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This is a little personal. I wrote this to myself the day before I admitted myself into a 6 month program at the Salvation Army rehabilitation center. I gave it to my brother and told him to give it to me when I got out.
I was suicidal. I was at my rock bottom. I had no hope and I had not an ounce of faith left. I am sharing it now because it is not only a reminder of where opiate abuse left me, but maybe someone will read this and will be able to relate. I’m not even sure why I wrote it, maybe after almost 10 years of running around like a rampant junkie, I finally wanted help. Maybe I knew I was finally ready? Because if it wasn’t then, if I didn’t get help, I knew I couldn’t go on any longer. Even breathing was painful. I was done.
By sharing this I’m hoping maybe someone can relate and find a bit of solitude or enough energy to get up and get help too… It may not make much sense but It sure did 4 years ago.

“You’re back, congrats for making 6 months of sobriety. DO NOT let it get to your head. You wrote this withdrawing, sick, diarrhea, confused, afraid, helpless, down, pissed off, ALONE. You did this all to yourself. All to yourself. You want this all back? Start sniffing those f****** percs up your nose. Go ahead, your life will go right back into a hole again, a lifeless, useless, lonely f****** hole.
You want to keep your life? Stick to Christ, family and surround yourself with encouraging people. Stay busy. Love what you have because what you have right now is so precious. Trust me, I wrote this. I AM YOU.
Just a reminder of how you felt the day before rehab… sick, food will not digest, cold sweats, hot flashes, diarrhea, INSOMNIA, headaches, heartburn, nausea, blurred vision, quivers, skeletal and joint pain.
Here are the pains, repercussions of life around you… You feel mentally inadequate, alone, afraid, people will not trust you. You hurt your beautiful mother, your brothers, your father (who will never understand you, but hey, love you for you, and love him for him.) You lied, stole and cheated. You have come so close to going to jail, so many times God intervened.
You became a bum. A junky, a loser. You are so fortunate to be alive, to be reading this, a free, rehabilitated man.
Remember that 6 month journey. Keep your head up! Put this behind you. Stay strong. Help those in need.

Find what you love to do AND DO IT!

Love,
Yourself

P.S. DON’T F*** UP MICHAEL.”

I’m not too sure what pushed me to write this back then. I’m glad I did though. I read it once in a while and I reflect on where I was and what life was like being an addict. It’s like a book mark. When I see it, it puts me right back where I used to be for a short time. It helps me be grateful for everything I have. It helps me stay humble. It helps me remain teachable. I don’t ever want to go back to that lifestyle ever again. I can’t. I know it will destroy me. It will kill me.
I thank my heavenly Father above for the strength to keep moving forward each and every day. I hope this helps someone in one way or another.

God Bless you

Become Free. Become the Difference!

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Lets first define the word disease. According to the Merriam- Webster dictionary the word disease is defined as: a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms.

OK. Then the dictionary gives types, examples and origins of diseases. You can look up other resources and other dictionary sites but overall the definition is pretty much the same.

I decided to write about this topic as it seems many people do think that drug addiction and alcoholism is a disease and there are others that do not. Most of society, yes the place where substances such as alcohol, Oxycontin (Oxycodone) and where most mind altering chemicals are produced, believes it’s a disease. Which is understandable. The blind leading the blind. Again, the same pharmaceutical companies that produce these drugs also have an alternative drug to help get off the initial one. For example, Suboxone, Methadone, Naloxone and Narcan for opiate users. Like walking into a store. You see cigarettes. Next to those cigarettes are an alternative vapor cigarette with a pamphlet on how to stop smoking. Makes sense right?

I could do some crazy research and find the Greek origin of the word disease and I can go into a concordance and look up the word disease, which will come up hundreds of times, and I could really get into a study of biblical proportions. But that’s another place and another time. Lets keep this simple.

