How can this become a strong point? There were many times in my life when failure was comfortable and losing everything became second nature. How do you tell a person with years of emotional collateral damage that he can become an asset? I have come to realize lately that my identity is no longer realistic in the world I now live in. Living a clean and sober life comes with many hurdles. Hurdles not created by my peers, colleagues or family, no- the hurdles I face are created by me alone. Becoming “ok” with who I am has been nothing but an excuse to stop pursuing. They say true happiness is in the “pursuit” of something. What are we pursuing and why? Most importantly, how can we overcome stigmas and social constructs of how recovery is viewed?
With this comes truth, recognizing truth from what we’ve been taught. The world is bad, school is hard, and dream jobs are just that, a dream. All not true, yet we grow up with a mindset that this is all real. We diminish ourselves from our own potential. We sell ourselves short. Mark Twain once wrote “The two most important days of our lives are the day you were born and the day you find out why!” Why are we so afraid of success? Better yet, why are we so afraid to lose what we have acquired? For many years I have seen my life through blinders. The next 10 minutes was all my mind could consume. Now that I am clean for some time I have taken those blinders off, a process that has been by far the scariest part of my journey. With any process comes some pain and discomfort, with discomfort comes growth. We call these growing pains. This has opened new opportunities, relationships and major self-awareness. Disclosing this information to a “normal” person may create mass confusion. How can anybody that is given so many gifts after years of heavy drug use, prisons, and institutions become so consumed with fear? That’s easy; it’s like a famous baseball player signing your glove when you’re a young kid. You have that glove and you cherish it, you’re even protective over it. You show it to all your friends yet you will never let them borrow it, use it or maybe even touch it. It’s the glove that he holds as his shining moment. Now say someone in recovery is handed a job, a girlfriend, or a car, you will find that same exact reaction as we did with the little kid and his glove. Now ask yourself, what do we have left once our “glove” is no longer there?
The bottom line and my point to all this is perception. Perception is everything, truth is not what we have been taught yet it is something we discover. With the blinders off and a change in identity we can find this process quite simple. I can easily say “Hi, I am an ex heroin addict and alcoholic”, or I can say, “I am capable, I have strengths and experiences most don’t live through. I harness those strengths with a desire to pursue a long fulfilled life. I exert those strengths when beneficial to myself and others. I have evolved into an ever changing man. I am a human being experiencing a spiritual journey. Today I am capable, successful and able to overcome fear”. So when I say “inspired by fear”, I am saying you’re strong, you are not a label. You are not what you have done but what you are now capable of doing. Know that today has nothing to do with tomorrow or yesterday and cherish what you have inside. Build a foundation of awareness, acceptance and love. Life is life, that will never change, yet our perceptions of even our hardest days will become strong points for our next, realizing our greatest gift is what we hold inside- a power held inside by fear and false perception. Faith is the courage to get through fear. Welcome to a lifelong journey, we’ve already been born, let’s find out why!
David (R.J) Vied is a licensed peer to peer specialist and outreach coordinator for Lifescape Solutions in Delray Beach. He is also the coordinator for several outreach programs including assisting first responders struggling with trauma and PTSD as well as program director for STEPP, a non-profit organization aimed to assist people struggling with substance use disorder.