great to help change that because it literally is a financial prison that I could be under until I die. Still trying to figure that piece out right now with some advocacy work, but I’m not going to let that prison mess with me because I know God’s got that handled too. So, I just pay my monthly amount and I would love to pay it all off to right my errors, but unfortunately, I’m not making a quarter of a million dollars yet a year.
So, I do what I can do, but the details are out of my control.
Annie Grace: I think it’s really interesting because so many people think that faith or church or whatever is kind of like putting your hand in the sand, right? It’s kind of like saying, “Okay, well I’m just going to say that there’s this heaven and we’re all going there someday and everything is all good.” I think that’s really the opposite of what Jesus said. I think Jesus said that, “Hey, guess what? Suffering is the way. Walk with me and I’m not telling you you’re not going to suffer. In fact, I’m telling you that it’s pretty much guaranteed. If you follow me, that means following me through the worst suffering. Through the most amount of sacrifice. That’s what I’m going to ask of you every single step along the way. Guess what? I’m never ever going to tell you it’s going to be easy and I’m never ever going to tell you that, but I’m going to tell you that I’ll be with you the whole way and that I’m bigger than you and stronger than you and there’s something that I can give you that no living human and no substance and nothing in a bottle and nothing else can ever give.”
I think it’s such a thing that we get so confused about because people thing, “Well, why do you need a faith? Just to put on the blinders and pretend everything is okay?” No. It’s actually the opposite of that. It’s to realize that in our world, nothing is really okay. There’s a lot of fucked up shit is the truth, but that we’re not alone in it all.
Rob Lohman: Yeah. There’s a huge peace in that. If I’m wrong in the end, at least I had that with me while I was here, you know what I mean? But I believe it so much and fortunately I had the time to really pour in to believe it. Now, when you’re busy out here with kids and job and running around and stuff, I read 42 books in 10 and a half months when I was locked up. I studied a lot. I don’t have as much of that time now, but had the basic believes and the foundations to trust that process. So, when crazy things come my way and I talk to a lot of people that are going through some ugly disgusting stuff where it’s a good reason to just say, “You know God? Forget you. Forget you,” but when I see people are in that and they realize that that’s not the direction they want to go, it’s so amazing to watch them go through that.
But I don’t know. There’s a lot of peace in that too. I’m just going to keep holding on to that and my kids love the Lord and they’re awesome kids and I’m just going to … That’s my driving force. So, wherever all this goes and things go,
it could look totally different in the end and that’s fine. I’m not in control of that, but I can’t sit on my couch and just wait for stuff to happen. I have to get out there and I have to move and I have to talk to people and I have to get all the pieces or going. I can’t just sit around and be like, “Alright God. Let’s have it all happen.” No. I’m going to shake some trees and make some noise and have some fun.
Annie Grace: Yeah. Needing to move to be. It’s like we talked about when I was on your podcast the idea of I’ve always really tried to live my life getting into the boat, getting the boat out on the water and then trusting the wind rather than waiting for the right time to get in the boat.
Rob Lohman: Amen to that. Us too. So, we’re in the boat. We may be on the same pond. Maybe not, but as they say, our paths meet and then we might be on a different river, but it’s like they meet again. You’re pretty awesome for what you’re doing. I’ve had a lot of fun hanging out with you so thanks for having me on today for sure.
Annie Grace: Yeah. No. It’s been so great, Rob. Thank you so much. It’s really an honor. All right. Have a good day.
Rob Lohman: All right. You too. Bye bye.
Annie Grace: This has been Annie Grace with This Naked Mind Podcast. Thank you so much for listening. You can learn more at thisnakedmind.com and please remember to rate, review, and subscribe as it really helps us spread the word.