There are hereditary diseases. There are viral diseases. There are bacterial diseases. Sexually transmitted diseases. Mental diseases. According to the dictionary a disease is a condition. There are hundreds of conditions a human can have. As a matter of fact, we, as humans, are coming up with new conditions every day. Almost like excuses. Reasons for why we act and do what we do. Yes, there are diseases that are legitimate. Actual diseases and conditions which are out of our control. Physical diseases. Immune deficiency. Infections, illnesses, diseases that are obvious and diseases which are contagious.

I am going to speak from experience. Experience from being an addict for 10 years and also experience from being around other addicts. I was in a rehabilitation center for a total of 10 months. I saw a lot and heard many stories, I have been to many NA and AA meetings and I have spoken to many counselors and therapists alike.

And I’m not talking about just a pill here and there. I’m talking 1000 mg of Oxycontin, an 8 ball of cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, some benzos and God only knows what else, all in one days’ time. I’m not bragging, I’m just giving you an idea of where I was at, during my destructive path. I still attend meetings to this day. I say all this to paint a picture for you; so you understand that my ‘experience’ is sufficient enough to make judgment on this topic.

So plain and simply, do I think addiction is a disease? No, I do not. It may feel like one because there is a point where all self control is lost, but it is not a disease.

Here’s my explanation:

Addiction is not in the air. You can not catch it. It is not contagious. It is not a bacteria. It is not hereditary. It is not in our genes. It is not an inheritance passed down from a family member. Addiction is not in our blood. It is not a virus. It can not be injected into our bodies. Addiction does not leave rashes and boils on the skin. It is not an immune deficiency. There are no pills to become addiction free. There is not an antidote for an addiction.

Now is addiction a condition? It sure is. Is it a state of mind? Yes it is. Is it physical? No, however it does affect the body tremendously. Is addiction a spiritual problem? Yes. It is a three fold problem as the mind, body and soul are affected as a result of being addicted. There are multiple symptoms of an addiction however the drug or whatever you are addicted to is only a symptom of something greater. Our poison is not the main problem, it is a symptom of an underlying issue. Just as guns don’t kill people, we do, we pull the trigger. See ‘Drugs Subsidiary to the Underlying Issue’.

So if addiction is a condition and the word disease means having a condition, then how is it not a disease?

Here’s why. Addiction is the only condition in which we made a voluntary choice to have. It’s the only condition where we expected a euphoric reaction. Yes, we can choose to catch another disease but addiction spawned from an enjoyment. It took us away from pain. It took us away from the past, from stress, from anxiety and daily strife. I don’t think there is any other disease in which one would result in an enjoyment from and would catch it over and over. You may say addiction was not a choice to have yet we made a choice to use, right? We did not know which drug it was going to be. We did not know if it was even going to be a physical substance! Pornography. Lust. Gossip. Fashion. Work. Obsessive compulsive behaviors. Who knew? I smoked weed. I didn’t love it. I drank alcohol, I didn’t love that either. I sniffed a rail of Oxycodone, I fell in love immediately. For many reasons. It was the most euphoric experience I had ever had. Ever. See ‘Is Addiction a Choice?’

Addiction sets in shortly after multiple bad decisions. We find something that makes us feel really good so we continue to do it. Responsibilities and priorities go out the window. Our poison becomes number one and we will do just about anything to get that feeling as often possible. After time we make an attempt to stop and we can’t. It feels like a disease because we are stuck. We feel like we can’t get out. Our hope, our faith and everything we know and learned has been erased, a thing long gone in the past. This is why some may call addiction a disease. Our love for whatever we are addicted to overcomes us. We get into an autopilot mode. The only thing we think about is to feed it.

But there is hope. We do come back. We do fight and we do persevere. We do win. We do overcome. We do conquer. We can learn how to come out of the place we put ourselves in. The chains of addiction can be broken. We can get our self control back. We can renew our minds. Addiction is not a disease. Once and addict NOT always an addict. Once an alcoholic NOT always an alcoholic.

