From the moment my bare feet touched the earth of Cliffside Malibu, a luxury treatment facility, I knew I was in the garden of centered souls. Unencumbered by my ridiculous choice of stilettos, I was very curious to connect with the man who planted the seeds, provided the nourishment and brought in the sunlight that inspired such abundant growth. I visited with Richard Taite, Founder and CEO.
I realized Cliffside Malibu was a reflection of the person Richard had become. It is a kind, gentle, quiet place that births an environment for a profound connection with the human spirit within all those who arrive for whatever purpose. Richard serves as the compassionate and devoted parent welcoming and honoring his ‘family’ into a home he created for them. With genuine esteem for all who arrive, he is there to serve the highest good of all who come through the door.
Richard’s story, his journey home to who he was born to become, how he makes a difference in the world and in the lives of who he serves, is a story I am privileged to share with you.
Inevitably there is a defining moment or two within each person’s life that sets the course that will reach the ultimate outcome. We all know that, for each of us, death is the ultimate outcome. How we feel as we reflect upon the life we’ve lived and the legacy we leave is largely a result of the choices we made in the defining moments that presented themselves years, decades before.
Richard had a few such moments. He had a difficult childhood of physical abuse and unhealthy parental influences. He was introduced to illegal drugs as a 12-year old boy when ‘time with Dad’ meant smoking pot and being beaten with a cane.
In 1998 he was a young adult in the throws of a very destructive cocaine addiction that left him over $300,000 in debt, without a job, no family relationships and no self-esteem. He was kiting checks to support his addiction. The bank president caught the fraudulent checks and informed Richard that if he didn’t stop immediately he would be reported to the authorities. This was a defining moment even if Richard didn’t realize it at the time. This ‘Godshot’ prevented him from what could have been the first in a series of prison sentences.
As I listened to Richard tell his story I couldn’t help but wonder how much of his choice to turn to drugs as a coping mechanism upon entering adulthood was influenced by his childhood growing up with his Dad. Did what it is to “be a man” equal doing drugs and beating himself up in this misguided young child’s mind?
Richard had one friend other than the banker. Thin, facing homelessness and only $50 to his name, Richard went to that friend and asked for $1000 in a last ditch effort to survive.
As his friend was ready to hand over the thousand dollars Richard had his first recognized defining moment. He had the presence of mind to know what he did with that $1000 would chart the course of his life from that moment on. He knew if he took the money in cash he would find an excuse to spend it on more drugs to soothe his inner pain. He’d be left worse off because he would then have lost his only friend.
In that moment, that moment of clarity, Richard had his friend make the check out to a sober living facility giving Richard no choice but to check himself in. He had nowhere else to go. He got sober.
While the story has a happy ending Richard had a journey to travel before he got to where he is today. He was clean, doing well financially, yet still not committed to a healthy life. The emotional triggers that drove him to drugs still lay active within him. He continued to have an on again, off again relationship with his addiction. But at least he was sober enough of the time to tap back into the inner voice of clarity that guided him so well during his first defining moment.
In a new moment, Richard realized that the problem he had with drugs wasn’t because of external factors in his life. The problem was himself – and how he showed up to his life. It was the moment when Richard was willing to take responsibility for the life he created and what he would create from that moment forward.
Until someone is willing to be the cause instead of the effect of his life circumstance meaningful change is impossible. With a good therapist Richard was able to uncover the reasons and issues behind his addiction. He was able to transform them into what would feed his soul instead of diminish his value as a person. With a renewed sense of self and a healthier relationship with what mattered most in life, Richard achieved sobriety on March 23, 2003.
Fast forward to a year later, Richard bought a sprawling property high on a hill in Malibu with a spectacular ocean view. He lived alone in this spacious house and enjoyed its serenity. One night he had an epiphany that told him the purpose of the house wasn’t meant to be solely his residence. It had a higher purpose. He had a higher purpose.
The experiences in Richard’s life – good and bad – meant something. Having gone through the life he led he knows what it means to feel empty desperately looking for a quick fix to fill the hole within. His journey to sobriety and beyond taught him what it means to feel whole and what it takes to achieve it. He knows with certainty that self-esteem, a sustained sense of well-being and peace of mind doesn’t come packaged in a pill, bottle, co-dependent relationship or symbol of material wealth. Fulfillment is an inside job.
These experiences uniquely gave him something of value in knowledge and wisdom that he could share with the world. With that awareness, Richard bought and moved into a nearby home and transformed what was his private home into what is now Cliffside Malibu. He kept the integrity of its privacy, quiet elegance and peaceful, nurturing ‘vibe.’ It was designed and staffed to accommodate client guests in a way that showed respect for their challenge and a profound acceptance for who they are as a whole human being – mind, body and soul.
Addictions come in many forms – drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, food and any number of other misguided behaviors to calm emotional and physical pain. As a former addict, Richard knows on a visceral level, how his clients feel when they arrive.
The luxury setting and amenities aren’t there to impress. They have a very specific healing purpose. As a former addict he’s mindful that an addict is always looking for an excuse to quit a program that will take him (or her) back to sobriety, away from what he craves most. The setting high on the hill in Malibu with a spectacular ocean view, a staff of excellence, luxury amenities and beautiful surroundings makes it hard for a client to find an excuse to say “Screw this place, I’m out of here,” and leave before completing the program.
This unparalleled commitment to recovery begins with the respect each client receives throughout his stay and continues beyond recovery. Richard takes a personal interest in each person’s journey back to health as if he was the parent, the Father, he wished he once had – one who enriched and empowered his children.
To do that, Cliffside Malibu’s addiction treatment philosophy is a multi-stage process that meets the client where he or she is mentally, physically and spiritually – treating the whole person beyond the addiction. With an unparalleled record of success and commitment to each client’s recovery, the facility offers an addiction recovery guarantee. If a client completes the entirety of the prescribed program of treatment (typically 90-120 days) and subsequently relapses, he may return to Cliffside Malibu for a 30-day primary treatment program free of charge.
There are a number of differences that set Cliffside Malibu apart from other rehabilitation centers. Its “Stages of Change” model of treatment and private, discreet luxury amenities and whole-person philosophy are just a few. What really sets Cliffside Malibu apart from others is Richard. His mission and purpose in life is predicated on real, long lasting, meaningful change within those who come through his door.
Because Richard knows the powerful difference such a human connection makes in the life and journey of all human beings. Today, Richard gets high daily on his sense of purpose, as a man, husband and father. His emptiness is now filled with love, humility, respect for fellow mankind, his esteem for those he serves, and a profound appreciation of the real abundance life has to offer – reflected in the eyes, smile and heart of his daughter.
Reconnected with his innate goodness, compassion, dedication to his purpose and personal spirituality, Richard is home.