September is national recovery month.
I never, as a kid, dreamed that I would become addicted to drugs and alcohol. No, I dreamed of becoming an attorney. I dreamed that I would be somebody in the world. I never dreamed of being an adult and getting in trouble with the law. I dreamed I would be able to grow up and make my mother proud. I never dreamed I would be so strung out on dope that I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed for days. I dreamed of becoming someone my older brother, my hero, would be proud of. No kid dreams of becoming addicted to drugs. It just doesn’t happen.
I was the guy who drank and smoked pot and said “I would never”. I would never “do that”. I would never do “hard drugs”…..well, guess what, I did become that guy. I became the strung out druggie that society looks upon as a less than a human being. I became the very person that I said “I would never”. But, you know what, because of a multitude of factors, I ended up becoming the things I dreamed of as a little boy. Because of recovery, I have an over the top amazing life today.
Because of access to treatment I was able to start a years long process that has brought to right where I am today. Sitting here typing this blog to you. Sitting here with a career beyond my dreams, a family life I dreamed of having as a kid, and a peace in my soul that I thought I would never attain. Because I was able to access treatment I was able to begin to look inside my mind, heart, and soul and heal the past that had become my reality.
Because of the support of people in positions of power I was able to find a humanness that helped me to see I was worth more that what I believed at the time. Many counselors along the way helped cement in me the belief that I was worth living a good life. Because of certain institutions I was able to see what I didn’t want for myself. I learned where I didn’t want to spend my days. Because of family I was able to learn of the unconditional love of a mother, sister, and brother. With this I was able to learn that I wasn’t what I thought they believed about me. I learned that my family did love me and I was ok being who I was and am.
Because of community I was able to find out how to use the community I live in to support a healthy way of living. Finding positive ways to live a life in recovery that didn’t include bars and dope houses. Finding out that in any community there are many ways to get involved and make the world around me a better place to live and work. By doing this I learned that recovery is a multi pronged entity that required me to step out of my comfort zone and be willing to learn new ways of living.
Because of nature, and my willingness to get outside, I found a powerful way to support my recovery and stay healthy in all ways. With the many hikes, swimming adventures, visits to places outside of my own community, and exploring the great outdoors, I have learned that sometimes just a drive, or ride on my motorcycle, with fresh air in my lungs, can go a long way to supporting sustained recovery.
Because of education I have found an avenue to learn in a way I had never thought possible. Going back to school at age 29, and then 40, and now, to this day, working on a doctorate, I have found a wealth of knowledge that has helped my recovery grow leaps and bounds. Through gaining an education I have learned to question assumptions. I have learned to find out the truth about things in the prevention, treatment, and recovery arenas. This has helped to broaden my knowledge base in a way that has helped my own recovery, and now, in my advocacy work, is helping many others.
Today, I am master’s level educator at a four year public university. Today, I am an educator in the arena of communication through my own business. Today, I am an advisor in the community I live and work in for entities helping young people find a path to recovery. Today, I am a mentor in a county lead initiative to help young people grow into strong adults. Today, I am a son, brother, husband, father, and grandfather. In all of those roles I am present like never before. Fully engaged in all my roles.
Recovery works, lives change.