Telling someone that they have a disease because of a series of bad decisions is just dreadful. It destroys all hope for that person. It’s telling them not to take responsibility for the decisions they made. Where is the accountability? Are we just going to let them live this way? Life is unmanageable for this person. So let them continue? This is enabling in a whole new sense. Enabling destruction. We have the power to use and the power to destroy ourselves then we have the power to uplift and the power to help others.

We made a bad decision and we have to deal with the consequence. When we start making good decisions we can deal with the rewards. We reap what we sow. When we surround ourselves with like minded people, productive and strong people, we become like them. God has a purpose for each and every one of us. Set Him as your platform, your foundation, a Rock in which you stand and watch your world change and watch your purpose be revealed. Here’s ‘How to BecomeFree!’

Be Strong, Be Courageous.

Become Free… Become the Difference.

“He who is in Christ is a new creation, the old is gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Believe it!!!

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I think the number one thing that holds us back from progressing, growing and moving forward is the inability to forgive and let things go. Are you ridden with anxiety, problems and wonder why there aren’t more blessings?

We hold on to so much. We have been hurt. We have been sexually assaulted. We have been verbally abused. Beat. Thrown around. Left for dead. We have been destroyed in so many ways. Neglected. Ridiculed. Bullied. You can add one if I may have missed a specific event. You get the point.

Now before I move on, I am not and I never will ask anyone to ever or even try to ‘Forget’. Because that’s impossible. It may come with time but everything that impacts our lives and that has wounded us leaves a scar. Some deeper and bigger than others. Scars that can be seen not just through our own eyes but even through other people’s eyes. Scars that have affected our personalities, which have affected our quirks, our manners and how we react in different situations.

There are reasons why we react and overly engage when strife comes our way. There are reasons why we gossip and verbally destroy others when we are around a certain person. It’s the outcome of what has happened. The outcome of what we think may happen. We have a predestined and a preconceived notion of just about everything that is going to take place with people all around us.

So even with these scars, are we able to let go? Are we able to let go of even the meanest and dirtiest things that have ever happened to us? Yes. Are we expected to let go immediately? No. But we are expected to forgive. We also need to understand that we are not the only ones going through this. That there are others, many others, that have been through worse circumstances than us and that have also been freed from them as well.
We do have it in us to forgive. To let go. Sometimes we need time to figure out what happened, why it happened and how it could ever happen. It’s mind boggling to think about. But we need to forgive.

Feelings of resentment and anger towards someone may never go away. And when we come across that certain someone it may trigger extreme immediate anxiety. It can be painful. I have been through it. Hyperventilating and blackouts. A feeling that I can’t breathe. Loss of direction. Loss of a reason of even why I was standing where I was. Vertigo.

It took time. It took perseverance. It took talking to God and reading the Word of God to understand why I went through what I went through and why I needed to forgive. Could I say that all the drug induced instances and problems I caused were because of a childhood trauma? I could. I could also say that people never forgave me and why the hell would I ever forgive them? And even worse, I am done caring. I am sick and tired of everyone, just stay as far away from me as possible. People suck.

I can come up with one thousand reasons why I did what I did. I can give you thousands of legitimate reasons and excuses on why I am the way I am. I could write a blog that would sound so good and so comforting that many psychiatrists and therapists alike would just swarm in their chairs with excitement. It would be ‘socially’ and ‘politically’ correct to the society we live in.

But I will not give not one excuse or one reason for causing pain towards others and for the destructive mess I left behind during my addiction. I take full responsibility. Period.

Why?

Because I let go of what was holding me back. I let go of the torturing pain that set me off like a rocket. I let go of the destruction of my childhood, the pain, the loss, and the indescribable events that happened behind closed doors. I let it all go. I will never forget. But I have forgiven. There are scars. I am human. I am not perfect. I still have flaws. I am and always will be a work in progress and I am not afraid of talking about anything that has made me who I am today.

As gross as things can get, they happen for a reason. That reason will be revealed to you one day. My problems and trials made me a stronger person. I didn’t always persevere, but when I did, when I made it through the storm, purpose was revealed. The sun shined and strength, like no other, blanketed me. God said, “See, I told you! Follow Me.” As I called upon Him, even when I thought He wasn’t listening, He was there guiding me the whole time. How I even knew to call upon Him during struggling times is beyond me. But today it is an automatic. He has guided me and brought me out of darkness so many times. His presence is so evident.

So the big question, how do we let go? How do we let go of the anxiety fueled train that is steaming through blockades of medication, gossip, character assassination, anger, hatred, bitterness, scorn, self-pity and ignorance? How do we get to a place of peace, hope, love, temperance, faith, joy, long suffering, gentleness, goodness and meekness? How is this even possible? How do people get over their past? How come some people move beyond the destruction in peace and walk a life of happiness after all that has happened to them?

Read this verse, the immediate verse after the Our Father Prayer… “For IF you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But IF you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14, 15.
Now believe what you may. Truth is not determined upon one’s belief. It merely sets a stage for a choice to believe or not to believe.

There is so much in this one verse. This verse is very self-explanatory and needs no introduction or synopsis. It only needs an origin for the strength to do so. The strength to ask God to forgive and the power to forgive. We pray. We seek. We ask. We take action. Continually. We persevere.

“The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your STRENGTH. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.” Isaiah 58:11

Become Free. Become the Difference!

Some of us will be doing the same old thing, some of us will be making changes, some of us will be continuing on the road toward a brighter future.
What ever path you are on be Humble, remain Teachable and stay Grateful.
Thank God for all things.
Be Strong, Be Courageous.
Always look back and see how you are doing. Make adjustments, make improvements, better yourself and become an example for others to follow.
Life comes at us hard sometimes but we have people placed in our lives to help us get through just about anything!
Most of all we have a God who we can call upon when we are down, a God to praise when we are grateful and a God to thank when we succeed.
Persevere, keep your head up, be confident, renew your mind and walk with your chin up knowing that your strength comes not from you but through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the One who died for us, the One who has your back no matter what.
He will never leave you nor forsake you.
Be full of Faith, be full of Hope.
Walk not just believing, walk knowing.
Love blindly.
Love.
Become the Difference.
Happy New Year and may God Bless you beyond your wildest dreams!

This may be too much truth for one to handle. Some of you may agree with this, some of you may not. It’s a blog and I’m sharing how I feel.

What, you went to rehab. You went to a detox. You got all better on your own. You got ‘cured’ from that disease that had been destroying you for years. You fixed what was broken. You broke the shackles, the chains and everything’s all better, right!?

Life is just this smooth canoe ride over still waters during the sunset, with birds flying by and a perfect breeze blowing through your hair.

I know many people that have fixed an area in their lives, specifically an addiction, and they just can’t seem to stay out of trouble or they can’t seem to better their lives, like they are stuck in the same spot and can’t get out. They just put a blanket over one problem, expecting it to go away, and keep living the same way day in and day out. Talking change but not living it. Taking no action to further their lives. Saying things that sound good and make them look good but we know it’s all a facade. And once that blanket is removed and placed on another problem, that previous problem becomes number one again.

If you can’t tell by now, if common sense hasn’t kicked in some where down the line, or maybe you just haven’t realized it yet. You have a lot more than one problem. And taking care of only one of your problems will not make your life any better. As a matter of fact, taking care of all your problems won’t solve that universal peace that you are looking for because you are as stubborn as they come.

Here’s a blanket, medication. You know, those pills you take to get rid of the ‘pain’. How are you going to learn and grow when you resort to a pill every time something bad happens in your life? You MUST be at peace having those prescriptions in your drawer. Everything’s solved right? No worries. The definitions of perseverance and faith are no longer needed. Everything’s fine. As long as that little orange or green bottle is full.

You ever walk around telling people you are the President of the United States? Why not? It’s pretty obvious no one will believe you right? It’s also obvious that your life is where it is today because it’s what you made it. Living off of excuses and ignorance. Trying to find hope through a facebook post and sharing it like it’s going to make everything better. Trust me, everyone sees it.

Then you realize that nothing is getting better. No one wants to hang with you and be your friend. You are just coasting along. Hoping for anything better than what happened yesterday. Truth is, people have already tried. Friends have already tried. So much time has lapsed by that no one thinks you are going to change, ever. So they stopped communicating with you.

And why is this? Because how can someone who wants to succeed and better themselves commune with someone who does not? You are a weight. Dragging down people who live productively.

Change takes a complete 180 degree turn. A complete turn from your ways. You got issues, you got trauma, you got mommy and daddy issues, no kidding. Join the club. Everyone does. You’re not the only one.

The problem isn’t the drugs, it isn’t your living situation, it isn’t your past, it isn’t anyone but you. The day you start dealing with your ‘self’, is the day your life will start to get better. Change starts with you. Keep feeding into the lies and your own self pity and your universe will continue to be nothing but a shadow. Misery loves company. Yes, the ones who feed off your ridiculousness and spawn new cravings on how to worsen their lives.

If you don’t want to change then stop complaining. Call your local transitional assistance, become disabled because you can’t handle life, suck on the government’s nipple, and get that check every week. It’s now the new American Dream. Don’t worry, the successful ones will pay your way. It’s the life you have chosen… funny, guess you have made a choice. Just don’t expect anyone to go on that run with you. And don’t tell me your problems. I know so many people with problems just like yours that are living as conquerors. Don’t tell me you have this special disease that no one else has and it’s the reason why you are the way you are; that disease is you. You are so wound up in it that it’s all you know. You let go. Now it’s time for me to let go.

The ones who live victoriously can only deal with people like you for so long. Good luck.

I’ll be praying for you,

I wonder how long that will last…

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Let’s get all excited to meet up with family and friends most of us do not even want to see. Sad but true. If we were that excited to see our friends and family we see on Thanksgiving, we would probably see them more often right?

A time for harvest and celebration of gratefulness, giving thanks and overly warming others with comforting propaganda. A time to eat a ton of food that will most likely knock you out for an hour or two. If you’re of Irish or Italian descent, the gossip has already started in the kitchen.

It IS a great time to catch up and spend time with family and friends. Eat some great home cooking and just take a break from life for a few and relax. But the main reason for this holiday is in its title ‘Thanks’… ‘Giving Thanks’.

Welcome to America. Home of commercializing anything that makes money and ups ratings. ‘Black Friday’… Shop until your wallet’s empty. Camp out in front of a huge chain store as if you wanted to be first in line to be touched by the Pope. Trample over anyone and anything that’s in the way when the floodgates open to get that ‘once in a lifetime bargain’.

Anyway… back to giving thanks and being grateful. I thank God for work. I thank Him for being able to do the things I was not able to do. Simple things. Like remaining opiate free. Not so simple yet so simple. Things like not having to wake up in the fetal position, dope sick. Like not having diahrea flying out my back side due to withdrawals. I thank Him for the people in my life who are productive and beneficial to my success. Success as in a forward movement, not living in the past and overlooking where and what I was but where and what I am today, strong, confident and alive.

I’m thankful for the littlest things. Things I dare not say because most of you just won’t get it. I got a heater switch fixed in my work truck. It made my day! I thanked God. I’m STILL happy and thankful for it. I bought a new pair of boots; my smile is much bigger because of them.

I’m also able to do the best I can at work; to perform at my fullest. I’m thankful for the ability to show up to a job and complete it within a scheduled time frame. Thankful for the ability to keep moving forward to the next job, building integrity and trust with clientele.

Why so thankful? Why so thankful for the small things as well as the big things? Why do I resort to thanking God for everything I have? Well, who else am I going to thank?

There was a time where I was a slave. A slave to an addiction. I gave my life to it and I lost everything. Literally. Homeless. Lost. No faith. No hope. Complete emptiness. On a suicidal road to a second death. So when my life turned around, I gave birth to a whole new sense of living, a whole new sense of self-worth and a whole new method of understanding gratefulness; what being grateful really means.

See, I gave up. I surrendered. God pushed me toward this place called the Cross. Where I fell to my knees and fully surrendered MY ways, MY wants and MY needs. I asked Jesus to come into my life and make me new. And why it took so long to do so, I do not know. It’s free for crying out loud. I always knew it was. It didn’t cost a dime. Just took willingness to understand that my ways got me no where and that His ways are True and will guide me as I move forward. I always knew He was there and always knew He was willing to forgive me of my transgressions and wipe them out as far as the east is from the west. But this is my story. The path I chose.

I’m thankful to be alive to be able to be thankful. So why do I thank God? I thank God for His Son paying the ultimate penalty for my wrongs. That because of what Jesus went through for me, I am able to live, through Him. I am able to live and enjoy His Grace and His Mercy on a daily basis with thanks and gratefulness because of Him. This is why I thank God for every little thing that I have that goes good, that goes bad and that simply goes.

“Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son

And now let the weak say, “I am Strong”
Let the poor say, “I am Rich”
Because of what the Lord has done, for Us… Give Thanks.”

Become Free… Become the Difference!

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It seems to be a regular announcement. I’m hearing it more and more. A friend. A friend of a friend. Someone’s family member. A loved one. A loved one over-dosing on heroin or some other familiar drug.

It’s sad. You will read in the obituary, “Died suddenly” or “An unexpected death”. A young girl. A young man. No one wants to admit that their child or family member has lost their lives to addiction or to a foreign chemical. Well, it’s not so foreign any more. It’s becoming an epidemic. I will soon update my past blog on ‘Drug Statistics’ very soon.

Not because I want to. Because I have to. We need to become more aware of what we are doing to ourselves and we need to start taking it a little more serious.

Many of us in my community lost a friend to drug abuse, she left behind two children.  It kills me. I hate hearing it.  It breaks my heart in so many ways.  Children going on without their mom.  Without guidance.  We can not be replaced.  We were put here for a reason, for a purpose.

Losing our lives to a chemical due to our own lack of self control was not what God intended.  We need to become more aware of why we resort to chemicals; destructive chemicals.  Why this generation feels the need to self medicate.  Why we ‘think’ we need medication for our anxiety and for our other thought processing issues. Seriously, we are living in a pill popping society and a self medicating world.  There are more mental symptoms than there has ever been.  But that is a whole other blog.

A few weeks ago, between my friends and people I know, I heard of 5 people in one week found dead or that were unable to be resuscitated.  They are dropping like flies.  I mean, it’s unbelievable.  Especially when it’s someone you know and someone you had thought highly of and that had so much potential.

Now they have shots such as NARCAN (naloxone), which are used to revive people, well, it reverses the effects of opiate and opioid depression.  Another words, when someone is overdosing, it will remove the high and wake them back up; in most cases.  And they, the pharmacies, are making more and more versions of these ‘Overdose Remedies’.  You would think this would be great right?  They’re saving lives!!!  Not so much.  They are just putting out a fire that is destined to restart.

Now addicts almost have a reason to overdose.  They think that they will be fine.  Often, if an addict is living at home, a  family member will have a ‘shot’ at hand, kind of like an EpiPen, ready for that quick wake up.

So where is the lesson being learned here?  “Oh, Johnny has a problem and we’ll be ready when it happens.  There’s nothing we can do, he’ll never change.”  That is called enabling.  That is exactly what we should not be doing.  Addicts need help.  Plain and simple.  Every chance we get to hold an addict accountable is life saving.

We have a voice.  We have the ability to hold people accountable.  We have the power to say no, the power to not enable people and to just sit there and watch them get devoured by their lack of self control, destroying themselves with chemicals.  They don’t have self control?  Be their self control.  Don’t just watch them decay.  Help them.  Find out how to get them help.  There are so many detoxes and rehabilitation centers all around us.  They don’t want to go?  They don’t want help?   Research treatment centers.  Talk to someone who has been through the destruction and has made it through.  Have someone who has been through the ringer talk with them.  Do what ever it takes. Pray without ceasing! You pray for them every day.  Pray for a way out.  Ask God to intervene in their lives.

This needs to stop.  Lets lead by example and step up to this wave of self extermination.

Become Free… Become the Difference.

You want it? Go get it!

I think getting clean, getting rid of all those mind altering medications, getting your life back as God intended is a goal right?

God gave us the strength to conquer. To destroy goals and accomplish anything!

He tells us to be Strong and be Courageous.

We make plans He establishes our steps!

Persevere! Take charge!

You get up to get food right? Well get up and get your dreams!  Chase them, grab them and don’t let go!

The strength is in you, believe it, believe in yourself and give God all the glory, thank Him every step of the way!

Nothing is going to happen if you do nothing… Take Action!

Keep the Faith, Love each other, stay Strong, Keep Your Head Up!

No one is going to do it for you… Surround yourself with productive, positive, strong willed believers!

Keep moving forward!

Become Free! Become the Difference! ;D

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Does a cloudy, stormy picture like this make us miserable or are we already miserable and this triggers it? I think storms are awesome and beautiful myself…

I’m no doctor. But I can tell you, that through perseverance, dedication and remaining grateful for what I have simply makes me happy. I actually love life and everything it has to offer.

I’ve heard quotes like this one, “The seeds of depression will never take root in a Grateful heart!” How true is this? I sit back often and reflect where I was, where I could be and where I am. Yes, I have days where I am stressed out but it’s temporary. I feel anger, sadness and loads of pressure with the daily struggles of life but I constantly tell myself that I have a God who is greater than any problem I will ever have.

Usually when I’m driving to work first thing in the morning, I daze off a little and remember where my life used to be. I put myself where I was, depressed, tormented and enslaved by addiction then quickly I snap back to reality. I usually say to myself “Thank you Lord for your Grace and where I am today” or “What a sick way to live”… those are my two replies usually.

Then I thank Him for saving me and I reflect on what I am grateful for. I go over every little thing I have and am so thankful because I know that if I were still living in addiction, I would be so miserable and depressed; barely living, just floating around like a zombie, hustling and haunting anyone with money and seeking enablers.

I see people who claim and hold on to bi-polar, anxiety and other excusable issues. I see people who are so stressed out. I see people who are constantly complaining and are just absolutely miserable. I don’t know if it’s because they haven’t experienced what it’s like to lose everything. And I mean everything.
I don’t know if it’s because they haven’t fully surrendered their old nature and allowed a change to take place. I don’t know if they are just so stubborn that being humble, teachable and grateful are nonexistent in their daily vernacular, that they are words they probably do not understand.

I used to be on the quick acting Ativan, Xanax and many other long term anti-depressants as well. I actually still have panic attacks but they are getting so much better. Yes, the hyperventilating, “where did THAT come from”, no warning, “I’m gonna piss myself” panic attacks. They suck. I actually went to a respiratory doctor, had x-rays done and he said, “Everything’s fine, it’s all in your head Mike.” “Oh, great, that’s just wonderful, thanks Doc.” I said to him as I was leaving the hospital with a confused look on my face. Now what am I supposed to do? I think I may have even laughed at myself the whole ride home!

“So not also do I have an addiction problem, I now have a mental issue!? Great.” That’s what I was dealing with. Totally freaking out over everything. This was a time before I got help. Before I tried. Before I put any effort into anything. I was still lost. I didn’t even know how to persevere, I couldn’t, I was so weak. My choices were wrong and my addiction belittled my sense of who I was.

Well, 3 years coming up with one very short relapse after 10 months, after a surgery I was not even close to being prepared for. Glad it happened though. I am stronger from it. I knew what to do, who to talk to and where to go, thanks to time in rehab and thanks to the people who offered time and served as lighthouses in my life, God I am so thankful for them.

It took time, clean, no drugs at all, not even Tylenol or Advil. It took time to persevere and gain a strength that I have never had before. A strength that keeps getting stronger as each day goes by. I persevered by remaining teachable. That I am and will always be a work in progress. That I will always have the ability to learn and grow. That I do have the capability to be humble and close my mouth when I am supposed to. To thank God for a paycheck, for family, for friends. That listening to others speak and understanding that it is not all about me. That accepting others for who they are and where they are in life, without judgment, puts my life into perspective. That I do have something to offer. That I am strong enough to overcome obstacles and achieve my goals. That I do indeed have the power to say no, but not only say no, but to tell someone that they do not have to live this way, and offer advice, plant a seed, and move forward.

Thank you Lord for this gift. As I continue to be humble, remain teachable and stay grateful for what you have given and continue to give me, I am looking forward to a happy life with You and every blessing You are going to offer. The biggest blessing is hoping I touched someone’s life in one way or another.

Become Free! Become the Difference!

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My mom, the one I probably hurt the most during my destructive journey.

Mom’s love their kids wholeheartedly and almost with a Godly love, an unconditional love. No matter what happens you know your mom will be there and love you no matter what. It’s such a comfort knowing that too.

Today is Mother’s Day and it was nice to be able to drop off some flowers to my mom and spend a little time with her. Things were not always this grand though. I caused some damage during my addiction and to be where I am today is simply a blessing. But there was a time when I didn’t speak to my mom for almost two years. Nothing she had done, just simply guilt and shame for what I had done.

I was a junky at the time and being a low class junky I did stupid selfish things. I stole, I lied and I manipulated. I should have ended up in jail for what I did, let alone hell for what I did. Walking around with no faith and no hope brought complete shame to me for my actions. I didn’t have the guts to call my mom up for two years. Disgusting.

I contacted her the day before I went into rehab. Why? Because I knew I needed change and that this change would help with our relationship. I knew that things would be better, not perfect, but better and I knew that I had some work to do, even to this day, building up trust.

But I knew, even to this day, that during those two years of not contacting my mom, she still loved me the way she always does. That agape love. The love you can not break. Did I take advantage of that? Yup. I hurt her bad. I hurt her and lied right to her face even when she knew the answer and she still loved me.

This is how God loves us. Unconditionally. We mess up, we hurt others, we destroy bridges but God always loves us no matter what. When we ask God to forgive us, He cleanses us from ALL unrighteousness, He forgives us as far as the east is from the west, He removes our transgressions! He is faithful and just to do so.

This is why asking for forgiveness is so important and confessing our exact wrongs to the people we hurt is so healing and powerful.

Going up to the person we hurt and simply saying “I was wrong, I hope one day you can forgive me…” may be tough but it takes the load off our backs. It’s giving a little of the pain away and allowing room for forgiveness. I am still, to this day, asking people for forgiveness for my past. It’s something we must do to improve ourselves and to move forward. It shows that we are not always first, that we can be humbled, be grateful and remain teachable.

My mom didn’t deserve one thing, not one repercussion, not one lie during my addiction. She forgave me. Her love persevered through a tough time. Because of the love she has shown for me, because of the love God has shown and continues to show for me, because of His wonderful Grace and His Mercy, because I have been given so many second chances, and simply because I know for a fact that I do not deserve any of it… I try to give back and love as best as I can.

This life of Recovery, the amount of gratitude I have, the chance to give back, the unsurpassing love and Grace that I have experienced from friends and family I have hurt, people that didn’t know me and offered their time to help me, complete strangers who offered advice, counselors, program directors, other addicts…

Thanks mom for your love and your strength. I love you. Because of you, I know how to love and I know how to be strong.

Become Free, Become the Difference!